Puerto Rico, the Land


32 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Maps, Index
ISBN 0-7787-9333-8
DDC j972.95




Reviewed by John Walker

John Walker is a professor of Spanish studies at Queen’s University.


These colourful volumes on the beautiful island of Puerto Rico cover the
geography and climate, city and rural life, industry and transport of
what was once a Spanish colony and is now a commonwealth of the United
States despite a still considerable independence lobby.

Puerto Rico, the Land provides a brief history of the territory before
U.S. annexation. Although quite a small island, Puerto Rico has a
variety of landscapes, from mountain ranges to forest and desert, and
natural wonders (canyons, coral reefs, caves). Farming, fishing, and
tobacco and coffee planting contribute to the growing economy, as does
tourism, especially in the capital San Juan.

Puerto Rico, the People and Culture provides a history of the origins
of the peoples and their culture (e.g., the Taнno). The arrival of the
Spaniards in 1493 led to slavery, followed by various attempts by other
European nations to annex this strategically placed island. After
independence from Spain in 1897, Puerto Rico was annexed by the United
States as part of the Spanish-American War deal. The history of the 20th
century is the island’s struggle for emancipation and the U.S. attempt
to meet the people’s desires. Independence, statehood, and
commonwealth status are all options available but never unanimously
agreed upon by the people.

Given Puerto Rico’s history, there is no shortage of religious or
cultural festivals. The island has a wealth of music and dancing,
painting and sculpture, as well as a fascinating folk art. Sports like
baseball, basketball, horse racing, and even cockfighting are part of
the island’s tradition. Because of its history, both Spanish and
English are spoken, not to mention the inevitable Spanglish. Puerto Rico
has a fine film industry (e.g., Rita Moreno, Raъl Julia) and a
world-class literature in both languages.

Both volumes are enhanced by a useful glossary and by superb
illustrations and photographs that capture the spirit of this beautiful
island and its irrepressible people. Highly recommended.


Banting, Erinn., “Puerto Rico, the Land,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 16, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/23817.