San Juan, Puerto Rico, is one of the most historic cities in the New World, first explored and settled within fifteen years after Columbus’ monumental first voyage. It has been the scene of many historic events, from naval battles to pirate attacks. Today, the city is embracing its long and fascinating history and is considered a top Caribbean tourism destination.
The first settlement on the island of Puerto Rico was Caparra, founded in 1508 by Juan Ponce de León, a Spanish explorer and conquistador best remembered for his supposed quixotic quest to find the Fountain of Youth in sixteenth-century Florida. Caparra was unsuitable for a long-term settlement, however, and the settlers were soon moved to an island a short distance to the east, to the present site of Old San Juan.
Today, San Juan is a booming tourism destination. Old San Juan has been extensively renovated, and sights like the El Morro castle are very popular. American tourists flock to San Juan because it’s a little piece of the Caribbean but they don’t need a visa to go there as it is American soil. In 1983 the old city defenses, including the castle, were declared a World Heritage Site. The old section of the city is home to many museums, reconstructed colonial-era buildings, churches, convents and more. There are excellent beaches very close to the city, and El Condado neighborhood is home to top-notch resorts. There are several areas of interest within a couple of hours from the city, including rainforests, a cave complex, and many more beaches. It is the official home port of many major cruise ships as well.
San Juan is also a booming industrial center. It is one of the most important ports in the Caribbean, and has facilities for oil refining, sugar processing, brewing, pharmaceuticals and more. Naturally, Puerto Rico is well known for rum, much of which is produced in San Juan.
The city of San Juan is the largest city, the capital and the chief port and commercial center of Puerto Rico. The port in San Juan exports mainly sugar cane, fruit, coffee and tobacco to the United States. San Juan has a current population of 437,745 people and is constantly growing.