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In 1508, the Spanish granted settlement rights to Juan Ponce de León, who established a settlement at Caparra and became the first governor.In 1519 Caparra had to be relocated to a nearby coastal islet with a healthier environment; it was renamed Puerto Rico ("Rich Port") for its harbor, among the world's best natural bays.Beside Mona, the government has established several other nature reserves.There are twenty forest reserves, such as El Yunque Rain Forest and the Caribbean National Forest, which are under federal jurisdiction.The Spanish word huracán originated from the Taíno juracán, the sacred name for this phenomenon.Spain turned Puerto Rico into a military stronghold.
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.
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.
A rugged central mountain range constitutes two-thirds of the island and separates a northern coastal plain noted for karst formations from a drier southern plain.
The Taínos recognized the power of the seasonal hurricanes that affect the island.