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Puerto Rico (Spanish for “rich port”) is an unincorporated territory of the United States and is located in the northeastern Caribbean. It is east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands. Puerto Rico comprises an archipelago that includes the main island of Puerto Rico and a number of smaller islands which are Vieques, Culebra, Mona, Desecheo, and Caja de Muertos.
Puerto Rico was originally populated for centuries by indigenous aboriginal peoples known as Taínos. 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 and the indigenous population was forced into slavery and wiped out due to, among other things, European infectious diseases. Spain possessed Puerto Rico for over 400 years. 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 of 1898.
Flag of Puerto Rico
The flag consists of five stripes that alternate from red to white. Three of the stripes are red, and the other two are white. To the left of the flag is a light blue triangle that houses one white five-pointed star. The three red stripes represent the blood from the brave warriors. The two white stripes represent the victory and peace that they would have after gaining independence. The white star represented the island of Puerto Rico. The blue represents the sky and blue coastal waters. The triangle represents the three branches of government.
In 1952, Governor Luis Muñoz Marín and his administration adopted the Puerto Rican flag which was originally designed in 1892, and proclaimed it the official flag of Puerto Rico. There were some differences between the original flag of 1892 and the one of 1952 and the meaning of the colors was officially changed. Now the white bars stood for the republican form of government, rather than representing the victory and peace that Puerto Ricans were to have after gaining independence.
Coat of Arms of Puerto Rico
The Coat of Arms of Puerto Rico was first granted by the Spanish Crown in 1511, making it the oldest heraldic achievement still currently in use in the Americas.
The major symbolism of the coat of arms relates to the dominance of Spain, the strong Roman Catholic influence in the region, and the integrity of Puerto Rico as a colony of Spain. The green background represents the island’s vegetation. The Lamb of God and cross flag on the shield are symbols traditionally associated with St. John the Baptist, patron of the island. The book with the seven seals on which the lamb sits represents symbolism from the Book of Revelation, generally attributed to St. John the Apostle.
The border is made up of 16 different elements: castles and lions to represent the Kingdom of Castile and the Kingdom of León, a flag with the arms of the Crown of Castile and León, and The Cross of Jerusalem to stand for the Kingdom of Jerusalem, whose succession rights passed to the Kingdom of Sicily, and henceforth to the Spanish Crown.
The gold-crowned F and the arrows (flechas) represent Ferdinand II of Aragon, while the Y and the yoke (yugo) represent Ysabel, i.e., Isabella I of Castile who were the Catholic monarchs when Puerto Rico was discovered.
The Latin motto, “JOANNES EST NOMEN EJUS” (a quotation from the Vulgate of Luke 1:63), means “John is his name”, referring to St. John the Baptist or San Juan Bautista, the original name of the island.
Photo credits: Google images, Wikipedia