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Dominican Republic - Grenada - Martinique - Puerto Rico - St Vincent & the Grenadines

Puerto Rico

Area: 9100 sq km (3500 sq miles)
Population: 3,915,798
Capital city: San Juan (pop 1.6 million)
Language: Spanish, English
Puerto Rico Puerto Rico Puerto Rico Puerto Rico Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is rectangular, sandwiched between the bulk of Hispaniola and the tiny archipelagoes of the leeward islands. The Atlantic Ocean lies to the north and the Caribbean Sea to the south. The mainland measures 175km by 56km (100mi by 35mi), about the size of Corsica, and is roughly bisected by the rugged Cordillera Central, whose high point is the 1340m (4400ft) Cerro la Punta.
The peak tourist season is between December and April, but this has more to do with the climate in North America than anything else. During these months the island is swamped by visitors, prices are highest and accommodations can be hard to find. The best time to avoid the crowds is during the official hurricane season (May through November). Although hurricanes are rare, they're able to do more than put a dampener on your holiday. Definitely keep an eye on weather reports if you're in Puerto Rico at this time.
San Juan
The capital of Puerto Rico is a spirited modern metropolis with high-rise beach strips, a major commercial center and a justly famous historic colonial core. It dates from the early 16th century, making it the second-oldest city in the Americas (after granddaddy Cuzco, Peru). Today it's the engine of the island's economic and political life and the cultural beachhead for US influence in the Caribbean.For an old timer, San Juan can seem pretty spry - nothing like strips of high-rise hotels and heaps of hardbodies littered about the beaches to make a town look young. Even Old San Juan seems strangely fresh and so well-preserved given that it's getting on 500 years old.

Ponce
Nearly half a billion dollars have been spent preserving the colonial core of Puerto Rico's second city, and it's not only architecture buffs who declare the money well spent. The heart of Ponce dates from the late 17th century and has been declared a national treasure. It consists of plazas and churches and highly decorative colonial homes, some glorious fountains and what may well be the funkiest fire station in the world. One of the reasons Ponce is so easy on the eye is that an early city regulation required that street corners be chamfered (curved), making it easier for carriages to pass and to carry wooden houses from one site to another.



    
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