The Island of Enchantment

June 3, 2012
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The island of Enchantment. Puerto Rico, officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, is an unincorporated territory of the United States. This island, located in the northeastern area of the Caribbean, is my home. Some people think Puerto Rico is a place in Spain, or in Mexico. Others think the island is full of unruly Indians. But it’s not. It’s just…normal. Our official languages are Spanish and English; we have a Republic three-branch government, and skylines. Some Americans may have read horrific articles of Puerto Rico, and the crime and murder rates, but there’s more to this island than that. Most of the crime and murders occur in the metro area, especially our capital, but Puerto Rico has amazing coastal towns and cities, including the west coast city I live in.
In some ways, Puerto Rico can be compared to Manhattan—both are overpopulated islands. But there are thousands of differences between Puerto Rico and Manhattan, starting with the obvious fact that Manhattan is a city and Puerto Rico is considered a state or country. Manhattan Island has an area of 22.7 square miles and a population of a couple 1.6 million. Puerto Rico has an area of 5,320 square miles, and a population of some 3.7 million. Another difference would be the weather, for Puerto Rico has a tropical climate—heat, rain, and humidity being the most common. One of the main—and most amazing—tourist attractions in the island is the El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rain forest in the United States National Forest System, which has been nominated for the Seven Wonders of the World. El Yunque is both a tourist and local attraction, with approximately 600,000 visitors per year. Another great attraction would be the award-winning Flamenco beach, a beautiful clear-water beach in Culebra, a very small island near the southeast of the Puerto Rico Island. I have personally been to Flamenco beach before and can assure you it’s amazing.
For those that are more into cities, one of my favorite places in San Juan, the capital, is the Old San Juan area. It’s the oldest historic colonial section of San Juan, and possibly Puerto Rico in general. One of the most popular, historic touristic attractions is the Fort San Felipe del Morro, known as Morro Castle, which is a fortification built in the 16th century, designed to guard the entrance to San Juan Bay, and defend the city of Old San Juan. The attraction brings two million visitors a year, and it is popular for the selling and flying of kites in its area.
Our beaches are a popular attraction, both to locals and tourists. During the summer heat, beaches are most visited, though do to the fact that the coldest temperatures in the coastal areas is usually in the low to mid sixties, they’re greatly visited at all times of the year. Some beaches are also a popular attraction for surfers, especially the west and northern beaches.
Lastly, for all you that love shopping, one of the best malls ever is Plaza Las Americas, located in Hato Rey, San Juan, Puerto Rico. It is the largest shopping mall in the Caribbean and the second largest in Latin America. It has over 300 stores and services, including Forever 21, Abercrombie & Fitch, Victoria’s Secret, Macy’s, Sears and the world’s largest JC Penney store, a full 4 stories; and 4 floors, including a large food court.
Sometimes we are blinded by our hometown/home state’s reputation, I have said a lot of negative comments about my island several times due to all the bad articles and news I have read/heard about it, but I am glad I was born here. If we look past the crime rates, murder rates, social problems, political problems, economic problems, we were all born in beautiful places, into great cultures, all of us. And we should cherish that.

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