The island of Boriquén, as Puerto Rico was called by its native inhabitants, was occupied by about 30,000 Taino Indians at the time Europeans arrived in the late 15th century. They were a branch of the Arawak language family and were noted for their peaceful nature.

Important dates in Puerto Rico
1493 Christopher Columbus sailed to Puerto Rico during his second voyage to the Western Hemisphere.
1508 Spanish colonists began settlement of Puerto Rico.
1598 The English captured San Juan and held it for five months.
1625 The Dutch burned San Juan.
1797 The English attacked San Juan.
1898 U.S. troops occupied Puerto Rico, and Spain ceded the island to the U.S. after the Spanish-American War.
1900 Congress established civil government for Puerto Rico with the first Organic Act, or Foraker Act.
1917 Puerto Ricans became citizens of the United States by the second Organic Act, or Jones Act.
1947 Congress amended the Jones Act to permit Puerto Ricans to elect their own governor.
1949 Luis Munoz Marin was inaugurated as the first elected governor of Puerto Rico. He served until 1965.
1952 Puerto Rico adopted its constitution and became a commonwealth.
1964 Congress and the Puerto Rican legislature set up a commission to study Puerto Rico's relationship with the United States.
1967-1998 Puerto Rico held three referendums that resulted in the island keeping its commonwealth status.
2000 Sila Maria Calderon was elected the first woman governor of Puerto Rico.