A tapestry of colonization, struggle, and cultural fusion spans centuries in Puerto Rico’s past. Before Columbus landed in 1493 and sparked Spanish conquest and colonization, the island was populated by indigenous Tano communities. A prime example of the island’s rise to prominence as a commercial and strategic center is the city of San Juan, which was founded there in 1508. For centuries, the Spanish ruled Puerto Rico, leaving their mark on the island and its culture.
The Spanish-American War of 1898 surrendered Puerto Rico to the United States, ushering in a new era. After years as a British possession, the island became a U.S. commonwealth in 1952. Periods of social activism, such as the nationalist revolts and independence movements, left their mark on the political and cultural landscapes of the 20th century.
Puerto Rico has had to overcome several obstacles in recent history, including economic difficulties, natural disasters like Hurricane Maria in 2017, and disagreements about its political connection with the United States. Puerto Rico has always been proud of its multicultural past, which includes Native American, European, African, and American elements.