The figures above show that the population of Puerto Rico has begun to decline after a long period of steady and fairly rapid growth (as can be seen in this table).
The last full US census results, from 2010, showed that there were 3,725,789 people in Puerto Rico, so the population decrease was 19,099 in a single year. The previous census, conducted in 2000, showed that at that point, Puerto Rico had 3,808,610 people, so as well as losing just over 100,000 people in a decade, it appears as though the rate of population reduction is actually increasing.
There are a number of reasons for this decline including lower birth rates and lower death rates as the island becomes more prosperous. Increased emigration to the continental United States is also a factor, as people move to improve their economic prospects and sometimes – because Puerto Rico is a densely populated territory – to improve quality of life in other ways.
The negative growth rate of the population of Puerto Rico is expected to continue in the coming years as people continue to leave the country in substantial numbers and the birth rate remains low. Current projections go out to the year 2050 and believe that the net migration will regularly be at least -10,000 annually and the birth rate will remain below the worldwide average, staying close to 1.51. If this proves to be true, the annual growth rate will likely be close to -0.62% by 2050 and the population of Puerto Rico will be roughly 3,650,608 in 2020, 3,592,748 in 2030, 3,474,434 in 2040, and 3,281,904 in 2050.
|Puerto Rico Population (as of 8/24/2023)||3,261,687|
|Last UN Estimate (July 1, 2023)||3,260,314|
|Births per Day||71|
|Deaths per Day||100|
|Migrations per Day||54|
|Net Change per Day||25|
|Population Change Since Jan. 1||5,875|
Net increase of 1 person every 57.6 minutes
Population estimates based on interpolation of data from World Population Prospects
|One birth every 20.28 minutes|
|One death every 14.4 minutes|
|One immigrant every 26.67 minutes|
|Net gain of one person every 57.6 minutes|
There are people over age 18 in Puerto Rico.
The latest available figures put Puerto Rico’s population at 3,706,690. This is based on a US Census Bureau estimate from July 2011. At the time of writing in 2014, the estimated population is 3.68 million.
The people of Puerto Rico are mostly from a combination of backgrounds including European colonization, slavery, Amerindian settlement, and economic migration. It is common to find Puerto Rican people in all parts of the United States. In terms of race, 75.8% of the population identifies as white, 12.4% of people are African American or black, and the remaining 8.5% of people are a combination of American Indian, Alaskan natives, Pacific Islanders, and mixes of all of the aforementioned. The two official languages in Puerto Rico are Spanish and English. The largest age group is people 25-54, which make up 37.99% of the population, and the median age in the country is 42.2 years old. The ratio of males to females is 1.06, meaning that there are slightly more males.
Officially Puerto Rico is a religiously free commonwealth, but the majority of its population are Roman Catholic with 85% of its people claiming the faith. Roman Catholics in Puerto Rico have many everyday objects scattered through their lives that have religious affiliation such as rosaries and carvings of the Virgin Mary. Christianity also makes up an additional 8% of the population with the Protestant church. The remaining population is a combination of people without religion, spiritual people that practice Santeria from Cuba, and Jews, and Muslims. Although the Jewish community is small, it is made up of three different forms: Orthodox, Reform, and Conservative.
2006 changes in the United States tax system that took investment money out of the Caribbean coincided with a sharp downturn in the Puerto Rican economy. Unemployment has been increasing as a result and many citizens are leaving the island for the US mainland in hope for better opportunities. Manufacturing is the largest sector in Puerto Rico, producing pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, and electronics. The real estate and tourism industries are also very strong. Hurricane Maria in 2017 caused power outages over 90% of the area, in addition to destroying countless homes and causing widespread water contamination. Months after the destruction, roughly 40% were still living in these conditions due to lack of funding and aid.
Christopher Columbus claimed the land that is now Puerto Rico as Spain's in 1493, and the Spanish began to settle the area roughly 15 years later. In 1898, Puerto Rico was ceded to the United States under the Treaty of Paris and the US brought a civil government to the area and maintained strict control over the island. Puerto Ricans were granted in 1917 by the Jones Act, and by 1947 they were beginning to be allowed to self-govern. A landslide killed 129 people in 1985, and Hurricane George ravaged the area in 1998.
In 2005 a fugitive rebel leader that was pro-independence, Filberto Ojeda Pios, was killed by US federal agents, and the way the US treated innocent civilians caused unrest on the island. In 2017 Puerto Rico was forced to declare bankruptcy after being unable to repay debts. Later that year, two hurricanes pounded the island killing several thousand.