Humacao, Puerto Rico

Humacao is located on the east coast of Puerto Rico and encompasses an area of 116.1 square kilometers (44.8 square miles). It is known as «the pearl of the East,» «the gray city,» and «the bone-gnawers.» According to the 2000 census, the population is 59,035, distributed in thirteen wards: Antón Ruiz, Buena Vista, Candelero Abajo, Candelero Arriba, Cataño, Collores, Humacao Pueblo, Mabú, Mambiche, Mariana, Punta Santiago, Río Abajo, and Tejas. The patron saint is Our Lady of Immaculate Conception and the Catholic church is dedicated to the Sweet Name of Jesus.

Humacao has several natural attractions, one of which is the Humacao pterocarpus forest, declared a natural reserve in 1986. There are also many beaches, which have made the area very attractive for tourism. Palmas del Mar, a resort complex located in the area, is visited by many local and foreign tourists. Punta Santiago is another attractive area, with a public beach, a resort, and a variety of restaurants. Thetown is home to one of the University of Puerto Rico’s regional campuses.

A mainstay of the economy of Humacao is the manufacturing of electronic, chemical and leather products, as well as scientific instruments, electrical equipment and clothing, among others. The construction industry, commerce, truck farming, cattle ranching, and fishing also contribute to the local economy.

Humacao is located on the east end of the island and is part of the eastern coastal valleys. It is bordered by the municipalities of Naguabo on the north, Yabucoa on the south, and Las Piedras on the west, and to the east by the Vieques Passage. Agricultural production is high because of Humacao’s alluvial soil. The lowlands are located near the coast and are mainly used for coconut farming. Most of Humacao’s territory is flat and in generally does not rise more than 100 meters (328 feet) above sea level. Elevated points in the southwest area of the municipality include Mount Candelero at 656 feet (Candelero Arriba ward), and in the northeast area Mount Mabú, at 853 feet (Mabú and Collores wards).

Humacao’s hydrographic system includes the Antón Ruiz, Humacao and Candelero rivers, and the Frontera brook, all of which flow into the Vieques Passage. The Antón Ruiz River, 13.4 kilometers (8.4 miles) long, springs from Collores ward and its tributaries include Collores, Mambiche, Tinajera, and Las Mulas. The Humacao River runs from Montones de Las Piedras ward and is 27 kilometers (17 miles) long. Its tributaries are the El Inglés, Obispo, Mariana, and Cataño brooks. The Candelero River, which springs from Candelario Arriba ward is approximately 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) long.

There are several promontories on the coast of Humacao. One of these, Icacos, marks the boundary with Yabucoa; other promontories are Fraile, Candelero, El Morrillo and Santiago. Neighboring keys are Batata and Santiago, the latter of which has an area of approximately 34 acres. Until 1990, there were 750 acres of mangroves along the Humacao coast; about 686 were at the mouth of the Antón Ruiz River; about 9 were in Morillo, about 12 along the banks of the Humacao River, and at Punta Candelario there were about 46 acres. Red, black, and white mangroves all grow in these areas.

The town also has mineral resources such as an iron ore, magnetite.

The territory occupied today by this municipality was ruled by the taíno chief Jumacao. The area was named Humacao in his honor. Since the early 16th century, cattle ranchers called hateros came to Humacao as owners of vast extensions of rich and fertile alluvial land, ideal for cattle. Nonetheless, economic activity did create a settlement in Humacao, because although the ranchers slept there, their main residences were inSan Juan.

It was not until the early 18th century, specifically in 1721, that the first real settlement was established by families that came from the Canary Islands and were ordered by the local government to establish the townof San Luis del Príncipe de la Riberas del Jumacao. However, security problems (attacks from the cattle ranchers, the Carib indians and pirates) forced the settlers to moved to the interior of the Island where they built a hermitage high in the hills. Today the place is part of the municipality of Las Piedras. The town that had been created in the Humacao valley practically vanished. Settlers in the area are not mentioned again until the visit of Friar Iñigo Abad in 1776. By 1793, the area and its church became a parish and the community was recognized as a town.

In the last third of the 18th century, Humacao was a town with approximately 1,515 inhabitants. By 1831, the town included the wards Antón Ruiz, Buena Vista, Candelero, Cataño, Humacao Pueblo, Jagüeyes, Mabú, Mariana, Mulas, Naranjos, Río Abajo, and Río Arriba. Sixteen years later, the Jagüeyes and Naranjos wards disappeared and the Playa and Tejas wards were created. By the mid-19th century Mabú ward was eliminated and Playa ward was renamed as Punta Santiago. In 1878, Mabú and Playa wards reappeared, and Collores and Mambiche wards were created. At the same time the Candelero ward was divided into Candelero Abajo and Candelero Arriba. In 1881, Humacao was given the title of villa, or chartered town, and thirteen years later, the title of city.

The constant growth in population and the economy facilitated the construction of several structures such as the jailhouse (1849), the municipal theater (1860), the San Vicente de Paúl Hospital (1867), as well as the development of a commercial port (1878). The town’s economy depended on commerce, raising cattle and pigs, and breeding horses. Sugar cane, tobacco, and fruit were also cultivated. There were 10 large-scale farms with steam machines and sugar cane milling equipment called trapiches for the production of sugar.

In 1899, after the change of sovereignty, the municipality of Las Piedras was annexed to Humacao, adding the wards of Arenas, Boquerón, Collores, Ceiba, Montones, El Río, and Tejas. It wasn’t until 1914 that the Puerto Rico legislative assembly once again recognized Las Piedras as a municipality with its original boundaries and wards. Towards the mid-20th century a re-organization of the territory made it possible to enlarge the urban area comprised of the wards San Francisco, San Juan, Santiago, and Santo Domingo, which today are no longer have ward status.


The Humacao flag  consists of three stripes: the top one is gold and represents, as stated by the municipality, the color of the crown of the taíno chief Jumacao. The middle stripe is red, and symbolizes the color of the coat of arms. The inferior stripe is green and it represents the arrows used by the taínos.

Coat of Arms
The Humacao coat of arms  is divided into three parts, two of which are golden and represent the sun and the location of the town where the sun comes out. Each of the middle parts has a bundle of arrows reminiscent of the arrows used by Jumacao against the Spaniards in the 16th century. The third part is green and has a crown in the middle as a symbol of Taino heritage and the Humacao valley’s tropical nature. At the center there is a small red shied with the letters IHS, «Jesus, the Saviour of Men». This is the name of the town’s parroquial church dedicated to the Sweet Name of Jesus. The coat of arms is completed by a mural crown with five towers, heraldic symbol used to identify the coat of arms of towns, chartered towns (villas), and cities.

Place of Interest
• Humacao Airport
• Humacao Pterocarpus Forest – The largest fresh-water swamp on the island.
• Angel «Lito» Peña Art Center – center for the arts and cultural events.
• Fábrica de Granos – maker of a special fried food in Humacao.
• Monument to the Cacique Jumacao – the Indian chief of the area.
• Monument to Teachers – honoring our educators.
• Casa Roig Museum– Today part of the University of Puerto Rico in Humacao. Designed in 1919 by Antonin Nechodoma. Currently use as museum and a cultural center.
• Observatory at the Universidad de Puerto Rico
• Guzmán Family Maousoleum (Ermita Guzmán
• Humacao Aquatic Park
• Buena Vista Beach
• El Morrillo Beach
• Punta Santiago Beach and Resort
• Punta Candelero Beach
• Luis Muñoz Rivera square (rown square)
• Humacao Wildlife Reserve– located in the subtropical humid zone on the southeast coast of Puerto Rico. The reserve includes a diversity of natural resources; swamps, wetlands, channels, and several lagoons. Two species of marine turtles, the hawksbill and the leatherback, nest there.

Illustrious Citizens

Federico Acosta Velarde – founder of the Nationalist Party, which he headed from 1925 to 1928.

Marta Casals de Istomin – Casals Festival musical director.

Osiris Delgado – painter, professor and essayist. Author of Historia de la pintura en Puerto Rico. «Fresas I» and «Suerte de la cuerda» are among his best-known work.

Emilio E. Huyke – sports columnist and author of the book Los deportes en Puerto Rico. He is known as the «father of Puerto Rican basketball».

Aguedo Mojica – lawyer, teacher, and polititian.

Marina L. Molina – poet, essayist, and reporter.

Rita Moreno – actress, dancer, and singer. She won an Oscar in 1961 for her role in the film West Side Story, among others recognitions.

Antonia Sáez – teacher and essayist, writer of the first study on the theater in Puerto Rico (1950).

Luis Rafael Sánchez – playwright, essayist, and novelist. Author of various plays such as Los ángeles se han fatigado and Quíntuples, and of the novelMacho Camacho’s Beat, translated into English by Gregory Rabassa.


• Three Kings’ Day- January
• Festival of the Cross – May
• Flat-bottom Boat Festival – June
• Breadfruit Festival (Mariana Ward) – August/September
• Saint Cecilia Festival (patron saint of musicians) – November
• Fiestas Patronales – December
• Catholic Church Community Festival – December


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