Puerto Rico and the United States (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
The legal relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States has been described in a number of ways, ranging from "colonial possession" to "dual sovereigns." Technically speaking, Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States, subject to the plenary power of Congress. At the same time, however, Puerto Rico is a commonwealth with its own constitution, bicameral legislature, chief executive, and judiciary. Home to more than 4 million people, this 3,435-square-mile Caribbean island has never achieved complete sovereignty or total independence.
The island was inhabited by the Taino (Arawakan-speaking) when Christopher Columbus first saw it in 1493. The first Spanish-appointed governor named the island "Puerto Rico," meaning "wealthy port." Puerto Rico remained a Spanish colony for more than 400 years, until the SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR, which ended when Spain and the United States signed the TREATY OF PARIS on December 10, 1898. Ratified by the U.S. Senate a year later, the treaty obliged Spain to cede sovereignty over Puerto Rico to the United States as a condition of peace.
Congress is given broad powers to govern U.S. territories by the federal Constitution. U.S.C.A. Const. Art. IV, s....
(The entire section is 1417 words.)
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