Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the northeast Caribbean Sea, approximately 1,000 miles (1,600 km) southeast of Miami, Florida.
Puerto Rico is an archipelago among the Greater Antilles located between the Dominican Republic and the U.S. Virgin Islands; it includes the eponymous main island and several smaller islands, such as Mona, Culebra, and Vieques. The capital and most populous city is San Juan. The unincorporated territory's total population is approximately 3.2 million, which is more than 20 U.S. states.
Originally populated by the indigenous Taíno people, Puerto Rico was colonized by Spain following the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1493. It was contested by various other European powers, but remained a Spanish possession for the next four centuries. The island's cultural and demographic landscapes were shaped by the displacement and assimilation of the native population, the forced migration of African slaves, and settlement primarily from the Canary Islands and Andalusia. In the Spanish Empire, Puerto Rico played a secondary but strategic role compared to wealthier colonies like Peru and New Spain. By the late 19th century, a distinct Puerto Rican identity began to emerge, based on a unique creole Hispanic culture and language that combined indigenous, African, and European elements. In 1898, following the Spanish–American War, the United States acquired Puerto Rico, which remains an unincorporated territorial possession, making it the world's oldest colony.
Puerto Ricans have been citizens of the United States since 1917, and can move freely between the island and the mainland. As it is not a state, Puerto Rico does not have a vote in the U.S. Congress, which governs the unincorporated territory with jurisdiction under the Puerto Rico Federal Relations Act of 1950. Puerto Rico's sole congressional representation is through one non-voting member of the House called a Resident Commissioner. As residents of an unincorporated territory of the U.S., American citizens in Puerto Rico are disenfranchised at the national level, do not vote for the president or vice president of the U.S., and in most cases do not pay federal income tax. Congress approved a local constitution in 1952, allowing U.S. citizens of the unincorporated territory to elect a governor. Puerto Rico's future political status has consistently been a matter of significant debate.
Beginning in the mid 20th century, the U.S. government, together with the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company, launched a series of economic projects to develop Puerto Rico into an industrial high-income jurisdiction. It is classified by the International Monetary Fund as a developed jurisdiction with an advanced, high-income economy. it ranks highly on the Human Development Index. The main drivers of Puerto Rico's economy are manufacturing (primarily pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, and electronics) followed by the service industry (namely tourism and hospitality).