Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the United States, and its residents are U.S. citizens. It became a territory in 1898 when it was acquired by the U.S., and it was officially made a commonwealth in 1952.
The island’s first governor was appointed by Spain, and it was governed under Spanish rule for more than 400 years until it became a U.S. territory in 1898 after the Spanish-American War. Puerto Ricans were granted U.S. citizenship in 1917, but they were not allowed to vote in presidential elections until after World War II when they began voting on statehood, independence or remaining a commonwealth. In 1952, Puerto Ricans voted in favor of continuing their relationship with the U.S., and they elected their own governor in 1952 as well as their own legislature in 1954 (although these two institutions have been replaced by an elected Senate and House of Representatives).
Independence Day is always celebrated on July 25th (the date that Puerto Rico declared its independence from Spain during the Spanish-American War), but other events take place throughout the year to commemorate important dates or people who have contributed to Puerto Rico’s history since becoming a commonwealth.
Last modified: October 29, 2022