We learned that as we explore communities around the world, we will find that people live in many different types of environments.  An environment is the land, water, air, and living things that surround us.  We may also call these things physical features.  Let's go exploring and visit the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, to see what type of environment they have there. 

The Location of Puerto Rico

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is located north of the equator, which makes it part of the northern hemisphere.  It is about 1,000 miles southeast of the state of Florida.

The Atlantic Ocean is north of Puerto Rico, and the Caribbean Sea lies to the south.  Puerto Rico belongs to a cluster of islands known as the West Indies.


The Landforms of Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is a volcanic island, rectangular in shape.  It is about 100 miles long, and 35 miles wide.  The island is about the same size as the state of Connecticut, in the United States.



Much of Puerto Rico is covered with mountains.  A rugged range of mountains runs east-west  across the center of the island.  It is said that if you take a rectangular sheet of paper, 10 inches long and 3 1/2 inches wide, crumple it up, and then smooth it down around the edges, you will have a map of Puerto Rico!

Lowland Beaches


The land along the coastline of Puerto Rico is lowland, with hundreds of miles of beautiful sandy beaches.  Here we have natural harbors, where big port cities such as San Juan, are located.  Puerto Rico means "rich port."  These ports offer docking for ships which carry cargo and passengers to the island.  Port cities are often vacation spots visited by many thousands of tourists each year.



The north side of the island is covered by thick vegetationHere we can explore tropical rainforests filled with beautiful plants.  We can also see rare wildlife, such as the Puerto Rican Parrot and the Coqui, a small singing tree frog.



On the north side of the island we will also find rocky cliffs and rushing streams with spectacular waterfalls.  Caves, caverns and underground rivers here are among the largest in the world.

The Climate of Puerto Rico

 Rainforest waterfall

Puerto Rico has a mild tropical climate.  The average temperature is 82 F.  The coldest temperature ever recorded in San Juan is 64 F.  The highest temperature ever recorded is 97 F.  The daily high temperature is between 75-85 F.  There is usually a  mild ocean breeze.  The mountains help provide rainfall for Puerto Rico's northern coast.  The southern part of the island is much drier. 


One type of weather not enjoyed by the people of Puerto Rico is the arrival of hurricane season.  This happens between the months of May and November.  Hurricanes are powerful storms that can produce terrible destruction.  Hurricanes come when thunderstorms move over the warm tropical ocean waters.  They bring torrential rains and floods.  During a hurricane there are high winds and often damaging tornadoes.

The Natural Resources of Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico has some important natural resources.  Minerals such as copper and nickel are found on the island.  Stone, sand and gravel are dug from the earth and used in construction businesses.  The surrounding ocean waters supply fish.  The waters off the coast are also drilled for crude oil.


Puerto Rico has rich farmland on the coastal plains on the northern part of the island.  Here we can find the land is good for growing coffee, pineapples, bananas, and sugarcane.

The people of Puerto Rico enjoy the beauty of their tropical island.  They would agree that it is a wonderful place to explore.

Let's Practice


community:  a place where people live and work together.  It may be several neighborhoods, a village, or a town.


environment:  the land, water, air, and living things that surround us


physical features:  natural things such as the weather, land, water, plants, and animals


harbor:  a protected place in a large body of water where ships can safely stay away from high waves and winds


vegetation:  trees and plant life


climate:  the average weather of an area over a long period of  time


natural resources:  the things found in nature that are useful to people; for example minerals, trees, and water

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