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APRIL caribbean, west indies, real   estate, property, land, retiring, moving, relocating, living, working, expats, international living, overseas,   abroad, caribbean property magazine, caribpro 2 0 0 9
Issue 27
An online magazine about investing, living, working and relocating to the Caribbean.
EDITORIAL
Ramblings, thoughts and occasional sense from the Eastern Caribbean >>
HOT OFF THE PRESS
Events and news from around the region >>
SUSTAINABLE LIVING
Sharing resources and best practices >>
TOURISM TREATS
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DID YOU KNOW?
Interesting stuff, websites, facts and more >>
Florida Condo Foreclosures
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Caribbean Property Magazine, Real Estate, jobs, relocation, living and working Juan Dolio, Dominican Republic Unusual Luxury
Caribbean Property Magazine, Real Estate, jobs, relocation, living and working Why I Chose Grenada
Caribbean Property Magazine, Real Estate, jobs, relocation, living and working Memories of Montserrat
Caribbean Property Magazine, Real Estate, jobs, relocation, living and working Panama : Place For Relocation
Caribbean Property Magazine, Real Estate, jobs, relocation, living and working It’s Never Too Late to Follow Your Fun!
Caribbean Property Magazine, Real Estate, jobs, relocation, living and working Belize : A Journey of Transformation

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PUERTO RICO : ENCHANTED ISLAND
by Lulu Basuil


Overview

Puerto Rico is also popularly known as "La Isla del Encanto", which translated means "The Island of Enchantment." And indeed it is, as everyone from Columbus to its current visitors will attest.  Of the four largest Caribbean islands, Puerto Rico is the only one under US jurisdiction. Nevertheless, Puerto Rico is more Caribbean, Spanish, Latino, tropical and colorful than anything Stateside. This article attempts to explain the history, political system and the island’s  affiliation with the United States of America.

As befits a Catholic country, the island has quite a selection of monasteries, convents and shrines where the Virgin Mary is said to have made appearances before the faithful. Head for the centuries-old San Juan convent authorized by Spain's King Philip V. During the building's long history, it has gone from nunnery to ruin to grand hotel and even a short-lived casino. The ex-convent's neighbor is San Juan Cathedral, dating to 1521 and therefore the Western Hemisphere's oldest such structure. Nearby is the New World's oldest continually occupied governor's mansion, and the home of first governor Juan Ponce de Leon.

MYTH HAS IT THAT PONCE DE LEON SET OUT TO FIND THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH AND ‘DISCOVERED’ FLORIDA…ACTUALLY, THE OLD MAN NEEDED GOLD, NOT YOUTH!


A popular myth has it that Ponce de Leon set out to find the legendary Fountain of Youth and "discovered" Florida instead. Actually, the old man needed gold, not youth! He had a passel of unwed daughters in need of dowries so that they could marry well.

The crown jewel of Puerto Rican eco-tourism treasures is El Yunque Rainforest. El Yunque - the Anvil, in English - is a movie-set jungle ensconced in mist and rain over trees as high as 100 feet. You will hear many a squawk of the indigenous Puerto Rican Parrot, along with the croaks of millions of coqui, tiny tree frogs that are a national symbol. Some drink from the forest's two waterfalls, but you are advised to stick with the purified and bottled stuff, just to be on the safe side.

The dry southwestern corner of the island is noted for its beaches and picturesque fishing villages with easy-going attitude. Here you can savor fresh clams and oysters in between sips of coconut water and the enchanting company of sea, sun and sand.

The island's second city, Ponce, may have been named for the aforementioned Ponce de Leon. Local residents call their city La Perla del Su - the Pearl of the South. It resembles provincial Spain in the daytime when locals gather in the cool shade of the Plaza Central. During the evenings, people re-group to socialize.

Delightful country inns known as paradores are a little-known aspect of Puerto Rican tourism. These government-promoted inns, patterned after those of Spain, are ideal for inexpensive family vacations, usually in a rustic setting.

Since the US military stopped using the out island of Vieques for target practice, the island is fast developing into one of the world's newest best travel and beach Mecca. The main town and ferry point is Isabel Segunda, boasting a bust of South American Liberator Simon Bolivar, one of the island's first tourists, having come to the island in 1816.

About Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico, officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, is a self governing unincorporated territory of the United States with Commonwealth status located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of the Virgin Islands; approximately 1,280 miles off the coast of Florida. The archipelago of Puerto Rico includes the main island of Puerto Rico, the smallest of the Greater Antilles, and a number of smaller islands and keys, the largest of which are Mona, Vieques, and Culebra. The Capital of Puerto Rico is San Juan, founded in 1508, by Juan Ponce de León.

Puerto Rico has one of the most dynamic economies in the Caribbean region. Tourism has traditionally been an important source of income for the island. The currency of Puerto Rico is the United States dollar (US$).

Language

Spanish and English are the official languages, but Spanish is without a doubt the dominant language. English is spoken by about 1/4 of the population-with limited capabilities. English is taught as a second language in public and private schools from elementary levels to high school and in universities English is required in all federal matters. English is spoken in all major tourist areas. Puerto Rico has developed a unique version of Spanish. The language was greatly influenced by Puerto Rico's history. Puerto Ricans integrated thousands of Taíno words, adopted some pronunciation habits from African dialects, and incorporated English words or phrases (known as "Spanglish") into the language.
Puerto Rico : Enchanted Island
Puerto Ricans can understand Spanish speakers from other countries, while there may be some differences; such differences are not excessive and does not obstruct communication.

Language has been a central issue in Puerto Rican education and culture since 1898. Until 1930 U.S. authorities insisted upon making English the language of instruction in the schools, the intent being to produce English-speaking persons of American culture in the same way this is done in the United States public schools. But strong resistance to the policy finally brought a change to the use of Spanish as the basic school language, English becoming a second language studied by all.

In 1991 the Puerto Rican legislature, following the lead of the pro-commonwealth Popular Democratic Party and the governor, Rafael Hernández Colon, endorsed a bill that made Spanish the island's official language, thus reversing a 1902 law that gave both Spanish and English official recognition. In 1993 the pro-statehood governor, Pedro J. Rossello, signed legislation restoring equal status to Spanish and English.

PUERTO RICAN CULTURE IS SOMEWHAT COMPLEX – OTHERS WILL CALL IT COLORFUL.


Culture

Puerto Rican culture is somewhat complex - others will call it colorful. Culture is a series of visual manifestations and interactions with the environment that make a region and/or a group of people different from the rest of the world. Puerto Rico, without a doubt has several unique characteristics that distinguish their culture from any other.

Let’s consider that the people of Puerto Rico represent a cultural and racial mix. During the early 18-century, the Spaniard in order to populate the country took Taino Indian women as brides. Later on as labor was needed to maintain crops and build roads, African slaves were imported, followed by the importation of Chinese immigrants, then continued with the arrival of Italians, French, German, and even Lebanese people. American expatriates came to the island after 1898.

Long after Spain had lost control of Puerto Rico, Spanish immigrants continued to arrive on the island. The most significant new immigrant population arrived in the 1960s, when thousands of Cubans fled from Fidel Castro's Communist state. The latest arrivals to Puerto Rico have come from  the economically depressed Dominican Republic.  Amazingly, Puerto Rico exists practically without racial problems (very close to but not completely).


Due to the mix of the four cultures - African (from the slaves), Taíno (Amerindians), Spanish, and more recently, North American Puerto Rico has a strong music base to its culture.  From Africans, the Puerto Ricans have obtained the "bomba and plena", a type of music and dance including percussions and maracas. From the Amerindians (Taínos), they kept many names for their municipalities, foods, musical instruments like the güiro and maracas.

Many words and other objects have originated from their localized language. From the Spanish they received the Spanish language, the Catholic religion and the vast majority of their cultural and moral values and traditions. From the United States they received the English language, the university system and a variety of hybrid cultural forms that developed between the U.S. mainland and the island of Puerto Rico.


Geography

Puerto Rico consists of the main island of Puerto Rico and various smaller islands, including Vieques, Culebra, Mona, Desecheo, and Caja de Muertos. Of these last five, only Culebra and Vieques are inhabited year-round. Mona is uninhabited most of the year except for employees of the Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources. There are also many other even smaller islands including Monito and "La Isleta de San Juan" which includes Old San Juan and Puerta de Tierra.

The maximum length of the main island from east to west is 110 miles and the maximum width from north to south is 40 miles. Comparing land areas, Puerto Rico is 8/10 the size of Jamaica and 8/100 the size of Cuba, the next smallest and the largest countries in the Greater Antilles, respectively. An important peak is El Yunque, one of the highest in the Sierra de Luquillo at the El Yunque National Forest, with an elevation of 3,494 feet.
Puerto Rico : Enchanted Island
Puerto Rico has 17 lakes, all man-made, and more than 50 rivers, most originating in the Cordillera Central. Rivers in the northern region of the island are typically longer and of higher water flow rates than those of the south, since the south receives less rain than the central and northern regions.

The most recognizable endemic species and a symbol of Puerto Rican pride is the Coquí, a small frog easily identified by the sound of its call, and from which it gets its name. Most Coquí species (13 of 17) live in the El Yunque National Forest, a tropical rainforest in the northeast of the island previously known as the Caribbean National Forest. El Yunque is home to more than 240 plants, 26 of which are endemic to the island.

THE PUERTO RICO TRENCH, THE LARGEST AND DEEPEST TRENCH IN THE ATLANTIC…


Location

Puerto Rico is located to  the west by Haití and the Dominican Republic (La Hispañola), separated by the Mona Passage ("Mona Canal"), to the east by the Virgin Islands, to the north by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the south by the Caribbean Sea.
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Seaside Mariana - Nicaragua 
There is a new and special place where the land and sea merge gently beneath the tropical sun. It is from this magnificent natural setting that Seaside Mariana Spa & Golf Resort is rising and creating the new standard of excellence for exclusive luxury destinations in Latin America.

Nestled on the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua, the resort’s 923 acres rise smoothly from over a mile of unspoiled beach to the Tecolapa River’s tree-lined banks, framed by distant rolling mountains. It is a place of the heart and soul, a quiet refuge dedicated to relaxation and revitalization.

Seaside Mariana is the jewel of the New Nicaragua, a country that understands the past and embraces the future. Residents and visitors will discover the country’s special charms and the warmth of its people, which complement the variety of amenities and recreational opportunities found within the resort. Serving as the centerpiece of Seaside Mariana is a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, while a spa and wellness center will pamper the discriminating individuals who choose to own property here in this tropical paradise.

The resort offers a selection of wonderful beachfront and golf course residences built to stringent North American standards, and featuring exquisite details and finishes wrapped in the patina of old-world architecture.

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Interestingly, Puerto Rico is close to the deepest submarine depression in the North Atlantic Ocean. The Puerto Rico Trench, roughly parallel to the northern coast of the island of Puerto Rico and lying about 75 miles (120 km) to the north. The Puerto Rico Trench is about 1,090 miles (1,750 km) long and 60 miles (100 km) wide.

The deepest point in the Atlantic Ocean, the Milwaukee Depth lies within the Puerto Rico Trench, at a depth of 27,493 feet (8,380 meters) in the western end of the trench, about 100 miles (160 km) northwest of Puerto Rico. The origin of the trench can be traced back to the beginning of the Tertiary period. The Puerto Rico Trench appears to be part of a complex system of sinistral strike-slip faults in the north Caribbean; the trench seems to have been opened continuously for about 70 million years. It is partially filled with sediments.


The Caribbean's greatest known depth is Cayman Trench (Bartlett Deep) between Cuba and Jamaica, at approximately 25,216 feet (7,686 meters) below sea level. Mona and Monito Islands are located between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. These small islands are considered the Galápagos Islands of the Caribbean Sea.

No other reef and offshore island habitat within U.S. jurisdiction possesses such ecological uniqueness, invaluable habitat, and biological diversity within such a reduced surface area. For these reasons, Mona and Monito Islands have been recognized by the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico as a Natural Reserve. The islands are a critical habitat of endangered marine turtles, sea birds and occasional migratory marine mammals.


Spanish Colony

When Christopher Columbus arrived in Puerto Rico during his second voyage on November 19, 1493, the island was inhabited by a group of Arawak Indians known as Taínos. Columbus named the island San Juan Bautista, in honor of Saint John the Baptist. Later the island took the name of Puerto Rico (Spanish for "Rich Port") while the capital was named San Juan. In 1508, Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León became the island's first governor to take office.

The Spanish soon colonized the island. Taínos were forced into slavery and were decimated by the harsh conditions of work and by diseases brought by the Spaniards. In 1511, the Taínos revolted against the Spanish but the revolt was easily crushed by Ponce de León and within a few decades much of the native population had been decimated by disease, violence, and a high occurrence of suicide. African slaves were introduced to replace the Taíno.
Puerto Rico : Enchanted Island
Puerto Rico soon became an important stronghold and port for the Spanish Empire. Various forts and walls, such as La Fortaleza, El Castillo San Felipe del Morro and El Castillo de San Cristóbal, were built to protect the port of San Juan from European enemies. France, The Netherlands and England made several attempts to capture Puerto Rico but failed to wrest long-term occupancy.

United States Colony


On July 25, 1898, during the Spanish-American War, Puerto Rico was invaded by the United States with a landing at Guánica. As an outcome of the war, Spain ceded Puerto Rico, along with Cuba, the Philippines, and Guam to the U.S. under the Treaty of Paris.
The United States and Puerto Rico thus began a long-standing relationship. Puerto Rico began the 20th century under the military rule of the U.S. with officials, including the governor, appointed by the President of the United States. In 1917, the Jones-Shafroth Act granted Puerto Ricans U.S. citizenship and provided for a popularly-elected Senate to complete a bicameral Legislative Assembly.

Commonwealth

In 1947, the U.S. granted Puerto Ricans the right to democratically elect their own governor. Luis Muñoz Marín was elected during the 1948 general elections, becoming the first popularly-elected governor of Puerto Rico. In 1950, the Truman Administration allowed for a democratic referendum in Puerto Rico to determine whether Puerto Ricans desired to draft their own local constitution.

A local constitution was approved by a Constitutional Convention on February 6, 1952, ratified by the U.S. Congress, approved by President Truman on July 3 of that year, and proclaimed by Gov. Muñoz Marín on July 25, 1952, the anniversary of the 1898 arrival of U.S. troops. Puerto Rico adopted the name of Estado Libre Asociado (literally translated as "Free Associated State"), officially translated into English as Commonwealth, for its body politic.


Puerto Rico has a republican form of government, subject to U.S. jurisdiction and sovereignty. Its current powers are all delegated by the United States Congress and lack full protection under the United States Constitution. Puerto Rico's head of state is the President of the United States. The government of Puerto Rico, based on the formal republican system, is composed of three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. The executive branch is headed by the Governor, currently Mr. Luis Fortuño. Puerto Rico is represented in the United States Congress by a nonvoting delegate, formally called a Resident Commissioner.

As Puerto Rico is not an independent country, it hosts no embassies. It is host, however, to consulates from 41 countries, mainly from the Americas and Europe. Most consulates are located in San Juan.

Political and Tax Status


People born in Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens. As such, they are entitled to vote at the federal level, but not from the island, as the territory is not yet incorporated. The legal restriction to vote at the federal level extends only to the territory, not to its citizens. In this fashion, all U.S. citizens can vote at the federal level from any part of the world or incorporated territories of the U.S. By the same token, no U.S. citizen may vote at the federal level if they reside in Puerto Rico, although they can vote at the "state" (local) level. Most Federal level taxes do not apply to island residents, as taxation is one of the powers delegated to the local authorities.

All persons born in Puerto Rico after 1941 are considered natural-born citizens of the United States, one of the constitutional requirements to be President of the United States.

Puerto Rico is classified by the U.S. government as an independent taxation authority by mutual agreement with the U.S. Congress. Contrary to common misconception, residents of Puerto Rico pay some U.S. federal taxes: import/export taxes, federal commodity taxes, social security taxes, etc. Most residents do not pay federal income tax but pay federal payroll taxes (Social Security and Medicare), and Puerto Rico income taxes.

But federal employees, or those who do business with the federal government, Puerto Rico-based corporations that intend to send funds to the U.S. and others also pay federal income taxes. Because the cutoff point for income taxation is lower than that of the U.S. IRS code, and because the per-capita income in Puerto Rico is much lower than the average per-capita income on the mainland, more Puerto Rico residents pay less income tax (or fewer income taxes) to the local taxation authority than if the IRS code were applied to the island.
Puerto Rico : Enchanted Island
Residents are eligible for Social Security benefits upon retirement. But Puerto Rico is excluded from Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and receives less than 15% of the Medicaid funding it would be allotted as a state, while Medicare providers receive only partial state-like reimbursements for services rendered to beneficiaries in Puerto Rico (even though the latter paid fully into the system).

Puerto Ricans may enlist in the U.S. military. Since becoming statutory United States citizens in 1917, Puerto Ricans have been included in the compulsory draft whenever it has been in effect. Puerto Ricans have participated in all U.S. wars since 1898, most notably World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars, as well as the current Middle Eastern conflicts.

Puerto Rico is considered one of the major tourism playgrounds of the Caribbean by both the Americans, Canadians and Europeans and maintains a high visitor and airlift status as compared to other nations in the Caribbean Basin. 

Known as the Enchanted Island for its lush green beauty, Old Word delights, beaches, culture, and gracious people it has proved to be one of the best visitor bargains in the Caribbean.

Author : Lulu Basuil is an environmentalist, avid diver, a lover of nature, and an educator by vocation. Born in Portugal, she considers herself a global citizen and spends as much time as possible traveling around the globe and writing of her travels and observations.

 Caribbean Property and Lifestyles Magazine Email : Lulu Basuil
La Joya Esperenza - Costa Rica
The beautiful tropical country of Costa Rica is home to La Joya de Esperanza, or "Jewel of Esperanza" a development located in the Nicoya Peninsula in Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica.
 
This secure gated community comprises approximately 20-30 luxurious villas containing two, three and four bedrooms on 11.11 acres. This new development is a secure gated community and is available for sale at the cost of US$1,000,000.00.  Each home has a pool and a back concrete wall in the direction of the road.  La Joya de Esperanza comprises a tropical park with nature trails and spectacular view of majestic sunsets.

Local financing is available for prospective investors.  Currently available are the four bedroom villas on lot #2, three bedroom villas on lot #3 and the two bedroom villas on lot #4.

The investors dream of owning real estate in a lucrative and tourist friendly environment can become a reality through La Joya de Esperanza in Costa Rica.

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