Originally populated by the indigenousTaíno people, Puerto Rico was colonized by Spain following the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1493. It was contested by the French, Dutch, and British, but remained a Spanish possession for the next four centuries. The island's cultural and demographic landscapes were shaped by the displacement and assimilation of the native population, the forced migration of African slaves, and settlement from the Canary Islands and Andalusia. In the Spanish Empire, Puerto Rico played a secondary but strategic role compared to wealthier colonies like Peru and New Spain. Spain's distant administrative control continued up to the end of the 19th century, producing a distinctive creole Hispanic culture and language that combined indigenous, African, and European elements. On September 23, 1868, Ramón Emeterio Betances unleashed a revolt against Spanish rule, declaring for the first time the idea of Puerto Ricans as a distinct people, with right to sovereignty. This revolt, known as El Grito de Lares, was eventually put down by Spanish forces, but the movement continued. In 1898, following the Spanish–American War, the United States acquired Puerto Rico under the terms of the Treaty of Paris. Since then, Puerto Rico has remained an unincorporated territorial possession, making it the world's oldest colony.
In late September 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, causing devastating damage. The island's electrical grid was largely destroyed, provoking the largest power outage in American history. Recovery efforts were slow in the first few months, and over 200,000 residents had moved to the mainland state of Florida alone by late November 2017.
Puerto Rico is Spanish for "rich port".Puerto Ricans often call the island Borinquén – a derivation of Borikén, its indigenousTaíno name, which means "Land of the Valiant Lord". The terms boricua and borincano derive from Borikén and Borinquen respectively, and are commonly used to identify someone of Puerto Rican heritage. The island is also popularly known in Spanish as la isla del encanto, meaning "the island of enchantment".
Columbus named the island San Juan Bautista, in honor of Saint John the Baptist, while the capital city was named Ciudad de Puerto Rico ("Rich Port City"). Eventually traders and other maritime visitors came to refer to the entire island as Puerto Rico, while San Juan became the name used for the main trading/shipping port and the capital city.[d]
The island's name was changed to Porto Rico by the United States after the Treaty of Paris of 1898. The anglicized name was used by the U.S. government and private enterprises. The name was changed back to Puerto Rico by a joint resolution in Congress introduced by Félix Córdova Dávila in 1931.