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The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, (Spanish: Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, IPA [es'tao 'lib?e aso'sjao de 'pwe?to 'riko]), also Porto Rico (archaic) and more commonly Puerto Rico, is a United States territory with Commonwealth status[1] located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of the Virgin Islands. The archipelago of Puerto Rico includes the main island of Puerto Rico, the smallest of the Greater Antilles, and a number of smaller islands and keys, the largest of which are Mona, Vieques, and Culebra.

The nature of Puerto Rico's political relationship with the United States is the subject of ongoing debate in the island and also in the United Nations.[2] Those who support maintaining the status quo (i.e., Commonwealth status) insist that upon attaining this status, Puerto Rico entered into a voluntary association with the U.S. "in the nature of a compact", but according to a President's Task Force report, Puerto Rico is an unincorporated organized territory of the United States, subject to the plenary powers of the United States Congress and with the "right to establish a constitution for the internal administration of government and on matters of purely local concern".

Brief History of Puerto Rico

The history of the island of Puerto Rico prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus is not well understood. What is known today comes from archeological findings and from the writings of oral accounts of the Spaniards. The first comprehensive book on the history of Puerto Rico was written by Fray Iigo Abbad y Lasierra in 1776, 283 years after the first Spaniards arrived on the island.

Puerto Rico consists of a main island of Puerto Rico and various smaller islands, including Vieques, Culebra, Mona, Desecheo, and Caja de Muertos. Of the latter five, only Culebra and Vieques are inhabited year-round. Mona is uninhabited through large parts of the year except for employees of the Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources. There are also many other even smaller islands including Monito and "La Isleta de San Juan" known as Old San Juan.

The mainland measures some 100 miles by 35 nautical miles (170 km by 60 km). It is mostly mountainous with large coastal areas in the north and south regions of the island. The main mountainous range is called "La Cordillera Central" (The Central Range). The highest elevation point of Puerto Rico, Cerro de Punta (4,390 feet; 1,338 m), is located in this range. Another important peak is El Yunque, located in the Sierra de Luquillo at the Caribbean National Forest, with a maximum elevation of 3,494 feet (1,065 m). The capital, San Juan, is located on the main island's north coast.

Located in the tropics, Puerto Rico enjoys an average temperature of 28 C (82.4 F) throughout the year. The seasons do not change very drastically. The temperature in the south is usually a few degrees higher than the north and temperatures in the central interior mountains are always cooler than the rest of the island. The hurricane season spans between June and November.

Puerto Rico has 17 lakes (none of them natural) and more than 50 rivers. Most of these rivers are born in the Cordillera Central. The rivers in the northern region of the island are bigger and with higher flow capacity than those of the south region. The south is thus drier and hotter than the north region.

As of 1998, 239 plants, 16 birds and 39 amphibians/reptiles have been discovered that are endemic to the archipelago of Puerto Rico. The majority of these (234, 12 and 33 repectively) are found on the main island. The most recognizable endemic species and a symbol of Puerto Rican pride is the Coqu, a small frog easily recognized by the sound from which it gets its name. The Caribbean National Forest, also known as El Yunque, a tropical rainforest is home to the majority (13 of 16) of species of coqu. It is also home to more than 240 plants, 26 of which are endemic and 50 bird species, including one of the top 10 endangered birds in the world, the Puerto Rican Parrot.

Information provided by Wikipedia

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