Puerto Rican can refer to anybody who was born in or whose ancestors are from Puerto Rico. It can also refer to something from Puerto Rico, such as "Puerto Rican Rum". It should be noted that even though Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States and its people have American citizenship, the majority of the people of Puerto Rico feel pride in being called Puerto Ricans of nationality.
Asked about whether she felt Puerto Rican or not by a popular men's magazine, New York native model and rap singer Gloria Velez declared that "(she) was born in Long Island, (her parents) were born in New York, but (her) grandparents were born in Puerto Rico, so (she is) 100 percent Puerto Rican". This is a feeling shared by most (if not all) Puerto Ricans born outside Puerto Rico. Wilfred Benitez is another famous person who was not born in Puerto Rico but feels proud of being Puerto Rican.
Puerto Ricans also refer to themselves as Boricuas. This term comes from the word "Boriken" (Borínquen ) which was what the Taínos called Puerto Rico before the Spaniards arrived.
Puerto Ricans are a mixer of customs and cultures which have truly resulted in a great melting pot. The people who inhabited the island of Puerto Rico at the time of the European landfall were the members of the Taíno tribe. In the 16th century the white Spaniards arrived with their African black slaves. Some of the Spanish and some slaves inter-married with the Taíno. In 1791, the slaves in Haiti, revolted against their white French masters. Many of the French escaped to Puerto Rico via the Dominican Republic and settled in the west coast of the island, especially in Mayaguez. Racial mixing, even before abolition, was more common in Puerto Rico than in Cuba or English colonies. This trend continued after 1873 when the abolition of slavery in Puerto Rico occurred (note that the date for the abolition of slavery is the date when all slaves were granted freedom, but, before that day and starting on 1837, the freedom of blacks could always be bought at the time of baptism). At the end of the 19th century Spain permitted the migration of Italians (principally from Corsica) and of the Irish to the island. In addition, Chinese started arriving at the island, as rail-road workers, during the 1840s to 1850s. These groups settled mainly in the southern cities of Puerto Rico. The main idea behind Spain's new immigration policy was to keep the local population from asking for its independence by permitting people whom they believed would be loyal to the Spanish Crown to live in the island. This trend continued after 1898, when Puerto Rico was annexed by the United States after the Spanish-American War, with the migration of Germans and Lebanese. More recent arrivals include inhabitants from nearby islands, including Dominicans and a substantial population of Cuban immigrants after 1959.
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04