United States of America

The Unted States of America has several territories in the Caribbean.

Puerto Rico was claimed by the Spanish crown in 1493 following Columbus' second voyage to the Americas. In 1898, after 400 years of colonial rule that resulted in the near extermination Of the indigenous population and introduction Of African slave labour, Puerto Rico was ceded to the US as a result of the Spanish-American War. Puerto Ricans were granted US citizenship in 1917 and popularly elected governors have served since 1948. in 1952, a constitution was created to provide for internal self-government. In plebiscites held in 1967, 1993, and 1998 voters chose to retain commonwealth status.

The Virgin Islands were sighted during Christopher Columbus' second voyage in 1493. He first saw St. Croix, which he named Santa Cruz and claimed for Spain. In 1671, Denmark colonized St. Thomas, establishing the first permanent settlement there. In 1917 the United States Bought the islands for $25 Million, as Part Of its military defence strategy. It served as a strategic military base during World War II, And has now become a tranquil retreat with secluded beaches And resorts, Mmaking it a soothing addition to the Virgin Islands' charms.

National Focal Point for IOCARIBE

Mr Jonathan Kelsey
U.S. State Department
Office of Ocean and Polar Affairs
2201 C Street NW, Room 2665
Washington, DC 20520
Tel: + 202 647 69 27
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.






  • Location:
    • Puerto Rico is bordered on the north by the Atlantic Ocean, on the east by the Virgin Passage (which separates it from the Virgin Islands), on the south by the Caribbean Sea, and on the west by the Mona Passage.
  • Area:
    • Total: 9,104 sq km
    • Water: 145 sq km
    • Land: 8,959 sq km
  • Coastline:
    • 501 km
  • Maritime claims:
    • Exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
    • Territorial sea: 12 NM
  • Natural resources:
    • some copper and nickel; potential for onshore and offshore oil


  • Population: 3,885,877 (July 2003 est.)
  • Nationality:
    • noun: Puerto Rican(s) (US citizens)
    • adjective: Puerto Rican
  • Ethnic groups: white (mostly Spanish origin) 80.5%, black 8%, Amerindian 0.4%, Asian 0.2%, mixed and other 10.9%
  • Religions: Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant and other 15%
  • Languages: Spanish, English


  • Country name:
    • conventional long form: Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
    • conventional short form: Puerto Rico
  • Dependency status: commonwealth associated with the US
  • Government type: commonwealth
  • Capital: San Juan
  • Administrative divisions: none (commonwealth associated with the US); there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but there are 78 municipalities (municipios, singular - municipio) at the second order; Adjuntas, Aguada, Aguadilla, Aguas Buenas, Aibonito, Anasco, Arecibo, Arroyo, Barceloneta, Barranquitas, Bayamon, Cabo Rojo, Caguas, Camuy, Canovanas, Carolina, Catano, Cayey, Ceiba, Ciales, Cidra, Coamo, Comerio, Corozal, Culebra, Dorado, Fajardo, Florida, Guanica, Guayama, Guayanilla, Guaynabo, Gurabo, Hatillo, Hormigueros, Humacao, Isabela, Jayuya, Juana Diaz, Juncos, Lajas, Lares, Las Marias, Las Piedras, Loiza, Luquillo, Manati, Maricao, Maunabo, Mayaguez, Moca, Morovis, Naguabo, Naranjito, Orocovis, Patillas, Penuelas, Ponce, Quebradillas, Rincon, Rio Grande, Sabana Grande, Salinas, San German, San Juan, San Lorenzo, San Sebastian, Santa Isabel, Toa Alta, Toa Baja, Trujillo Alto, Utuado, Vega Alta, Vega Baja, Vieques, Villalba, Yabucoa, Yauco
  • International organization participation: Caricom (observer), ECLAC (associate), FAO (associate), ICFTU, Interpol (subbureau), IOC, WCL, WFTU, WHO (associate), WToO (associate)


  • Inflation rate (consumer prices): 5% (2002 est.)
  • Industries: pharmaceuticals, electronics, apparel, food products; tourism
  • Agriculture - products: sugarcane, coffee, pineapples, plantains, bananas; livestock products, chickens
  • Exports: $46.9 billion f.o.b. (2001)
  • Exports - commodities: chemicals, electronics, apparel, canned tuna, rum, beverage concentrates, medical equipment
  • Imports: $29.1 billion c.i.f. (2001)
  • Imports - commodities: chemicals, machinery and equipment, clothing, food, fish, petroleum products
  • Currency: US dollar (USD)

National Policy:

    • Marine Affairs Policy

      In the Government of Puerto Rico the Marine Affairs Policy is carrying on by the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, and the Commonwealth Planning Board. The DNER under the Coastal Zone Management Program is the entity with the power to address the issues in the maritime zone. The DNER is estructured in a way that offices like the Bureau of Coast, Refuges and Reserves, Marine Resources Div, Legal Div., and the Bureau of Fish and Wildlife works as one unit to help in the management of the marine resources issues.


    • Marine Science & Research Policy

      Most of the Research is conducted by the University of Puerto Rico under the Department of Marine Sciences. The DNER also have a scientific branch that also conduct research but a minor scale.


    • Coastal Area Policy

      The Coastal Area Policy is covered by the DNER Coastal Zone Management Program which is the governmental entity in charge of the development of the plans, management programs and regulations in the coastal areas of Puerto Rico.


  • Environment Policy

    Even when the DNER is the governmental agency in charge of the management of the natural resources of Puerto Rico, the Environmental Quality Board is the State Agency in charge of the enforcement, regulations and policies that applies to the environment. Plans like the Section 6217 , is among the plans administered by the EQB to help in the management of the Environment of Puerto Rico. Also the USEPA regulates those areas where the US government has specific programs to address specific issues (ie, Clean Water Act, Clean Vessel Act, Superfunds, etc.)

Institutional Structure:

      Commonwealth State Department


      Telephone: (787) 723 4334

      Consejo de Pesca del Caribe


      268 Muñoz Rivera, Ave. Suite 1108, San Juan, P.R. 00918-2577


      Telephone: (787) 766 5926


      Fax: (787) 766 6639

      Department of Agriculture, Commercial Fishery Program


      P.O. Box 10163, San Juan, P.R.




      Telephone: (787) 724 4911


      Fax: (787) 725 7884

      Department of Natural and Environmental Resources


      Bureau of Coasts, Refuges and Reserves


      P.O. Box 5887 Pda. 3 ½ Puerta de Tierra, San Juan Puerto Rico 00906


      Telephone: 787-724 8774


      Fax: 787-721 7591

      Department of Natural and Environmental Resources


      Marine Resources Section


      Apdo.Postal 5887, Puerto de Tierra , PR 00906


      Telephone: (787) 724-0960

      Laboratory of Fishery Research (LFR)


      P.O. Box 3665, Maina Station, Mayaguez, P.R. 00709, USA


    Telephone: 1-890 833-2025


For updated information on Puerto Rico visit its Central Intelligence Agency Factsheet.






  • Location:
    • Group of 3 islands and about 50 islets, most of which are inhabited, in the lesser Antilles, chain of the West Indies, east of Puerto Rico and lying between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Area:
    • Total: 352 sq km
    • Water: 3 sq km
    • Land: 349 sq km
  • Coastline:
    • 188 km
  • Maritime claims:
    • Exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
    • Territorial sea: 12 NM
  • Natural resources:
    • Sun, sand, sea, surf


  • Population: 124,778 (July 2003 est.)
  • Nationality:
    • noun: Virgin Islander(s)
    • adjective: Virgin Islander
  • Ethnic groups: black 78%, white 10%, other 12%
    note: West Indian 81% (49% born in the Virgin Islands and 32% born elsewhere in the West Indies), US mainland 13%, Puerto Rican 4%, other 2%
  • Religions: Baptist 42%, Roman Catholic 34%, Episcopalian 17%, other 7%
  • Languages: English (official), Spanish, Creole


  • Country name:
    • conventional long form: United States Virgin Islands
    • conventional short form: Virgin Islands
    • former: Danish West Indies
  • Dependency status: organized, unincorporated territory of the US with policy relations between the Virgin Islands and the US under the jurisdiction of the Office of Insular Affairs, US Department of the Interior
  • Government type: NA
  • Capital: Charlotte Amalie
  • Administrative divisions: none (territory of the US); there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but there are three islands at the second order; Saint Croix, Saint John, Saint Thomas
  • International organization participation: ECLAC (associate), Interpol (subbureau), IOC


  • Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2% (1992)
  • Industries: tourism, petroleum refining, watch assembly, rum distilling, construction, pharmaceuticals, textiles, electronics
  • Agriculture - products: fruit, vegetables, sorghum; Senepol cattle
  • Exports: $NA
  • Exports - commodities: refined petroleum products
  • Imports: $NA
  • Imports - commodities: crude oil, foodstuffs, consumer goods, building materials
  • Currency: US dollar (USD)

National Policy:

  • Marine Affairs Policy
  • Marine Science & Research Policy
  • Coastal Area Policy
  • Environment Policy

Institutional Structure:

      Island Resource Foundation


      6296 Estate Nazareth No. 11,


      St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands 00802 1104


      and 1718 P. Street NW (T-4) Washington D.C. 20036, USA


      Telephone: 809 775 6225


      Fax: 809 779 2022


      email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (USVI) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

      Marine Science Center


      University of the Virgin Islands (UVI)


      Charlotte Armalie, St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. 00802, USA


      Telephone: (1-809) 776-9200 ext 1360


      Telefax: (1-809) 776-2399

      West Indies Laboratory (WIL)


      Fairleigh Dickinson University


      Teague Bay, Christiansted, St. Croix, U.S.V.I. 00820, USA


    Telephone: (1-809) 773-3339


For updated information on the Virgin Islands visit their Central Intelligence Agency Factsheet.