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Spanish, literally "rich harbor;" Caribbean island, name given in 1493 by Christopher Columbus to the large bay on the north side of the island; he called the island itself San Juan. Over time the name of the bay became the name of the island and the name of the island was taken by the town that grew up at the bay. Often spelled Porto Rico in 19c.; name officially changed 1932.
Note: Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the United States. Citizens of Puerto Rico are also American citizens but do not vote in federal elections and do not pay federal taxes on their local earnings.