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As part of their religious beliefs, deities were very much present in nature. Traditions were preserved through ceremonial dances, or areytosand oral storytelling that took place in the bateywhich was the ceremonial plaza also used for sports.

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The following discussion focuses on Puerto Rican history from the time of European settlement. For treatment of the island in its regional contextsee Latin America, history ofand West Indies, history of. The first inhabitants of Puerto Rico were hunter-gatherers who reached the island more than 1, years before the arrival of the Spanish.

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Arawak Indians, who developed the Taino culturehad also settled there by ce. The clan-based Taino lived in small villages led by a cacique, or chief. They had a limited knowledge of agriculture but grew such domesticated tropical crops as pineapples, cassavaand sweet potatoes and supplemented their diet with seafood.

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The Taino occasionally warded off attacks by their Carib neighbours from islands to the south and east, including the Virgin Islands and Vieques Island. In Christopher Columbus left Spain on his second voyage to the Indies with a large expedition of 17 ships and about 1, men. The expeditionaries spent two days on the island before sailing westward to Hispaniolawhere they established the first permanent settlement in the New World.

For 15 years San Juan Bautista was neglected except for an occasional visit by a ship putting in for supplies.

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Through time and common usage the port became known as San Juan while the name Puerto Rico came to be applied to the whole island. Meanwhile, European diseases to which the Spaniards were largely immune and maltreatment had begun to devastate the Taino population.

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In the Indians rebelled but had only temporary success against the better-armed Spanish, who again subjugated them. The Spanish subsequently brought Indian slaves from nearby islands and black slaves from Africa in order to fully staff their placer mines.

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However, gold production markedly declined after the s, and many of the Europeans migrated elsewhere. Those who remained set up sugarcane and ginger plantations with their African slaves, but the colony continued to lead a precarious existence.

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Carib groups from neighbouring islands made frequent raids, carrying off food and slaves and destroying property. Puerto Rico was further ravaged by disease, and it was plundered by French, British, and Dutch pirates. Increasing s of colonists left the island. In the second half of the 16th century Spain, recognizing the strategic importance of Puerto Rico, undertook to convert San Juan into a military outpost by using a financial subsidy from the Mexican mines.

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In the early 17th century the city was surrounded by a stone wall 25 feet 8 metres high and 18 feet 5 metres thick, two parts of which still stand. These defenses made San Juan almost impregnable. In Sir Francis Drake attacked the city with a sizable fleet but failed to silence its guns.

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Three years later the British soldier George Clifford, 3rd earl of Cumberlandcaptured the city but was soon forced to abandon it after his troops fell victim to disease probably dysentery. In the Dutchman Bowdoin Hendrik captured and burned the town but failed to subdue El Morro, where the governor had taken refuge. Ginger, hides, sugarcane, tobacco, and cattle from the island were in great demand. Puerto Rico. Fast Facts.

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In Caparra had to be relocated to a nearby coastal islet with a healthier environment; it was renamed Puerto Rico "Rich Port" for its harbor, among the world's best natural bays.

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Their world, which had its origins among the Arawak tribes of the Orinoco Delta, gradually spread from Venezuela across the Antilles in waves of voyaging and settlement begun around B.

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The last US census estimate, from Julyshowed 3, people that inhabit the island of Puerto Rico make it one of the most densely populated islands in the world.