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Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Cultural Study: Puerto Rico

Related Posts:

The Golden Flower: A Taino Myth from Puerto Rico by Nina Jaffe

Atlantic and Pacific Regions

Mountains, Islands & Volcanoes


Explorers’ Route Map

Ahoy, Mateys! All About Pirates

Recommended Books:

  • The Golden Flower: A Taino Myth from Puerto Rico by Nina Jaffe
  • There’s A Coqui In My Shoe! by Marisa de Jesus Paolicelli
  • Parrots Over Puerto Rico by Susan L. Roth & Cindy Trumbore
  • How The Sea Began: A Taino Myth by George Crespo
  • Rafi and Rosi by Lulu Delacre (I Can Read Level 3)


  • Proper Name: Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico which translates to Associated Free State of Puerto Rico
  • Location: Four islands in the Caribbean region: Puerto Rico (main island), Vieques, Culebra and Mona
  • Capital: San Juan
  • Status: Although not a state, Puerto Rico is a Commonwealth and an unincorporated territory of the United States ~ this means Puerto Ricans can travel freely between Puerto Rico and the U.S. without a passport, use American currency and follow American laws. As of 1917, Puerto Ricans are born U.S. citizens.
  • Government & Jurisdiction: Puerto Ricans elect their own governor but the government falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. President (although they cannot vote for the U.S. Presidency)
  • Languages: Puerto Ricans predominantly speak Spanish (Español), although many can also speak English (Ingles)
  • Landscape: The landscapes of Puerto Rico include beaches, tropical rainforests, mangroves, country mountainsides, caves and coral reefs
  • Puerto Ricans refer to themselves as Puertorriqueño or Boricua in the Spanish language and as Puerto Rican or Rican in the English language
  • One of Puerto Rico’s natural wonders is Bioluminescent Bay, an area off the island of Vieques where micro-organisms glow when the water is disturbed; another is El Yunque National Rainforest

Related Resource:

TIME for Kids ~ Around The World: Destination Puerto Rico

Historical Information:

Symbol of the Taino sun and coqui

Symbol of the Taino sun and coqui

The indigenous people of the island are the Taino. They called the island Borinken, “the great land of the valiant and noble Lord.” To this day, Puerto Ricans refer to their homeland as Borinquen. Spaniard Conquistadors arrived with Columbus in November 1493. At that time, Columbus renamed the island San Juan Bautista in honor of Saint John the Baptist. It wasn’t until 1508, however, that the first Spanish establishment was formalized under Juan Ponce de Leon, a lieutenant under Columbus. Ponce de Leon became Puerto Rico’s first governor under the Spanish crown; soon after colonization of the island began and the name was changed to Puerto Rico (meaning rich port). The Taino culture was forced into slavery and became all but extinct due to work conditions and European infectious diseases. The United States invaded Puerto Rico in 1898 causing the Spanish-American War, which resulted in Spain relinquishing sovereignty over the island and ceding it to the U.S. under the Treaty of Paris. Continuous immigration from Europe brought people to Puerto Rico, including African slaves. This is why Puerto Ricans have three main ancestors: Taino, Spanish and African roots.

Did You Know?: Puerto Rico is roughly the size of the state of Connecticut

A Few English Words Rooted In Taino Language:

  • barbecue (barbacoa)
  • canoe (canoa)
  • hammock (hamaca)
  • hurricane (Juracan – Taino storm god)
  • iguana (iwana)

Spanish Language: Until recently, the Spanish alphabet consisted of 29 letters – all the ones found in the English alphabet with the addition of three more: ch, ll and ñ. However, as of 2010, the ch and ll were removed, leaving only the ñ as the additional letter to the English alphabet. The ch and ll sounds continue to be used, although the letters are no longer formally recognized in the alphabet.

Some Common Spanish Words:

  • hola (OH-la) = hello
  • adios (ah-dee-OS) = goodbye
  • si (see) = yes
  • no (no) = no
  • gracias (GRAH-see-ahs) = thank you
  • por favor (pore fah-VOR) = please


The coqui (koh-KEE) is a tiny tree frog that’s become the unofficial mascot/symbol of Puerto Rico. Its name comes from the co-qui sound made by the male frogs at night. The “co” sound is to establish territory over other male frogs and the “qui” sound is to attract female frogs. There were seven species of coqui in Puerto Rico, but one is extinct. Three others are currently listed as threatened status. The coqui sound is soothing to natives but it might take some getting used to for tourists. When in large groups, the coqui sound can get loud. Some might find the effect similar to the American crickets. This is a video clip showing an image of a coqui along with its famous sound.

Activity Sheets & Coloring Pages:

Related Information: Taino culture for kids  and website of current Taino Tribe in Puerto Rico


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