Introduction / History Puerto Rico is an island US Territory located approximately 1200 miles southeast of Miami, Florida. Situated in the Caribbean Sea, it is a major tourist destination offering year-round warm and breezy weather. Approximately 4 million people (US citizens) call this tropical island home. Once being dominated by agriculture, the island's economy is currently built on industrial endeavors and tourism. As many as 3.5 million people visit Puerto Rico each year.
Populated for centuries by aboriginal peoples, the island was claimed by the Spanish Crown in 1493 following Christopher Columbus' second voyage to the Americas. After 400 years of colonial rule during which the indigenous population was nearly exterminated and African slave labor was introduced, Puerto Rico was ceded to the US in 1898. This was a result of the Spanish-American War. Puerto Rico was granted US citizenship in 1917 and popularly elected governors have served since 1948. A constitution was enacted in 1952 that provided internal self-government.
Where are they located? Puerto Rico is located in the Caribbean Sea approximately 1200 miles southeast of Miami, Florida. The geographic coordinates are 18 15 north and 66 30 west. The island is mostly mountains with a coastal plain belt in the north with a sandy coastline wrapping its perimeter.
What are their lives like? Puerto Rico has one of the most dynamic economies in the Caribbean region. A diverse industrial sector has far surpassed agriculture as the primary economic activity and source of income. Many US firms have invested heavily in Puerto Rico since the 1950s making it a strategic location for reaching into the Latin American world with the promotion and sales of goods and services. Tourism follows as the second leading and traditionally important source of income with estimated visitation of 3.5 million tourists annually. Sugar production, once the largest income producing agricultural activity, has lost out to dairy production and livestock as the main source of income in the agricultural sector.
The strength of the economy has allowed for a better than average lifestyle for the citizens of the island. Most conveniences that are considered desirable throughout the world are available to many of the people of Puerto Rico. Business and industry employ many of the residents of the island especially in the urban areas while agricultural activities employ most people in the more rural areas. Tourism-related activities employ many people as well.
Spanish and English are the languages spoken there respectively. Approximately 3.5 million people live on the island with 76% of them being white people of Spanish origin, 7% black people of African origin, and the remainder from various points of origin.
Roughly 2.5 million people live in San Juan, the island's capital city. Citizens there enjoy 30 television stations, subscription cable TV service, and 125 radio stations. Mobile and landline telephone service, fax, internet, and satellite communication systems are readily available much like in any other modern area of the world. The international calling codes to reach Puerto Rico are 787 and 939.
There are 17 airports with paved runways and 12 with dirt runways, paved roadways and highways cover much of the island, and several shipping ports are available allowing the island function logistically like most modern countries and territories.
There is a police force on the island but military protection is the responsibility of the USA. There are no international disputes involving Puerto Rico but there is an issue of illegal immigration from the Dominican Republic of people looking for work that is causing some level of political dispute.
What are their beliefs? Eighty five percent of the citizens of Puerto Rico are Roman Catholic with the remainder Protestant. It is also possible that various other religions are represented in small numbers and that some hybridization of religions has occurred over the years. There is also a possibility of the existence of Voodoo and other occult practices due to immigration from other islands in the area.
What are their needs? Like any other location in the world, it is possible that other beliefs have been incorporated into the religious practices of the people. Every location throughout the world needs clear and concise expositional teaching of the Bible. Any people, nation, or belief system can drift from the true teaching of the Bible over time. Puerto Rico will benefit from persistent Bible teaching reminding them of the true message from scripture as it was originally recorded. Another helpful practice is to train the trainers where missionaries can supplement the knowledge and materials used by local believers to teach their countrymen. It should also be kept in mind that learning from the locals can be a great opportunity for the missionaries as well.
Puerto Rico has a very large number of tourists each year adding to the opportunities of outreach. People from all over the world come to the island to spend anywhere from a few days to several months in the warm Caribbean sunshine. Missions activities have the opportunity to impact these people as well as the citizens and permanent residents.
Bibles, teaching materials, and raw material supplies can be valuable gifts for people in remote areas since access to these supplies can have limited availability.
Prayer Points * Pray for God to call this people group to Himself
* Pray for God to invigorate His people on the island to accomplish His work
* Pray for the opportunity to reach out to other islands in the region
* Pray for access for God's people to evangelize the lost
* Pray for safety and provision for all who labor for God's kingdom
References Information used with permission from http://goo.gl/Z2NUC