Guánica, Puerto Rico

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Guánica)

Municipio Autónomo de Guánica
Boats in San Jacinto Sector in Guánica barrio-pueblo
Boats in San Jacinto Sector in Guánica barrio-pueblo
Flag of Guánica
"Pueblo de la amistad", "El Pueblo de las Doce Calles", "Puerta de la Cultura"
Anthem: "América es jardín del mundo"
Map of Puerto Rico highlighting Guánica Municipality
Map of Puerto Rico highlighting Guánica Municipality
Coordinates: 17°58′18″N 66°54′29″W / 17.97167°N 66.90806°W / 17.97167; -66.90806Coordinates: 17°58′18″N 66°54′29″W / 17.97167°N 66.90806°W / 17.97167; -66.90806
Commonwealth Puerto Rico
FoundedMarch 13, 1914
 • MayorIsmael (Titi) Rodríguez Ramos (PPD)
 • Senatorial dist.5 - Ponce
 • Representative dist.21
 • Total53.42 sq mi (138.35 km2)
 • Land37 sq mi (96 km2)
 • Water16.35 sq mi (42.35 km2)
 • Total13,787
 • Rank71st in Puerto Rico
 • Density260/sq mi (100/km2)
Time zoneUTC−4 (AST)
ZIP Codes
00653, 00647
Area code787/939
Major routesPR primary 2.svg PR secondary 116.svg
GNIS feature ID1610855[2]

Guánica (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈɡwanika], locally [ˈwanika]) is a town and municipality in southwestern Puerto Rico, bordering the Caribbean Sea, south of Sabana Grande, east of Lajas, and west of Yauco. It is part of the Yauco metropolitan statistical area.

The town of Guánica, also known as Pueblo de Guánica, is the principal town of the municipality. The town's population in 2000 was 9,247 people among 3,808 housing units over a land area of 2.49 square miles (6.45 km2). The town is located on a deeply indented harbor of the same name. The harbor resembles a tropical fjord, narrow and bordered by rugged hills, barely a quarter-mile wide, but about two miles (3.2 km) from mouth to the town. The town is about 100 miles (160 km) and over two hours' driving distance from San Juan, and about 20 miles (30 km) west of Ponce.

Guánica's postal ZIP Code is 00653 and telephone area codes are 787 and 939. The urban settlement of Ensenada has a separate postal ZIP Code of 00647.



Juan Ponce de Leon landed in the Guánica harbor on August 12, 1508, and founded a town called Guaynía, a word derived from the Taíno language that is popularly said to mean "Here is a place with water". The town, considered the first capital of the island of Puerto Rico (which was at that time named Isla de San Juan Bautista), was destroyed during the indigenous uprising of 1511, and the area was abandoned by Europeans for some years, during which time San Juan (itself at first called Puerto Rico) became the capital of the island.

Puerto Rico was ceded by Spain in the aftermath of the Spanish–American War under the terms of the Treaty of Paris of 1898 and became a territory of the United States. In 1899, the United States Department of War conducted a census of Puerto Rico finding that the population of Guánica was 2,700.[4] The re-founded town of Guánica was at first a barrio of the municipality of Yauco until Guánica was established as a separate municipality on March 13, 1914. Víctor Ángel Sallaberry Safini was Guánica's first mayor.


American troops landing at Guánica in 1898, by Howard Chandler Christy

On July 25, 1898, American forces (who included the young poet-writer Carl Sandburg led by General Nelson A. Miles) landed in Guánica as part of the course of the Puerto Rican Campaign in the Spanish–American War. This invasion led to Puerto Rico being acquired by the United States. The invasion, just one small part of the war between Spain and United States, occurred in Guánica due to its sheltered harbor and proximity to Ponce, besides being such an unexpected site for such an attack, which had been anticipated at the heavily fortified city of San Juan. The Gloucester was the first ship to set anchor in the Bay of Guánica. Twenty-eight sailors and Marines, under the command of lieutenants H. P. Huse and Wood, departed from the ship on rafts and landed on the beach. The Marines lowered the Spanish flag from the beach flagpole and replaced it with the American flag. They then proceeded to set up a machine gun nest and placed barbed wire around their perimeter. The first land skirmish in Puerto Rico between the Puerto Rican militia and the American forces occurred when Lt. Méndez López and his men attacked and opened fire on the Americans. During the small battle which followed, the Americans returned fire with their machine gun and the Gloucester began to bombard the Spanish position. Lt. Méndez López and three of his men were wounded and the militia unit was forced to retreat to the town of Yauco.[5][6] The invasion is commemorated by a contentious monument on the waterfront: along a broad paseo (el malecón), there is a large coral boulder known as the Guánica Rock (Piedra de Guánica) marked by the carved words, "3rd Battalion, 1st U.S.V. Engineers, September 16, 1898." July 25 was subsequently commemorated in Puerto Rico as Occupation Day, later renamed Constitution Day (see Public holidays in Puerto Rico).

Gloucester landing team


Rock in Guánica which indicates where Major General Nelson A. Miles and his men landed

Guánica is a modern town that maintains roots and connections to a traditional past. Known as el pueblo de la amistad ('the town of friendship'), it is also occasionally referred to as el pueblo de las doce calles ('the town of the twelve streets'). The central part of town consists of five streets running north–south crossing seven other streets that run east–west, resulting in a compact grid of 24 square blocks, one of which is the main town square. Facing the square are the Catholic church, city hall, a school, and many shops; the plaza itself contains greenery, walks, and a music stand. In recent years this central area of the twelve streets has been extensively supplemented by suburbs in the south and west. Hills surround the town and harbor, including the 450-foot (140 m) hill to the east of town, itself topped by the tiny Fort Caprón. Two large factories, one producing fertilizer, partially distract the eye from the pleasant landscape, but both have been important to the economy of the town, at one time dominated by the sugar plantations of Central Guánica. The resort chain known as Club Med once attempted to set up a luxury resort on beaches east of the town but withdrew due to local opposition which was apprehensive about both environmental and community degradation. East of the town some 200 acres (80.9 ha) of land, including three miles (4.8 km) of beach, have been intermittently for sale. It is a fishing village; commercial fishermen still ply their traditional trade beyond the harbor entrance. Copamarina Beach Resort & Spa offers beach access and a short boat ride to Gilligan Island, the westernmost key of the Cayos de Caña Gorda, which is a great spot to go snorkeling. The water is crystal clear and shallow, in which old pieces of coral and fish can be seen. People can walk or swim from one island to another.

On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria struck the island of Puerto Rico. In Guánica, 951 homes were damaged or destroyed.[7]

On January 6, 2020, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake was felt in Guánica and nearby municipalities, and several residences and cars were destroyed.[8] On January 7, 2020, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake hit.[9]


Guayacán Centenario

Guánica has mountains and a dry forest. The Guánica State Forest (Bosque Estatal de Guánica) is also the name of a dry forest reserve east and west of the town, the largest remaining tract of tropical dry coastal forest in the world and designated an international Biosphere Reserve in 1981. The park comprising much of the dry forest is known as Bosque Seco de Guánica.[10][11]

Highway Route 116, the nearest principal road, heads west toward Lajas and east toward Ponce, passing through the island of Puerto Rico's driest area. The largely intact forest of the Guánica Dry Forest reserve hosts the greatest number of bird species found on the island, including several bird species seldom found anywhere else: the Puerto Rican lizard cuckoo, Puerto Rican woodpecker, the Puerto Rican nightjar, and the Puerto Rican emerald hummingbird. Other animals thought to be extinct in Puerto Rico have turned up in this forest. Many different types of cacti grow here, a stunning contrast to the lush Caribbean National Forest in the northeast part of the island, which is a tropical rainforest. The contrast is due to the mountain ridge Cordillera Central which separates Guánica from the northeast part of the island; while the northeast receives over 100 inches (2,500 mm) of precipitation each year, Guánica receives less than 30, and some regions of the forest reserve are said to receive only six inches.

The forest reserve of some 9,500 acres (38 km2) contains 36 miles (58 km) of trails through four different forest types: deciduous trees, a coastal region with tree-size milkweed and nine-foot-tall (2.7 m) prickly pear cactus, a mahogany forest, and twisted gumbo limbo trees. There are about 700 varieties of plants, including aroma (acacia) and guayacan (Lignum vitae—Latin for 'wood of life'). One guayacan is about 500–700 years old. The squat melon cactus and other cacti can be found here along with 40 species of birds, including the guabairo (Puerto Rican nightjar), found nowhere else. Also found in the area are the Puerto Rico crested toad (Peltophryne lemur) and, sometimes on the beaches, green and leatherback turtles, though their eggs suffer severe predation from mongooses one time introduced to fight rats in sugarcane fields.


Subdivisions of Guánica

Like all municipalities of Puerto Rico, Guánica is subdivided into barrios. The municipal buildings, central square and large Catholic church are located in a small barrio referred to as "el pueblo".[12][13][14][15]


Barrios (which are like minor civil divisions)[16] and subbarrios,[17] in turn, are further subdivided into smaller local populated place areas/units called sectores (sectors in English). The types of sectores may vary, from normally sector to urbanización to reparto to barriada to residencial, among others.[18][19][20]

Special Communities[edit]

Comunidades Especiales de Puerto Rico (Special Communities of Puerto Rico) are marginalized communities whose citizens are experiencing a certain amount of social exclusion. A map shows these communities occur in nearly every municipality of the commonwealth. Of the 742 places that were on the list in 2014, the following barrios, communities, sectors, or neighborhoods were in Guánica: Esperanza neighborhood, Callejón Magüeyes, El Batey, El Tumbao, Ensenada, Fuig, La Luna, and Playa Santa.[21]


Guánica Bay viewed from the Dry Forest

Landmarks and places of interest[edit]

Guánica has 39 beaches, including Playa Santa.[22]


Harvesting sugarcane in Guánica in 1942


  • Salt and Sugarcane


  • Manufacture (apparel)


Festivals and events[edit]

Guánica celebrates its patron saint festival in July. The Fiestas Patronales de Santiago Apostol is a religious and cultural celebration that generally features parades, games, artisans, amusement rides, regional food, and live entertainment.[11]

Other festivals and events celebrated in Guánica include:


Historical population
Census Pop.
U.S. Decennial Census[32]
1930-1950[34] 1960-2000[35] 2010[14] 2020[36]


Like all municipalities in Puerto Rico, Guánica is administered by a mayor. The current mayor is Ismael (Titi) Rodríguez Ramos, from the Popular Democratic Party (PPD). Rodríguez was elected in the 2020 general election after a close race with Santos Seda (Papichy) from the New Progressive Party (PNP). While both candidates received almost the same share of the vote, 2,000 ballots where write in votes mostly for Edgardo Cruz Vélez an independent candidate.[38] This resulted in a vote recount and while the initial results signaled Vélez was the victor, after weeks of counting, Rodríguez was declared the winner.[39][40] Vélez initially conceded the race but then petitioned a court to adjudge early voting ballots to his count. This court case and subsequent court appeal where both dismissed.[41][42]

The city belongs to the Puerto Rico Senatorial district V, which is represented by two senators. In 2012, Ramón Ruiz and Martín Vargas Morales, from the Popular Democratic Party (PPD), were elected as District Senators.[43] In 2020, Marially Gozález and Ramón Ruiz, from the Popular Democratic Party (PPD), were elected as District Senators.[44]


The municipio has an official flag and coat of arms.[45]


The five waves, blue and yellow represent the Guánica Bay, a fragment of the Official Shield of Guánica.[46]

Coat of arms[edit]

Shield divided in four quarters. In the superior right side, it has a "bohío" (a native hut) under a crown that represents Cacique Agüeybaná, whose yucayeque (Indian territory) was in this region. In the superior left quarter, a lion representing Juan Ponce de León. The red and yellow checkered strips over a silver-plated background in the inferior right side represent the shields of Don Cristóbal de Sotomayor, founder of the town of Tavara, the actual location of Guánica. The waved stripes represent the bay of this town. The branches surrounding the shield represent the sugarcane industry that was very important in this region.[46]

Notable "Guaniqueños"[edit]

  • Agüeybaná and Agüeybaná II, Taíno chiefs
  • Rose Franco (b. 1932), first Puerto Rican woman Chief Warrant Officer in U.S. Marine Corps
  • Primitivo Anglada – Activist in obtaining Guánica's municipal independence. First secretary of the town council.
  • Miguel A. Morciglio – Member of the House of Representatives for District 24 (1961–64).
  • Carmen Ramírez Vargas (Lolita Vargas) – Singer, actress, and educator.
  • Rubén del Rosario – Educator, writer, and linguist.
  • Víctor Sallaberry – First mayor elected by the people, in 1914.
  • Pedro Santana Ronda – Writer, poet, and journalist. Was published in the weekly paper El Erizo.
  • Domingo Suárez Cruz – Civic leader, political orator, and writer. Was keeper of the Guánica Lighthouse. The public library was named in his honor.
  • María Heliodora Vargas – Educator and author of the poem «La bandera de los guaniqueños» ('The Flag of the Guaniqueños').
  • Pedro Juan Vargas Mercado – Journalist and historian.
  • Pedro Vargas Rodríguez – Secretary of the Separation Committee that achieved the emancipation of the municipality. Poet, orator, musician, writer, and journalist. Founded El Fósforo (1908) and Brisas del Caribe (1915), the first newspapers in Guánica.


At one time during 1937, Guánica received domestic, commercial airline flights from San Juan on Puerto Rico's national airline, Puertorriqueña de Aviación.[47]

There are 25 bridges in Guánica.[48]



  • Torres, Angel Luis, Walter Torres, and Miguel Canals. En el Bosque Seco de Guánica. San Juan, Puerto Rico: La Editorial Universidad de Puerto Rico (Colección San Pedrito), 1995. ISBN 0-8477-0207-3 – Children's picture book about a trip through the dry forest of Guánica with a sea turtle. (in Spanish)
  • La Muerte de un Gigante: historia de la central guanica, autora Aria E. Ramos, La Muerte de Un Gigante: Historia de la Central Guanica y el poblado de Ensenada: Maria E. Ramos: 9781563281471: Books

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bureau, US Census. "PUERTO RICO: 2020 Census". The United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 25, 2021.
  2. ^ "Guánica – Populated Place". Geographic Names Information System. USGS. Retrieved May 14, 2008.
  3. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on December 27, 1996. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  4. ^ Joseph Prentiss Sanger; Henry Gannett; Walter Francis Willcox (1900). Informe sobre el censo de Puerto Rico, 1899, United States. War Dept. Porto Rico Census Office (in Spanish). Imprenta del gobierno. p. 165. Archived from the original on November 15, 2012. Retrieved April 18, 2020.
  5. ^ Barnes, Mark R. "The American Army Moves on Puerto-Rico, Part 2". War in Puerto Rico. Spanish American War Centennial Website. Archived from the original on July 24, 2008. Retrieved August 2, 2008.
  6. ^ "El desembarco en Guánica". 1898 La Guerra Hispano Americana en Puerto Rico (in Spanish). Archived from the original on April 21, 2010. Retrieved August 2, 2008.
  7. ^ "María, un nombre que no vamos a olvidar. María se lleva la industria turística de Guánica" [Maria, a name we will never forget. Maria took Guánica's tourism industry with it]. El Nuevo Día (in Spanish). June 13, 2019. Retrieved September 11, 2022.
  8. ^ "Colapsan cinco residencias en la barriada Esperanza en Guánica por el temblor [Five residences in the Esperanza neighborhood of Guánica collapse as a result of the earthquake]". El Nuevo Dia. January 6, 2020. Archived from the original on January 7, 2020. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  9. ^ Rosa, Alejandra; Mazzei, Patricia (January 6, 2020). "Earthquake Strikes Puerto Rico, Toppling a Well-Known Natural Wonder". Archived from the original on January 7, 2020. Retrieved January 7, 2020 – via
  10. ^ "Balneario Caña Gorda". drdpuertorico (in Spanish). Programa de Parques Nacionales de Puerto Rico. Archived from the original on February 13, 2019. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
  11. ^ a b "Guánica Municipality". Fundación Puertorriqueña de las Humanidades (FPH). Archived from the original on August 29, 2019. Retrieved March 20, 2019.
  12. ^ Picó, Rafael; Buitrago de Santiago, Zayda; Berrios, Hector H. Nueva geografía de Puerto Rico: física, económica, y social, por Rafael Picó. Con la colaboración de Zayda Buitrago de Santiago y Héctor H. Berrios. San Juan Editorial Universitaria, Universidad de Puerto Rico,1969. Archived from the original on December 26, 2018. Retrieved January 4, 2019.
  13. ^ Gwillim Law (May 20, 2015). Administrative Subdivisions of Countries: A Comprehensive World Reference, 1900 through 1998. McFarland. p. 300. ISBN 978-1-4766-0447-3. Retrieved December 25, 2018.
  14. ^ a b Puerto Rico:2010:population and housing unit counts.pdf (PDF). U.S. Dept. of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration U.S. Census Bureau. 2010. Archived (PDF) from the original on February 20, 2017. Retrieved January 4, 2019.
  15. ^ "Map of Guánica at the Wayback Machine" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 24, 2018. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  16. ^ "US Census Barrio-Pueblo definition". US Census. Archived from the original on May 13, 2017. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
  17. ^ "P.L. 94-171 VTD/SLD Reference Map (2010 Census): Guánica Municipio, PR" (PDF). U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Economics and Statistics Administration U.S. Census Bureau. Archived (PDF) from the original on August 22, 2020. Retrieved August 22, 2020.
  18. ^ "Agencia: Oficina del Coordinador General para el Financiamiento Socioeconómico y la Autogestión (Proposed 2016 Budget)". Puerto Rico Budgets (in Spanish). Archived from the original on June 28, 2019. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  19. ^ Rivera Quintero, Marcia (2014), El vuelo de la esperanza: Proyecto de las Comunidades Especiales Puerto Rico, 1997-2004 (first ed.), San Juan, Puerto Rico Fundación Sila M. Calderón, ISBN 978-0-9820806-1-0
  20. ^ "Leyes del 2001". Lex Juris Puerto Rico (in Spanish). Archived from the original on September 14, 2018. Retrieved June 24, 2020.
  21. ^ Rivera Quintero, Marcia (2014), El vuelo de la esperanza:Proyecto de las Comunidades Especiales Puerto Rico, 1997-2004 (Primera edición ed.), San Juan, Puerto Rico Fundación Sila M. Calderón, p. 273, ISBN 978-0-9820806-1-0
  22. ^ "Las 1,200 playas de Puerto Rico [The 1200 beaches of Puerto Rico]". Primera Hora (in Spanish). April 14, 2017. Archived from the original on December 12, 2019. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  23. ^ "Historic Hotels and Resorts in Puerto Rico". Discover Puerto Rico. Archived from the original on July 17, 2019. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  24. ^ "La antigua alcaldía de Guánica es un ejemplo de elegancia y fortaleza" [The old town hall of Guánica is an example of elegance and endurance]. El Nuevo Día. Archived from the original on August 18, 2021. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  25. ^ "Conoce las 11 playas más peligrosas de Puerto Rico [Know the 11 most dangerous beaches in Puerto Rico]". El Nuevo Día (in Spanish). July 4, 2018. Retrieved April 4, 2021.
  26. ^ "Fort Capron in Guánica: an adventure on the mountain". El Nuevo Día. August 26, 2021. Retrieved August 26, 2021.
  27. ^ "Playa Santa in Guanica | Puerto Rico Day Trips Travel Guide". Archived from the original on March 6, 2019. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  28. ^ "Punta de Brea - Surfing in Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico - WannaSurf, surf spots atlas, surfing photos, maps, GPS location". Wanna Surf. Archived from the original on August 22, 2020. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  29. ^ "Guanica Dry Forest Reserve | Puerto Rico Day Trips Travel Guide". Puerto Rico Day Trips. Archived from the original on July 5, 2019. Retrieved July 5, 2019.
  30. ^ "MIMI'S GUEST HOUSE - Prices & Reviews (Puerto Rico/Guanica)". Trip Advisor. Archived from the original on July 5, 2019. Retrieved July 5, 2019.
  31. ^ "Mary Lee's by the Sea in Guanica - Hotel | Frommer's". Frommers. Archived from the original on August 22, 2020. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  32. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  33. ^ "Table 3-Population of Municipalities: 1930 1920 and 1910" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Archived (PDF) from the original on August 17, 2017. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  34. ^ "Table 4-Area and Population of Municipalities Urban and Rural: 1930 to 1950" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Archived (PDF) from the original on August 30, 2015. Retrieved September 21, 2014.
  35. ^ "Table 2 Population and Housing Units: 1960 to 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 24, 2017. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  36. ^ Bureau, US Census. "PUERTO RICO: 2020 Census". The United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 25, 2021.
  37. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on December 27, 1996. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  38. ^ "CEE Event". Retrieved May 26, 2021.
  39. ^ "Inicia con polémica el recuento de votos de la contienda por la alcaldía de Guánica". El Nuevo Día (in Spanish). January 14, 2021. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
  40. ^ "La alcaldía de Guánica queda en manos del candidato del PPD, Ismael Rodríguez Ramos". El Nuevo Día (in Spanish). December 17, 2020. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
  41. ^ NotiCel. "Tribunal vuelve a fallar en contra del candidato por nominación directa en Guánica, Edgardo Cruz". Retrieved May 26, 2021.
  42. ^ "Desestiman pleito de Edgardo Cruz, candidato por nominación directa a la alcaldía de Guánica". El Nuevo Día (in Spanish). May 17, 2021. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
  43. ^ Elecciones Generales 2012: Escrutinio General Archived 2013-01-15 at the Wayback Machine on CEEPUR
  44. ^ "CEE Event". Retrieved March 1, 2021.
  45. ^ "Ley Núm. 70 de 2006 -Ley para disponer la oficialidad de la bandera y el escudo de los setenta y ocho (78) municipios". LexJuris de Puerto Rico (in Spanish). Retrieved June 15, 2021.
  46. ^ a b "GUANICA". LexJuris (Leyes y Jurisprudencia) de Puerto Rico (in Spanish). February 19, 2020. Archived from the original on February 19, 2020. Retrieved September 17, 2020.
  47. ^ "Aerovias NPR - Aerovias Nacionales Puerto Rico". Time Table Images. Archived from the original on August 22, 2020. Retrieved April 19, 2018.
  48. ^ "Guánica Bridges". National Bridge Inventory Data. US Dept. of Transportation. Archived from the original on February 21, 2019. Retrieved February 20, 2019.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]