Puerto Rico today is caught between two diverse cultures and is constantly
under scrutiny and judgement of visitors with only a scant understanding
" El día que muera la puertorriqueñidad se apagará
para siempre una llama que llevan en el corazón todos los puertorriqueños..."
---Sila María Calderón
of the island and its people. Outsiders and especially mainland Americans
will increasingly be called upon to understand Puerto Rico and her unique
Apart from the very obvious difference in the language, many of these
cultural differences are harder to specify and quantify than are the formal
elements in common just mentioned. At social and cultural levels profound
differences do exist between people of different backgrounds.
The Taíno culture was the first infuence
in Puerto Rican culture but it was Spanish culture which most greatly infuenced
the island's history until the
beggining of this century. When the Spanish forced the Tainos into
slavery, virtually the entire indigenous population was decimated, except
a few Amerindians who escaped into the remote mountains. Eventually
they intermarried with the poor Spanish farmers and became known as jíbaros.
Because of industrialization and migration to the cities few real jíbaros
remain. Puerto Rico also has a rich African culture dating from the importation
of Africans as slaves by the Spaniards in past centuries. The people
of Puerto Rico represent a mixture of races, cultures, languages and religions.
They draw their unique heritage from the Tainos, from Spanish loyalists
who sought refuge here, from the African slaves and from other Caribbean
islanders who came to the island in search of jobs.The Spanish they
speak is a mix too, different somewhat from Castillian Spanish, with many
borrowed from the pre-Colombian Amerindian tongue right up to modern-day
English.American culture has had a progressive effect upon Puerto Rican
culture since 1898 but especially so after the 40's. Some Puerto Ricans
are not happy with the result of that influence; others welcome it.
There is an essential dichotomy of Puerto Rico's relationship with the
United States. Within American jurisdiction, as reflected by common citizenship,
flag, currency and numerous applicable Federal laws, Puerto Rico might
seem in everything but name a State of the Union. But on the other side
will find a culture and society profoundly different from that in the
mainland. It is a rich and varied culture but a unique one emanating from
rich influences.This makes Puerto Rico a unique blend of the Spanish-Caribbean
"joy of living" and the American drive for organization and