The Full Wiki

Spanish immigration to Puerto Rico: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Spanish immigration to Puerto Rico
Spanish immigration to Puerto Rico.jpg
Luis Muñoz Rivera · Ángel Rivero Méndez
Juan Ponce de León II · Ricky Martin · Luis Padial
Marta Casals Istomin · Eugenio María de Hostos · Lola Rodríguez de Tió
Pedro Rosselló · Ingrid Marie Rivera · Juan Alejo de Arizmendi · Luis Llorens Torres
Total population
Total Spanish ancestry unknown
(2.1% identified as Spaniard in 2000)[1][2]
Regions with significant populations
 Puerto Rico 83,879 (2.1%) [1]



Predominantly Roman Catholic
Large minority Protestantism

Related ethnic groups

Spanish · Mediterranean

Spanish immigration to Puerto Rico began in (1493 to 1898 as a part of Spain) to the present day. On September 25, 1493, Christopher Columbus set sail on his second voyage with 17 ships and 1,200–1,500 men from Cádiz, Spain.[3] On November 19, 1493 he landed on the island, naming it San Juan Bautista in honor of Saint John the Baptist.

The first Spanish settlement, Caparra, was founded on August 8, 1508 by Juan Ponce de León, born in Valladolid, Spain, a lieutenant under Columbus, who later became the first governor of the island.[4] The following year, the settlement was abandoned in favor of a nearby islet on the coast, named Puerto Rico (Rich Port), which had a suitable harbor. In 1511, a second settlement, San Germán was established in the southwestern part of the island. During the 1520s, the island took the name of Puerto Rico while the port became San Juan.


Migration history

The European heritage of Puerto Ricans comes primarily from one source: Spaniards (including Canarians, Asturians, Catalans, Galicians, Castilians, Andalusians, and Basques)

From the start of the conquest of Puerto Rico, Castilians ruled over the religious (Roman Catholicism) and political life. Some came to the island for just a few years and then returned to Spain, however many stayed.

Puerto Rico's founding family were Castilians (Ponce de León family). Their home was built in 1521 by Ponce de Leon but he died in the same year, leaving "Casa Blanca" to his young son Luis Ponce de León. The original structure didn't last long; two years after its construction, a hurricane destroyed it, and it was rebuilt by Ponce de León's son-in-law Juan Garcia Troche. The descendants of Ponce de León's family lived in La Casa Blanca, or "The White House," for more than 250 years, when in 1779 the Spanish Army took control. Finally the American military moved into the Casa Blanca in 1898.[6][7] The southern city of Ponce is named after Juan Ponce de León y Loayza, the great-grandson of the island's discoverer.[8]


Immigration waves

Immigration to the island caused the population to grow rapidly during the 19th century. In 1800 the population was 155,426 and ended the century with almost a million inhabitants (953,243), multiplying the population by about six times. The main component responsible was the Royal Decree of Graces of 1815 which led to immigrants from some 74 countries arriving. Included were hundreds of Corsican, French, Lebanese, Maltese and Portuguese families moving to the island. Some countries were represented by only a few (51 Chinese individuals for example). The country that still sent the most people was Spain.

Business ownership in Puerto Rico
during the late 19th Century
Region San Juan
Asturian 26%
Basque 24%
Galician 17%
Majorcan 12%
Catalan 9/10%
All five total 10%
Other 1%
Total 100%
Region Ponce/Mayagüez
Catalan Majority
French, Italian

From the start of colonization other groups from Catalonia, Asturias, Galicia, and Majorca had also immigrated, although the Canarian people formed the basis. Once the 19th century came, things changed drastically. According to Puerto Rican authors such as Cifre de Loubriel who researched the immigration wave patterns made to the island, during the 19th century the greatest number of Spaniards that came to the island with their families were Catalans and Mallorcans from the nearby Mediterranean regions.

The second most common Spanish region with the largest numbers were the Galicians and Asturians, and the third regions were Canary Islanders, Basques and Andalusians. The Catalans, Galicians, Mallorcans and Asturians would come with whole families most of the time. There were regions of the island that attracted some immigrants more than others which was mainly for political or economic reasons.

In 2009, there were 520 Galician born peole in Puerto Rico.[10]


The first wave of Canarian migration to Puerto Rico seems to be in 1695, followed by others in 1714, 1720, 1731, and 1797. The numbers of Canarians to Puerto Rico in its first three centuries is not known to any degree of precision. However, Dr. Estela Cifre de Loubriel and other scholars of the Canarian Migration to America, like Dr. Manuel González Hernández, of the University of La Laguna, Tenerife, agree that they formed the bulk of the Jíbaro or white peasant stock of the island.[11]

The Isleños increased their commercial traffic and emigration concentrated to the two Spanish-American colonies, Puerto Rico and particularly Cuba. Following the Spanish-American War of 1898, Canarian immigration to the Americas continued. Successive waves of Canary Island immigration came to Puerto Rico, where entire villages were formed of relocated islanders.[12]

Foreign population in Puerto Rico [13]
(Excludes those born in the United States)
Year Total % of
Spain's percent
of foreign born
1899 13,872 1.5 55.45 7,690
1910 11,766 1.1 56.5 6,630
1920 8,167 0.6 60.9 4,975
1930 6,017 0.4 59.75 3,595
1940 5,039 0.3 50.25 2,532
1950 8,453 0.4 27.8 2,351
1960 10,224 0.4 25.0 2,558
1970 80,627 3.0 5.1 4,120
1980 70,768 2.2 7.35 5,200
1990 79,804 2.3 5.7 4,579
2000 109,581 2.9 3.5 3,800

In the 1860s, Canarian emigration to the Americas took place at the rate of over 2000 per year, at a time when the total islands' population was 237,036. In the 2-year period 1885-6, more than 4500 Canarians emigrated to Spanish possessions, with only 150 to Puerto Rico. Between 1891-1895, Canary emigration to Puerto Rico was 600. With these being official figures; when illegal or concealed emigration is taken into account, the numbers would be much larger.[14]

Areas of settlement

Many Catalans, Mallorcans and Galicians joined the populations of the interior, the west and the southern coast of the island (along with large numbers of Corsicans) because of their independent personalities and wanted to stay away from the San Juan area since San Juan was dominated by the Spanish and felt more comfortable by being away. However, Asturians, Basques, Galicians and Castilians stayed in the capital San Juan and owned several businesses in the surrounding area. In the case of Ponce and Mayagüez the business ownership was dominated by Catalans, with other immigrant groups such as French, Italians and Germans (see table).[9][15][16][17]


Spanish is the predominant language inherited from the Spaniards among Puerto Ricans residing in the island; however, its vocabulary has expanded with many words and phrases coming from the Taíno and African influences of the island. Since 1901, the English language is taught and spoken throughout the island.

The linguistic contributions of Canary Islanders are difficult to separate from those of Andalusia, given considerable similarities as well as the close linguistic and cultural contacts between Andalusia and the Canaries. For example, the endings -ado, -ido, -edo often drop intervocalic /d/ in both Seville and San Juan: hablado > hablao, vendido > vendío, dedo > deo (intervocalic /d/ dropping is quite widespread in coastal American dialects). Seville Spanish is also the source of the merger of phonemes /s/ (coSer) and /θ/ (coCer) that are both pronounced /s/ in much of Andalusia and generally in all Latin America dialects. This merger is called 'seseo' and makes pairs like cocer/coser, abrazar/abrasar, has/haz, vez/ves homophonous. Another Andalusian trait is the tendency to weaken postvocalic consonants, particularly /-s/: 'los dos > lo do, 'buscar' > buhcá(l). Pronouncing "l" instead of "r" at the ends of words ending in "l" is also a trait of Puerto Rican Spanish that has its origin in southern Spain.

Canarian Spanish (from the Canary Islands off the coast of Western Sahara in Africa) also made a contribution to Puerto Rican Spanish as many Canarios came in hopes of establishing a better life in the Americas. Most Puerto Rican immigration in the early 19th century involved Canary Islands' natives, who, like Puerto Ricans, had inherited most of their linguistic traits from Andalusia. Canarian influence is most present in the language of those Puerto Ricans who live in the central mountain region, who blended it with the remnant vocabulary of the Taíno. Canarian and Caribbean dialects share a similar intonation which, in general terms, means that stressed vowels are usually quite long. Puerto Rican and Canarian Spanish are strikingly similar. When visiting Tenerife or Las Palmas, Puerto Ricans are usually taken at first hearing for fellow-Canarians from a distant part of the Canary archipelago.


The Catholic Church has been historically the dominant religion in Puerto Rico when Juan Ponce de León arrived on the Island. The first dioceses in the Americas was erected in Puerto Rico in 1511.[18] All municipalities in Puerto Rico have at least one Catholic church (building), most of which are located at the town center or "plaza". Protestantism which was suppressed under the Spanish regime has been encouraged under American rule making modern Puerto Rico interconfessional.

On August 8, 1511, Pope Julius II created two dioceses in La Española (Santo Domingo and Concepción de la Vega) and a third in the principal city of Puerto Rico, the bishops of which were all suffragans of the archbishopric of Seville. The Canon of Salamanca, Alonso Manso born in Palencia, Spain was appointed bishop of the Puerto Rican diocese and took possession in 1513—the first bishop to arrive in America. The Island at that time had two Spanish settlements with 200 white inhabitants and 500 Christian aborigines.

The Roman Catholic Church in Puerto Rico is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope and curia in Rome.

Present situation

Today the population that is Roman Catholic is 85%, Protestantism, Islam, and Jews being the rest of the 15%. That is, 3,400,000 Puerto Ricans practice Catholicism. The country is divided into five dioceses and one archdiocese:

Historical influences

Bullfights and cockfighting

Bullfighting was performed, although never became popular on the island when in 1898, with the U.S invasion of the island, the military banned it. It was mainly performed in larger cities such as San Juan and Ponce. The only Puerto Rican bullfighter so far was Ernesto Pastor, who died performing in Madrid.

Cockfighting is a tradition dating from Spain's colonization of the island more than five centuries ago. There is a cockfighting arena in every major town or city. Cockfighting has been legal in Puerto Rico since 1933.[19] Today, it is also legal in the Canary Islands, a major influence in Puerto Rico.[20][21][22]

Puerto Rican peso

One peso coin = 5 Pesetas, 1895 (obverse) with Alfonso XIII of Spain.

Puerto Rico began producing banknotes in 1766, becoming the first colony to print 8-real banknotes in the Spanish Empire and which in the Spanish government's approval of subsequent issues.

Salvador Meléndez Bruna, the colonial governor in office, ordered the issue of provincial banknotes, creating the Puerto Rican peso. However, printing of these banknotes ceased after 1815. During the following decades, foreign coins became the widespread currency. In the 1860s and 1870s, banknotes reemerged. On February 1, 1890, the Banco Español de Puerto Rico was inaugurated and began issuing banknotes. The bank designed four series and placed three in circulation under Spanish rule. In 1895, a Royal Decree ordered the production of provincial peso coins.

On August 13, 1898, the Banco Español de Puerto Rico was renamed Bank of Porto Rico and issued bills equivalent to the United States dollar, creating the Puerto Rican dollar. The peso and dollar have been followed by other contemporary issues, including commemorative banknotes, private currency, and a quarter coin designed with Fort San Felipe del Morro in the face.


Considered to be a Puerto Rican unofficial national dish, arroz con pollo or "chicken with rice" is claimed to be native to Puerto Rico. The dish has roots in the motherland of Spain. Arroz con pollo dates back to the eighth century when the Moors occupied Spain and influenced the way they imported and exported goods, along with the way they ate. Many other ingredients the Spanish added were beef, pork (chorizo), rice, wheat, and olive oil to the island. Galician broth (caldo gallego) is a dish imported from Spain's northwestern province of Galicia.[23]

Rum producers

Sebastián Serrallés was a wealthy Spaniard from Girona, Cataluña, Spain that settled in Ponce in the mid 1830s and bought a small plot of land known as Hacienda Teresa "La Teresa".[24] Eventually Sebastián left Puerto Rico for Barcelona and left the growing estate in the hands of his Puerto Rico born son Don Juan Serralles Colon. His son Juan Serrallés Colon (1845–1921) was the founder of Destilería Serralles since 1865, a rum producer located in Ponce, Puerto Rico, known for its Don Q (from Don Quixote) rum brand.[25]

Official beverage

The world-famous piña colada is the official beverage of Puerto Rico since 1978. According to Puerto Rico, the piña colada was created in 1963 by Spanish-born Don Ramon Portas Mingot, with a plaque in San Juan commemorating his creation of the beverage in La Barrachina, a restaurant bar.[26]

National Anthem

La Borinqueña is the national anthem of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Two Spaniards Félix Astol Artés a native of Catalonia and Manuel Fernández Juncos born Tresmonte, a section of Ribadesella, Asturias, Spain wrote the official music and lyrics to the anthem.

Governors of Puerto Rico

La Fortaleza was originally completed in 1540 by the Spanish crown.
[[Image:|160px|alt=|Pedro Rosselló - 6th Governor 1993-2001.]]
Pedro Rosselló - 6th Governor 1993-2001.

The first person to officially occupy the position was Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León in 1509. Between 1509-1898 all Governors were appointed by the King of Spain, all born in Spain or of Spanish descent, such as native Puerto Rico born Juan Ponce de León II, as interim governor in 1597. Most governors to the present day were raised as Roman Catholic. La Fortaleza was constructed between 1533 and 1540 and is the oldest governor's mansion in continuous use in the Western Hemisphere and is an example of Spanish Colonial architecture. In 1846, it was remodeled and converted for full-time use as the governor’s house. The building, which is also known as El Palacio de Santa Catalina (Santa Catalina Palace), has housed no less than 170 governors of Puerto Rico, the most recent being Luis Fortuño.

Appointed by the United States

The Governor of Puerto Rico was appointed by the President of the United States (1898–1946).

  1. José E. Benedicto, 1921-1921 (interim governor)
  2. José E. Colón, 1939-1939 (interim governor)
  3. José Miguel Gallardo, 1940-1941 & 1941-1941 (twice interim governor)
  4. Jesús T. Piñero, 1946–1949

Governors of the Commonwealth

The Governor of Puerto Rico is the head of government of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Since 1948, the Governor has been elected by the people of Puerto Rico.

  1. Luis Muñoz Marín, 1st Governor 1949–1965 (His great-grandfather, Luis Muñoz Iglesias, born 1797, Palencia, Spain.[27][28])
  2. Roberto Sánchez Vilella, 2nd Governor 1965-1969
  3. Luis A. Ferré, 3rd Governor 1969-1973 (His mother, Maria Aguayo Casals, was a cousin of Pablo Casals of Catalan descent.[29][30])
  4. Rafael Hernández Colón, 4th Governor (2 terms) 1973-1977 and 1985–1993
  5. Carlos Romero Barceló, 5th Governor 1977-1985
  6. Pedro Rosselló, 6th Governor 1993-2001 (Family roots from Majorca, Balearic Islands, Spain.[31])
  7. Sila María Calderón, 7th Governor 2001-2005
  8. Aníbal Acevedo Vilá, 8th Governor 2005-2009
  9. Luis Fortuño, 9th Governor 2009–present (Catalan roots from Mataró, Barcelona and Girona, Cataluña via Marín, Pontevedra, Galicia.[32][33][34])

Naming customs

There are approximately 1,700 surnames in existence in Puerto Rico. Of these, 76% of them are of Spanish origin. The most abundant in second place are French & Corsican with 16% and the remainder are of various origins. The two most common surnames on the island are Rodriguez & Rivera which represent 10% of the population. Most surnames in Puerto Rico originated in Spain with Puerto Ricans following the Spanish tradition of using two. The first surname inherited from the father's first surname and the second inherited from the mother's first surname. Common Spanish surnames in Puerto Rico are Rivera, Rodriguez, Morales, Del Toro, Delgado, Colon, Villalobos, Gonzalez, Diaz, Lopez, Ortiz, Sanchez, Martinez, Flores, Vega, Calderón, Ponce, Torres, Quinones, Quintana, Ayala, Santiago, Arroyo, Ramirez, Gomez, Guzman, Ramos.

Spanish place names in Puerto Rico

Barceloneta, Puerto Rico
La Barceloneta, Barcelona, Spain
Barceloneta, Puerto Rico was founded by Catalan Bonocio Llenza Feliú, is named after Barcelona, Spain.

There are many places in Puerto Rico named after places in Spain or have Spanish names due to the Spanish colonialism, Spanish settlers and explorers.

These include:

Coat of arms

First granted by the Spanish Crown on November 8, 1511.
Puerto Rico's Seal.

The coat of arms of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico was first granted by the Spanish Crown on November 8, 1511 and is the oldest arms still used in the New World since the conquest.

The major symbolism of the coat of arms relates to the dominance of Spain, the strong Catholic influence in the region, and the integrity of Puerto Rico as a colony of Spain.[35]

On the shield:

The border is made up of 16 different elements:

Royal initials and motto:

  • The Latin motto, "JOANNES EST NOMEN EJUS" (a quotation from the Vulgate of Luke 1:63), means "John is his name", referring to St. John the Baptist or San Juan Bautista, the original name of the island.

The coat of arms is now used as the official emblem of the Governor of Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rico State Department and of the Government of Puerto Rico as a whole. It was officially re-adopted by the Commonwealth government of Puerto Rico in 1976.

See also


  1. ^ a b page 6, Puerto Rican ancestry
  2. ^ Puerto Rican identity
  3. ^ "The second voyage of Columbus". World Book, Inc.. Retrieved February 11, 2006. 
  4. ^ Vicente Yáñez Pinzón is considered the first appointed governor of Puerto Rico, but he never arrived on the island.
  5. ^ Statue of Ponce de Leon
  6. ^ Ponce de Leon Lives's Casa Blanca
  7. ^ Juan Ponce de Leon Discovery
  8. ^ Founding and Hisotry of Ponce
  9. ^ a b Los comerciantes españoles ante la invasión estadounidense en 1898. with comments from: Dr. Luis Alberto Lugo Amador
  10. ^ Censo electoral de gallegos residentes en el extranjero a 1 de enero de 2009, según país de residencia y provincia de inscripción.
  11. ^ Canarian Migration to Spanish America
  12. ^
  13. ^ Foreign-born population in Puerto Rico
  14. ^ The Spanish of the Canary Islands
  15. ^ La Formacion del Pueblo Puertorriqueno: Contribucion de Los Gallegos, Asturianos y Santanderinos by Estela Cifre de Loubriel.
  16. ^ La contribucion De Los Catalanes, Balearicos y Valencianos a la formacion del pueblo Puertorriqueño by Estela Cifre de Loubriel..
  17. ^ La formación del pueblo puertorriqueño La contribución de los vascongados, navarros y aragoneses by Estela Cifre de Loubriel.
  18. ^  "Porto Rico". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. 
  19. ^ Cockfighting Still Popular in Puerto Rico
  20. ^ ¿Tradición o salvajismo? La Opinión de Tenerife (Spanish)
  21. ^ Los Verdes solicitan al Parlamento europeo que prohíba las peleas de gallo 21/07/2005 La Voz de Lanzarote (Spanish)
  22. ^ Las peleas de gallos, entre la tradición y la polémica 27/06/2006 La Voz de Lanzarote (Spanish)
  23. ^
  25. ^ Destilería Serralles history
  26. ^ "Celebrate Two of Mankind's Greatest Inventions". Retrieved 2007-06-19. 
  27. ^ Luis Muñoz Marín By A. W. Maldonado
  28. ^ Luis Muñoz Iglesias (Spanish)
  30. ^ Luis Ferré, former governor and Corporation member
  31. ^ A new prescription for Puerto Rico
  32. ^ Luis-Guillermo Fortuño-Burset (son of Luis Fortuño-Moscoso and Shirley-Joyce Burset-de-Mari).
  33. ^ Children of MARTÍN BURSET and MARÍA MASFERRER are: 3rd Generation
  34. ^ Great Grandfather: José Burset Masferrer
  35. ^ Coat of Arms of Puerto Rico


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address