Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is a territory of USA. It is located in the north eastern part of the Caribbean Sea. Puerto Rico is closer to Dominican Republic, US Virgin Island and British Virgin Island. The area of the territory is 9104 sq.km. The length of the coastline is around 580 km. The territory of Puerto Rico includes the islands of Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra, Culebrita, Mona, Palomino and others. The territory is located towards south east of Miami, Florida. It is around 1600 km from Miami. The capital city of this territory is San Juan. The population of Puerto Rico is around 3.55 million The territory of Puerto Rico became a colony of Spain in the year 1493. It was taken over by USA in the year 1898. The language spoken here are Spanish and English. The Europeans constitute 76 percent of the total population. Others are African, Hispanics, American Indian, and Asian origin people.

The Islands of the Caribbean Sea are formed by volcanic and intrusive rocks. Sedimentary and metamorphic rocks are also found in local pockets. The age of the rocks are found between Jurassic and Eocene age. The Islands lie along the boundary zone of the Caribbean Plate and the North Atlantic Plate. The deepest and largest trench in the Atlantic Ocean is closer to Puerto Rico. The central part of Puerto Rico is covered by hills and mountains. The hilly and rugged areas are more than 60 percent of the total land area. The remaining lands are coastal plains. The climate of the islands is Tropical Marine in nature. So the islands are covered by tropical rain forests. The forests are rich in flora and fauna. The coastal plains are narrow and the width vary between 10 to 20 km. Small and medium sized valleys are formed due to prolonged erosion of hills and high lands. The northern part has long and vast areas of limestone hills. Due to constant weathering, sink holes and caves are formed in this region. Most of the rivers flow to north and west direction and drain into the sea. Some rivers flow southward with less load of rain water. These rivers remain dry in the dry part of the year.

Natural lagoons are found in this region. The islands are deficit in mineral resources. Some deposits of copper and nickel are found in the hilly region. The coastal region has deposits of crude oil and natural gas. The islands have good quality building stones and decorative stones. The coastal region has good quality deposits of sand for construction purpose. Soil erosion is a major problem in most of the islands. Tropical Caribbean Cyclones affects the islands every year. Earthquake tremor is felt in many places in this region. The northern part gets average annual rainfall of 1550 mm and the southern part gets average annual rainfall of 910 mm. The rainy season is between May to October and the dry period is between November to April.

The territory of Puerto Rico is administered by their own constitution and rules. The territory is divided into 78 municipalities for administration and development. The capital city of San Juan is the largest city in Puerto Rico with a population of 2 million people. The city was founded in the year 1508. It has the busiest port in the Caribbean region. The main educational centres and the health care centres are established here. Other urban establishments are Ponce, Caguae, Mayaguez, Bayamon, Carolina, Arecibo, Guaynabo, Cavey, Aguadilla and Fajardo. The cities are connected by highways, express ways and ferry services. Public buses are main mode of transport inside the islands. Ferry services are used for travel from one island to other. Some cities have metro railway systems.

Two major ports are active in the region. These ports are developed near San Juan and Ponce. Three international airports are working in Carolina, Ponce and Aguadila. Twenty-seven local airports are active for linking the islands by air services. The territory of Puerto Rico has power supply from hydro-electric projects and thermal power projects. Some wind mills are also established in remote and isolated places for power generation. Facilities of radio, television and telecommunication networks are developed and managed properly. Internet and mobile networks are also developed rapidly. Due to its integration with USA, the communication facilities are of very high standard.

The economy of Puerto Rico is dependent upon the economy of the island nations of Caribbean region. The GDP of Puerto Rico is 95 billion US Dollars. The industrial sector contributes around 49 percent of the GDP. The services sector contributes 50 percent and the agriculture sector contributes one percent of the GDP. The major industries active in Puerto Rico are pharmaceuticals, chemicals, machines, electronics, textiles, garments, food processing, tobacco and sugar. Tourism plays major role in the economy of Puerto Rico. The islands produce sugar cane, coffee, tobacco, vegetables, banana, and pine apple. Diary, Poultry and animal rearing are other important activities. The fishing industry also contributes to the economy and generates employment for the local people. The unemployment rate is around 12 percent of the work force.

The inflation rate is around 1.1 percent. The annual export is around 70 billion US Dollars. The annual import bill is around 40 billion US Dollars. Export from Puerto Rico includes chemicals, electronics, beverages, medical equipment’s, tobacco, sugar, and fish products. The imported items are oil, food items, machines and construction materials. Due to spending on infrastructures and communication systems, the public debt is 97 percent of the GDP. The debt crisis is rising every day. Immediate help is necessary to restore the economy of Puerto Rico. Export-- Import activities are to be improved to provide dynamism to the economy. The countries of the Caribbean region and countries like UK, Ireland, Spain, Japan, and other countries are to be involved to increase the trading activities. The USA government should provide enough support to this territory. The economy of Puerto Rico may be integrated with the economy of USA.

The economy of Puerto Rico is facing a major problem for its future stability and growth. It imports food items, medicines, fuel and construction materials from the mainland USA. After the arrival of the commodities from USA, the cost of transport, taxation and cost of distribution are added to the cost of the commodities. So, the cost of the commodities become costly for the local people. The cost of living is very high in Puerto Rico. The cost of living is much higher than the adjoining island countries in the Caribbean region. Puerto Rico is expensive in USA and not reduced in the past. The industrial sector is stagnating due to no new investment and no incentives to industries. The unemployment rate is very high. The wages rate is lower than the wage rates of the states of USA. But the wage rates of Puerto Rico is higher than the wage rates of the adjoining island nations.

Half of the population is living below poverty line. Many people are homeless and spend nights on the streets. in the cities and urban centers of Puerto Rico. There is seasonal migration of work force to main land USA for jobs. Philadelphia, New York, and Miami get migration of people from Puerto Rico. Some people of Puerto Rico migrated to the eastern part of USA on a permanent basis. Many people of Puerto Rico have properties in urban areas of main land USA. Crime is on higher side in some pockets due to unemployment and lack of activities. Due to initiatives of the USA administration, some young people are recruited into the US Armed Forces and Federal Police.

The tourism sector generates very good employment and revenue. But there is stagnation due to lack of tourists in the tourist destinations. The cost for the common tourists is high and getting visa for the citizens of other countries is getting difficult for a visit to Puerto Rico. The facilities in the adjoining countries are cheaper and there is no problem of visa or other formalities to visit these island nations of the Caribbean region. The cost of power and cost of transport is also much higher in Puerto Rico. Due to high cost of power and transport, the cost of living is also higher in Puerto Rico. Some factories are closed due to high cost of production. Other factories may also close or reduce their operation in Puerto Rico.

The tax collection and collection of other revenues are very low. The revenue collection system is not managed on proper and scientific terms. The spending by the departments of the Government is not monitored by any controlling agency. The finance department is busy in getting loans for meeting the expenditures of the Government. The local people do not keep money in banks for longer period. The local savings rate is low to the main land USA. There is a Public Debt of more than 70 billion US Dollars for the Government of Puerto Rico. There is no scope of repay of the debt in the near future. The US Federal Government has not helped to reduce the debt. The Government of Puerto Rico may not be able to pay salary to the employees and pensions to the pensioners.

Due to lack of money, the public transport system, airlines, shipping, power generation, ferry services, postal systems, ports and other public services may have to close down very soon. The ongoing projects may be delayed due to lack of money. No new projects may come up due to the present financial crisis. The people may suffer for long due to the present economic crisis in Puerto Rico.

To revive the economy of Puerto Rico, the tax rules and financial rules may be modified. Investment friendly regulations may be introduced to help the investors to bring more investment in industries and tourism into Puerto Rico. The island has the potential to grow and recover from its present state. The development and management models followed by islands like Malta, Singapore and Hong Kong may be studied carefully. Accordingly, a new model for development of Puerto Rico may be developed for the revival and growth of the economy of Puerto Rico. It may be a long-term plan with complete austerity and financial discipline. The industry, tourism, shipping and fishing sectors are to be given support for their revival and growth for a sustainable period. The ports are to be expanded to provide facilities for more cargo handling, handling of oil and gas and repairing of ships passing through the Caribbean Sea route. The shipping sector may provide the necessary boost to the fragile economy of Puerto Rico. The port handling may be cheap and efficient to attract more ships to the ports. The sectors like agriculture, horticulture, plantation, dairy and poultry may have to be improved to increase the productivity of the island. The food production will increase, and the island may be self-sufficient in food items. It may not import food from the main land USA. The income generation will be there and there may be saving on reduction of import of food items. Further there may be more employment for the local people in these sectors.

Puerto Rico has some beautiful locations like beaches, hills, forests, plants, animals and water bodies. The tourist facilities are found to be costlier with respect to the nearby islands in the Caribbean region. The common tourists prefer cheaper destinations with similar facilities. So they avoid Puerto Rico and visit the exotic locations of adjoining countries. There is less tourists in Puerto Rico even in peak season. The visa and arrival may have to be quick and free of hassles. To generate income and improve employment conditions, the facilities may be made cheaper and affordable for common tourists. Institutional support is necessary for the tourism sector. The island may be developed and promoted as a best and affordable destination. Ecotourism and conservation tourism may be promoted here. Development and conservation of the tropical forests will provide more scope for ecotourism. The rivers, streams, lagoons, waterfalls, parks, gardens, orchards and wild life may be developed to provide more locations for the tourists. A research and development center for marine tropical plants and animals may be established here to attract students and research persons to Puerto Rico. The barren lands may be developed into wild life parks and sanctuaries to provide more locations for the tourists. the environment of the island may also improve along with the economy.