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Unit 1: Part 1: Puerto Rico- Geography


Yvonne Fortuño

on 30 July 2017

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Transcript of Unit 1: Part 1: Puerto Rico- Geography

UNIT 1: PART 1 Geography
Puerto Rico

Southeast of the Gulf of Mexico and North America, east of Central America and north of South America – PART OF North America
The Caribbean
What are some Similarities?
What are some Differences?
Tropical Marine
Humidity: abundant rain:
rainy from June to November
Temperature: moderate – Atlantic breeze.
Landscape: Mountainous: Interior: Central mountain ranges and hills with coastal plains
Except Cuba: mostly flat with some hills
Interior mountains form barrier to the rain and breeze from the Atlantic making the southern Caribbean coasts dryer regions.
Soils: varied – Hundreds of types of soil. Many are very fertile and perfect for tropical agriculture. Some not so fertile and needs fertilizing - erosion
Population: 2015 official estimates
Cuba 11,238,317
Dominican Rep. 9,980,243
Haiti 10,911,819
P.R. 3,548,397
Jamaica 2,723,246
Density: In order:
PR – 419.61 / km2
Haiti - 367.14 / km2
Jamaica - 248.39 / km2
Dominican Republic - 209.83 km2
Cuba - (101.6Km2)
United Nations World Prospects Report
P.R., & Cuba 2/3,
Jamaica & Dom. Rep. ½
Haiti – ¼
Hispanic Antilles: Ethnic Roots:
Cuba, P.R. Dominican Rep.
African, Spanish & some Araucan
Wide variety of racial mixture
Belonged to Spain
Spanish language
Haiti & Jamaica:
Afro – Antillean – 90% former slaves.
Haiti – French influence (Creole).
Jamaica - English - creole
Lesser Antilles:
To the east & southeast of P.R.
All together - 1 ½ P.R.
Largest - Trinidad
More varied in soil, landscape, climate:
Some Mountainous (Dominica, Granada) - some flat (Aruba, Anguila) Volcanes (Guadalupe
Some Rainy - some dry,
Volcanic origin many- some sedimentary (Barbados)
Soils most are fertile but some are not good
Cultural landscape: diverse: Cultural mosaic: dominates afro – Antillean.
Languages: English, French, Dutch & Papiamento.
Political Organization
All Antilles are products of European Colonization and all have to some degree taken the road of descolonization
Former British colonies are now Independent Republics associated with the British Commonwealth of Nations.
Former French Colonies are ultramarine Departments of France - integrated to the nation.
Former Dutch colonies are Autonomous with some dependence to the Netherlands.
U.S. Virgin Islands are unincorporated dependent territories with limited autonomy.
Puerto Rico
Longitude: between 65 13’ and 67 48’ west
(cc) image by anemoneprojectors on Flickr
North of the Equator between latitudes 17 50’ and 18 31’
North east corner of the Caribbean sea- almost half way of the archipelago of the Antilles.
To the east of the Dominican Republic
To the west of the Virgin Islands
Closest island in the Americas to Spain
Common Caribbean History
Native Amerindians almost exterminated
African slaves were brought for labor.
First Tropical Frontier of Europe
Plantation Economies: Commercial Agriculture
Sailing route to Europe: Closest region to Europe - Center of Navigation route
Winds ( west, southwest – winds “alisios” and sea currents from Africa made it the ideal route.)
Origin of our island
Oldest rocks in PR are between 120 to 150 millions of years old (earth – 4,500 millions of years old) –
Current form – 12,000 years ago -
"15 seconds to midnight"
Three Ecosystems
Mangrove Swamp
Located in Coastal urban areas
Represented Freedom & danger
Provider- animals, fish
Most eliminated or Endangered
San Juan estuary
Mogotes – Karsts
Caves – used by runaway slaves
Poor lots for crops for the landless
Coral Reef
More in Northern Coast
Mata la Gata
Las Cabezas de San Juan
Central Interior Mountainous Region
Northern Karsts Region
Coastal Plains Region
Three Geomorphic Provinces
A fourth geomorphic region is included sometimes to recognize the geographic difference of the islands adjacent to Puerto Rico.
Central Interior Mountain Region
Largest Region
Cordillera Central – From Aibonito to Maricao - closer to southern coast
Cerro Punta de Jayuya, Los Tres Picachos
Sierra de Cayey – to Humacao
Sierra de Luquillo – from Gurabo to Fajardo - - El Yunque
Sierra Bermeja – South of the Lajas Valley
Valleys and plains:
Caguas & Lajas,
Between mountains – Cayey, Jayuya & Utuado
Valle de Lajas
El Yunque
Northern Karst (Carso)
Formed by limestone dissolved by water through ages.
Plateaus – (Mesetas - 100 - 700 feet.
Small hills of limestone
Hundreds of “Mogotes” (hillocks)
Sumideros (Sinks) ( circular depressions, area in which river water percolates through surface & disappears)
Caves – formed by rivers.
Rio Camuy Caves
Cueva Ventana
Cueva Ventana
Coastal Plains
Area with most important cities but smallest
Most important agricultural region
Formed by erosion of the mountains and alluvial deposits. Sedimentary
In the North they go from Arecibo to Fajardo. In the South they go from Ponce to Patillas. – extensive
East and West – coastal plains are triangular and surrounded by mountains that almost reach the sea.
North Coast
South Coast
East Coast
West Coast
Isla Verde
Vacia Talega
Bahia de Guánica
Bahia de Jobos
Playa Santa
La Parguera
Palmas del Mar
Fajardo - El Conquistador
Northwest Corner
Bahia de Boquerón
Marine Tropical Climate. Subtropical and Tropical Zone -The average temperature is 82° F.
Trade Winds from Central Atlantic all through the year. Winter – from northeast, summer from southeast.
Marine breezes and mountain breezes.
Rainy Season: May, September & October
Dry Season: February & March
North is more Humid. El Yunque is the most humid sector.
Climate is really moderate – benign.
Hurricane Season: From June 1st to November 30 but August and September are the busiest months.
Very little activity during second half of 20th century: from San Felipe in 1928 to Sept. 18 1989 – Hugo.
Georges 21 September 1998 - one of the worst
Historically Hurricanes were important for the residents of the island: Native Tainos deified them: “Juracán” – terrible god of the easterly winds.
Spanish almost abandon the island in 16th century. In 1899 San Ciriaco made a lot of damage to the island.
San Ciriaco
August 8. 1899
Hurricane George
1,700 currents but only 17 mayor fluvial systems.
Rivers in the northern part of the island have more water and are longer.
Rivers in the South are shorter and with less water - sudden floods are common
Rivers in the east, although it rains a lot, are short and overflow often.
Rivers in the West are longer than in the south.
Longest River in the island is Rio de la Plata (Toa)
The river that carries more water is Rio Grande de Loíza.
Rio Grande de Loiza
Rio de la Plata
Almost all the kinds of soil existing in the planet are found in P.R.
Most are productive but need fertilizers for optimum yield.
What is a Natural Resource?
“All elements of the physical environment available to humans for living and the enjoyment of life.”
People define what is considered a resource, it depends on values and tastes.
Nations must decide if the “cost” of using a resource is worth .
Resources have a historical – cultural character.
What Natural Resources are available in P.R. ?
Non – Metals – great variety, but there is not much potential for exporting them.
Ordinary ones: water, sand, construction stones.
Not so common: plaster & guano
Very important for the construction industry: different types of rocks, sand and gravel & clays.
Metals: Under certain conditions, they could be very valuable. Concentrated in certain zones.
manganese, tin, mercury, silver, zinc, lead, cobalt, gold, copper, iron, nickel, molybdenum, chromium, titanium, possibly uranium
Important Mineral Areas in Puerto Rico
Batolito de San Lorenzo – Humacao:
Iron – low concentration – not enough right now to merit extraction.
Complejo de Utuado ( Jayuya, Adjuntas, y Lares)
Copper and other minerals associated with it like gold and silver.
They are commercially exploitable.
Decision to mine the area must consider other factors: Social cost, environmental cost and where will the majority of the economic benefits will go.

Many shades of green (“mil tonos”)
Two types:
Original or primitive vegetation ( before humans)
natural vegetation
Eight types of forests. Hundreds of species of trees and plants.
Humans have changed the vegetation of the island. First the Amerindians, but specially the Europeans.
Two parallel processes:
constructive – new plants (coffee, sugarcane, coconut palm trees)
Destructive – cutting trees, causing erosion.
Poor compared to other countries, and wild animals are rapidly disappearing.
Among vertebrates – most common:
salt water fishes (300 species) and birds.
Few amphibians:
15 to 20 species of toads and frogs.
turtles, lounge lizards, snakes, sea turtle (Carey), tortoise (jicotea), Giant iguana of Mona
Domesticated mammals were imported to the island.
Other mammals common in the island are:
bats, rodents, cetaceans (whales and dolphins) Some bats and rodents were not imported.
Most abundant of land animals are the birds:
239 species and sub species. Some reside in the island, some are migratory.
Native birds – 239 species.
Live only on the island: forrest guaraguao, múcaro real, come – ñame, y la cotorra.
Forrests in Puerto Rico
El Yunque
Charco Azul Patillas
Rio Abajo Forest Reserve
Near Naguabo
What do you know about the
Geography of the island?
12 1/2 x PR

Puerto Rico:
"100 x 35"
e-w: 114.7 miles
n-s: 41.6 miles
Greater Antilles
5.4 %
1.2 x PR

Hispanola: 8 1/2 x PR
Dominican Republic 23%
4 islands -
5 countries
8,875 - 9,104 Km
Archipelago: 186.2 x 44.4
The Antilles
Archipelago - 1,500 miles from the Floridian peninsula to the coast of Venezuela.
Limits the Caribbean
Most have : To its north and east - Atlantic Ocean
Greater Antilles
Political Organization
Cuba is an independent Republic with a Communist government.
Jamaica is a Constitutional Parliamentary Democracy
Dominican Republic and Haiti are republics with democratic governments (Haiti very limited)
Puerto Rico: an unincorporated territory of the US with the classification of Commonwealth and an autonomous internal goverment
Sierra Bermeja

Interdependence between humans and the geography will cause an impact on the environment.
To what extend is the study of geography important when we study history?
Picó, Fernándo,
History of Puerto Rico, ☺A Panorama of its People - Ch.1
Photos from internet

How does the environment affect human culture and how do humans alter their geography?
Where is the Caribbean located?
More than 7,000 islands, islets, reefs and cays; the coasts of the continents
Lucayan Archipelago; The Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands
Greater Antilles
Lesser Antilles: Leeward Islands: Windward Islands
What islands does it include?
Why that name?
origin: Carib - natives
another name: West Indies - mistake
To what region of the World does PR belong?
What islands form the Greater Antilles?
Full transcript