Puerto Rico


Puerto Rico

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Puerto Rico, officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (Spanish: "Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico" — literally Associated Free State of Puerto Rico), is a self-governing unincorporated territory of the United States located in the northeastern Caribbean Sea, east of the Dominican Republic and west of the Virgin Islands.

Puerto Rico is composed of an archipelago that includes the main island of Puerto Rico and a number of smaller islands, the largest of which are Vieques, Culebra, and Mona. The main island of Puerto Rico is the smallest by land area and second smallest by population among the four Greater Antilles, which also include Cuba, Hispaniola, and Jamaica.

Puerto Ricans often call the island Borinquen, from Borikén, its indigenous Taíno name. 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 as "La Isla del Encanto", which translated means "The Island of Enchantment."

Sports

Baseball was one of the first sports to gain widespread popularity in Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rico Baseball League serves as the only active professional league, operating as a winter league. No Major League Baseball franchise or affiliate plays in Puerto Rico, however, San Juan hosted the Montreal Expos for several series in 2003 and 2004 before they moved to Washington, D.C. and became the Washington Nationals. Puerto Rico has participated in the World Cup of Baseball winning one gold (1951), four silver and four bronze medals and the Caribbean Series, winning fourteen times. Famous Puerto Rican baseball players include Roberto Clemente and Orlando Cepeda, enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973 and 1999, respectively.

Boxing, basketball, and volleyball are considered popular sports as well. Wilfredo Gómez and McWilliams Arroyo have won their respective divisions at the World Amateur Boxing Championships. Other medalists include José Pedraza, who holds a silver medal, as well as three boxers that finished in third place, José Luis Vellón, Nelson Dieppa and McJoe Arroyo. In the professional circuit, Puerto Rico has the third-most boxing world champions and its the global leader in champions per capita. These include Miguel Cotto, Félix Trinidad, Wilfred Benítez and Gómez among others. The Puerto Rico national basketball team joined the International Basketball Federation in 1957. Since then, it has won more than 30 medals in international competitions, including gold in three FIBA Americas Championships and the 1994 Goodwill Games. August 8, 2004, became a landmark date for the team when it became the first team to defeat the United States in an Olympic tournament since the integration of National Basketball Association players. Winning the inaugural game with scores of 92-73 as part of the 2004 Summer Olympics organized in Athens, Greece.

Miscellaneous practices of this sport have experienced some success, including the "Puerto Rico All Stars" team, which has won twelve world championships in unicycle basketball. Organized Streetball has gathered some exposition, with teams like "Puerto Rico Street Ball" competing against established organizations including the Capitanes de Arecibo and AND1's Mixtape Tour Team. Consequently, practitioners of this style have earned participation in international teams, including Orlando "El Gato" Meléndez, who became the first Puerto Rican born athlete to play for the Harlem Globetrotters.[131] Orlando Antigua, whose mother is Puerto Rican, made history in 1995, when he became the first Hispanic and the first non-black in 52 years to play for the Harlem Globetrotters.

The Puerto Rico Islanders Football Club, founded in 2003, plays in the United Soccer Leagues First Division, which constitutes the second tier of football in North America. Puerto Rico is also a member of FIFA and CONCACAF. In 2008 the archipelago's first unified league, the Puerto Rico Soccer League, was established. Secondary sports include Professional wrestling and road running. The World Wrestling Council and International Wrestling Association are the largest wrestling promotions in the main island. The World's Best 10K, held annually in San Juan, has been ranked among the 20 most competitive races globally.

Puerto Rico has representation in all international competitions including the Summer and Winter Olympics, the Pan American Games, the Caribbean World Series, and the Central American and Caribbean Games. Puerto Rican athletes have won 6 medals (1 silver, 5 bronze) in Olympic competition, the first one in 1948 by boxer Juan Evangelista Venegas. On March 2006 San Juan's Hiram Bithorn Stadium hosted the opening round as well as the second round of the newly formed World Baseball Classic. The 2010 Central American and Caribbean Games will be held in Mayagüez in 2010. (Credit: Wikipedia)

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Virgin Islands

The Virgin Islands are the eastern island group of the Leeward Islands, which are the northern part of the Lesser Antilles, which form the border between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Politically, the north-eastern islands form the British Virgin Islands and the south-western ones the United States Virgin Islands.

The British Virgin Islands is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom comprising Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, over fifty smaller islands, and Anegada to the north. The United States Virgin Islands is an unincorporated territory of the United States comprising St. Croix to the south, with St. John, St. Thomas, and smaller islands. The Virgin Passage separates the U.S. Virgin Islands from the "Spanish Virgin Islands" or "Passage Islands", Vieques and Culebra, which are the easternmost islands of Puerto Rico.

History

Christopher Columbus named the islands Santa Ursula y las Once Mil Vírgenes, shortened to Las Vírgenes, after Saint Ursula and her 11,000 virgins. They were inhabited by the Arawak, Carib and Cermic, all of whom died out during the colonial period from disease, harsh labor conditions, and murder.

Later, the islands were re-populated by European colonists, who established sugar plantations (and at least one tobacco plantation) worked by slaves brought from Africa. The plantations are gone, but the descendants of the slaves remain the bulk of the population, sharing a common Afro-Caribbean heritage with the rest of the English-speaking Caribbean.

Motor vehicles are driven on the left-hand side of the road in both the British and the U.S. Virgin Islands, although the steering wheels on most cars is located on the left side (as is the norm for drive-on-the-right localities). Also, the United States dollar is the official currency on both the British and U.S. Virgin Islands.

A 1990s tourist campaign re-christened the Passage Islands as the Spanish Virgin Islands, though they are seldom identified as such on maps and atlases. They are just east of Puerto Rico, and governed as part of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Natives speak Spanish, and the culture is similar to Puerto Rico. Vieques and Culebra belonged to Spain prior to the Spanish-American War in 1898. Though the islands are not labeled part of the Virgin Islands archipelago, some[who?] argue that Vieques and Culebra are geographically part of the Virgin Islands chain, and note that Vieques and Culebra are closer to St. Thomas than St. Thomas is to St. Croix. (Credit: Wikipedia)

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