Puerto Rico has a tropical marine climate, which is mild and has little seasonal temperature variation. Temperatures range from 70ËF to 90ËF 21ËC to 32ËC, and tend to be lower at night and up in the mountains. Year round trade winds take part in ensuring the sub tropical climate. The average annual temperature is 26Â°C 80Â°F. Rainfall is abundant along the north coast and in the highlands, but light along the south coast. Hurricane season spans between June and November, where rain showers occur once a day, almost every day. Periodic droughts sometimes affect the island.
Christopher Columbus landed on the island of Puerto Rico in 1493 on his second voyage of discovery, and originally named it San Juan Bautista in honor of Saint John the Baptist. The name of the island's present day capital, San Juan, honors the name Columbus first gave the island. It was then settled by explorer Ponce de Leon and the island was under Spanish possession for over four centuries. The island became United States territory under the Treaty of Paris, which also ended the Spanish-American War. The United States passed Law 5600 giving Puerto Rico authorization to create and approve its own constitution. The relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico is known in English as a commonwealth. There is no precise Spanish equivalent to this word; thus locally it is translated as estado libre associado literally, "freely-associated state".
Puerto Rico is mostly mountainous, although there is a coastal plain belt in the north. The mountains drop precipitously to the sea on the west coast. There are sandy beaches along most of the coast. There are many small rivers about the island and the high central mountains ensure the land is well watered, although the south coast is relatively dry. The coastal plain belt in the north is fertile. Puerto Rico's highest point is at Cerro de Punta, which is 1,338 m above sea level.
The island of Puerto Rico is a rectangular shape and is the smallest, most eastern island of the Greater Antilles. It measures almost 580 km of coast. In addition to the principal island, the commonwealth islands include Vieques, Culebra, Culebrita, Palomino, Mona, Monito and various others isolated islands. Puerto Rico is surrounded by deep ocean waters. To the west Puerto Rico is separated from Hispaniola by the Mona Passage which is about 120 km wide and as much as 3,300 meters deep. The 8,000 m deep Puerto Rico trench is located off the northern coast. Off the south coast is the 5,466 m deep Venezuelan Basin of the Caribbean. Because Puerto Rico is relatively short in width it does not have any long rivers or large lakes. Grande de Arecibo is the longest river in Puerto Rico which flows to the northern coast. Puerto Rico does not have any natural lakes but it does however have 15 reservoirs.