In parts of New York City and other cities in the Northeast and Midwest, Spanish is heard as often as English. These cities are home to many of the 2.7 million Puerto Ricans who live on the U.S. mainland. Like the 4 million people who live in Puerto Rico, they are U.S. citizens.
The U.S. gained control of Puerto Rico in 1898 in the Spanish-American War, and by an act of Congress, Puerto Ricans became citizens in 1917.
Puerto Ricans form the second-largest Latino group in the U.S., after Mexican-Americans. Some Puerto Ricans came to the U.S. before 1945. But after World War II, the number of arrivals swelled.
The establishment of regular airline service made the trip easy and inexpensive. Because economic conditions on the island were bleak, many Puerto Ricans moved to the mainland in search of work.
Many found life hard in American cities. They faced discrimination and poverty. Today, some Puerto Ricans still lead difficult lives in the U.S., but others have overcome their hardships and have established themselves in America's mainstream, while still observing their cultural traditions.
Many Puerto Ricans travel back and forth between the mainland and the island on a regular basis.
Notable Americans of Puerto Rican birth or decent include performers Rita Moreno, Jimmy Smits, and Rosie Perez; talk-show host Geraldo Rivera; and the late baseball star Roberto Clemente.