Puerto Rico is 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, by land area, the largest island of the Lesser Antilles, and the smallest 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 beautiful weather all-year-round. The national language is Spanish but English is recognized as an official language as well.
Originally populated for centuries by the 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 while 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 to the United States as a result of its defeat in the Spanish–American War under the terms of the Treaty of Paris.
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