The territory of the municipality of Ceiba covers approximately 27 square miles. According to the 2000 census, the municipality had 18,004 residents, who are called ceibeños. The municipality is divided into eight sectors: Pueblo, Chupacallos, Daguao, Guayacán, Machos, Quebrada Seca, Río Abajo and Saco.
Ceiba has several manufacturing businesses, most of which are dedicated to manufacturing clothing. The Roosevelt Roads naval base was an important factor in the business development of the municipality during the 60 years it was in operation. In the previous century, rice, tobacco and sugar cane were grown in Ceiba, and fruits are still cultivated. There was also iron mining in the past. In substitution of sugar cane, the Puerto Rico Land Authority implemented programs for farming minor fruits and domestic livestock, including beef and dairy cattle, as well as swine.
The residents are known as “soup eaters” and the “Marlins” and the town is known as the “Marlin City.” The patron saint is San Antonio de Padua.
Ceiba is bordered on the north by the municipality of Fajardo, on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, on the south by the Caribbean Sea and on the west by the municipality of Naguabo. Topographically, Ceiba is part of the region known as the eastern coastal valleys. Its soil, mostly alluvial, was formed by the materials washed down from the mountains by water. It has fertile land on the plains and stony soil in the higher elevations.
To the west, Ceiba has mountains that make up part of the Luquillo Range. Between the Río Abajo sector of Ceiba and the Río Blanco sector of Naguabo are the Picos del Este, which have an elevation of 1,051 meters (3,448 feet), and the Picos del Oeste, at 1,020 meters (3,346 feet). In the center of the municipality, the elevation ranges from 100 meters (328 feet) to 500 meters (1,640 feet) above sea level. The Ceiba ridge, which ranges in elevation from 100 to 500 meters, rises on the border of the Quebrada Seca, Daguao and Chupacallos sectors. The Corozal peak, in the Saco sector, reaches 304 meters in elevation.
The municipality’s hydrology consists of the following bodies of water: the Fajardo River, which forms in the Río Abajo sector and whose tributaries include the Sonadora and Rincón streams; the Demajagua River, which forms the border with the municipality of Fajardo; the Daguao River, which forms the border with Naguabo; and the Aguas Claras and Seca streams.
In the extreme northeast of Ceiba is Demajagua Bay and to the south of it are six points: Figueras, Medio Mundo, Puerca, Cabra de Tierra, Cascajo and Algodones. Between the first two is the Medio Mundo port and between Puerca and Cabra de Tierra points are the Medio Mundo Passage, Puerca Bay and Cabras Island.
Across from the Medio Mundo Passage are various keys and islets, including ones called Piñeros, Piñerito and Cabeza de Perro. Between the Cabra de Tierra and Cascajo points is Ensenada Honda, considered one of the best ports on the island.
The municipality has two forests: the Ceiba State Forest and the Caribbean National Forest, also known as the Luquillo Range. The Ceiba State Forest is divided into two segments and is part of the municipalities of Ceiba and Fajardo. It covers 143 hectares. The forest ranges from 5 meters (15 feet) to 15 meters (49 feet) above sea level. It receives an average of 900 millimeters (55 inches) of rain annually. It provides a habitat for a huge number of bird species. The vegetation is characterized by an abundance of mangroves. In fact, 800 hectares of the Ceiba coastal zone is composed of mangrove swamps.
The name of the municipality comes from the ceiba tree (Ceiba pentandra), a species that is abundant in eastern Puerto Rico. It is characterized by its enormous roots. The color of its trunk is grayish and it has thorns. It was adored by the Tainos and the Africans. Its wood was used to make canoes and boats. The site that we know today as Ceiba is believed to have been part of the area ruled by the Taino chief Daguao, an audacious warrior who fought against the conquistadors for many years, which delayed the conquest and colonization of the region. According to some historians, it was common practice for Daguao, along with another chief named Jumacao, to destroy farms. They are blamed for the fire that affected the city of Santiago, founded in 1513 on the banks of the Daguao River. The Tainos in the region used the Luquillo mountains as a refuge and a battle zone.
Ceiba was part of the municipality of Fajardo until 1838. Although some historians say the municipality became independent in 1836, Mario Villar Roces asserts that the municipality was officially founded on May 12, 1838. Villa Roces indicates that the confusion is based on the donation of land in 1836 by two landowners, Juan R. Dávila and Juan Velázquez, for the purpose of building a town.
It is also believed that the residents of Fajardo largely opposed the separation. Despite that, on April 7, 1837, the governor of the island, Francisco J. Moreda Prieto, authorized the founding of a new municipality. It was not until May 12, 1838, that Ceiba was officially founded. The declaration stated that its jurisdiction extended “from the mouth of the Figueres, following the water upstream to the Seyba Creek to its source; from this point, in a straight line to the Fajardo River, and then to the origin of the river above until the limits of Naguabo on the west and south.” At the time of its founding, Ceiba consisted of the sectors of Pueblo, Chupacallos, Daguao, Guayacán, Machos, Quebrada Seca, Río Arriba and Saco.
In 1856, the island was affected by a terrible cholera epidemic, and Ceiba was no exception.
In 1848, construction was begun on the town church, which was built of wood and stone. In the same era, the municipality was also affected by prolonged droughts and continuous fires. The slave population was 91 in the urban area and 174 in the rural area.
Shortly after the change of sovereignty, the municipality of Ceiba was annexed to Fajardo. It was not until 1914 that it returned to its independence, under Law No. 9 of March 12, 1914. The Puerto Rico legislature agreed to reconstitute Ceiba as a municipality with the same borders and sectors that it had previously.
In 1942, the government expropriated 2,217.33 acres to establish a naval base for the United States that was named Roosevelt Roads. It was President Franklin Roosevelt who ordered the construction of the base to serve as a Navy training facility for ships and airplanes in World War II. The base, which covered a little less than 9,000 acres (9,267 cuerdas), ceased operations in 2003 after the base on Vieques was closed following a long period of protests and civil disobedience against the presence of the Navy on the island municipality, as well as in Ceiba.
In 2004, the Authority for the Redevelopment of the Roosevelt Roads Navy Base Land and Facilities was created to manage the use of the former base’s land and facilities. In 2007, 141 cuerdas (137 acres) was transferred to the government of Puerto Rico. Included in this was Los Machos Beach, where there are plans to create a public beach facility. In February of 2008, 3,427 cuerdas (3,328 acres) of land were transferred to the central government via the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources.
This land will be administered by the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico for a period of 30 years for the purposes of conservation. The development of an international airport, the construction of housing, a marina, tourism facilities and recreational areas are other components of the use plan. Although the municipal government was not originally included in the decision making, since 2009 the mayor has been part of the Authority’s Board of Directors.
The design and colors are shared with the Ceiba coat of arms. The flag has two vertical bands of equal width. The first, on the side of the flag pole, is red, and the second is green. Superimposed on the first band is a yellow cross.
Coat of Arms
The municipality’s coat of arms depicts a ceiba tree on a field of gold. The red upper part contains a gold cross lying on its side and adorned with afleur de lis, flanked by two fleurs de lis of the same color. On the seal, there is a gold wall crowning the coat of arms and it is surrounded on its flanks and lower point by two sugar cane stalks with their leaves crossed at the bottom. The cross with the fleur de lis symbolizes the name and surname of Luis de la Cruz, founder of the town. The cross also represents the origin and Christian nature of the population. The sugar cane stalks allude to the former wealth of the sugar industry in Ceiba.
Places of Interest
• Ceiba State Forest
• Cold Pool
• Town church
Felisa Rincón de Gautier – Political leader. Belonged to the Liberal Party. Helped Luis Muñoz Marín found the Popular Democratic Party. Was mayor of San Juan for 22 years. Selected “Woman of the Americas” in 1954.
Isabel Rosado Morales – Teacher. Participated in the Nationalist Revolution of 1950. Served eleven years in the prison for women in Vega Alta after participating in the nationalist attack on the United States Congress.
Carmen E. Pérez – Poet who wrote the poem “Canto a Ceiba,” which was selected as the town’s hymn.
Luis Vigoreaux Rivera – Actor, host and radio announcer. Chief of programming at the broadcaster WRIO. Television producer. President of the Announcers Association of Puerto Rico.
Narciso Solero Feliciano – Representative in the House of Representatives.
San Antonio de Padua Patron Saint Festival -June
Text taken from enciclopediapr.org
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