San Juan is the capital city and most-populous municipality in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, an unincorporated territory of the United States. As of the 2010 census, it is the 46th-largest city under the jurisdiction of the United States, with a population of 395,326.
In 1508, Juan Ponce de León founded the original settlement which he called Caparra, directly to the west of the modern municipality of San Juan. San Juan was founded by Spanish colonists in 1521, who called it Ciudad de Puerto Rico.
San Juan, as a settlement of the Spanish Empire, was used by merchant and military ships traveling from Spain as the first stopover in the Americas. Because of its prominence in the Caribbean, a network of fortifications was built to protect the transports of gold and silver from the New World to Europe.
Several historical buildings are located in San Juan; among the most notable are the city’s former defensive forts, Fort San Felipe del Morro and Fort San Cristóbal.
Today, San Juan is Puerto Rico’s most important seaport and is the island’s financial, cultural, and tourism center.
Plaza del Quinto Centenario (Quincentennial Square) was built in 1992 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s discovery of the Americas. The centerpiece of the square is a 40-feet tall monument, known as El Totem, designed by Puerto Rican artist Jaime Suárez. El Totem is made of clay brought from all over the Americas to signify the origins of the people inhibiting the continent.