Learn About the Geography of Puerto Rico

The island of Puerto Rico has surprising geographical diversity with some 60% of the island's terrain being very hilly. There are also caves, deserts, oceans, rivers and stunning beaches. The three distinct physiographic regions are divided into the karst areas, the coastal lowlands and the mountainous region.

The top four highest mountains in Puerto Rico are Cerro Punta, Rosa, Guilarte and the Tres Picachos. They range from 3093 to 4389 ft. The mountainous interior is formed by the Cordillera Central Range and this is formed by a central mountain chain ranging from Mayaguez to Aibonito.

Puerto Rico makes up part of the Great Antilles being the smallest eastern island in this collection. The island is almost rectangular in form. The beautiful coastal area extends for approximately thirteen to nineteen kilometers in the north and for three to thirteen kilometers to the south. Due to erosion from the interior mountains, a chain of smaller valleys lie at right angles in close proximity to the east and west coast. The Puerto Rican coastline measures about five hundred and eighty kilometers. Because of the mountainous geographic chain and the short width of the island, Puerto Rico cannot really have any large lakes or long rivers.

In the North lies the karst region – an area that is seen as being a crucial physiographic area. The region features both rugged volcanic rock and delicate limestone and you will find a variety of sinkholes, karst features, limestone cliffs and caves in this region. The karst region extends west from Aquadilla to the east of San Juan in Loiza.

Mona Island lies about fifty miles west of the Puerto Rican coastline. Here you will find a unique, untouched environment housing creatures found nowhere else in the world. Because of this the island has been placed under the management of the Puerto Rican Natural Resources and the United States as a National Park Service.

Interestingly, in 2005 it was estimated that 90.72% of the land was not being used while only 5.59% was being used permanently for crops and 3.69% is arable land. Some of the natural resources that can be found are off-shore and on-shore crude oil – which isn’t currently being harvested – as well as copper, nickel and fish.

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