Puerto Rico comprises an archipelago that includes the main island of Puerto Rico and a number of smaller islands, the largest of which are Vieques, Culebra, and Mona. The main island of Puerto Rico is the smallest by land area of the Greater Antilles. It ranks third in population among that group of four islands, which include Cuba, Hispaniola, and Jamaica. Due to its location, Puerto Rico enjoys a tropical climate and is subject to the Atlantic hurricane season. Official languages of the island are Spanish and English, with Spanish being the primary language.
Originally populated for centuries by an aboriginal people known as Taíno, the island was claimed by Christopher Columbus for Spain during his second voyage to the Americas on November 19, 1493. Under Spanish rule, the island was colonized. The Taíno were forced into slavery and suffered high fatalities from epidemics of European infectious diseases. Spain held Puerto Rico for over 400 years, despite attempts at capture of the island by the French, Dutch, and British. In 1898, Spain ceded the archipelago, as well as the Philippines, to the United States as a result of its defeat in the Spanish–American War under the terms of the Treaty of Paris of 1898. In 1917, the U.S. granted citizenship to Puerto Ricans; since 1948, they have elected their own governor. In 1952 the Constitution of Puerto Rico was adopted and ratified by the electorate.
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