How big is the island of puerto rico: Geography of Puerto Rico

ASTDD | Territorial and Jurisdiction Oral Health Programs

Puerto Rico

Geography: The Island of Puerto Rico is located in the Caribbean. Puerto Rico is the smallest and the most eastern island of the Greater Antilles (with Cuba, la Española y Jamaica). Although often referred to as an island, Puerto Rico is an archipelago formed by the main island and 143 small islands, islets and cays, including Vieques, Culebra, Culebrita, Palomino, Mona, and Monito. With an area of 3,425 square miles (9,104 sq km), Puerto Rico is the third largest island in the United States and the 82nd largest island in the world.1

In September 2017, Hurricanes Irma and Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico causing widespread destruction and exacerbating challenges in a region already coping with long-term economic issues.

Given the scale of the disaster, the limited response resources and the emergency services severely compromised, the residents lacked electricity, food, and water for a prolonged period; furthermore, roads were obstructed, and residents had limited access to medical care2. Several federal agencies have supported the Island in its disaster recovery plan including economic recovery and resilience, physical infrastructure and human recovery.

The official languages of Puerto Rico are Spanish and English with a literacy rate of 92.40 %.3

Health Services: The provision of health services is organized by levels of provision, beginning with enrollment in a benefits package under an insurer and followed by primary services, secondary and tertiary services. The population with low income could access health services through the Government Health Plan (PSG). For 2020, the PR Health System is made up of 68 hospitals island-wide with 13,467 certified beds and 10,162 active beds.

Demography: The population of Puerto Rico is very homogeneous with 98.9% identified as Hispanic or Latino, according to 2019 estimates provided by the Census. In terms of gender, 52.5% of the population is female. For 2015-19, 76. 5% of persons age 25 years and older were high school graduates or higher.

In 1990, the population had an expansive structure, but now it has become regressive, with greater aging (21.3% of the population was over 65 years old in 2019).

Puerto Rico per capita income is $12,451 with 43.5% of the population falling below the Federal Poverty Level. For 2015-19, 44.4% of the civilian population age 16 years or older are the labor force; mean travel time to work is 29.3 minutes.

Sociocultural determinants of health: In Puerto Rico, determinants such as lower economic income, less schooling and access to medical insurance are common sociodemographic characteristics of health conditions. In addition, in Puerto Rico there are disparities in the provision of health services that place certain population groups in the position of total exclusion; particularly immigrants and the population not insured by medical plans are the most affected compared to groups that, for some reason, have restrictions on access to health services. According to Puerto Rico Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (PR-BRFSS) data, the population between the ages of 25 and 34 has the highest percentage of people without health insurance coverage; 9.6% of persons under age 65 don’t have health insurance. These people are of productive age, with a very unequal distribution, since 77% of the population generates or receives less than $25,000 per year; this could prevent them from having access to the government health plan, while these low monetary resources make it impossible to pay for private health insurance.

According to Law No. 35 of June 28, 1994, hospitals that have an emergency room or stabilization room are required to provide the necessary services to all with health emergencies and to women who are in labor. Under this law, the hospital cannot deny service to anyone if they cannot afford to pay.

Puerto Rico Geographic, Demographic, and Socioeconomic Status4

Status indicator



Total Population in millions 2019


330 Million

Population Density (person/sq. mile) 2018



Median Age



% population <15 y



IMR (infant deaths/1000 live births)



% Poverty



Per capita income



LE at birth



1. Retrieved from Welcome to Puerto Rico. Webpage: Retrieved of Nov 10, 2020.
2. Source: Transformation and Innovation in the Wake of Devastation an Economic and Disaster Recovery Plan for Puerto Rico. Retrieved Nov 9, 2020
3. Source: World Bank Open Data. Retrieved from Retrieved Nov 20, 2020
4. United States Census Bureau — Quick Facts — Puerto Rico
6. Departamento de Salud (2018). Secretaría de Planificación.
7. Departamento de Salud (2017). Secretaría de Planificación.
8. United States Census Bureau: age puerto rico&tid=ACSST1Y2019.S0101&hidePreview=false


Public Health Challenges and Oral Health Successes Post Hurricane Maria’s Devastation (2019 PowerPoint)

Results of the First Year of Implementation of the Oral Health Certificate in Puerto Rico — Abstract of poster presented at the 2021 Virtual National Oral Health Conference (2020)

Priority Oral Health Topics in Puerto Rico Before and After COVID-19 Pandemic (2021)

How Long Does It Take To Drive Around Puerto Rico (2023)

It takes three hours to drive from the east to the west coast of Puerto Rico.

Within eight hours, you can drive the entire coast of the island and return to your starting point.

I’ve lived on the island for 14 years, and road trips are one of my favorite weekend activities.

In this article, I will cover everything that you need to know about driving around Puerto Rico:

– How long would it take to drive around all of Puerto Rico?

– Is it easy to drive around Puerto Rico?

– Is it safe to drive around Puerto Rico?

– How long does it take to tour the whole island of Puerto Rico?

– Can I travel around the island without a car?

How long would it take to drive around all of Puerto Rico?

Puerto Rico is approximately 100 miles long by 35 miles wide.

An entire roundtrip road trip from San Juan, through Arecibo (north), Mayaguez (west), Ponce (south), and Fajardo (east) back to San Juan (north) can take 6.5 to 8 hours to complete by following the main coastal highways.

Driving the coastal highways as outlined in red in this image, you can circle the island and return to your starting point in under eight hours.

Coast to coast driving takes around 3 hours.

It takes three hours to drive from the west to the east coast of the island following the route outlined above in red from Aguadilla to Fajardo.

If you’re driving from San Juan, located in the north, you can get to Cabo Rojo, which is located in the south west part of the island, in under 3 hours. 

Depending on the traffic and road conditions, it could take longer.

Below is a video of driving around Puerto Rico on a bus tour:

Learn more in our article Renting A Car In Puerto Rico – All You Need To Know.


Is it easy to drive around Puerto Rico?

Overall, driving in Puerto Rico is easy to do.

The main streets are in good condition, and the sign systems are the same as in most countries worldwide.

The highways and signs systems are very similar to the mainland United States in cities around the island.

If you’re used to driving in the states, then going to Puerto Rico should be no problem.

Explore other methods of transportation in our article How To Get Around Puerto Rico.


Is it safe to drive around Puerto Rico?

Driving around Puerto Rico is usually safe, but you should be cautious.

Puerto Ricans tend to drive recklessly; they change lanes without using turn signals, they cut you off on the highway, and sometimes they run the red light in broad daylight.

Visitors should keep their eyes on the road and drive with precaution.

As we say in Puerto Rico, you should always “drive defensively.”

Here is a video showing the popular driving route between San Juan and El Yunque:

Learn more in our article Is Puerto Rico Safe For Tourists?


How long does it take to tour the whole island of Puerto Rico?

You would need a minimum of 7 days to tour the whole island.

The colorful streets of Old San Juan have a lot to offer visitors, but you will need at least one week to see the popular attractions outside of the city areas.

You’ll need about 7 to 11 days to cover the main attractions Puerto Rico offers. 

It’s best to stay longer, like two weeks, to explore more coasts, the cays, the central areas of the island, and more.

Below is a video of a Puerto Rico road trip:


Can I travel around the island without a car?

Traveling the island without a car is highly challenging.

Since Puerto Ricans depend on cars to drive everywhere around the island, there are few chances for you to get around on foot.

Only a few cities in the north of Puerto Rico have public transit, making it neither the most convenient nor time-efficient method to see the island outside of San Juan. 

There are trolley busses in the major cities of Puerto Rico, but traveling without a car outside the metro areas can be a challenge.

For example, you can take a bus from San Juan to Ponce, but it will take longer.

Not to mention, once you get to your destination, you’ll need wheels to get around town.

Additionally, there are few routes, and the hours sometimes need to be more consistent.

Below is a video showing a 4-day tour in San Juan without a car:

Traveling around the island without a car is not recommended. 


FAQ section

How many miles is Puerto Rico across?

Puerto Rico is approximately 100 miles long and 35 miles wide.

How long does it take to cross Puerto Rico?

It only takes a few hours to cross Puerto Rico. You can expect a maximum of 4 hours of driving.


Final thoughts

Puerto Rico is easy to drive around. 

It takes three hours to drive from the east to the west coast of Puerto Rico.

Within eight hours, you can drive the entire coast of the island and return to your starting point.

Since Puerto Rico is only 100 miles long and 35 miles wide, you can expect to drive around the entire island in one day.

If you’re staying for more than three days and want to explore the island, I highly recommend renting a car to get around Puerto Rico.

You can also check out our How to Spend a Week in Puerto Rico article for more ways to enjoy and explore the island.

You may also enjoy our article Where To Stay In Puerto Rico – 13 Best Places & Areas.

Article by

Miguel Concepcion

Writer at I’ve lived in Puerto Rico for 14 years and have experienced every inch of this stunning island. Growing up in Puerto Rico has helped me truly learn about the rich culture and extensive history this island has to offer. I share my local knowledge in all of the articles that I write.

About the author

Switzerland and the assets of the Central Bank of Russia: to take or not to take?

The West has nowhere to go and will simply have to confiscate these assets, if only to have a powerful trump card in any future peace negotiations. This is one of the opinions. Photo: Bakhmut, December 17, 2022. Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

Does Switzerland have the right to expropriate the gold and foreign exchange reserves of the Central Bank of Russia and transfer them to the needs of the restoration of Ukraine? While such a development of the situation does not seem likely, the legal barriers that stand in the way of Western countries, including Switzerland, are too high at the moment.

This content was published on February 20, 2023 — 07:00

Is it possible to expropriate the gold and foreign exchange reserves of the Central Bank of Russia and transfer them to the needs of the restoration of Ukraine? In Western Europe, this issue is now being actively debated, as well as the supply of modern aviation to Kyiv, as well as the issue of creating structures for the legal assessment of the facts of war crimes committed by the Russian army in Ukraine. So far, neither one, nor the other, nor the third seems likely — at the moment, the legal barriers that stand in the way of Western countries, including Switzerland, are too high.

However, recently the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, “strongly” invited EU member states to “reconsider seriously” the transfer of Russian Central Bank assets, frozen in foreign accounts since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, to a fund, on the basis of which these money could be managed in order to make a profit and then transfer it to the needs of the restoration of Ukraine. “This is a matter of fairness and decency. But it is also clear that all this must be done in accordance with legal principles,” said Charles Michel in a recent interview with the Financial Times.

Many countries and experts, however, not only doubt the existence of legal grounds for the expropriation of the assets of the Russian Central Bank, but also point to potential risks that may additionally arise in terms of global financial and trade and economic stability. Therefore, to put the skeptics to rest, EU officials have vowed that any action they take will be taken only in conjunction with allies in the anti-Putin coalition. Among these allies is Switzerland, which has been declared an «unfriendly state» in Russia.

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Recently, the Working Group of the Swiss government concluded that the expropriation of private assets of legal origin would be illegal. However, the option of withdrawing the frozen reserves of the Central Bank of Russia and other state assets is now still the subject of international discussion, which, according to the Swiss government, it is closely following. And it’s a common tactic to see what others are doing and do the same. The main thing is not to be left alone without the support of other countries.

Why is there so much interest in the assets of the Central Bank of Russia?

Ukraine calls on all states that have decided to impose sanctions on Russia to transfer frozen Russian assets to Kyiv so that they can then be used for the purposes of post-war reconstruction. And there is an interesting dynamic here. At first, the main attention was paid to the assets of Russian «oligarchs» (whoever is understood by this definition). Switzerland has frozen such money in the amount of about 7.5 billion francs (8 billion dollars), but so far it has not been possible to get close to them in compliance with all legislative subtleties. Therefore, at the moment, all attention has shifted to about $ 300 billion of foreign exchange reserves of the Russian Central Bank, stored in foreign accounts. All of them were frozen shortly after the start of the aggression.

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According to Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmygal, they could well contribute significantly to the financing of projects for the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine, the cost of which as of autumn 2022 reached $750 billion. The European Union, however, is still counting exactly how much money has been frozen on its territory. According to currently available rough conservative estimates, this amount could reach at least 33 billion euros, or 32. 5 billion Swiss francs.

What is the legal basis?

Neither the EU nor Switzerland currently has legislation allowing the authorities to confiscate frozen Russian assets. “Switzerland could well pass a federal law giving it the appropriate powers.” This opinion is shared by Peter V. Kunz ( Peter V. KunzExternal link ), director of the Institute for Economic Law and Comparative Law at the University of Bern (Institit für Wirtschaftsrecht an der Universität Bern). But we should not forget that any such law here will be immediately submitted to a referendum.

According to Matthias Goldmann ( Matthias GoldmannExternal link ), Professor of International Law at the University of Economics and Law (EBS Universität für Wirtschaft und Recht) in Wiesbaden, Germany, the EU could create the appropriate legal grounds quite quickly and simply. The union of 27 European countries could, within the framework of its supranational competence, for example, create a trust fund for seized funds, integrating it into the existing sanctions regime — or go through an international agreement, which is a more likely scenario. According to M. Goldmann, however, the main stumbling block lies in finding an answer to the question of whether the seizure of such money is legal from the point of view of international law, since central bank reserves usually enjoy state immunity from enforcement of court decisions.

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This means that such assets cannot be confiscated if they are for public use. “Does [confiscation of this money] violate Russia’s immunity? And here a gap arises, and it is not clear whether, as before, the funds of the Central Bank of a country that has committed a gross offense, for example, unleashed a war of aggression, should enjoy immunity,” he says. If the international community decides that Russia is still entitled to immunity, then it will need its consent to withdraw the Central Bank’s reserves. Moscow, however, has already stated that it will oppose «squeezing out» Russian assets in Switzerland.External link

Has anything like this happened before?

According to M. Goldmann, in the past, most of the cases of seizure of foreign securities reserves occurred in connection with the enforcement of so-called «sovereign debts». For example, in 2022, an American court allowed the transfer of half of the reserves of the Central Bank of Afghanistan frozen in New York (about $3.5 billion) to a special trust fund in Geneva. In the future, the fund intends to allocate part of this money to the people, who, after the return to power of the Taliban in August 2021, found themselves in a situation of permanent humanitarian catastrophe. Such a decision, says M. Goldmann, can be seen as a sign of the emergence of a new rule of customary law, which allows considering the possibility of lifting immunity from such assets in cases of serious violations of human rights and international law by one state or another.

What about the risks to international stability?

Some experts and even entire states suggest that the seizure of the assets of the Russian Central Bank may lead to the fact that at the latest at this moment the central banks of the countries will decide that it is too risky to keep money abroad. Prof. M. Goldmann does not rule out such a possibility. “It could also be that some Central Banks try to bring their gold home,” he says. “It depends on the degree of risk to which the country is exposed and on what the current political circumstances will be. But even if all the gold in the world returns to the territory of “their countries”, there will be no obstacles to the normal functioning of international trade and financial markets.”

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“Russia itself, most likely, will also want to keep all its remaining foreign reserves and return them physically to itself. She certainly has accounts that no one knows about, so she will certainly try to transfer them home. But for banks like the Russian Central Bank, it has always been very important to have some reserves abroad, because you never know what can happen to the national currency.”

How likely is it that Switzerland will withdraw the frozen assets of the Central Bank of Russia?

From the point of view of Peter W. Kunz of the University of Bern, the prospect of confiscation of the Russian Central Bank’s reserves by neutral Switzerland looks improbable so far. “Such a confiscation would be a radical change in the entire financial policy of this neutral country compared to the current situation,” he says. — This would be acceptable only in two cases: if the confiscation of the funds of the Central Bank is organized not only by the US and the EU, but also by other countries, and if appropriate UN sanctions are introduced. The latter is unlikely, given Russia’s veto in the UN Security Council.»

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In addition, Swiss voters are unlikely to support this idea either. Officials are also silent. As Ingrid Ryser ( Ingrid RyserExternal Link ), Federal Department/Ministry of Justice and Police (EJPD) Spokesperson, Switzerland is “ready to work towards launching an internationally coordinated process to find solutions to repair the damage and restore Ukraine, while respecting the principles of the rule of law.

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