Puerto Ricans are made up of the indigenous Taino Indians who originally called the Caribbean island Boriken, Spaniards who conquered the island after Columbus “discovered” it during his second voyage to the Americas, and transported slaves from Africa who helped build the island after the Spaniards nearly wiped out the native Indians. The territory of Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the US whose citizens do not pay federal taxes or vote in national elections, but are provided US citizenship.
Puerto Ricans dance salsa, drink rum, and our staple meal is rice and beans with chicken, beef or pork. Our Christmas holiday meal generally includes a plantain-based tamale-like treat called a pastele and our beverage is a coconut-based eggnog-like rum drink called “coquito.”
Puerto Rico, generally referred to as an island, is actually an archipelago that includes the main island of Puerto Rico and a number of smaller islands and keys, the largest of which are Vieques, Culebra, and Mona.
If you are ever around a large group of Puerto Ricans (i.e. the Puerto Rican Day Parade in NYC or any large Puerto Rican family function) you will hear the shout of “Boricua! (Bor-ee’-kwa)” (accent on second syllable) which honors the original name of the homeland (Boriken) and commonly used to identify someone of Puerto Rican heritage.
For more P.R.-related information check out the Puerto Rican 101 page at EL BORICUA.