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Sprawl has integrated formerly distinct barrios (rural and suburban neighborhoods), cities, and towns.The San Juan metropolitan area extends almost to Fajardo in the east and west to Arecibo.The influence of Taíno is evident in descriptions of material objects ("hammock" and "tobacco"), natural phenomena ("hurricane"), place names and colloquialisms.

Threatened by Latin America's nineteenth century revolutions, Spain facilitated immigration through economic incentives, attracting other nationalities as loyalists fled republican uprisings. occupation increased the American presence, and the 1959 revolution in Cuba brought an estimated 23,000 Cubans.

San Juan was walled and fortified to house military forces, but the other settlements were neglected until the eighteenth century; isolated by the scarcity of roads, they subsisted on contraband, with little official management. Census projections for 2000 place the population at 3,916,000, not including the estimated 2.7 million Puerto Ricans in the mainland United States.

The impenetrable highlands became a refuge in which settlers, runaway slaves, Taínos, and deserters produced a racially mixed population. Almost 70 percent of the island is urban, in contrast to its rural character up to the 1940s.

Taínos were Amerindians who occupied the island before European domination.

Then estimated at thirty thousand, they were reduced to two thousand by the seventeenth century through exploitative labor, disease, native uprisings, and emigration to the other islands.

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