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The island of puerto rico is a U.S. Commonwealth in the Caribbean. When Christopher Columbus landed in 1493 on his second voyage to the Americas, he found a population of approximately 50,000 Taino-Arawak Indians. Spanish colonization began in 1508. Native peoples were enslaved, forced to extract gold or work on plantations, and devastated by disease, violence, and maltreatment. Subsequently, African slaves supplied labor for the island's sugar plantations from 1513 until slavery was outlawed in 1873. Sugar continued to dominate the island's economy until the 1940s.

The island was under Spanish control until it was ceded to the United States in 1898. After a period of U.S. military occupation, the Foraker Law in 1900 established a civilian government. The island was minimally developed until the 1950s ...

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