4 million inhabitants (2007) Density: 438 inhabitants per sq. km Puerto Rico has 7 urban areas with over 100,000 inhabitants:
The five largest are:
- San Juan 424,951
- Bayamón 220,629
- Carolina 187,607
- Ponce 180,376
- Caguas 142,984
Since the mid-1960s, residents of Puerto Rico have been eligible for most of the programs that apply throughout the 50 states. About one-fourth of the commonwealth's budget is appropriated for public housing and welfare. Federal grants, transfers, and expenditures in Puerto Rico amounted to nearly one-quarter of the GNP in 1990. The school lunch program received $117.7 million in 1996.
With the enactment of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, the US government has changed the form and regulations for many of its social welfare programs; most significantly, it replaces Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), an open-ended entitlement program, with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), a limited system of assistance funded largely through federal block grants. The reform act also impacts the food stamp program, the Supplemental Security Income program, and the child nutrition program. The law took effect on 1 July 1997 and provided $16.38 billion in block grants for fiscal years 1997–2002.
Because unemployment is high and wages are low, Social Security benefits are below the US average. In 2001, benefits averaging $577 per month were paid to 677,130 residents. Island residents are not eligible for Supplemental Security Income. Weekly unemployment benefits averaged $102.82 in 1999, lower than any of the 50 states.
Education in Puerto Rico is divided in three levels — Primary (elementary school grades 1-6), Secondary (intermediate and high school grades 7-12), and Higher Level (undergraduate and graduate studies). As of 2002, the literacy rate of the Puerto Rican population was 94.1%; by gender, it was 93.9% for males and 94.4% for females.
According to the 2000 Census, 60.0% of the population attained a high school degree or higher level of education, and 18.3% has a bachelor's degree or higher. This ranks as lowest and sixth lowest, respectively, among U.S. states, where the national averages are 80.4% and 24.4%.
Instruction at the primary school level is compulsory between the ages of 5 and 18 and is enforced by the state. The Constitution of Puerto Rico grants the right to an education to every citizen on the island.
To this end, public schools in Puerto Rico provide free and non-sectarian education at the elementary and secondary levels. At any of the three levels, students may attend either public or private schools. As of 1999, there were 1532 public schools and 569 private schools in the island.
The Roman Catholic Church has been historically the dominant religion in Puerto Rico. The first dioceses in the Americas was erected in Puerto Rico in 1511. All municipalities in Puerto Rico have at least one Catholic church (building), most of which are located at the town center or "plaza". Protestantism which was suppressed under the Spanish regime has been encouraged under American rule making modern Puerto Rico interconfessional.
Taíno religious practices have been rediscovered/reinvented to a degree by a handful of advocates. Various African religious practices have been present since the arrival of African slaves. In particular, the Yoruba beliefs of Santeria and/or Ifá, and the Kongo-derived Palo Mayombe find adherence among a few individuals who practice some form of African traditional religion.
In 2007, Islam had some 5,119 Muslims in Puerto Rico, representing about 0.10% of the population. There were eight Islamic mosques spread throughout the island, with most Muslims living in Rio Piedras.
Puerto Rico is also home to the largest and richest Jewish community in the Caribbean with 3,000 Jewish inhabitants. Puerto Rico is the only Caribbean island in which the Conservative, Reform and Orthodox Jewish movements are represented.