10 Fun Facts About Puerto Rico


I had the pleasure of vacationing in Puerto Rico last week. I’ll have a few PR-themed blog entries this week, but I thought I’d start out with a general overview of some fun facts about Puerto Rico.

  1. It’s not a foreign country! That’s right, it’s a U.S. commonwealth, like Virginia, my home state. That means you can go to PR without a passport.
  2. Despite Puerto Rico’s commonwealth status, cockfighting is legal there. [Edit: Thanks to an alert reader, I’ve been notified that cockfighting is not actually legal in PR. He said that “people just keep doing it.”]
  3. The island is a beautiful, sunny, island paradise that’s only a 4-hour flight from Houston.
  4. Contrary to my impression of PR after 3 days, not all of PR is a resort, and most people don’t get around on golf carts.
  5. Traffic is absolutely horrible and the drivers are extremely aggressive.
  6. Food falls from trees in Puerto Rico.
  7. Customer service is essentially non-existent in PR, particularly in restaurants.
  8. There are packs of wild dogs in Puerto Rico. However, they’re not the mangy, scary wild dogs of Mexico. They’re cute and cuddly-looking. They’re packs of wild puppies, really.
  9. I never thought I’d say this, but there’s something better than Popeye’s chicken in PR. It’s a fast food restaurant called Pollo Tropical. It’s amazing. In fact, all of the food in PR is amazing.
  10. PR has both the best bartender in the world and the most bloodthirsty iguanas in the world. More on that later in the week.

76 thoughts on “10 Fun Facts About Puerto Rico”

  1. what is: Food falls from trees in Puerto Rico. suppossed to mean?
    i’m a puertorican by the way…
    and cockfighting is actually illegal, people just keep doing it.

  2. Oh, ok. And no, i haven’t gone to a cockfight before but i don’t think I’d ever want to either, it’s very gruesome. I’ve only seen them through videos some poeople I know have taken.
    But as gruesome -and illegal- as it is, it’s still tradition and part of our culture.

    • Cool, thanks for the info. I put it on the post because it’s a very foreign concept to me. The only contact I’ve had with cockfighting is an episode of Seinfeld, which made it funny instead of gruesome (clearly it’s not funny, though).

      Stay tuned as a fact checker for the rest of the week as I talk about Puerto Rico…but please understand that I will exaggerate things for the purpose of attempted humor. You’ll see what I mean when I post about iguanas.

  3. Hi, here r 10 Puerto Rico fun facts :

    1.Puerto Rico Have the 2 most largest mall in Latin America (Plaza las America )and the bigest and the only American style mall in the Caribbean.

    2.It have the worlds largest radio telescope in Arecibo and and longest free flowing swimming pool in the world ( El Conquistador )

    3.It is leading nation in the world in terms of rum .

    4. We got the largest JC Penney store in the world ,the largest Big K-Mart store in the Caribbean ,the busiest and highest grossing RadioShack store in the world , and the Highest grossing Borders store (all in Plaza las America ).

    5.Puerto Rico has won the Miss Universe pageant a record five times .

    6.San Juan is the oldest city in US territory, founded in 1521 by Ponce de Leon. Making it the oldest under the American flag! Sorry Saint Augustine, Fl, which was founded in 1565!

    7.Hawaii and Puerto Rico are the only places in the United States or its territories that coffee if grown, processed, and sold for local and international consumption.

    8.No other island in U.S. jurisdiction has such ecological uniqueness and diversity as Puerto Ricos Galápagos Islands .

    9.Puerto Rico has the 3 best Bioluminescent Bays in the world of only 5 or 6 worldwide.

    10.Puerto Rico have El Yunque which is the only rain forest in the United States.

  4. Sorry I’m late in responding…but being as I am part puerto rican, I’m glad you added a comment about the food. You’ve never had rice until you’ve had arroz con candules…mmm…yummy!

    I’m proud that you vacationed in the motherland…she is a jewel.

  5. I really enjoyed my time there–who knew a tropical paradise was so close to the mainland?! My girlfriend’s parents live there, but they’ll soon have to move…that means no more visits to PR for a while, unfortunately.

    • No visits to Puerto Rico anymore, but here we come, Budapest, Hungary (maybe)! Your 10 fun facts about Budapest will be vastly different 🙂

  6. I would like to add to the amazing facts about Puerto Rico: We have fought in every major conflict the United States have been involved in.
    The most brutal one’s, Korean conflict, and Vietnam , where many Puerto ricans lives were lost. If their is any country in the world that deserves to fly the American Flag, and be Citizens of that great nation; yes, it is we, the Puerto Ricans, and I would love to add, became the 51st. state of the United States.

    • I guess I’m in the minority when I say I HOPE that Puerto Rico never becomes the 51st State. I fear the island will loose its identity, it’s incredibly rich culture and of course, the Spanish language as its primary language. I was born and raised in the US, in NYC. I absolutely love PR and especially the people because they’re so friendly. And the food of course is phenomenal. I’d be supremely proud if PR became independent.
      Look, the US is great, but we have many ‘big nation’ problems and that makes us far from perfect. PR is better served maintaining its culture and seeking independence.

  7. Puerto Rico is also home to the only rainforest in the U.S national forest system. it is called El Yunque… BTDubs, I’m ot puerto Rican, I just have a school project on why the US imperialized puerto rico…not an insult to the puerto ricans, just a fact, that’s all…

      • “or else” what? !? Im not even Puerto Rican and I feel offended thought not particulary scared by your apparent threat/ultimatum…just how the F else do you say “imperialization”?!? Would “colonization” make you feel better?!? What else do you call it? If it looks like exploitation and imperialistic colonization, feels like it, acts like it, sounds like it, etc., chances are IT IS. Yiu scare no one bigmouth and only maje yoursekf sound stupid, pretentious, and arrogant. Nuff said.

  8. You are so right about customer service, the attitude is something like… “Im just doing this temporarily you know, I have big plans, I will be an artist or someone important soon”….so they let you know that they are actually doing you a favor……

      • That is probably because you only went to the turistic areas. Get deep into the mountains or to the south-west and the feeling is VERY different.

        • Beba–I’d love to go back and explore those non-touristy areas. You’re saying that the customer service is better there?

          I often think about the food I had in Puerto Rico with fond memories. It really was incredible. So good.

  9. My parents are Puertorican, I was born in NY but was raised part of my life in Puerto Rico, therefore I consider my self a Boricua as well. I have a comment about the customer service. If you go to the Island and act like a stuck up then you are going to get what you are asking for. I have lived in Florida for many years now and here customer service is not the #1 priority. So people when you plan on critizing any other country, please look 1st where you come from or where you live. Basically customer service is not well paid to put up with you people.

    • Diana–Thanks for your comment. I can completely appreciate your comment. Customer service can be bad or good anywhere in the world, and I based my statement about Puerto Rico on a very short visit. The reason I said it is that (a) I waited tables in college, so I know firsthand what good and bad customer service looks like, and (b) it wasn’t just one waiter–it was all of the waiters at the restaurants I went to. I don’t mean this as a criticism of the island itself–I just think that more time and attention went into the delicious food we ate instead of the serving and attending portion of the meal.

      I’m very aware when I travel abroad that a lot of other world travelers–not just Americans–can be quite rude and inconsiderate of their hosts. I try really hard not to be that type of traveler. I try to blend in, learn a little of the language, and try to be a part of the culture instead of imposing my culture upon them.

      If I may coach you a little bit, I would suggest to you–and any reader of these comments–never, ever use the phrase “you people.” No good ever comes of using that phrase. It’s derogatory and inherently stereotypical, and in some cases, quite racist. Just a tip. 🙂

      • Like your explanation, but what irritates a Boricua is that you put it as one of your FACTS when it really was an EXPERIENCE, in my opinion. Now as a Boricua that I am, can understand your point/experience.

        • Beba–That’s a good point. They’re definitely just facts from my experience, and I’ve only been there once. The overall point of my post was to encourage people to go to Puerto Rico and experience it for themselves, as it’s definitely a wonderful place to visit.

  10. They have Pollo Tropicals in Florida too! Man, you really need to go visit Florida, Jamey. And, contrary to the comment about Florida’s customer service, as a customer service worker for 6 years in Florida, I can say that it is the #1 priority at almost every place I worked. Since tourism is one of the major industries in Florida, poor customer service is not tolerated by most companies. Oh, and all of the PR people I knew/know in Florida were/are super nice and gave great customer service. (including waiters, as I was a waiter for part of that time). Yay Florida! And we have papayas there too!

    • What, Pollo Tropical in Florida!? I need to go there again. That’s a great point about customer service–I believe it.

      The only problem is that you all have devastating hurricanes, giant bugs, and alligators.

      • Yes; and it also has sunshine, tons of lakes and beaches, beautiful people, the second largest collection of Dali paintings in one place, and a rather diverse population. (you like how I did that? hehe)

        Pollo Tropical is called Tropigrill in Orlando and farther north. Also, while there are some in the PR, the chain was founded (in 1988!) and is headquartered in Miami. They have over 70 locations in Florida and have since franchised in NYC, NJ, PR, and Ecuador. (all this from wikipedia)

        • We have more than one Pollo Tropical restaurants in New Jersey, The closest one is in Edison,NJ :). But anyway many places in P.R are as good and even better!. SOOO many beautiful places to go and enjoy in P.R and the most friendly too!! I was born and raised in San Juan moved out to NJ but planning to go back. ..Porque un dia volvereee..A buscar mi querer..a so~ar otra vez.. en mi viejo San Juaaan)))

  11. Great post, Jamey. I hope you do get to go to El Yunque. Coming from another Puerto Rican, and a fellow nomad, there’s ‘chuladas’ for every place. Things that are great. I hope you get to go back. The Salsa dancing scene is amazing. The crafts are beautiful. Did you try the Coco Rico drink? Cheers!

    • I don’t think I tried Coco Rico, so I guess I have to go back! I really loved it there–it’s an island paradise that’s so close by!

  12. i love puerto Rico it is super amazing and they hve very cute boys ahhahah(: but the cultur is amazing i hadda lot of funn(: no complaints here

  13. Cockfight ARE LEGAL!!!!!!!!!! i am puerto rican and i have lived here for 20 years and believe me it is LEGAL!!!!!!!!! btw love your facts 🙂

  14. Excuse me, but when you say: However, they’re not the mangy, scary wild dogs of Mexico. That is very rude. I am from Mexico, so you are actually saying that the dogs of my country are mangy, scary, wild dogs? What an uneducated person you are.

    • I certainly don’t mean to offend, and I’m not saying that all dogs in Mexico are mangy, but I’ve been to Mexico (a very poor area near Cuernevaca) and my experience of the dogs there was that they were quite mangy and wild. Of course, I’m sure you could find wild and mangy dogs pretty much anywhere in the world, so I apologize for specifically calling out the Mexican ones. I definitely encountered some wild dogs in France too, but they were less mangy.

  15. Cockfighting is legal in some places like it was mentioned. Years ago it was very popular now days not so much. I’m glad to say that we here have the coqui. There are at least 17species and in the YUNQUE we have 12 and even though we are the smallest U.S Forrest Park we are the one with the most bio diversity even compared to the ones in Washington. I’m happy to say that we have 157 fern species including the giant fern that can grow up to 33 feet and I’m proud to say that we have the tallest ones here. Maybe we have agressive drvivers but the beauty of are rural streets here you cant compare with no other. The view from the mountains is awesome as well. Puerto Rico is lovely but no place is perfect. Here at the Yunque we have the best canopy at JUNQLEQUI. It is an awsome experience were there is also a great Nature walks even at night were you can see a rain of fireflies and they have a web page or you can also see them at Facebook.


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