Puerto Rico: Baseball, blue flag beaches, and forts

Officially known as the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, this Caribbean archipelago is home to almost four million people. Its main island, Puerto Rico, is 100 miles long by 35 miles wide. Spanish and English are considered the official languages, however, the vast majority of the population are predominately Spanish-speakers. The culturally diverse Puerto Ricans are of European, Amerindian, and African descent. This mixture can be observed in its cocina criolla, or local cuisine, which includes grains, legumes, herbs, spices, tropical tubers, vegetables, and fruits — and, of course, lots of seafood, as well as meat and poultry. Some of its national dishes include the savory pasteles, tostones, and arroz con gandules.

Baseball is the most popular sport in Puerto Rico and it is also the only sport with its own professional league: the Puerto Rico Baseball League. Puerto Rico has more than 100 Major League Baseball players who are currently active. Some of the most notable Puerto Rican baseball players include: José “Cheo” Cruz, Juan González, Edgar Martínez, Victor Pellot, Jorge Posada, Iván Rodríguez, Bernie Williams, and the three Hall of Famers: Roberto Clemente, Orlando Cepeda, and Roberto Alomar. The Puerto Rico National Baseball Team has won one gold, four silver and four bronze medals in the World Cup of Baseball. It has also won the Caribbean Series fourteen times.

With 227 miles of white sand beaches and calm waters, Puerto Rico is very well known for its majestic seashore. Puerto Rico has hundreds of beautiful beaches to choose from to enjoy the tropical life. Puerto Rico is one of the few countries in America that has a number of beaches labeled as “Blue Flag” beaches. The Blue Flag is an international certification that evaluates water quality, safety, services, environmental education, and sustainability. Some of the Puerto Rican beaches under the Blue Flag category include: Boqueron, Carolina, El Escambrón, Punta Salinas, La Monserrate, Playa Pelícano, and Seven Seas.

Puerto Rico has many historic sites, and some of the most recognizable ones are its forts. Spaniards spent more than 250 years fortifying the island to be able to control access to and from the Caribbean. Forts such as La Fortaleza (which serves today as the official residence of the Governor of Puerto Rico), San Felipe del Morro (the largest fort in the Caribbean), and Castillo de San Cristóbal are all part of Old San Juan or San Juan National Historic site, which has been declared a World Heritage Site. Many more forts and architectural structures are also part of the colonial beauty of Puerto Rico.

Did you know…? Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory has been enjoying the title of the “World’s Largest Radio Telescope” since 1963. San Juan is the largest home-based cruise port in the world. Puerto Rico’s Tren Urbano is the Caribbean’s first rapid-transit system.

This is the nineteenth in a series of articles spotlighting different countries in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. To see a complete list of previous entries, click here.