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Background

Title 13 of the U.S. Code states that each of the censuses it authorizes “shall
include each State, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands [of the United
States], Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the
Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and as may be determined by the Secretary 
[of Commerce], such other possessions and areas over which the United 
States exercises jurisdiction, control, or sovereignty. Inclusion of other areas
…shall be subject to the concurrence of the Secretary of State.” Accordingly, 
for the 1990 census, the Bureau of the Census enumerated and tabulated 
data for the following entities, and treated each as the statistical equivalent 
of a State for consistency in its data presentations and tabulations: 

• American Samoa

• Guam

• The Northern Mariana Islands (legally referred to since 1986 as the 

Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands)

• Palau (referred to since 1979 as the Republic of Palau, and also known

locally as Belau)

• Puerto Rico (legally referred to since 1952 as the Commonwealth of 

Puerto Rico)

• The Virgin Islands of the United States (informally referred to as the 

Virgin Islands)

The Census Bureau refers to these entities collectively as 

Puerto Rico and the

Outlying Areas.

All these entities except Palau also are included in the Census

of Agriculture, and all except American Samoa and Palau are included in the
economic censuses. Table 7-1 shows the first year each entity participated in
the decennial, agriculture, and economic censuses. In the Virgin Islands and
the Pacific Outlying Areas, the Census Bureau takes the various censuses as
joint projects with the local governments, which actually conduct the censuses.
In Puerto Rico, the Census Bureau conducts the census. 

Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas   7-1

Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas

Chapter 7

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7-2    Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas

Table 7-1. 

First Census Participation for Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas

Entity

Decennial

Agriculture

Economic

American Samoa

1920

1920

Guam

1920

1920

1958

Northern Mariana Islands

1970

1970

1982

Palau

1970

 —

Puerto Rico

1910

1910

1910

Virgin Islands of the United States

1930

1930

1958

The Census Bureau included two other entities as Outlying Areas in earlier
decennial censuses:

The Canal Zone (or Panama Canal Zone) 

was first enumerated by the

United States in 1904, after it came under U.S. jurisdiction by treaty with
Panama on November 18, 1903. It was included in the decennial censuses
from 1920 through 1970. On October 1, 1979, the United States transferred
sovereignty over the Canal Zone to Panama in accordance with the terms
of a treaty signed in September 1977 and ratified the following April.

The Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI)

 was administered by the

United States as a United Nations trusteeship beginning July 18, 1947. The
TTPI included the Marshall Islands, the Caroline Islands, and the Northern
Mariana Islands. The U.S. Navy conducted a population census of the TTPI
in 1950; the Office of the High Commissioner of the TTPI conducted cen-
suses in 1958 and 1973; and the Census Bureau conducted the censuses in
1970 and 1980. However, for the 1980 census, the Census Bureau reported
the Northern Mariana Islands as a separate entity rather than with the other
entities that composed the TTPI. On November 3, 1986, a presidential proc-
lamation cancelled the trusteeship agreement as it applied to the Northern
Mariana Islands, and that entity became a commonwealth of the United
States. As a result of the proclamation, effective November 9, 1986, the
Federated States of Micronesia—comprising the TTPI administrative dis-
tricts of Kosrae, Ponape (now Pohnpei), Truk (now Chuuk), and Yap—
and, retroactive to October 21, 1986, the Republic of the Marshall Islands,
became freely associated States, independent of the United States except
for U.S. responsibility for their security and defense. On December 22,

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Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas   7-3

1990, the U.N. Security Council officially terminated the TTPI jurisdiction
over all areas except Palau. Palau also has voted to become a freely asso-
ciated State, a status which is scheduled to become effective October 1,
1994. Unless there are unforseen objections or postponements, the TTPI
jurisdiction will cease completely on that date.

Population censuses of the Philippine Islands (or The Philippines), which
the United States acquired from Spain in 1898, were conducted in 1903,
1918, and 1939. However, this entity was never enumerated as part of a
decennial census before obtaining its independence in 1946.

The Census Bureau also has provided population counts for certain small
islands under U.S. jurisdiction, in accordance with an agreement with the
Department of State. Beginning in 1980, these counts, which consist only
of total population figures (no demographic characteristics), have been
based on information provided by the appropriate Federal Government
agency that had jurisdiction over each one, rather than by direct enumera-
tion. These entities, technically referred to as 

possessions,

 are classified into

two areas, the Caribbean and the Pacific. The 

Caribbean

 

area

 consists of

the following:

Corn Islands

Counts shown in the reports for the 1950 census (covering both 1940
and 1950) and the 1960 census were from the same-year censuses of
Nicaragua; counts were not reported with the 1970 census. The United
States and Nicaragua terminated their 1914 lease agreement on April 15,
1971, when full control of the islands reverted to Nicaragua.

Navassa Island

This island, located between Jamaica and Haiti, was mentioned, but
not enumerated, in the 1950 and 1960 censuses, and was reported in
subsequent censuses to be unpopulated. A U.S. possession since 1856,
the island is the site of a lighthouse under the jurisdiction of the U.S.
Coast Guard.

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7-4    Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas

Quita Sueño Bank, Roncador Cay, and Serrana Bank

These islands were mentioned, but not enumerated, in the 1950 and 1960
censuses. A December 1973 treaty recognized Colombia’s sovereignty
over them.

The Swan Islands

The 1950, 1960, and 1970 censuses reported population counts for these
islands. Sovereignty over the Swan Islands passed to Honduras on Sep-
tember 1, 1972, under the terms of a treaty signed on November 2, 1971.

The 

Pacific area

 consists of the following:

Baker, Howland, and Jarvis Islands

These islands have been administered by the Department of the Interior
since 1936, and have served as wildlife refuges under the jurisdiction of
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service since 1974. Population counts for these
islands were reported as part of Hawaii for the 1940 census. Subsequently,
they have been reported as a separate, single unpopulated entity.

Canton and Enderbury Islands

Population counts for these islands were reported as part of Hawaii for
the 1940 census, and as a separate area in 1950 and 1960, when Canton
Island was important as a stopover on Pacific air routes. The 1970 and
1980 censuses reported no population. The United States signed a treaty
on September 20, 1979, relinquishing the islands to Kiribati, which took
possession in June 1983.

Johnston Atoll (four small islands)

Referred to in some censuses as Johnston Island and Sand Island, Johns-
ton Atoll was annexed by the United States in 1856, and is administered
by the Defense Nuclear Agency under a 1973 agreement with the U.S.
Air Force. It was reported as part of Hawaii for the 1940 census; its popu-
lation counts—only Johnston Island is inhabited—have been reported
separately starting with the 1950 census.

Kingman Reef

Kingman Reef was annexed to the United States in 1922, and has been
under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Navy since 1934. It was mentioned, but

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Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas   7-5

not enumerated, in the 1950 and 1960 censuses; it was not mentioned
in 1970. Kingman Reef was reported as unpopulated for the 1980 and
1990 censuses.

The Midway Islands

The Midway Islands, which lie amid the west end of Hawaii’s northwest-
ern islands, consist of two islets, Eastern and Sand. They became a U.S.
possession in 1867, and have been administered by the U.S. Navy since
1903. The Census Bureau reported the population of the Midway Islands
as part of Hawaii in each decennial census from 1910 through 1940, and
as a separate entity starting with the 1950 census.

Palmyra Atoll

Palmyra Atoll (or, incorrectly, Palmyra Island), consisting of more than 50
islets, became a U.S. possession in 1898 as part of Hawaii, and is privately
owned. The Census Bureau reported the population of Palmyra as part of
Hawaii for the 1940 census; the atoll was mentioned, but not enumerated,
in the 1950 and 1960 censuses; and it has been reported separately as an
unpopulated area since the 1970 census.

Wake Island

Wake Island has been reported as a populated area starting with the 1950
census. It became a U.S. possession in 1898, and has been administered
by the U.S. Air Force since 1962.

Figures 7-1 and 7-2 depict the locations of all the Outlying Areas for which
the Census Bureau reported data at the time of the last decennial census
in which each was included. Tables 7-2 and 7-3 show both population
and areal data for each entity included in the 1990 census or other recent
decennial censuses. Numerous other atolls and islands, primarily in the
Line, Phoenix, Tokelau, and Northern Cook Islands, were mentioned, but
not enumerated, in the 1950 and 1960 censuses. The U.S. Government
relinquished sovereignty over these islands, claimed jointly with the United
Kingdom, to the new nations of Cook Islands, Kiribati, and Tokelau in the
early 1980s.

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7-

6    Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas

Figure 7-1.  

Caribbean Area

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Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas   7-7

Figure 7-2.  

Pacific Area

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7-8    Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas

Table 7-2.  

1990 Population Density of Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas

Population

Land Area

Population Density

    

(total)

 (square miles)

 (per square mile)

American Samoa

46,773

77.3

604.9

Guam

133,152

209.8

634.6

Northern Mariana Islands

43,345

179.0

242.1

Palau

15,122

177.3

85.3

Puerto Rico

3,522,037

3,426.5

1,027.9

Virgin Islands of the United States

101,809

133.8

760.9

Baker, Howland, and Jarvis Islands

0

2.9

0.0

Canal Zone

1

44,198

362.0

122.1

Canton and Enderbury Islands

2

0

3.9

0.0

Johnston Atoll

173

1.1

157.3

Kingman Reef

0

0.4

0.0

Midway Islands

13

2.5

5.2

Navassa Island

0

2.0

0.0

Palmyra Atoll

0

4.6

0.0

Swan Islands

1

22

1.0

22.0

Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands

3

116,149

533.0

217.9

Wake Island

7

2.5

2.8

1

 Data are from the 1970 census.

2

 Data are from the 1980 census.

3

 Data are from the 1980 census; excludes the Northern Mariana Islands, but includes Palau.

 Note: Area and density figures may vary slightly from those in publications and/or on data tapes.
 Multiply square miles by 2.59 to convert to square kilometers.

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Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas   7-9

Table 7-3.  

Land and Water Area of Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas

Land Area

Inland Water Area

 Total Water Area

1

 (square miles)

 (square miles)

  (square miles)

American Samoa

77.3

7.1

505.9

Guam

209.8

6.8

360.8

Northern Mariana Islands

179.0

2.2

1,770.9

Palau

177.3

40.1

452.6

Puerto Rico

3,426.5

65.2

1,898.2

Virgin Islands of the United States

133.8

17.0

603.7

Baker, Howland, and Jarvis Islands

2.9

NA

NA

Canal Zone

362.0

191.0

NA

Canton and Enderbury Islands

3.9

18.0

NA

Johnston Atoll

1.1

NA

NA

Kingman Reef

0.4

NA

NA

Midway Islands

2.5

NA

NA

Navassa Island

2.0

NA

NA

Palmyra Atoll

4.6

NA

NA

Swan Islands

1.0

NA

NA

Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands

533.0

NA

6,001.0

Wake Island

2.5

NA

NA

1

Total water area consists of inland, coastal, and territorial water.

Note: The symbol “NA” indicates that data are not available. Area and density figures may vary slightly from
those in publications and/or on data tapes. Multiply square miles by 2.59 to convert to square kilometers.

Geographic Entities

The geographic components of Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas vary as
a result of each entity’s history, governmental and administrative structure,
and the pattern of human settlement. The Census Bureau presents data for
the geographic components in terms of a standard framework, the same
geographic hierarchy it uses for the States (see Figures 7-3 and 7-4). It also
presents the data for some components in an inventory listing, such as all
places within an Outlying Area or all census tracts or block numbering
areas within a 

county

. The high-level geography for each entity is provided

in Table 7-4 and explained later in this chapter. (The hierarchy applies only
to American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Puerto Rico,

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7-10    Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas

and the Virgin Islands. The Census Bureau treats each of the other islands
mentioned in this chapter as a single geographic unit.)

As noted previously, for purposes of data presentation, the Census Bureau
treats Puerto Rico and each Outlying Area as the statistical equivalent of a
State. Each entity is divided into first-order subdivisions, similar to counties
in most States; however, they are called a variety of terms, none of which
is 

county.

 (The legal entities called 

counties

 in American Samoa represent

second-order subdivisions, or minor civil divisions (MCDs); see Chapter 8,
“County Subdivisions.”) For the 1990 census, every first-order subdivision
is divided into census tracts or block numbering areas (BNAs), which in
turn consist of block groups (BGs) and blocks; in the Outlying Areas, only
Puerto Rico has census tracts. For previous decennial censuses, except
for portions of Puerto Rico that had census blocks identified in recent cen-
suses, the smallest level of geography was the enumeration district (ED).
See Chapters 10 and 11 for more information on census tracts/BNAs, BGs,
blocks, and EDs.

Figure 7-3. 

 The Basic Geographic Hierarchy

           

Puerto Rico/Outlying Areas

First-Order Subdivisions

Minor Civil Divisions

Census Tracts/

Blocks 

 Block 

Places include incorporated places and census designated places.

Places

1

Sub-

MCDs

Block Numbering Areas

Groups

 (MCDs)

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Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas   7-11

MCD

MCD

9501

9502

MCD 005

MCD

MCD

9502

304

302

303

305

301

306

206

105

101A

203

204

205

104

201

202

102

101B

103

MCD 005

Place

204

205

101A

104

201

203

202

Main Street

203

Elm Street

203

206

205

201

1740

204

202

MCD

MCD

9502

MCD 005

MCD

MCD

Place

Minor Civil Division (MCD)

First-Order Subdivision

 Census Tract or

Block Numbering Area (BNA)

Block Group (BG)

Block

Figure 7-4.  

Small-Area Geography in the 1990 Census

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7-12    Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas

Table 7-4.  

Geographic Entities of Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas in 1990

Entity

Generic Term

Status

Puerto Rico

1

Puerto Rico
Municipio
Barrio
Barrio-Pueblo
Zona Urbana
Comunidad

State
First-Order Subdivision
MCD
MCD
Place
Place

Functioning
Functioning
Nonfunctioning
Nonfunctioning
Statistical
Statistical

American Samoa

American Samoa
District
Island
County
Island
Village

State
First-Order Subdivision
First-Order Subdivision
MCD
MCD
Place

Functioning
Functioning
Nonfunctioning
Functioning

 False

2

Functioning

Guam

Guam
Guam
Election District
CDP

State
First-Order Subdivision
MCD
Place

Functioning
False

2

Nonfunctioning
Statistical

Northern
Mariana Islands

Northern Mariana Is.
Municipality
Municipal District
CDP

State
First-Order Subdivision
MCD
Place

Functioning
Functioning
Nonfunctioning
Statistical

Palau

Palau
State
State
Municipality
CDP

State
First-Order Subdivision
MCD
MCD
Place

Functioning
False

2

False

2

Functioning
Statistical

Virgin Islands

Virgin Islands
Island
Census Subdistrict
Town
CDP

State
First-Order Subdivision
MCD
Place
Place

Functioning
Nonfunctioning
Statistical
Nonfunctioning
Statistical

1

 

In Puerto Rico, some MCDs (barrios and barrios-pueblo) are divided into sub-MCDs (subbarrios), which are

  nonfunctioning entities.

2

 

A false entity is a geographic entity that is established to create complete coverage at a specific geographic

  level; for example, a place also serves as an MCD in order to provide complete coverage at the MCD level.

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Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas   7-13

Census Bureau data presentations for Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas
are different from the stateside presentations for geographic entities in
several ways:

• Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas are not part of any census region

or division (see Chapter 6).

• The census data (such as population and housing) for Puerto Rico and

the Outlying Areas are not included with that of the United States.

• With the exception of Puerto Rico, none of the Outlying Areas have

metropolitan areas (MAs) or urbanized areas (UAs). (See Chapters 12
and 13 for more information.)

• Puerto Rico has an additional, unique level of geography to represent

the Commonwealth’s subbarrios, which are subdivisions of the MCD—
that is, the Census Bureau treats the subbarrios as sub-MCDs. Prior to
the 1990 census, the TTPI and the Northern Mariana Islands also had
sub-MCDs.

• The decennial census does not report ZIP Code data for Puerto Rico or

the Outlying Areas.

The remainder of this chapter takes a brief look at the history and admini-
strative structure of each of the six entities enumerated in the 1990 census,
and then provides a comprehensive overview of their census geography.
The entities are discussed in alphabetical order.

American Samoa

American Samoa is an unorganized, unincorporated territory of the United
States. It consists of five major volcanic islands and two coral atolls (see
Figure 7-5) that lie in the heart of Polynesia, 2,500 miles south-southwest
of Honolulu and 1,800 miles north-northeast of New Zealand. It is the only
U.S. jurisdiction that lies south of the equator. Tutuila Island, which contains
the historic capital of Pago Pago, the seat of government at Fagatogo, and
the office of the Governor at Utulei, encompasses 70 percent of American
Samoa’s 77.3 square miles and over 95 percent of its 46,773 inhabitants (see
Table 7-5).

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7-14    Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas

In 1839, the visit of an American naval vessel marked the first official United
States contact with this area. In 1872, the need for a coaling station brought
about an agreement between the commander of the U.S. naval vessel 

Nar-

ragansett 

and the chief of Pago Pago; although the agreement was never

ratified by the U.S. Senate, it prevented other nations from making claims
on Pago Pago Harbor as international competition for bases in the South
Pacific increased.

On December 2, 1899, the United States, Great Britain, and Germany signed
a convention wherein the United States retained Eastern Samoa but gave up
claims to the islands that now constitute the independent nation of Western
Samoa; the convention was ratified by Congress on February 16, 1900. Three
days later, President William McKinley, seeking a suitable harbor and fueling
station for American vessels in the South Pacific, directed the U.S. Navy to
establish United States authority over the area. This was followed by negoti-
ation of a series of deeds of cession with the chiefs of Tutuila (concluded
on April 17, 1900) and the chief of the Manu’a group (in July 1904). Swains
Island, a coral atoll, was settled by an American in 1856, and his citizenship
tied it to the United States; the island officially became part of American
Samoa in 1925.

The U.S. Navy governed American Samoa until June 29, 1951, when an Exec-
utive Order transferred the administration of the territory to the Department
of the Interior. In 1960, American Samoa adopted a constitution. Since 1981,
American Samoa has been represented in the U.S. House of Representatives
by a nonvoting delegate. (The 103rd Congress gave the delegates from those
Outlying Areas represented in the House of Representatives the right to vote
in the Committee of the Whole, but not on matters before the entire House.)
The Samoan language is spoken commonly in the territory.

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Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas   7-15

Figure 7-5.  

American Samoa

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7-16    Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas

Table 7-5.

  1990 Census Data for American Samoa, the Northern Mariana

Islands, Palau, and the Virgin Islands

Population Population  Land Area  Land Area

(total)

  (percent)

(

square miles)

(percent)

American Samoa

46,773

100.0

77.3

100.0

Tutuila Island

44,580

95.3

54.2

70.1

Eastern District

21,175

45.3

25.9

33.5

Aunu’u Island

463

1.0

0.6

0.8

Western District

23,868

51.0

28.9

37.4

Manu’a Islands

1,714

3.7

21.9

28.3

Ofu Island (includes Nu'u Island)

353

0.8

2.8

3.6

Olosega Island

225

0.5

2.0

2.6

Ta’u Island

1,136

2.4

17.1

22.1

Rose Island

0

0.0

0.1

0.1

Swains Island

16

0.05

0.6

0.8

Northern Mariana Islands

43,345

100.0

179.0

100.0

Northern Islands

36

0.1

59.8

33.4

Agrihan Island

9

0.05

18.0

10.1

Alamagan Island

5

0.05

4.0

2.2

Anatahan Island

22

0.05

12.0

6.7

Pagan Island

0

0.05

18.0

10.1

Rota Island

2,295

5.3

33.0

18.4

Saipan Island

38,896

89.7

44.6

24.9

Tinian Island

2,118

4.9

41.7

23.3

Palau

15,122

100.0

177.0

100.0

Angaur Island

206

1.4

3.2

1.8

Babelthuap (Babeldaob) Island

3,594

23.8

139.5

78.8

Kayangel Island

137

0.9

0.6

0.3

Koror and vicinity

10,480

69.4

4.8

2.7

Koror Island

8,372

55.4

3.6

2.0

Arakabesan Island

1,462

9.7

0.9

0.5

Malakal Island

646

4.3

0.3

0.2

Peleliu Island

601

4.0

6.8

3.8

Sonsorol Islands

61

0.4

1.2

0.7

Tobi Island/Helen Reef

22

0.1

0.3

0.2

Other islands (mainly the Rock Islands)

218

0.1

20.6

11.6

Virgin Islands (with nearby islets and cays)

101,809

100.0

133.8

100.0

St. Croix

50,139

49.2

82.9

62.0

St. John

3,504

3.4

19.6

14.6

St. Thomas

48,166

47.3

31.2

23.3

Note: Multiply square miles by 2.59 to convert to square kilometers.

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Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas   7-17

There are four levels of government in American Samoa, corresponding to
the four types of legal geographic entities:

• From 1951 to 1977, the Department of the Interior appointed American

Samoa’s governors; beginning in 1977, Samoans have been able to elect
their own governor and lieutenant governor. There also is an 18-member
senate chosen by Samoan custom from the 14 counties, and a 20-member
house of representatives elected by popular vote; the latter also includes
a nonvoting delegate elected from Swains Island. The two legislative bod-
ies constitute the Fono.

• There are three districts that make up the first-order subdivisions: Eastern

and Western on Tutuila Island (Eastern District also includes the island of
Aunu’u) and Manu’a (composed of Ofu, Olosega, and Ta’u Islands). Each
has a district governor, appointed by the Governor of American Samoa,
and a district council, “chosen . . . in accordance with Samoan custom”
(American Samoa Code, 1981). Swains Island and Rose Island are not in
any district. Swains Island is administered by the village government and
a representative of the Governor. Rose Island is an unpopulated coral
atoll that is a wildlife refuge under the jurisdiction of the American Samoa
government, but is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

• The districts are divided into 14 counties that compose the MCDs. Each

county has a county chief, appointed by the Governor of American
Samoa, and a county council, chosen in accordance with Samoan custom.

• All land area of American Samoa except Rose Island is assigned to a vil-

lage. Each village has a village chief, or pulenuu, whom the Governor of
American Samoa appoints from among the chiefs resident in each village,
and a village council, which consists of all the chiefs and heads of families
resident in the village. Accordingly, the Census Bureau treats the villages
as if they were incorporated places. The villages are defined by land own-
ership, or land 

usership

, rather than legally established boundaries. Land

surveyed before 1900 (pre-U.S. acquisition) belongs to a specific owner;
however, native custom and usage is by far the most common form of
land tenure in American Samoa, affecting over 96 percent of all land. The
villages are based on traditional communities, which regulate the use and

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7-18    Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas

occupancy of the land by Samoan custom. Traditional boundaries are
based both on the borders as they have been recognized historically,
and on which village actually is using the land. Efforts to undertake a
land survey to document the current situation have been unsuccessful.
Thus, the boundaries of most villages do not have specific locations, are
not property lines, and are not recorded in writing. Furthermore, bound-
aries can change as owned lands are sold or developed, and the loca-
tion of a boundary can be open to interpretation; villages may appeal
to the High Court of American Samoa for a final legal adjudication of
the location of disputed boundaries. New villages may be established
from existing ones, with boundaries based on mutual agreement. Vil-
lages may merge by deciding to share a chief and council.

The Census Bureau, for statistical purposes, recognizes only those villages
with 

both

 a pulenuu 

and  

a village council in accordance with the Ameri-

can Samoa Code. (Some villages have a single council, but have pulenuus
associated with separate areas; in those instances, the Census Bureau iden-
tified block boundaries that approximately delimited each such area so
that data users could allocate 1990 census figures to each portion of the
village.) Because the village boundaries are traditional and not fixed by
law, the Census Bureau recognizes them on its maps as traditional bound-
aries rather than as legally documented corporate limits, and does not
show village boundaries at all, if possible. Contrary to information that
the American Samoa government provided to

 

the Census Bureau for the

1980 census, the county boundaries—but not the district boundaries—
change as village boundaries adjust to changing ownership and court deci-
sions. Thus, for the 1990 census, the villages nested within counties except
where a village crossed a district line (only Nu’uuli village does so).

As it had in the past, the Economic Development Planning Office of the
American Samoa government provided the information necessary for
the Census Bureau to identify and delineate the several legal entities. The
Census Bureau also worked with that agency to establish BNAs and BGs
that would result in 1990 census data for meaningful geographic units.
The BNAs were to contain, as an optimum, 300 housing units, but could

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Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas   7-19

range from 250 to 900; BGs were to contain 70 housing units as an opti-
mum, but could range from 50 to 100. The BGs also served as the basic
geographic units—called address register areas (ARAs)—used as enumer-
ator assignments for performing the enumeration. For the 1980 census,
the Census Bureau assigned one ED to each village or village part, with
oversized EDs to be split in the field to facilitate the enumeration.

In both 1980 and 1990, the Census Bureau took a census of agriculture in
American Samoa in conjunction with the decennial census, using the EDs/
ARAs as the geographic basis for the enumerations. The census of agri-
culture reports data for American Samoa and the first-order subdivisions;
however, Swains Island is counted with Manu’a District, and tabulations
do not include Rose Island, which is unpopulated. American Samoa is not
included in the economic censuses.

Guam

Guam is the largest and southernmost island of a chain of volcanic islands
in part of Micronesia known as the Marianas Archipelago (see Figures 7-2
and 7-6). It is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States
and is located in the western Pacific Ocean, 6,000 miles southwest of San
Francisco, 3,700 miles west of Honolulu, 1,500 miles south of Tokyo, and
1,500 miles east of Manila. Inhabited for more than 3,500 years, the discov-
ery of 

Guahan 

or 

Guan

 (as the Spanish documented the name apparently

used by the indigenous population) in 1521 by Ferdinand Magellan was
the basis for Guam coming under Spanish rule. Spain claimed Guam and
the Marianas in 1565, established a supply station on Guam the next year,
and established the first permanent Spanish settlement in 1668. As a result
of the Spanish-American war, Spain ceded Guam to the United States by
the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898.

Diseases and conflicts resulted in the near annihilation of the original Gua-
manians, known as Chamorros. Intermarriage of Spaniards and Filipinos
with Chamorros during the 18th and 19th centuries gave rise to the modern
Guamanian race and culture, and Chamorro is still commonly spoken in
Guam. Over 90 years of American influence also has had its effect on

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7-20    Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas

modern-day Guam, as did the Japanese occupation during World War II.
Guam became a major military site for the United States after its libera-
tion in August 1944. In fact, since the end of World War II, approximately
one-third of Guam’s land area has been owned by the Federal Govern-
ment, most of it in military reservations; in 1980, almost 20,000 people, or
over 18 percent of Guam’s population, lived on military bases—primarily
Andersen Air Force Base, Finegayan Naval Communication Station, and
Apra Harbor Naval Reservation—and on U.S. Navy ships for which Guam
was the home port.

The U.S. Navy was responsible for the administration of Guam from 1898
until June 30, 1950, when the U.S. Government transferred that obligation
to the Department of the Interior. The Organic Act of Guam (1950) enabled
Guamanians to elect their own legislature, an at-large 21-member senate.
The President of the United States appointed the governor of Guam until
1970; since that year, as a result of legislation signed by President Lyndon
Johnson on September 11, 1968, Guamanians have elected a governor and
lieutenant governor. In addition, since 1973, Guam has been represented
in the U.S. Congress by an elected nonvoting delegate (see parenthetical
statement on page 7-14 in the section on “American Samoa”). In recent
years, Guam has been trying to obtain commonwealth status, which would
give it more control of some of its affairs than the current home rule it
now exercises.

The Census Bureau recognizes no first-order subdivisions of Guam, so
the entire island serves as a single county equivalent for census statistical
purposes. Guam is subdivided into 19

 

election districts, which the Census

Bureau treats as MCDs. These entities do not have functioning govern-
ments; they are administrative areas for electing mayors (as explained
later in this paragraph). The island also is divided into 15 municipalities,
or villages. By legislation effective August 14, 1956, the 15 municipalities
underwent an extensive reorganization to match the current election dis-
tricts for the express purpose of facilitating the election of the mayors
of the municipalities. That is, each municipality is headed by a mayor

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Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas   7-21

elected by the residents of the municipality; prior to September 6, 1989,
this title was 

commissioner

. A mayor has the legal authority to carry out

certain municipal functions, resolves community concerns and problems,
and serves as a liaison with both the Territorial Government and the legis-
lature. Since the mayor cannot pass laws or raise taxes, the municipalities
do not actually have a local, self-governing capability. The mayor’s office
usually is located in the portion of a municipality known locally as the

village

, and therefore some mayors still may be known as 

village commis-

sioners

. The municipalities also are used for land recordation. At the

request of the Guam government, the Census Bureau has recognized the
current election districts as MCDs since the 1960 census; prior to that time,
the decennial census recognized the following:

• 1920

—to

wns, barrios, one city (Agana, the capital), one district, and

one municipality

• 1930—eight municipalities and a naval reservation; the municipalities

primarily consisted of towns, barrios, and Agana city

• 1940—15 municipalities, consisting of towns and barrios; 1 was coexten-

sive with Agana city, which was further divided into 10 districts

• 1950—15 municipalities, which included 19 villages and 1 city

Until the 1980 census, the Census Bureau referred to the places in Guam
as cities, towns, and villages even though they were not incorporated
places in the stateside sense of that term. For the 1980 census, 32 unincor-
porated settlements were identified more accurately as census designated
places (CDPs). To qualify as a CDP, an area delineated by local officials
as a potential CDP had to contain at least 300 people. The same 32 CDPs
appeared in the 1990 census; 6 of the CDPs represented military housing
areas. To ensure that Agana would appear in the census tabulations, a
special criterion permitted it to qualify as a CDP regardless of its popu-
lation count; as it turned out, the special rule was not needed because
instead of an anticipated decline, Agana grew from a population of 896
in 1980 to 1,139 in 1990.

Guam was block-numbered for the first time in the 1990 census. To provide
data for locally useful areas, local officials delineated a BNA and BG plan

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7-22    Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas

for the Census Bureau. The BNAs for Guam were to contain an optimum of
650 housing units, but could range from 500 to 1,200; BGs were to contain
an optimum of 140 housing units and could range from 90 to 190. For the
1980 census, local officials designed the EDs, using an optimum of 140 and
a range of approximately 100 to 160 housing units as the criteria. In both
censuses, the Census Bureau worked with two Guam agencies—the Bureau
of Planning and the Department of Commerce—to obtain information about
both legal and statistical entities, and to conduct the decennial, economic,
and agriculture censuses. In turn, these agencies worked with appropriate
territorial agencies to ensure that the census geographic units would be
meaningful entities for local data users.

The agriculture and economic censuses report data for Guam and each elec-
tion district. However, the census of agriculture treats the districts as special
geographic entities while the economic censuses treat them as the statistical
equivalents of places.

The Northern Mariana Islands

The Northern Mariana Islands, which is part of Micronesia, comprises the
former Mariana Islands District of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.
It consists of three main islands—Saipan, Tinian, and Rota—and several
small islands and atolls (see Figure 7-6). It is located just north of Guam;
Saipan lies about 125 miles northeast of Guam, but southernmost Rota is
less than 50 miles from Guam. The islands that constitute the Northern
Marianas encompass some 430 miles from Rota in the south to Uracus
Island in the north, but it is only 75 miles from Rota to Saipan; the lightly
populated Northern Islands (an exodus, primarily due to volcanic activity,
reduced the number to only 36 in 1990 and even fewer by 1992) stretch
over some 300 miles of the Pacific. The Commonwealth’s capital is Saipan,
but no locality on that island is recognized specifically as the capital;
several (but not all) government offices are located in the CDP of Capital
Hill, but the legislature meets in Susupe. Almost 90 percent of the popula-
tion lives on Saipan (see Table 7-5). As in Guam, Chamorro is the most
common native language spoken in the Northern Mariana Islands.

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Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas   7-23

Figure 7-6.  

Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands

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7-24    Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas

The early history of these islands paralleled that of Guam. Spanish and other
explorers first visited the islands in the 16th century. Spain began colonizing
the islands in 1668. Originally called Islas de Ladrones (Islands of Thieves),
the Spanish renamed them in 1688 in honor of Queen Mariana of Spain.
Spain sold the Marianas, as well as the Carolines and Marshalls, to Germany
in 1899 to raise money after the Spanish-American War. In 1914, during
World War I, Japan claimed jurisdiction over all these islands after entering
the war on the side of the Allied Powers; it retained them officially under a
1919 mandate of the League of Nations. The United States gained control
of the islands through military victories in 1944, and established a military
government following World War II. On July 18, 1947, under a joint resolu-
tion of the U.S. Congress, President Harry Truman approved a trusteeship
agreement between the United States and the Security Council of the United
Nations, with the administrative authority resting with the Department of the
Interior since June 29, 1951; however, because of their strategic significance,
the Northern Mariana Islands remained under military control until 1961.

During the 30 years that followed, the U.S. Government provided the basis
for the entities within the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI) to make
a steady movement toward self-government. After extensive negotiations, the
United States and the Northern Mariana Islands concluded a covenant on
February 15, 1975, that would result in that entity becoming a commonwealth
of the United States. In 1977, the U.S. Government announced its intention
to terminate the trusteeship as soon as possible. Over several years, the gov-
ernmental framework of the TTPI restructured itself into four separate entities,
one of which corresponded to the Northern Mariana Islands; each adopted a
new constitution, held elections, established its own government, and began
to function autonomously, although within the framework of the trusteeship.
The establishment of a separate government for the Northern Mariana Islands
took place in January 1978 with the reorganization of the Mariana Islands
District of the TTPI as the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
(CNMI). Final commonwealth status did not come until November 3, 1986,
when President Ronald Reagan issued a proclamation that dissolved the
trusteeship agreement for all of the TTPI except Palau.

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Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas   7-25

However, the Census Bureau treated the CNMI separately from the TTPI
in the 1980 census tabulations because the legal structure for its common-
wealth relationship with the United States was already in place. Citizens of
the CNMI elect a governor and lieutenant governor, a 15-member House
of Representatives, and a 9-member Senate. The CNMI does not have rep-
resentation in the U.S. Congress.

Population censuses were conducted under the authority of the govern-
ment of Japan (1925 through 1940), the Department of the Navy (1950),
the Department of the Interior (1955), and the High Commissioner of the
TTPI (1958 and 1973). The 1970 census was the first decennial census
that included the CNMI; at the same time, the Census Bureau took an agri-
culture census of the CNMI, the results of which were published with the
1969 Census of Agriculture. In 1997, the CNMI will be included with the
regular five-year agriculture census cycle, rather than having that census
conducted in conjunction with the decennial census. The economic cen-
suses included the CNMI for the first time in 1982.

For the 1990 census, the Census Bureau dropped the Mariana Islands
District of the TTPI from its records; previously it had served as the
county-equivalent first-order subdivision of the CNMI. Accordingly, each
lower-level entity was elevated one step in the hierarchy; that is, munici-
palities were no longer treated as MCDs but as the statistical equivalents
of counties, and municipal districts were recognized as MCDs rather
than sub-MCDs (see Table 7-4). The municipalities of Rota, Saipan, and
Tinian each coincided with one of the major islands, except that Tinian
also included uninhabited Aguijan (or Aguiguan) Island. The munici-
palities are governmental units, each with its own elected mayor and
municipal council, except that Saipan’s municipal council also serves
the Northern Islands Municipality and its mayor. The mayors and the
chairpersons of the municipal councils also serve as part of an advisory
council that works with the Governor on government operations and
local matters.

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7-26    Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas

The 11 municipal districts are subdivisions delineated by law, but they no
longer serve any governmental function; until 1978, each district elected
its own commissioner, similar to the commissioners (mayors) in Guam. Nev-
ertheless, late in the 1990 census process, the CNMI government informed
the Census Bureau that the districts, though obsolete, were to be retained
for the 1990 census, presumably for historical comparability and because
they are the basis for defining Saipan’s four election districts. The Census
Bureau will need to reexamine the districts for the 2000 census to deter-
mine whether they and their boundaries are still valid and/or appropriate;
indeed, the CNMI government has asked the Census Bureau to provide
assistance in relocating the boundaries from nonvisible lines to appropriate
permanent, visible features for the 2000 census of Saipan Municipality. The
obsolete districts for Rota and Tinian Municipalities may be replaced in
each area by the current single election district, which is coextensive with
the municipality; data for smaller geographic areas would be available by
BGs and blocks, or combinations thereof.

The places in the CNMI, which the 1970 census incorrectly referred to as
towns and villages, are CDPs. For the 1980 census, 11 places qualified as
CDPs; that is, they had at least 300 people. There were 16 such places for
the 1990 census. The CNMI was block-numbered for the first time for the
1990 census. To provide data for locally useful areas, the Census Bureau
tried to delineate BGs that approximated the EDs that the TTPI had used
for the 1973 census and the Census Bureau repeated, insofar as possible,
for the 1980 census; the Census Bureau then worked with the CNMI’s
Department of Commerce and Labor—which also delineated the CDPs
and undertook the 1990 census—to review and refine these areas and
then group them into statistically useful BNAs.

The agriculture and economic censuses report data for the CNMI and each
municipality. Prior to the 1990 census of agriculture and the 1992 economic
censuses, when the municipalities were not yet treated as the statistical
equivalents of counties, the municipalities were identified as special geo-
graphic entities for the agriculture census and as the statistical equivalents
of places for the economic censuses.

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Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas   7-27

Palau

Palau is the westernmost group of the Caroline Islands. It lies some 500
miles southwest of Guam and 1,000 miles southeast of Manila. It consists of
one very large island (Babelthuap, or Babeldaob), three islands that contain
most of the population in and near the capital of Koror, and hundreds of
other islands, islets, and atolls spread out over some 420 miles of the Pacific
(see Figure 7-7 and Table 7-5). Both its early and recent history parallel that
of the Northern Mariana Islands with one exception; it is the last remaining
area that is still part of the TTPI. The Republic of Palau (or Belau, as it also
is known) functions autonomously, but six plebiscites failed to approve the
compact that would have allowed Palau to follow the rest of Micronesia
into independence via free association with the United States; the last one
before the decennial census, requiring 75 percent of the vote to approve the
compact passed by the 99th Congress (Public Law 99-658) and amended by
the 101st Congress (P.L. 101-219), received only 61 percent on February 6,
1990. Because it was still under United States jurisdiction on January 1,
1990, the Census Bureau included Palau in the 1990 census. On Novem-
ber 4, 1992, voters reduced the constitutional requirement for passage of
a compact of free association to a simple majority, with the intention of
facilitating passage at some future time, and thereby taking Palau into free
association before the 2000 census. In a plebiscite on November 9, 1993,
Palauans approved the compact with 68 percent of the vote. Establish-
ment of a freely associated State is pending final Congressional approval,
and independence is tentatively scheduled for October 1, 1994.

Palauans elect a president and vice president, a 16-member House of Del-
egates, and a 14-member Senate; the two legislative bodies constitute the
Olbiil Era Kelulau. The president also is advised on traditional matters by
a Council of Chiefs, one from the council of chiefs of each state. Palauan
is the language commonly spoken in Palau.

Palau was included in the same population censuses as the CNMI, but it has
never been included in the economic or agriculture censuses. The Census
Bureau treats Palau as the statistical equivalent of a State.

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7-28    Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas

Figure 7-7.  

Palau

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Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas   7-29

For the 1990 census, the Census Bureau dropped the Palau District of the
TTPI—it had served as the county-equivalent first-order subdivision of
Palau—and elevated each lower-level entity one step in the hierarchy. The
16 municipalities, reported as MCDs in the 1980 census, were superseded
by 

States 

upon ratification of Palau’s constitution on July 9, 1981; the Census

Bureau treats the States as the statistical equivalents of counties. Each of the
16 States has its own constitution and officials. Maps certified by the Palau
government for the Census Bureau’s use in the 1990 census relocated many
of the boundaries of the former municipalities, but all the changes—some
minor, some substantial—occurred in uninhabited territory. However,
because some of the boundaries are in dispute, the Palau government—
and, more specifically, its Division of Lands and Surveys—authorized their
use for the 1990 census only; the maps will need to be reviewed and the
boundaries reconfirmed if the Census Bureau includes Palau in the 2000
census. The 1980 census identified the numerous islands between Koror
and Peleliu as unorganized territory; the 1990 census corrected this error
by reassigning the islands to the States of Koror (primarily) and Peleliu.
Only Sonsorol State is divided into MCDs, called municipalities—one for
each of its four islands; for the other States, the Census Bureau represents
the MCD level by a coextensive 

false

 

entity

 that repeats the State name.

The municipal districts, reported as sub-MCDs in the 1980 census, no
longer exist.

The 1970 census reported data for only one place—Koror—which was
referred to incorrectly as a town. For the 1980 and 1990 censuses, the
Census Bureau recognized places as CDPs, provided that they had a
census population of at least 300. Three settlements qualified as CDPs for
both the 1980 and 1990 censuses. In their constitutions, five of the States
identify place-type entities: municipalities in Ngarchelong; villages in Airai;
and hamlets in Aimeliik, Ngchesar, and Ngiwal. These very small settle-
ments, which sometimes adjoin one another, are based only on tradition
and who lives in which house; each has its own chief, but does not have
formal boundaries—nor could Palauan officials draw approximate bound-
aries that would permit the Census Bureau to recognize these traditional
entities for the 1990 census similar to the villages of American Samoa.

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7-30    Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas

Palau was block-numbered for the first time for the 1990 census. To provide
data for locally useful areas, the Census Bureau tried to delineate BGs that
approximated the EDs used for the 1973 and 1980 censuses. It worked with
Palau’s Office of Planning and Statistics (which delineated the CDPs and
conducted the census) to review and refine these areas and group them
into BNAs. Taking advantage of Palau being block-numbered for the first
time, the Census Bureau selected block boundaries for the 1990 census
that would permit approximate separate identification of most of the small
settlements, thereby enabling data users to assemble block counts for
each one.

Puerto Rico

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is the easternmost island in the arc of
submerged mountains that form the Greater Antilles and that separate the
Atlantic Ocean on the north from the Caribbean Sea on the south. It lies
about 1,000 miles east of Miami (see Figure 7-1). Puerto Rico includes the
main island, where 99.7 percent of the population (1990 census) lives on
approximately 97.3 percent of the land, and numerous small islands and
cays (see Figure 7-8). The main island is about 100 miles long by 35 miles
wide. Most of the other islands are uninhabited except for the largest
ones, Culebra and Vieques, which lie between the main island and the
U.S. Virgin Islands. The capital, the municipio of San Juan, was home
to 12.4 percent of Puerto Rico’s inhabitants in 1990.

Puerto Rico, Spanish for 

rich port

, was inhabited by Arawak Indians long

before Christopher Columbus landed on the island in November 1493
during his second voyage. The Spanish established the first European
settlement in 1508, near what is now San Juan. The Spanish maintained
control of Puerto Rico until American troops invaded in April 1898 dur-
ing the Spanish-American War. The Treaty of Paris (December 10, 1898)
ceded Puerto Rico—together with Guam and the Philippines—to the
United States. A military government ruled until May 1, 1900, when Pres-
ident McKinley appointed the colony’s first civilian governor; 47 years
later, President Truman signed legislation that enabled Puerto Ricans to
elect their own governor. Puerto Ricans have been able to elect their

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Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas   7-31

Figure 7-8.  

Puerto Rico

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7-32    Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas

own bicameral legislature, currently consisting of a Senate and a House
of Representatives, since 1900. Puerto Rico has been represented in the
U.S. House of Representatives by an elected 

resident commissioner

 since

1917 (see parenthetical statement on page 7-14 in the “American Samoa”
section). Spanish is the language commonly spoken in Puerto Rico.

In 1950, Public Law 81-600 provided for the organization of a constitutional
government by the people of Puerto Rico that would become effective
upon approval by the U.S. Congress. This process culminated in common-
wealth status on July 25, 1952. On November 14, 1993, Puerto Ricans
favored retaining commonwealth status over statehood, 48 to 46 percent;
73 percent of those eligible to vote participated. This was the best show-
ing for statehood in the several elections held to date, and statehood sup-
porters promise to keep raising the issue until it wins. Meanwhile, despite
their poor showing in the elections, those seeking a more autonomous
Puerto Rico have not given up on achieving complete independence or
creating a

 freely associated  

entity—the relationship that the United States

now has with the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands.
Regardless of local wishes, any change in the status of Puerto Rico will
have to obtain the approval of the Congress and the President of the
United States.

Under Spanish rule, ten censuses were taken at irregular intervals from
1765 to 1897. The U.S. War Department took a special census of Puerto
Rico in 1899, and Puerto Rico has been included in every decennial, eco-
nomic, and agriculture census of the United States since 1910. Beginning
with the 1960 census, the various censuses of Puerto Rico have been con-
ducted by the Census Bureau in close cooperation with the Puerto Rico
Planning Board.

In addition to the Commonwealth government, each of the 78 municipios
is a functioning governmental unit that has its own elected mayor and muni-
cipio assembly. The municipio governments are the only general-purpose
local governments in Puerto Rico. The Census Bureau treats the municipios
as the statistical equivalents of counties (see Table 7-4). The boundaries of

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Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas   7-33

the municipios were defined legally by the Commonwealth during the
late 1940s. Since then, the Commonwealth established two new municipios.
In 1971, Florida was carved out of Barcelona and, in 1973, Canóvanas was
separated from Loíza. In addition, in 1951, San Juan Municipio annexed
Río Piedras Municipio. Only the Commonwealth legislature can create
new municipios and alter the boundaries of existing ones. There have
been unofficial discussions within the Government of Puerto Rico regard-
ing the desirability of revising municipio and other legal boundaries to
avoid the confusion related to those lines that pass through new housing
developments and even individual houses, but no action has been taken
to change these situations.

The municipios are subdivided into barrios, which the Census Bureau
treats as MCDs. One barrio in each municipio (except Florida, Ponce, and
San Juan) is identified as the barrio-pueblo, the area that represented the
seat of government at the time the Commonwealth formalized the muni-
cipio and barrio boundaries in the late 1940s. Until the 1990 census, the
barrio-pueblo—also referred to as the 

pueblo barrio

 or 

barrio urbano

 in

some legal documents—was simply called a 

pueblo

; because this word is

translated as 

town

, the decennial censuses also treated the pueblo as a

place until the 1980 census. Some (but not all) barrios and barrios-pueblo
in 23 municipios have been further subdivided into subbarrios, which the
Census Bureau treats as sub-MCDs; these, too, were formalized in the 1940s.
Subbarrios completely cover the area within each barrio that has subbarrios;
that is, subbarrios nest within barrios. The barrios and subbarrios do not
have their own governments; rather, they are areas from which members of
both the Puerto Rico legislature and the municipio assemblies are elected.
For this purpose, barrios and subbarrios may comprise single- or multi-
member districts, or may be grouped into legislative districts. A municipio
government may amend the limits of its barrios and subbarrios legally,
provided that it reports the changes to the Puerto Rico Planning Board.

For many decades, the decennial censuses also recognized entities called
ciudades, which contained the most urban barrios of Ponce and San Juan,

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7-34    Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas

and any barrio-pueblo with a population of at least 50,000; no entity met
the latter criterion. Because of the translation of this word as 

city

, it, like

the 

pueblo

, was treated as a place for decennial censuses prior to the 1980

census. For the 1980 census, the ciudad was treated as a special 

super-MCD

entity since it consisted of a number of barrios (MCDs); this type of an MCD
was unique for Puerto Rico. After further review for the 1990 census, at the
request of the Census Bureau, the Puerto Rico government confirmed that
there appeared to be no legal basis for, or function that required, continued
recognition of the ciudades for the census, and that the terminology may be
obsolete. It therefore agreed that the Census Bureau did not need to recog-
nize these entities. Accordingly, the Census Bureau did not report data for
them for the 1990 census.

From the 1910 through the 1960 censuses, the Census Bureau treated the
pueblos and ciudades as if they were places. As noted above, the pueblo
is a special type of barrio, and the ciudad does not exist as a legal entity.
At the time of the 1950 census—shortly after the Commonwealth legally
documented the boundaries of the barrios and barrios-pueblo—a pueblo
generally reflected the most densely settled part of many municipios, and
also served as the historic, commercial, social, and religious center, and
the seat of government of the municipio. Since 1950, when Puerto Rico’s
population was about two million, urban growth has expanded beyond—
in some cases far beyond—the 1947 limits of the so-called ciudades
and pueblos. The boundaries of these urban barrios, however, have not
expanded to take in adjacent new urban development. For this reason,
the ciudades and pueblos have been replaced in the 

place

 structure of

Puerto Rico starting with the 1980 census.

In most municipios, it was necessary to combine the built-up area adjoin-
ing a ciudad or a pueblo to get a realistic view of the extent of the urban
population. For the 1970 census, the Census Bureau tried to reflect this
growth by ignoring the legal boundaries of the ciudades and pueblos, as
well as those of the internal subbarrios and the adjacent barrios, and call-
ing the entire built-up area a ciudad (if it had at least 50,000 people) or
a pueblo; the Puerto Rico Planning Board delineated suitable boundaries

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Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas   7-35

for this purpose. The result, of course, misrepresented the legal geography
of Puerto Rico, and therefore did not provide data users with statistics that
reflected the true boundaries of the legal entities. This distortion of the legal
boundaries had been made for one area—Arecibo—for the 1960 census.

In order to make the decennial census data more useful for statistical anal-
ysis, there was a need for a geographic entity that would better represent
the urban development centered on the seats of municipio government. To
fill this need the Census Bureau asked the Puerto Rico Planning Board to
delimit the urban core population of each municipio. The Planning Board
suggested that the Census Bureau call these areas 

zonas urbanas

 (literally

translated as 

urban zones).

 Identification of these separate place entities

left the underlying MCD structure intact so that data would be available
for both the legal MCDs and the statistical places.

Areally, every zona urbana is equal to or larger than the barrio-pueblo
that forms its core. Because, by the Census Bureau’s definition, there are
no incorporated places in Puerto Rico, the zonas urbanas, together with
the aldeas (discussed later), serve the statistical function of places, equiva-
lent to CDPs in the United States. The zona urbana boundaries are drawn
to follow visible features and/or the limits of a municipio or barrio. The
boundaries of zonas urbanas may be revised for each decennial census as
the built-up area changes, except that they may 

not 

extend beyond their

municipio. There is no minimum population requirement for an area to
qualify as a zona urbana.

The term 

zona urbana

 can be the basis for confusion, because the Puerto

Rico Planning Act identifies a second type of zona urbana: a quasi-adminis-
trative area, delineated by the Planning Board, that is subject to land use
controls and is eligible for designation for government grants. Furthermore,
the term zona urbana is used in some documents to refer to the area that
the Census Bureau previously had identified as the 

ciudad

. In addition, the

similarity of the designations 

zona urbana 

and 

área urbanizada

 (urbanized

area, or UA) tends to confuse even those familiar with census geography.
UAs represent a population concentration of at least 50,000 inhabitants; the

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7-36    Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas

UAs for Puerto Rico use the zona urbana as a 

central place

, and add to

them the adjacent densely settled areas in the 

home

 municipio as well as

those in adjacent municipios. Thus, although UAs must contain at least
50,000 people, there is no population requirement for zonas urbanas. Fur-
thermore, the Planning Board delineated the zonas urbanas several years
in advance of the 1990 census, based on compact settlement, while the
Census Bureau delineated the UAs based on specific criteria applied to
the time-of-the-census population counts and densities.

There are clusters of population in Puerto Rico that are distinct from the
zonas urbanas. Population counts for a few villages appear in decennial
census reports as early as the 1940 census. The same term was used in the
1950 census, and 

village-aldea

 appeared in the 1960 and 1970 censuses.

For the 1980 census, the term for these CDP equivalents was shortened to
only the Spanish 

aldea

 (literally, village); for the 1990 census, the Puerto

Rico government redesignated them with the term 

comunidad

 (literally,

community). An aldea/comunidad had to have a census population of at
least 1,000 to be reported separately for the censuses, and its boundaries
had to follow visible features and/or municipio or barrio boundaries.

Census tracts have been delineated in 56 of the 78 municipios; the other
22 municipios are divided into BNAs. The Census Bureau reported data
by block for selected areas of Puerto Rico in the 1960, 1970, 1980, and
1990 censuses; for the 1990 census, data were available by block for the
entire Commonwealth. For that census, the Planning Board delineated
BGs that contained an optimum of 400 housing units and ranged from
250 to 550 housing units. These were divided during the 1990 census
field operations to form enumerator assignments (address register areas),
with 140 to 160 housing units. This paralleled the 1980 census require-
ment that an ED contain an optimum of 140 housing units or 550 people,
a size that was designed to expedite the enumeration of the population.

In addition to the legal entities previously discussed, Puerto Rico is divided
into election districts. To ensure the ability to tabulate data for these entities,
the Census Bureau offered the opportunity for the Puerto Rico government

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Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas   7-37

to identify appropriate features that reflected the election district bounda-
ries; this would guarantee that the Census Bureau would use these features
as the boundaries of its 1990 census blocks. Subsequently, the Puerto Rico
Planning Board annotated approximate election district codes and bound-
aries based on the blocks depicted on the 1990 census maps. The Census
Bureau offered this program even though Puerto Rico is not covered by
Public Law 94-171, which requires that the Census Bureau provide the
States with this opportunity. Puerto Rico chose to participate and, as a
result, the Census Bureau was able to provide the Commonwealth with
data tabulations for 1,606 election districts. This special program was
called the Block Boundary Definition Project.

The economic censuses report data for Puerto Rico and each municipio
(first-order subdivision). They use the MCDs for sample design, but not
for data tabulations. The 1982 economic censuses also reported data by
MA, but the 1987 and 1992 economic censuses used MAs only for the
census of construction industries and the census of manufactures, while
the censuses of retail trade, wholesale trade, and services provided data
for nine Commonwealth-defined groupings of municipios called 

com-

mercial regions

. In addition, the census of retail trade published data

for central business districts (CBDs) and major retail centers (MRCs), as
delineated by the Puerto Rico Planning Board, for the 1963 through
1982 censuses. The Census of Agriculture provides data for Puerto Rico,
the municipios, and five Commonwealth-defined groupings of muni-
cipios called 

agriculture regions

; the latter have been recognized since

the 1964 census.

The Virgin Islands of the United States

The Virgin Islands of the United States is an organized, unincorporated
territory of the United States located immediately east of Puerto Rico
(see Figure 7-1). Although more than 50 separate islands and cays con-
stitute this westernmost of the Lesser Antilles, only three have a size and
population of any significance: St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John (see
Table 7-5 and Figure 7-9). Almost all the other islets are both uninhabited
and uninhabitable. Most of the population is shared equally by St. Croix

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7-38    Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas

and St. Thomas, although St. Croix is considerably larger in area. The capital
is located in Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas.

The European discovery of the islands occurred when Columbus first
sighted Santa Cruz, now known as St. Croix. Exploring further, he found
the islands of St. Thomas, St. John, Tortola (part of what is now the British
Virgin Islands), and others, and named them collectively Las Virgenes (a
name that means the Virgins, supposedly for the 11,000 virgins of St. Ursula).
In the 17th century, the islands became part of the colonial struggle waged
by France, England, Spain, Holland, and, later, Denmark, with the islands’
sugar production the primary reason for controlling them. Denmark char-
tered the Danish West Indian Company and began colonizing St. Thomas
(1671) and then St. John (1684). Denmark purchased St. Croix from France
in 1733 and, except for a brief period of English occupation of St. Croix
during the Napoleonic Wars, the islands remained under Danish control
until 1917. As early as 1865, for strategic military reasons, the United States
made overtures to acquire the islands. During World War I, fear that Ger-
many might occupy the islands provided the final impetus for the United
States to purchase the islands from Denmark, for $25 million on March 31,
1917. The islands were under the jurisdiction of the Department of the
Navy until February 27, 1931, when an Executive order placed them under
the supervision of the Department of the Interior. In 1927, Virgin Islanders
were granted U.S. citizenship. Since 1970, they have elected their governor,
lieutenant governor, and a 15-member legislature. Since 1973, the Virgin
Islands have been represented in the U.S. House of Representatives by
a nonvoting delegate (see parenthetical statement on page 7-14 in the
“American Samoa” section). English is the language commonly spoken.
The Danish government conducted 11 censuses from 1835 through 1911.
In 1917, the Census Bureau took a special census of the Virgin Islands,
but the islands were not included in the decennial and agriculture cen-
suses until 1930, or in the economic censuses until 1958.

The only functioning governmental unit in the Virgin Islands is the territo-
rial government. On October 11, 1993, Virgin Islanders had the opportunity

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Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas   7-39

Figure 7-9.  

The Virgin Islands of the United States

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7-40    Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas

to consider changing the territory’s relationship with the United States.
Eighty percent voted to retain territorial status; however, the referendum
was legally meaningless because more than 50 percent of the eligible
voters had to participate, but only 27.4 percent did so.

The Census Bureau treats the three main islands as the statistical equivalents
of counties (see Table 7-4), but they do not have their own governments.
Nearby islands are included with the closest large island; for example, Water
Island, offshore from Charlotte Amalie, is included with St. Thomas. For
administrative purposes, some government offices separately serve St. Croix
and, jointly, St. Thomas/St. John, but these are part of the territorial govern-
ment. Residents of St. Croix favor some form of local government for their
island, but nothing will happen without agreement from St. Thomas/
St. John—which was not forthcoming in a 1990 referendum.

Until the 1980 census, the Census Bureau reported sub-island data by

quarters

, which primarily and historically serve as areas for land recorda-

tion; the quarters are further divided into 

estates

, which the Census Bureau

has never recognized in its data presentations. Because these old Danish
units have no major legal significance—their boundaries typically are
straight lines that follow no visible features and have no relationship to
the rugged terrain—and because the Virgin Islands needed a modern
geographic unit that was more meaningful for the tabulation of decennial
census data, the Virgin Islands government created 

census subdistricts

.

Legally established by Act No. 4349 on October 1, 1979, the subdistricts
are intended to be permanent areas that reflect the Territory’s land-use
planning districts. The Census Bureau first used the subdistricts as the
statistical equivalents of MCDs for the 1980 census.

The Census Bureau recognizes three towns for the decennial census of
the Virgin Islands—Charlotte Amalie, Christiansted, and Frederiksted.
These places were held as separate MCDs and incorrectly referred to as
cities prior to the 1980 census. Because these entities have legal bound-
aries that are defined by Chapter 5 of the Virgin Islands Code, and serve

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Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas   7-41

specific administrative purposes, the Census Bureau treats them as equiva-
lent to incorporated places; however, they do not have their own govern-
ments, and are not incorporated places in the same sense as that term applies
to such entities in the United States. The Census Bureau may recognize other
settlements as CDPs if they have at least 300 inhabitants; six CDPs qualified
for the 1980 and 1990 censuses.

The Virgin Islands were block-numbered for the first time for the 1990 cen-
sus. At the request of the Virgin Islands’ government, the BGs for the 1990
census were required to have 140 to 160 housing units so that they could
be designed to approximate the EDs used for the 1980 census. The Virgin
Islands Planning Office delineated the BGs and then grouped them into a
meaningful set of BNAs for the 1990 census; it also delineated the CDPs
for the 1980 census, which were carried forward unchanged for the 1990
census. The census itself actually was conducted under the auspices of the
University of the Virgin Islands.

The economic censuses report data for the Virgin Islands, each of the three
major islands (first-order subdivisions), and each of the three towns (places).
The census of agriculture reports data for the Virgin Islands and St. Croix
Island, but combines the islands of St. John and St. Thomas into a single
geographic unit for data presentation.

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7-42    Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas

Notes and References

American Samoa Code

,

 1961 and 1981.

Bunge, Frederica M. and Melinda W. Cooke (editors): 

Oceania, A Regional Study

, U.S.

Department of the Army, 1984.

Bryan, E.H. Jr.: 

Guide to Place Names in the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands

, Honolulu:

Pacific Scientific Information Center, 1971.

Continental/Air Micronesia: “Route Map (Actual Flight Path),” 1989.

Government of Guam, Interagency Committee on Population: 

Guam’s People: A Continuing

Heritage—A Statistical Profile of the Territory of Guam, 1920-1980

, Agana, 1988.

Sperling, Jonathan, “Census Geography in Puerto Rico—A Technical Addendum for the 1990
Census,”

 Caribbean Studies

, vol. 24, No. 3-4, 1990.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency: 

The World Factbook

, 1991.

U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census: publications of the several censuses
covering Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas.

U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Intelligence & Research: 

Geographic Notes,

 Issue 5

(Dec. 8, 1986) and Issue 6 (July 15, 1987).

U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of Territorial and International Affairs: 

Fact Sheet

for various entities, April 1992.

U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of Territorial and International Affairs: 

Highlights

,

Office of Territories

, 1969.

U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of Territorial and International Affairs: 

Territorial

Areas Administered by the United States

, c. 1979.

Virgin Islands Code, 1964 and 1987.

Winslow, Zachary: 

Puerto Rico

, Edgemont, PA: Chelsea House, 1974.


Document Outline