Originally populated by the indigenous Taíno people, Puerto Rico was colonized by Spain following the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1493. It was contested by the French, Dutch, and British, but remained a Spanish possession for the next four centuries. The island’s cultural and demographic landscapes were shaped by the displacement and assimilation of the native population, the forced migration of African slaves, and settlement from the Canary Islands and Andalusia. In the Spanish Empire, Puerto Rico played a secondary but strategic role compared to wealthier colonies like Peru and New Spain. Spain’s distant administrative control continued up to the end of the 19th century, producing a distinctive creole Hispanic culture and language that combined indigenous, African, and European elements. On September 23, 1868, Ramón Emeterio Betances unleashed a revolt against Spanish rule, declaring for the first time the idea of Puerto Ricans as a distinct people, with right to sovereignty.  This revolt, known as El Grito de Lares, was eventually put down by Spanish forces, but the movement continued. In 1898, following the Spanish–American War, the United States acquired Puerto Rico under the terms of the Treaty of Paris. Since then, Puerto Rico has remained an unincorporated territorial possession, making it the world’s oldest colony.
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