Lesson Plan
Social Studies
Hispanic Issues
Puerto Rico - Geography

This lesson will teach the basic geography of Puerto Rico.

The island of Puerto Rico is found in the Caribbean Sea, approximately 1,000 miles from Miami. It is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north, the Caribbean Sea to the south, the Virgin Passage to the East and the Mona Passage to the West. Puerto Rico is the smallest of the Greater Antilles Islands which include, Cuba (the largest), Española (República Dominicana and Haiti - sharing an island), and Jamaica.

Puerto Rico includes several small islands the largest of which are Vieques, Culebra, and Mona. The island of Puerto Rico is approximately 111 miles long (East to West) and 36 miles wide (north to south). Puerto Rico has 3,417.5 square miles (including all islands).

Puerto Rico is one among hundreds of small islands formed approximately 185 million years ago when a large shift of tectonic plates sank some areas and pushed other areas upward forming small islands. So Puerto Rico is the top of a range of mountains which were pushed upwards from the Atlantic Ocean.

Puerto Rico has a range of mountains in the center called la Cordillera Central rising to 4,390 feet at the highest point called Cerro Punta in Jayuya. The mountain slopes are fertile and green. Along the coast are fertile plains. The only tropical rain forest in the U.S. National Forest System is found in eastern Puerto Rico. It is called The Caribbean National Rain Forest known as El Yunque. A small southwest corner of the island is an arid area with dry desert vegetation. There are many small rivers the largest of which are Río de la Plata, Río Grande de Loíza, Rí Grande de Manatí, and Río Grande de Arecibo. Over 300 miles of coast rim the island shaded by coconut palms.

Puerto Rico's climate is tropical so the climate is usually sunny, very hot, and humid. There is no winter, spring or fall, only summertime. There are northeasterly winds that help keep the temperature comfortable. The average temperature is 82 degrees with a 12 degree variation. There is more rain in the north than in the south.

The Capital of Puerto Rico is San Juan. San Juan was the first town established in the island by colonizer Juan Ponce de León. Two of the earliest towns are San Germán (second town) and Coamo, at one time considered the capital of the south. Other important cities are: Ponce on the south (known also as the southern port city), and Mayagüez on the western shores. The metropolitan area that includes San Juan to Bayamón are the most populated area with approximately one third of the island's total population.


Review questions
Map of the Caribbean Sea
Map of Puerto Rico
Worksheet - map of Puerto Rico
Geography Word Search

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