Puerto Rican Diaspora

By Dennis Mathis

The history of Puerto Rican music started before the Puerto Rico was even call Puerto Rico. It originated with the Taino Indians that inhabited the island before Christopher Columbus landed there in 1493. Not only had their culture stayed behind after them but also their musical culture. Many instruments used in Puerto Rican folk music came from the Taino. Since then the music has been changing and adapting along with the country. When the Spanish arrived there they brought with them their musical instruments and style of music along with instruments from the Moors. Over the years these instruments have been changed. Like many of the islands of the West Indies Puerto Rico’s inhabitants have heritages from all over the world. But most come from Spain and West Africa. These different influences can be seen in the music from Puerto Rico. Puerto Rican music is made up of improvising in the music and the lyrics of songs. Some different popular genres of music created in or influenced by Puerto Rico are Bomba, Reggaeton, and different forms of Salsa. Tito Puente is one of the most famous Puerto Rican American musicians of all time. He helped bring their music to the masses. Almost all music from the country is very upbeat which is closely tied to the feeling of the culture itself.

The Puerto Rican Diaspora is a large part of the Latino population in the United States. In the early 1900’s immigration from the country started being documented and it increased fairly steady until the mid-century when it increased dramatically. From The Puerto Rican Diaspora accounted for roughly 3,855,608 people in the United States in 2003. This is an amazing number because it was actually higher than the number of Puerto Ricans in Puerto Rico, which was roughly 3,692,362. The number of Puerto Rican Americans is higher now. In the early years of its immigration the largest population of the Diaspora made its home in New York City, New York. But the number has fallen greatly in recent years. The population is more spread out and a large group has formed in Florida.

The Puerto Rican Diaspora in Florida has grown substantially since the 1960’s. It has seen a 12 percent increase in said time. And from 2000 to 2003 there was a growth of more than a 100,000 people. Florida is now one of the states most populated by Puerto Rican immigrants. The largest population of the Diaspora is located in Central and South Florida. The city of Orlando saw the largest increase with 142 percent. Making it, in 2003, the fourth largest metropolitan area for Puerto Ricans after New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. Another interesting fact is that the educational level of Puerto Ricans is higher in Florida than anywhere else, including Puerto Rico itself.

Even though the Puerto Rican Diaspora has been here since the early 1900’s the people still hold on to their heritage. Most Puerto Ricans still speak Spanish even though most in Florida are fluent in English. The high education rates help account for the high number able to speak English. There are many festivals, concerts and parades put on by the Puerto Ricans so they can come together to celebrate their culture. These events also provide a way for people to connect with others from around the state and around the country. The Puerto Rican Diaspora is a very close knit group and will remain that way. It is the way their culture is structured. The Diaspora will continue to thrive for years to come and provide a new culture for Florida.


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