Both Spanish and English are the official languages, the local currency
is the U.S. dollar, and no visas or passports are required to enter
Puerto Rico from the United States. Mail is sent through the US Postal
Service at the same rates as on the mainland.
Puerto Rico is 100 long by 35 miles wide and as a result of
its geographical position in the center of the arc of the Antilles,
Puerto Rico is essentially a crossroads of Hispanic and Anglo cultures.
Despite it's very diverse influx of cultures, Puerto Rico has been a
part of the United States since 1898 and Puerto Ricans have been U.S.
citizens since 1917.
Since the first humans came ashore thousands of years ago, the
island that is now known as Puerto Rico has sheltered Indians,
Spaniards, Africans and Anglos. The Spaniards had the earliest and
greatest influence to the Island at their arrival in 1493. During their
400-year tenure the Spaniards laid the bedrock of the language and
culture. They built cities and towns, fortresses and churches,
lighthouses and roadways. They brought slaves from Africa to work in
the fields, who, in turn, contributed the spice of their culture,
enriching the language, music and diets.
Close to 4 million people live on the Island of Enchantment, with
more than a million in the greater San Juan metropolitan area alone. It
is a vibrant, modern, bilingual, multicultural society, one that has
been molded by Spanish, African, Indian and U.S. influences. Residents
of Puerto Rico have much in common with their fellow Americans in the
continental United States, yet they retain a decidedly Hispanic
The climate is as close to perfect as it can get, averaging
83°F (22.7°C) in the winter and 85°F (29.4°C) in the summer. In other
words, it's always summer! The trade winds cool the coastal towns and
the temperature decreases as you go up into the higher mountains.
Puerto Rico is in the Atlantic Time Zone, but does not observe Daylight
Savings Time. The island uses standard U.S. electric current. European
appliances require an adapter.
There are no customs duties on articles bought in Puerto Rico
and taken to the U.S. mainland. Major credit cards are accepted at most
businesses, and ATMs connected to major US and international networks
are easy to find.
Business hours are similar to those on the mainland, 6:00 AM to 6:00
PM weekdays (the siesta has pretty much disappeared). Most stores are
open Saturdays, and all of the larger towns have shopping malls that
are open evenings and Sundays.