The Puerto Rico population is 3,474,182 (latest U.S. Census Bureau data). The number of people living in Puerto Rico has fallen by more than 250,000 people in the last five years.
Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States and not a state in itself. However if Puerto Rico were a state it would be the 30th largest state by population in the USA, sandwiched between Connecticut and Iowa.
The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is a collection of islands in the eastern Caribbean. It is located to the east of the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba. The capital of Puerto Rico, and its largest city, is San Juan.
People born in Puerto Rico are US citizens, although they do not have voting representation in Congress and are not able to vote in US Presidential elections while they are living in Puerto Rico.
How many people live in Puerto Rico today?
The latest Puerto Rico population data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau. They report that on 1 July 2015 the population was 3,474,182. Data on the 2016 Puerto Rico population will be released in June 2017.
After strong population growth in the 1980s and 1990s the Puerto Rico population has begun to decline.
Puerto Rico Population Decline
The number of people living in Puerto Rico fell by 2.2% between the 2020 10 censuses. Since the 2010 census the rate of population decline has increased further and in the last five years the population has fallen by an additional 6.8%.
CNN puts the rate of migration out of Puerto Rico at 230 people per day.
Today’s population of just under 3.5 million people is still considerably higher than the 3.2 million population of 1980. But, if the population of Puerto Rico continues to fall at anticipated rates, experts believe that the population will fall below 3 million people by 2050.
Research by the Pew Foundation shows that the majority of Puerto Ricans who left for the US mainland went either for job related reasons or for family reasons.
Puerto Rico’s economy has struggled in recent years and its level of debt is high. Analysts are concerned that such a high level of outmigration will make Puerto Rico’s economic and debt problems worse over time.
Largest cities in Puerto Rico
San Juan is the largest city in Puerto Rico. In 2015 the population of San Juan was 355,074 people.
The population of San Juan has, like the rest of Puerto Rico, fallen in recent years. Since the 2010 census it has fallen from 395,136 people to just 355,074 today. That’s a decline of more than 10%.
Other major cities (also known as municipalities) in Puerto Rico include Bayamon (pop: 208,116), Carolina (pop: 176,762), Ponce (166,327) and Caguas (pop: 142,893).
Of these cities only Ponce is outside of the wider San Juan Metropolitan area. Around one in every three people living in Puerto Rico live in the wider San Juan metropolitan area.
Here is a list of the 10 largest cities in Puerto Rico. Population data is from 2010.
Puerto Rican population in US
Today there are more Puerto Rican people living in the rest of the USA than there are living in the islands of Puerto Rico.
The latest US Census bureau estimates (2014) indicate that there are 5,266,738 people of Puerto Rican origin in the United States outside of Puerto Rico. This includes people born in Puerto Rico who emigrated and the descendants of earlier emigrants.
As you can see from the map the New York/New Jersey area and Florida have a high density of Puerto Ricans. Each dot on the map represents 1,000 Puerto Ricans.
At the time of the 2010 census there were 1,070,558 people of Puerto Rican origin in the state of New York (23.15% of Puerto Ricans in the continental USA) and 847,550 people of Puerto Rican origin in Florida (18.33%).
New York City is the city with the largest Puerto Rico population in the world. In 2010 there were 723,621 Puerto Ricans in New York City. The next largest Puerto Rican communities in the continental US are Philadelphia (121,643) and Chicago (102,703).
(Source: Puerto Ricans in the United States).
Puerto Rico population density
Based on the 2015 population estimate, population density in Puerto Rico is 988 people per square mile or 382 people per km².
This makes Puerto Rico the fourth most densely populated state or territory in the USA. It is behind only Washington DC (10,589 people per square mile), New Jersey (1,210 people per square mile) and Rhode Island (1,006 people per square mile).
Puerto Rico is 10 times more densely populated than the United States as a whole.
Puerto Rico demographics
Race in Puerto Rico
The latest available data on the ethnic composition of Puerto Rico is from the 2010 census. This indicated that 99.0% of people living in Puerto Rico were Hispanic or Latino.
A more detailed breakdown from the census clarifies that 75.8% of people in Puerto Rico consider themselves to be white and 12.4% consider themselves to be Black or African-American. A further 8.5% consider themselves to be from another group and 3.3% consider themselves to be of mixed race.
Before Spanish colonists began to colonise the islands in the early 16th century, Puerto Rico was inhabited by the Taino Indians. Historians estimate that the Taino population of Puerto Rico was somewhere between 20,000 and 50,000 people in 1508. Just 40 years later less than a hundred remained on the island.
Religion in Puerto Rico
Because of its historic links to Spain, Roman Catholicism is by far the largest religion in Puerto Rico. However, more recent links with the United States mean that there is a substantial and increasing number of Protestants in Puerto Rico.
Estimates of the breakdown of religious groups in Puerto Rico vary but a recent (2014) study by the Pew Research Centre reported that 56% of Puerto Ricans are Catholic and 33% are Protestant. A further 8% are other Christians and 2% follow another religion.
Puerto Rico is believed to be home to approximately 5,000 Muslims and 3,000 Jews. Puerto Rico has the largest Jewish community in the Caribbean.
Reliable data on the number of people in Puerto Rico who are not religious is not available, although the percentage is believed to be much lower than in other parts of the United States – probably in the range of 2% to 5%.
Languages in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico has two official languages – Spanish and English.
Spanish is the primary language spoken by the vast majority of people in Puerto Rico. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that, in 2010, 94.9% of people spoke a language other than English at home.
Because of this almost all business, including government business, and education in Puerto Rico is conducted in the Spanish language.
Although many people – perhaps a majority – in Puerto Rico can speak English to some degree the U.S. Census Bureau reports that only around 30% can speak English very well.
In an attempt to improve the territory’s economic prospects and build closer links with the rest of the United States, the government in Puerto Rico is increasing the number of services and documents it provides in English and increasing the amount of English language education.
Although there are obvious practical benefits from increasing the use of English in Puerto Rico, such plans are also controversial. Opponents are concerned that, if not handled well, they could lead to a decline in the use of Spanish.
Puerto Rico life expectancy
Average life expectancy in Puerto Rico is 79.22 years, according to the UN. Female life expectancy in Puerto Rico is 83.17 years. Male life expectancy is 75.19 years.
This average life expectancy is slightly higher than the average US life expectancy, which the UN puts at 78.88 years.
If Puerto Rico were an independent country it would have the 39th highest life expectancy in the world. If Puerto Rico were a US state it would have the 23rd highest life expectancy in the USA.
Sources and further reading
Unless otherwise noted data in this article comes from the US Census Bureau.
The Pew Research Centre has a section on Hispanic trends on its website which often contains interesting articles and data about Puerto Rico.
Another website we recommend visiting is Welcome to Puerto Rico, which provides plenty of background information about the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
Finally the Institute of Statistics of Puerto Rico (Instituto de Estadísticas de Puerto Rico) contains a wealth of demographic information. Note: this site is in Spanish only.