Vieques, Puerto Rico – Baby Island

vieques sunbayFoundation: Vieques (vee-AI-kais), was discovered by Christopher Columbus in his second voyage. SInce 1938 according to a law formulated by the legislature, recognizes November 19th as the day of the discovery for both the “Baby Island” and the “Big Island”. A controversy between some historians exists who believe that Vieques was discovered 3 days (16th) before the Island of Puerto Rico, but it is officially celebrated the 19th as the Day of the Discovery.

The island municipality is located southeast of Puerto Rico between latitudes18.0 and 18.5 north and between longitude 65.34 and 65.16 west. The Atlantic Ocean surrounds it to north and south with the Caribbean Sea. It has an area of 33,088 acres (51.7 square miles) and measures 18 miles in length by 3.5 miles wide in its widest area. Its average elevation is at sea level about 38 feet although it has some elevations with 400 feet above sea level. Its name, in Indian language means “small land” and it is said that “Bieque” was an Indian Chief. The certain thing is that it appeared for the first time in the maps in 1527 with the name of Vieques.

The first colonizers of the island were: Luis Cherot, Constante Leguillau, Pantaleón Ortiz, Augusto Negrón Longpré, Antonio Villegas, Claudio Easton, Juan Purus, Miguel Figueroa, Guillermo Opio and Daniel Terrible.

vieques faro
Punta Mulas Light House

The French were the first Europeans to occupied the island. They were pushed out by the Spaniards in 1647. Years later the English occupied the island and constructed a new fort, but the Puerto Rican privateer Miguel Hernandez removed the English in name of the Spanish Crown in 1718. Helped by an expedition sent by the Governor of Puerto Rico.

Officially, in 1843 the first town was founded, Isabel II in honor to the queen of Spanish. Soon with the impulse that produced the slave force, a series sugar refineries arose that still denominate some of wards of the island. They are Esperanza, Puerto Real, Playa Grande, La Arcadia and Resolución. In the history and customs of the “Baby Island” three countries have left their roots. Spain bequeath the traditions and the language, England influenced with the colony that still exists and the profile of some of the structures reflects the French influence, names like Le Brum, Lanzó, Dubois, Motineau, Choisne, Monrepose confirm this fact.

Vieques has historical monuments that are visited by thousands of tourists every year:

  • El Fuerte (the bunker) constructed in 1845 during the reign of Isabel II.
  • La Casa del Francés (Sportsman House). It was the residence of the owner of a sugar cane plantation, Henri Muraille, and was constructed around 1910. Nowadays it is being used as a hotel.
  • The Light House was constructed at the end of the XIX century. Its designed is of the neoclassic type and has a cornice around it. It was designed by the Puertorrican José Sanz.
  • The tomb of Governor Leguillau, who was the first military governor of Vieques, Mr. Theodore Leguillau.

mapa viequesLocation: The Island of Vieques is located between Puerto Rico and Saint Thomas, about 6 miles southeast of the coast of Puerto Rico and infront fo the coast of Humacao, separated by the Passage of Vieques. It coasts are bathed by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Area: 134.4 sq km / 51.7 sq mi
Population: 9,106 (census 2000)
Population Density: 67.7 per sq km / 176.1 per sq mi
People are known as: Viequenses
Vieques is also known as:
Isla Nena (Baby Island)

Wards: Vieques, Puero Rico
barrios vieques

Census 2000:
Population by Wards – Vieques
Habitants
Florida 4,126
Isabel II Town 1,459
Llave 8
Mosquito 0
Puerto Diablo 984
Puerto Ferro 856
Puerto Real 1,673
Punta Arenas 0
Total 9,106

Source: Censo 2000

vieques iglesia
Parroquia Inmaculada Concepción
Matron:
Inmaculada Concepción de María
Inmaculada Concepción Parish
Calle Lebrum # 442
Vieques P.R. 00765
(787) 741-2241

Topography: Vieques’ terrain is level to a large extent. Its highest elevation is mount Pirata, towards the west, with 301 meters.
Hydrography: It consists of several lagoons.
Economy: Tourism, manufacture and fishing.
Average Salary: $257.13 weekly (1998)

vieques banderaFlag: The flag of Vieques consists of seven horizontal straight stripes of equal width, four white and three blue alternated. In the center it has a green rhombus, in yellow color, a simplified design of the castle. The representation of Naval Crown is omitted.

vieques escudoCoat Of Arms: In a field of 10 waves, five silver-plated and five blue, a green rhombus with a gold castle outlined in black and red openings. To the top, a Naval crown in gold, with silver candles. The sea of Vieques is represented by the silver-plated and blue waves; the island, by the green rhombus; and the historical fort that dominates it, by the traditional Spanish heraldic castle. This castle, is also symbol of Spain, who took away the Island of Vieques from the Caribes, defended it from privateers of different nationalities, and later on, in the XIX century, incorporated the Island in a formal and definitive way, to Puerto Rico.

The gold color of the castle and the green of the rhombus, combined, have a special historical meaning. The main colors constitute the main colors of the shield of the Bolivars from Venezuela, proclaiming that this Island was the only Puerto Rican land that the liberator Simón Bolívar set foot on. Instead of the traditional crown, a Naval crown is adopted for the Coat of Arms of Vieques, to emphasize the insular nature of Vieques and to remember the glorious Naval encounters in its waters repelling the enemies of Spain and Puerto Rico.

Vieques Public Schools.

Name Level Telephone Address
DR. JOSÉ CELSO BARBOSA ELEMENTAL (787) 741-0428 PO Box 1175
FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT Elementary (787) 741-2629 PO Box 708
JUANITA RIVERA ALBERT Elementary (787) 741-3060 PO Box 1175
MARÍA M. SIMMONS DE RIVERA Elementary (787) 741-3831 PO Box 1518
MERCEDES LUIS Elementary (787) 741-1099 PO Box 708
MONTE SANTO Elementary (787) 741-2899 PO Box 708
PLAYA GRANDE Elementary (787) 741-2766 PO Box 708
20 DE SEPTIEMBRE DE 1988 Intermediate (787) 741-2802 PO Box 1554
ADRIANNE SERRANO Second Unit (787) 741-8692 PO Box 1175
GERMAN RIECKEHOFF High School (787) 741-8340 PO Box 857

Hymn: Author: Silverio Pérez

Hay una Isla Nena en lontanaza,
que es como Isla Grande en carne viva

Hay cantos de pitirre en La Esperanza
y hay deseos de amar y dar la vida.

Quietud interrumpida a cada instante,
niños despiertos en la madrugada,
el sol va despertando por el este
y en la tibia mañana se oye una nana.

Hay miles de pedazos de esta tierra,
con miles de ocasiones de injusticia
hay una isla chica que en la guerra,
roba tiempo al amor y a la caricia.

Un día que mi canción se hizo oleaje,
un día, que reposé en la blanca arena,
el di mi corazón y mi coraje,
al pueblo y al sentir de la Isla Nena.

Hay una Isla Nena en lontananza

Events:
Cultural Festival – April
Matron Celebrations – December
Bilí Festival – November
Arepa Festival – November

Places To Visit:
Old Nayda Cinema Theater
Punta Mulas Light House
Count de Mirasol Bunker
The Centennial Ceiba
La Esperanza Beach
Sun Bay Beach
Leguillow Tomb

Ilustres:
Jaime Benítez – Educador, político y humanista


How to get to Vieques from San Juan.

direction vieques