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Your Questions About Puerto Rico, Answered

Puerto Ricans: U.S. citizens without a vote.
Photographer: Getty Images
Updated on

Hurricane Maria’s ravaging of Puerto Rico in 2017, and lingering controversy over Washington’s response, tested the quirky ties between the U.S. and its far-flung territories. A post-storm visit by President Donald Trump did little to calm complaints in Puerto Rico that Washington exhibited less urgency and generosity than it did toward U.S. states struck by earlier hurricanes. Those born in Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories, or "insular areas," have less political input and representation than residents of U.S. states.

There are 14 currently. Puerto Rico is, by far, the most populated, followed by Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands. The others, either uninhabited or barely populated, are Navessa Island, in the Caribbean Sea; and, in the Pacific Ocean, islands named Baker, Howland, Jarvis, Wake and Midway, atolls named Johnston and Palmyra, and Kingman Reef. The territories were ceded by Spain after the Spanish-American War in 1898 (Puerto Rico and Guam), purchased (Virgin Islands), annexed (Wake Island) or chose to associate with the U.S. (Northern Marianas).