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Education is compulsory for children aged 6-17, and all of the primary and secondary schools are administered by the U.S. Department of Education. Private institutions, licensing, and academic testing standards are overseen by local education departments.1 Children are instructed in Spanish. Students can chose to attend local institutions of higher education or universities in the United States.
In Puerto Rico, 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.1 There are special programs set up to provide services for victims of abuse. In 2017, the United Nations issued a report regarding the degradation of housing, working conditions, security, and citizen participation in government because of Puerto Rico’s crippling national debt.2
Puerto Rico is located in the tropical region of the Caribbean Ocean. The island is at risk of losing land because of rising ocean water levels, and it has already lost coral reef areas because of pollution.1 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Division of Environmental Quality have embarked on multi-year protection projects to monitor pollution levels, prevent erosion, clean up contaminated areas, and replant native species to preserve the biodiversity.2
Over 90% of people in the territories identify as Christians, mainly Roman Catholics.1 Although this is the most common religion, many combine their Christian beliefs with traditional religious practices as well.
In 2015, 69% of Puerto Ricans used water from structures that violated federal health standards like contamination levels.1 The United States’ Environment Protection Agency offers special grants to improve or build new drinking water infrastructures, but they still struggle to meet water standards due to poor monitoring.2
Puerto Rico has seen a decrease in tourism and investments which has caused their economy to struggle in recent years.1 In 2017, Puerto Rico declared bankruptcy with $70 billion in debts; for years, the island’s government has had to take out loans just to provide basic services.2
Puerto Rico has a representative in Congress that can vote in committee.1 They have their own local governments and tax system that consists of a chief governor, legislative body, and local court system. Puerto Ricans are considered citizens of the United States at birth.2
Puerto Rico has their own Department of Public Health administered by local officials with direction from the U.S. mainland. There is one hospital located in the capital city with smaller health facilities scattered throughout the land.1 Puerto Rico faces many health concerns that are common in developing nations like malnutrition and infectious tropical diseases. In 2016, Zika was a serious health concern mostly in pregnant women.2
Youth comprise approximately 20% of Puerto Rico’s population.1 There are many organized youth sport and extracurricular opportunities organized through the local government and funded by the United States Department of Education. Nearly all public and privately funded grants available to youth in the mainland U.S. for studies and enrichment programs are also available for those living in Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico has a diverse array of animal life with many species found only on one specific island.1 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has initiated sea turtle monitoring services in Puerto Rico to maintain the number of sea turtles and protect their eggs during mating season.2 Unique to the island, the Puerto Rican Parrot is at risk for extinction, and many local agencies and scientists have been monitoring their population and attempting to sustain their environment for decades, but the population is still only around 50 birds.3