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(territory of the US with commonwealth status)
page last updated on October 20, 2011
Flag of Puerto Rico
(CONTAINS DESCRIPTION)
Location of Puerto Rico
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Map of Puerto Rico
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Photos of Puerto Rico
 
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of Puerto Rico
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Introduction ::Puerto Rico
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Populated for centuries by aboriginal peoples, the island was claimed by the Spanish Crown in 1493 following COLUMBUS' second voyage to the Americas. In 1898, after 400 years of colonial rule that saw the indigenous population nearly exterminated and African slave labor introduced, Puerto Rico was ceded to the US as a result of the Spanish-American War. Puerto Ricans were granted US citizenship in 1917. Popularly-elected governors have served since 1948. In 1952, a constitution was enacted providing for internal self government. In plebiscites held in 1967, 1993, and 1998, voters chose not to alter the existing political status.
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Geography ::Puerto Rico
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Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of the Dominican Republic
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18 15 N, 66 30 W
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total: 13,790 sq km
country comparison to the world: 163
land: 8,870 sq km
water: 4,921 sq km
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slightly less than three times the size of Rhode Island
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0 km
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501 km
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territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
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tropical marine, mild; little seasonal temperature variation
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mostly mountains with coastal plain belt in north; mountains precipitous to sea on west coast; sandy beaches along most coastal areas
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lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Cerro de Punta 1,338 m
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some copper and nickel; potential for onshore and offshore oil
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arable land: 3.69%
permanent crops: 5.59%
other: 90.72% (2005)
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220 sq km (2008)
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periodic droughts; hurricanes
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erosion; occasional drought causing water shortages
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important location along the Mona Passage - a key shipping lane to the Panama Canal; San Juan is one of the biggest and best natural harbors in the Caribbean; many small rivers and high central mountains ensure land is well watered; south coast relatively dry; fertile coastal plain belt in north
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People and Society ::Puerto Rico
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noun: Puerto Rican(s) (US citizens)
adjective: Puerto Rican
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white (mostly Spanish origin) 76.2%, black 6.9%, Asian 0.3%, Amerindian 0.2%, mixed 4.4%, other 12% (2007)
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Spanish, English
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Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant and other 15%
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3,989,133 (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 129
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0-14 years: 18.8% (male 383,748/female 367,484)
15-64 years: 66.1% (male 1,270,557/female 1,366,417)
65 years and over: 15.1% (male 258,570/female 342,357) (2011 est.)
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total: 37.3 years
male: 35.5 years
female: 39 years (2011 est.)
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0.254% (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 171
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11.35 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 171
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7.95 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 106
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-0.86 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 148
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urban population: 99% of total population (2010)
rate of urbanization: 0.5% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
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SAN JUAN (capital) 2.73 million (2009)
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at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.93 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.75 male(s)/female
total population: 0.92 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
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18 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)
country comparison to the world: 129
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total: 8.07 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 161
male: 8.83 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 7.26 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)
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total population: 78.92 years
country comparison to the world: 43
male: 75.31 years
female: 82.71 years (2011 est.)
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1.62 children born/woman (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 175
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NA
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7,397 (1997)
country comparison to the world: 110
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NA
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NA
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definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94.1%
male: 93.9%
female: 94.4% (2002 est.)
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NA
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total: 25.5%
country comparison to the world: 26
male: 28.6%
female: 22% (2009)
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Government ::Puerto Rico
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conventional long form: Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
conventional short form: Puerto Rico
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unincorporated, organized territory of the US with commonwealth status; policy relations between Puerto Rico and the US conducted under the jurisdiction of the Office of the President
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commonwealth
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name: San Juan
geographic coordinates: 18 28 N, 66 07 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
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none (territory of the US with commonwealth status); there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but there are 78 municipalities (municipios, singular - municipio) at the second order; Adjuntas, Aguada, Aguadilla, Aguas Buenas, Aibonito, Anasco, Arecibo, Arroyo, Barceloneta, Barranquitas, Bayamon, Cabo Rojo, Caguas, Camuy, Canovanas, Carolina, Catano, Cayey, Ceiba, Ciales, Cidra, Coamo, Comerio, Corozal, Culebra, Dorado, Fajardo, Florida, Guanica, Guayama, Guayanilla, Guaynabo, Gurabo, Hatillo, Hormigueros, Humacao, Isabela, Jayuya, Juana Diaz, Juncos, Lajas, Lares, Las Marias, Las Piedras, Loiza, Luquillo, Manati, Maricao, Maunabo, Mayaguez, Moca, Morovis, Naguabo, Naranjito, Orocovis, Patillas, Penuelas, Ponce, Quebradillas, Rincon, Rio Grande, Sabana Grande, Salinas, San German, San Juan, San Lorenzo, San Sebastian, Santa Isabel, Toa Alta, Toa Baja, Trujillo Alto, Utuado, Vega Alta, Vega Baja, Vieques, Villalba, Yabucoa, Yauco
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none (territory of the US with commonwealth status)
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US Independence Day, 4 July (1776); Puerto Rico Constitution Day, 25 July (1952)
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ratified 3 March 1952; approved by US Congress 3 July 1952; effective 25 July 1952
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civil law system based on the Spanish civil code and within the framework of the US federal system
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18 years of age; universal; island residents are US citizens but do not vote in US presidential elections
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chief of state: President Barack H. OBAMA (since 20 January 2009); Vice President Joseph R. BIDEN (since 20 January 2009)
head of government: Governor Luis FORTUNO (since 2 January 2009)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor with the consent of the legislature
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elections: under the US Constitution, residents of unincorporated territories, such as Puerto Rico, do not vote in elections for US president and vice president; however, they may vote in Democratic and Republican party presidential primary elections; governor elected by popular vote for a four-year term (no term limits); election last held on 4 November 2008 (next to be held in November 2012)
election results: Luis FORTUNO elected governor with 52.8% of the vote
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bicameral Legislative Assembly consists of the Senate (at least 27 seats; members directly elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) and the House of Representatives (51 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held on 4 November 2008 (next to be held in November 2012); House of Representatives - last held on 4 November 2008 (next to be held in November 2012)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - PNP 81.5%, PPD 18.5%; seats by party - PNP 22, PPD 5; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - PNP 72.5%, PPD 27.5%; seats by party - PNP 37, PPD 14
note: Puerto Rico elects, by popular vote, a resident commissioner to serve a four-year term as a nonvoting representative in the US House of Representatives; aside from not voting on the House floor, he enjoys all the rights of a member of Congress; elections last held 4 November 2008 (next to be held in November 2012); results - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PNP 1
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Supreme Court; Appellate Court; Court of First Instance composed of two sections: a Superior Court and a Municipal Court (justices for all these courts appointed by the governor with the consent of the Senate)
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National Democratic Party [Roberto PRATS]; National Republican Party of Puerto Rico [Dr. Tiody FERRE]; New Progressive Party or PNP [Pedro ROSSELLO] (pro-US statehood); Popular Democratic Party or PPD [Anibal ACEVEDO-VILA] (pro-commonwealth); Puerto Rican Independence Party or PIP [Ruben BERRIOS Martinez] (pro-independence)
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Boricua Popular Army or EPB (a revolutionary group also known as Los Macheteros); note - the following radical groups are considered dormant by Federal law enforcement: Armed Forces for National Liberation or FALN, Armed Forces of Popular Resistance, Volunteers of the Puerto Rican Revolution
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Caricom (observer), Interpol (subbureau), IOC, ITUC, UNWTO (associate), UPU
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none (territory of the US with commonwealth status)
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none (territory of the US with commonwealth status)
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five equal horizontal bands of red (top and bottom) alternating with white; a blue isosceles triangle based on the hoist side bears a large, white, five-pointed star in the center; the white star symbolizes Puerto Rico; the three sides of the triangle signify the executive, legislative and judicial parts of the government; blue stands for the sky and the coastal waters; red symbolizes the blood shed by warriors, while white represents liberty, victory, and peace
note: design initially influenced by the US flag, but similar to the Cuban flag, with the colors of the bands and triangle reversed
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Puerto Rican spindalis (bird); coqui (frog)
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name: "La Borinquena" (The Puerto Rican)
lyrics/music: Manuel Fernandez JUNCOS/Felix Astol ARTES
note: music adopted 1952, lyrics adopted 1977; the local anthem's name is a reference to the indigenous name of the island, Borinquen; the music was originally composed as a dance in 1867 and gained popularity in the early 20th century; there is some evidence that the music was written by Francisco RAMIREZ; as a commonwealth of the United States, "The Star-Spangled Banner" is official (see United States)
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Economy ::Puerto Rico
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Puerto Rico has one of the most dynamic economies in the Caribbean region. A diverse industrial sector has far surpassed agriculture as the primary locus of economic activity and income. Encouraged by duty-free access to the US and by tax incentives, US firms have invested heavily in Puerto Rico since the 1950s. US minimum wage laws apply. Sugar production has lost out to dairy production and other livestock products as the main source of income in the agricultural sector. Tourism has traditionally been an important source of income with estimated arrivals of more than 3.6 million tourists in 2008.
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$64.84 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 84
$68.84 billion (2009 est.)
$71.51 billion (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
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$93.52 billion (2010 est.)
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-5.8% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 213
-3.7% (2009 est.)
-2.8% (2008 est.)
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$16,300 (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 69
$17,400 (2009 est.)
$18,100 (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
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agriculture: 1%
industry: 45%
services: 54% (2005 est.)
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1.479 million (2007)
country comparison to the world: 133
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agriculture: 2.1%
industry: 19%
services: 79% (2005 est.)
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12% (2002)
country comparison to the world: 127
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NA%
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lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
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revenues: $6.7 billion
expenditures: $9.6 billion (FY99/00)
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7.2% of GDP (FY99/00)
country comparison to the world: 207
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-3.1% of GDP (FY99/00)
country comparison to the world: 101
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2.5% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 84
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3.25% (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 180
3.25% (31 December 2009 est.)
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$NA
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sugarcane, coffee, pineapples, plantains, bananas; livestock products, chickens
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pharmaceuticals, electronics, apparel, food products, tourism
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NA%
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20.92 billion kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 69
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19.46 billion kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 68
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0 kWh (2009 est.)
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0 kWh (2009 est.)
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1,075 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 102
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150,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 66
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19,230 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 89
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164,000 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 58
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0 bbl (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 180
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 113
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756.7 million cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 91
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 166
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756.7 million cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 61
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0 cu m (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 117
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$NA (2010)
$67.6 million (2009 est.)
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$68.86 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 43
$60.81 billion (2009 est.)
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chemicals, electronics, apparel, canned tuna, rum, beverage concentrates, medical equipment
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$41.43 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 52
$40.65 billion (2009 est.)
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chemicals, machinery and equipment, clothing, food, fish, petroleum products
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$NA (31 December 2010 est.)
$52.98 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
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the US dollar is used
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Communications ::Puerto Rico
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870,100 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 84
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2.716 million (2009)
country comparison to the world: 118
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general assessment: modern system integrated with that of the US by high-capacity submarine cable and Intelsat with high-speed data capability
domestic: digital telephone system; mobile-cellular services
international: country code - 1-787, 939; submarine cables provide connectivity to the US, Caribbean, Central and South America; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat
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more than 30 television stations operating; cable TV subscription services are available; roughly 125 radio stations operating (2007)
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.pr
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482 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 182
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1 million (2009)
country comparison to the world: 98
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Transportation ::Puerto Rico
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29 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 116
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total: 17
over 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 5 (2010)
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total: 12
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 10 (2010)
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total: 26,670 km
country comparison to the world: 102
paved: 25,337 km (includes 427 km of expressways)
unpaved: 1,333 km (2008)
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total: 3
country comparison to the world: 139
by type: roll on/roll off 3
foreign-owned: 3 (US 3)
registered in other countries: 1 (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1) (2008)
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Ensenada Honda, Mayaguez, Playa de Guayanilla, Playa de Ponce, San Juan
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Military ::Puerto Rico
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no regular indigenous military forces; paramilitary National Guard, Police Force
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males age 16-49: 700,443
females age 16-49: 786,035 (2010 est.)
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male: 30,517
female: 29,010 (2010 est.)
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defense is the responsibility of the US
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Transnational Issues ::Puerto Rico
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increasing numbers of illegal migrants from the Dominican Republic cross the Mona Passage to Puerto Rico each year looking for work
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