Carolina, Puerto Rico

Carolina is in the northeast of Puerto Rico and has an area of 124 square kilometers (48 square miles). It is the fourth largest city on the island. Carolina is known as the «Land of Giants» and the town of the «arm choppers.» The «Land of Giants» comes from a carolinense named Felipe Birriel Fernández, who was called «the Carolina Giant,» because he was seven feet and eleven inches tall. The latter phrase comes from an old custom of solving disputes in a machete duel. According to the 2000 census, there are 186,076carolinenses. The municipality is organized into Barrazas, Cacao, Cangrejo Arriba, Canovanillas, Carolina Pueblo, Carruzos, Marín González, Sabana Abajo, San Antón, Santa Cruz, and Trujillo Bajo wards. The patron saint is Saint Ferdinand of the Carolinas.

The economy of Carolina has developed throughout the 20th century. In the early part of the century, the economy was based on agriculture, with sugar cane being the main crop. Today, the city is highly industrialized. There are more than 100 factories that produce electric and electronic equipment, scientific instruments, metal containers, clothing, chewing gum, pharmaceutical products, plastics, and chemicals, among others. Tourism is also extremely important, especially in the Isla Verde area, where hotels, recreational facilities,and the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport are located.


Carolina is on the northeast coast of the island, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the town of Loíza to the north, Gurabo and Juncos on the south, Trujillo Alto and San Juan on the west and the municipality of Canóvanas on the east. The region is the northern coastal plain. In the Northern part of the municipality the land is swampy and low lying. There are hills, including the San José range in Hoyo Mulas ward, which is 210 feet (64 meters ) high. There are six caves in the range, the most outstanding of which is called Del Lago (of the lake) and there are indigenous rock paintings, petroglyphs, in all six of the caves. In other parts of the region there are ridgelines such as El Asomante and Hato Nuevo, which are lower parts of the Luquillo Range. Other elevated points are the Gordo range in Barrazas ward, 961 feet (293 meters) high and the Comandante range in San Antón ward, at 436 feet (133 meters) above sea level.

An island called Isla Verde and a beach bearing the same name are located facing a point called El Medio. Continuing along the coast right to the east and just at the river mouth at Boca de Cangrejos, there is another small island called La Cáncora. The Río Grande de Loíza also flows through the town of Carolina. Its tributaries in this area are the Canovanillas River, which marks the city limit between Canóvanas and Carolina, and the Maracuta, Pastrana, and Hoya Fría brooks. Other hydrographic elements are the Blasina Brook (which reaches the ocean) and the Piñones, San José, Los Corozos and La Torrecilla lagoons.

In 1817, the residents of Barrazas, Cacao, Carruzos, Cedros, Canovanillas, Hoyo Mulas, Martín González, Sabana Abajo, San Antón, and Santa Cruz wards, which constituded the Trujillo district, established a separate district with the name of San Miguel de Trujillo Bajo. Several years later, the townspeople who lived on the left bank or north of the Río Grande de Loíza petitioned the government to have the municipal seat transferred to that region, where there was greater economic activity and, therefore, more was contributed to municipal expenses. Besides, the river frequently overflowed, which prevented them from being able to go to church or visit City Hall. Facing opposition by the residents of the right bank, or south the petitioners decided to commission Lorenzo de Vizcarrondo y Ortiz de Zárate to request authorization from the governor to found another town. The site that was selected was Hoyo Mulas ward and the name the town was given was San Fernando de la Carolina. The municipal territory was constituted in 1857 by the wards located in the nothern bank of the Río Grande de Loíza, Hoyo Mulas, Martín González, Sabana Abajo, and San Antón.

In the mid-1860s, San Fernando de la Carolina grew by including Hato de Cangrejos ward, which had belonged to the municipality of San Mateo de Cangrejos. This annexation gained access to the sea. While the new town continued to grow, Trujillo Bajo began to encounter fiscal difficulties, and in 1873 the town became insolvent. When the municipality was dissolved, Barrazas, Cacao, Carruzos, Canovanillas, Cedros, Santa Cruz, and Trujillo Bajo wards were incorporated into the neighboring town.

In 1838, Salvador de Vizcarrondo, brother of the founder of the municipality, led a separatist uprising against Spain. The movement promoted the incorporation of Puerto Rico into Greater Columbia under Simón Bolívar. According to their plan, the revolutionary forces were to gather on Vizcarrondo`s land and march towards the Capital, where dissident soldiers were to join them. The conspiracy was betrayed by an informant and snuffed out by the Spanish government.


The Carolina flag  has three vertical stripes, two white bands on either side and a red band at the center. The white bands show several lines of black ermine tails, in a heraldic style called semé. The red band is wider than the white bands, and bears the sword and crown shown on the town’s coat of arms, although here the sword is white, and the crown is yellow, instead of silver and gold, as in the coat of arms.

Coat of Arms
The figures and features of the Carolina coat of arms  allude to the patron of the town, Saint Ferdinand, although some colors allude to the Vizcarrondo family, to which the settlement owes its name. There is a silver sword with a gold hilt facing upwards over a red field. The sword runs through a golden crown at the center. The red, or gules as the color is called in heraldry, refers to the first effort made at gaining independence from Spain and making Puerto Rico part of Greater Columbia under Simón Bolívar in 1838. The participants of the conspiracy, which was thwarted by the Spanish government, used a red kerchief to identify themselves. The sword symbolizes justice and the virtues of Saint Ferdinand, the ancient king of Castile and Leon, who was canonized in 1671. The crown represents royalty. The red field is surrounded by a silver border dotted with small black tails, like the flag. Above the shield there is a five-turreted castle in the shape of a crown.

Places of Interest

• Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport
• Old City Hall
• Center and archive for historical research of Carolina
• Balneario de Carolina
• Boca de Cangrejos (river mouth on the Atlantic)
• Piñones State Forest
• Ecuté House
• Roberto Clemente Walker cenotaph
• Roberto Clemente Municipal Stadium
• Julio Vizcarrondo Liberal Arts School of Carolina
• Roberto Clemente Walker Sports Complex
• Ruins of the hacienda Victoria
• Ruins of the Buena Vista sugarmill
• Roberto Clemente conmemorative fountaine
• Ponce Hotel
• San Fernando de la Carolina church
• La Torrecilla, Piñones, Los Corozos and San José lagoons
• Fernando Tercero Rey de Castilla y León monument
• Julia de Burgos mausoleum
• Luis Muñoz Marín monument
• Julia de Burgos Park
• Promenade of the Giants
• Rey Fernando de la Carolina public square
• Salsa square
• Río Grande de Loíza river
• Cave system of Cerro San José
• University of Puerto Rico Carolina campus
• Isla Verde tourist zone – including Isla Verde beach , hotel zone
• Cemetary Puerto Rico Memorial
• Cockfight club
• Jesús T. Piñero monument

Illustrious Citizens

Julia de Burgos – poet, author of the epic «Río Grande Loíza.» Her works include the books of verse Poemas exactos a mí mismaPoemas en veinte surcos and Canción de la verdad sencilla. She died in New York City in 1953.

Roberto Clemente Walker– Major League baseball player and winner of numerous awards and recognitions. He died tragically in an airplane accident en route to Nicaragua to help earthquake victims on December 31, 1972. He was the first Latin American to be elected to the United States Baseball Hall of Fame.

Ramón Mellado Parsons – educator and essayist. He was Secretary of Public Education, President of the Higher Education Council, and a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (1951-1952). His writings include a book on education called La educación en Puerto Rico.

Jesús T. Piñero – the first Puerto Rican governor, appointed by the President of the United States in 1946. He was a founder of the Popular Democratic Party, member of the House of Representative (1941-1944) and cesident Commissioner in Washington.

Angel Rivero Méndez – military man, journalist, and entrepreneur. He participated in the Spanish-American War, and wrote about his experiences as a member of the Spanish Army in Crónica de la Guerra Hispanoamericana en Puerto Rico. During the 1920s he wrote a column in the newspapaer El Imparcial and later, in the newspaper El Mundo.

Jesús María Sanromá – internationally renowned pianist. Sanromá studied in the United States, France, and Germany. We can still enjoy his numerous recordings.
Julio Vizcarrondo-writer and abolicionist.

Fortunato Vizcarrondo– musician and poet. Author of the poem ¿Y tú agüela a onde está?.

Wilfredo Benítez- the youngest boxer winner of the World Boxing Title.

Felibe Birriel -Know as el gigante de Carolina. He measured 7 feet and 11 inches in 1946.


• Jazz night- third Friday of each month
• Bohemia night – second Thursday of each month
• Youth night- first Friday every two months
• Artisans` Market- one Sunday in a month
• Roberto Clemente’s week- August
• Festival of Patron saint around May 30, day of Saint Ferdinand day



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