an autonomous commonwealth (in association with the US) occupying the smallest and easternmost of the Greater Antilles in the Caribbean: one of the most densely populated areas in the world; ceded by Spain to the US in 1899. Currency: US dollar. Capital: San Juan. Pop: 3 674 209 (2013 est). Area: 9104 sq km (3515 sq miles)Former name (until 1932): Porto Rico Abbreviation: PR
1873 (n.), 1874 (adj.), from Puerto Rico + -an. Earlier was Porto Rican (1842).
Spanish, literally "rich harbor;" Caribbean island, name given in 1493 by Christopher Columbus to the large bay on the north side of the island; he called the island itself San Juan. Over time the name of the bay became the name of the island and the name of the island was taken by the town that grew up at the bay. Often spelled Porto Rico in 19c.; name officially changed 1932.