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The island's cultural and demographic landscapes were shaped by the displacement and assimilation of the native population, the forced migration of African slaves, and settlement from the Canary Islands and Andalusia.In the Spanish Empire, Puerto Rico played a secondary but strategic role compared to wealthier colonies like Peru and New Spain.Enslaved Africans had already begun to be imported to compensate for the native labor loss, but their numbers were proportionate to the diminished commercial interest Spain soon began to demonstrate for the island colony.Other nearby islands, like Cuba, Saint-Domingue, and Guadeloupe, attracted more of the slave trade than Puerto Rico, probably because of greater agricultural interests in those islands, on which colonists had developed large sugar plantations and had the capital to invest in the Atlantic slave trade.

The ancient history of the archipelago which is now Puerto Rico is not well known.They called it Boriken, meaning "the great land of the valiant and noble Lord".The natives lived in small villages, each led by a cacique.Juan Ponce de León, a lieutenant under Columbus, founded the first Spanish settlement, Caparra, on August 8, 1508.He later served as the first governor of the island.

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