Yabucoa, Puerto Rico

Yabucoa was founded in 1793 with the «guardian angels» as its patron saint. It is known as the «City of Sugar,» «Town of the Yuca,» and its residents, Yabucoeños, are nicknamed «milky drinkers.» It covers an area of 142 square kilometers (55 square miles) and the population is 39,246.

The municipality is divided into the sectors of: Yabucoa Pueblo, Aguacate, Calabazas, Camino Nuevo, Guayabota, Jácanas, Juan Martín, Limones, Playa and Tejas.

The name Yabucoa comes from the Taino chief Guaroca, which means «place or site with water,» according to some scholars. Others say the name refers to «place of cassava.»

Vegetables such as plantains and tubers are grown in the municipality. There are also several dairies producing milk. Economic activity in the municipality also includes manufacturing of clothing, cigarettes, and electrical appliances. There is also a petrochemical plant and an oil recycling facility.


Yabucoa is located in the southeast of Puerto Rico. It is bordered on the north by San Lorenzo, Las Piedras and Humacao, on the west by San Lorenzo and Patillas, on the south by Maunabo and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Caribbean Sea.

Geographically, it is part of the humid region of the eastern coastal plains. The Yabucoa valley consists of fertile, alluvial soils. The municipality is mainly flat. To the south, along its border with Maunabo, is the Pandura range of mountains, which includes the Santa Elena peak at 1,870 feet (570 meters) in elevation, and Pandura with 1,693 feet (516 meters) in elevation. To the extreme west are ridges of the Cayey range.

The municipality’s hydrological system includes the Guayanés River, which forms in the Guayabota sector and runs approximately 27 kilometers (17 miles) to the Port of Yabucoa, where it empties into the Caribbean Sea. Also flowing through the municipality are the Prieto, Arenas, Limones and Ingenio Rivers, which are tributaries of the Guayanés. Yabucoa is also irrigated by the Santiago canal and various streams, including: the Cortadera, Aguacate, Aguas Largas and Laja.

Other notable geographic features along the coast are, from north to south, Guayanés point, the port of Yabucoa, Quebrada Honda point and Yeguas point.

According to Brother Iñigo Abbad, in 1772 the 34,100 cuerdas in the territory that we know today as Yabucoa belonged to the residents of Humacao. These lands were dedicated to cattle and hog ranches. It is believed that Yabucoa was founded on October 3, 1793 when Captain General Francisco Torralbo was interim governor.

The land for the settlement was donated by Manuel Colón de Bonillas and his wife, Catalina Morales Pacheco. In 1794, a church was built and devoted to the guardian angels. The same year, construction was begun on the municipal jail, which was completed in 1813.

On July 25, 1825, the Santa Ana hurricane almost completely destroyed the town, except for the Nuestra Señora de los Angeles church, the site used as a refuge by residents during the storm. In 1828, the governor of the island, Miguel de la Torre, ordered construction of the Kings House.

In 1847, Yabucoa had only three public buildings: the church, the Kings House and a butcher shop. There was also a public school, attended by twenty students. In 1898, there were seven public schools and three private schools.

Yabucoa also had sugar mills and plantations. Among them were La Rosario plantation, owned by the firm Gómez, Méndez y Cía., and the Central Mercedita sugar mill, which was purchased by Antonio Roig in 1927 and was later known as the Central Roig sugar mill. This mill later was bought by the Puerto Rico Sugar Corp. in 1998 and ceased operations in 2000.

In the early 20th century, the main economic activity in Yabucoa was the cheese industry. By the middle of the 1970s, there were five first-class dairies. At the same time, there were also 35 tobacco farms. During this era, the economy of Yabucoa depended mainly on the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company’s cigarette factory, and refining petroleum, with the Sun Oil petrochemical plant operating in Yabucoa. It was later acquired by Shell Chemicals.

Today, in addition to those industries, there is the Olein Recovery Corp., a plant that recycles oil. Cattle and hog farming, and growing fruits, are also part of the economy.


The flag  of Yabucoa contains the colors of the municipal coat of arms: purple, white and green.

Coat of Arms
The municipality  is the only one on the island with the guardian angels as the patron saint. The angels are illustrated on the coat of arms. The purple background represents the dignity of the angels. The staffs or walking sticks are symbols of the role of the guardian angels as guides and companions to humankind in their time on earth. They are finished with flowers that represent the wealth of sugar cane. The green land where the angels stand alludes to the fertile valley where Yabucoa is located.

Hon. Angel S. García de Jesús

Places of Iinterest 

• House of Culture
• Roig Central Sugar Mill
• Guayanés Beach
• Ruins of the Santa Lucía estate

Illustrious Citizens

Antonio Ayuso Valdivieso – Lawyer, journalist, educator and politician. Presided over the Nationalist Party and the newspaper El Imparcial. Recognized as a war correspondent.

Santiago Vidarte – Romantic poet who participated in the Album puertorriqueño (1844) and the Cancionero de Borinquén (1846).

Alfonso Lastra Chárriez – Politician, senator, representative and delegate to the first Pro Independence Congress.

Nydia M. Velázquez – The first woman to be elected to the New York City Council.


• Sugar Cane Festival – May
• Beach Festival – May
• Festival del Carmen – July
• Patron Saint Festival – October
• Campesino Festival – October
• Jíbaro de Martorell Festival – December



Text taken from enciclopediapr.org



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