San Juan Facts

San Juan is the capital of the island of Puerto Rico, the fourth largest island of the Caribbean.

It is located on the north side of Puerto Rico. Its coastal borders are the Atlantic Ocean and the San Juan Bay.

Brief History of San Juan

The original settlement of the capital of Puerto Rico, Caparra, was founded in 1508; that is 15 years after Puerto Rico was discovered by Christopher Columbus in November 19th, 1493. The location of Caparra was inland in an area not suitable for a long term settlement. Therefore, in 1521 it was moved to its current location, a small island on the north coast of Puerto Rico. That small island is what we know today as Old San Juan.

San Juan’s original name was Puerto Rico, which means Rich Port, but later on the name was switched to San Juan, which was the original name of the entire island of Puerto Rico back then.

The convenient and prominent location of the city in the Caribbean made San Juan famous as it became an important stopping point for merchant and military ships coming from and to Europe. Massive fortifications were built around the city to protect the gold and the silver from the Americas and to protect the city itself from the enemy.

San Juan suffered many attacks from English and Dutch forces during the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The Spanish-American war took place in 1898. After this war Spain ceded Puerto Rico to the United States under the terms of the Treaty of Paris, which was signed later that year. From that moment to the present day Puerto Rico has been a territory of the United States of America and San Juan continues being the capital.

San Juan Culture


  • Puerto Ricans are a mixture of native Taíno Indians, Spanish Conquistadores and African slaves.
  • Happiest people in the world! - as indicated by The University of Michigan's World Values Surveys (WVS).
  • Very festive and warm.

Language: Spanish, English and Spanglish!

Food: Typical Puerto Rican food is very similar to Cuban food. It has Spanish/European, Taíno, African and American influence. Locals call this blend comida criolla. Main dishes are elaborated with grains, plantains, meats and poultry, vegetables, root vegetables, etc. Some of the most common dishes are the traditional arroz con habichuelas (rice and beans), arroz con pollo (rice and chicken), arroz con gandules (rice and pigeon peas), pasteles, alcapurrias, mofongo, etc.

See a list of places where you can enjoy a tasting of comida criolla.

San Juan Weather

The weather in San Juan is tropical: temperatures range from 70° F to 80° F all year round. At the same time, the mountains of Puerto Rico and the proximity of the city to the ocean help it maintain a constant fresh breeze; so it’s never too hot.

In some winter months when even Floridians are having a hard time trying to stay warm, in San Juan people are wearing sunscreen and going to the beach!

It rains most of the year with a dry season in April. Hurricane season is from June to November.

San Juan is in the Atlantic Time Zone and does not observe Daylight Savings Time.

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