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Municipio Autónomo de Cataño
Town and Municipality
Aerial view of Cataño
Aerial view of Cataño
Flag of Cataño
Coat of arms of Cataño
Coat of arms
"El Pueblo Que Se Negó a Morir", "La Antesala de la Capital", "El Pueblo Olvidado" "La Ciudad de un Nuevo Amanecer"
Anthem: "Cataño"
Map of Puerto Rico highlighting Cataño Municipality
Map of Puerto Rico highlighting Cataño Municipality
Commonwealth  Puerto Rico
Founded July 1, 1927
 • Total 7.04 sq mi (18.23 km2)
 • Land 4.8 sq mi (12.5 km2)
 • Water 2.21 sq mi (5.73 km2)
 • Total 23,155
 • Density 3,289.7/sq mi (1,270.2/km2)
Demonym(s) Catañeses
Time zone UTC−4 (AST)
ZIP Codes
00962, 00963
Area code(s) 787/939
Major routes PR urban primary 5.svg PR urban primary 165.svg PR urban primary 167.svg Ellipse sign 24.svg
Toll plate yellow.svg
PR primary 22.svg

Cataño is a town and municipality located on the northern coast of Puerto Rico, bordering the San Juan Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, and adjacent to the north and east by San Juan; north of Bayamón and Guaynabo; east of Toa Baja and west of Guaynabo and is part of the San Juan Metropolitan Area. Cataño is spread over 7 barrios and Cataño Pueblo (the downtown area and the administrative center of the city). It is part of the San Juan-Caguas-Guaynabo Metropolitan Statistical Area.


Hernando de Cataño was chosen to offer his medical services in Puerto Rico during Francisco Bahamonde de Lugo's tenure as Governor of Puerto Rico (1564–1568). He was one of the first physicians that arrived at Puerto Rico during its colonization and, upon accepting his position, received as payment a piece of land across the San Juan islet. From that time, the region started to be recognized by the name of its original owner. As people started establishing in the area, Cataño was declared as a barrio of Bayamón. However, there wasn't much success in the town's development during this years due to its swamp-like terrain. Still, around 1690, a hermitage was established to allow residents to receive religious services without having to travel to Bayamón.

Houses in the slum area known as El Fangitto (The Mud) in San Juan, Puerto Rico
Houses in the slum area known as El Fangitto (The Mud) in San Juan, Puerto Rico

In the middle of the 19th century, a transport company was founded to facilitate the transportation of merchandise and passengers through the San Juan Bay. This spurted a growth in the population of Cataño, transforming it into one of the most prosperous barrios of Bayamón. Still, attempts to separate themselves from Bayamón on 1839 were unsuccessful. On June 26, 1893, Bishop Antonio Puig y Montserrat separated the barrios of Cataño, Palo Seco, and Palmas from Bayamón's parish and established an independent parish for the residents of these sectors. In 1927, Cataño was officially declared a municipality with the name "Hato de Palmas de Cataño", which was simply shortened to Cataño.

Politics also played a crucial part in the foundation of the town, since Bayamón was controlled by an administration with opposing ideologies to those of the island's Legislature. The separation of Cataño from Bayamón was a strategy to weaken that opposition.

With only five square miles of territory (12.5 km2), Cataño is the smallest municipality in Puerto Rico. It is less than half the size of Hormigueros, the next-smallest in area.



The flag consists of nine horizontal stripes: four blue stripes and five white stripes (substituting for the silver color on the coat of arms). A white and green band traverses diagonally the drape in all its extension, from the upper hoist to the lower fly.

The green color represents the palm trees that are also present in the coat of arms. The flag was officially adopted during José Alvarez Brunet tenure as mayor on September 5, 1974.

Coat of Arms

The Coat Of Arms of Cataño consists of the same nine horizontal stripes of same the width: four blue and five silver. The colors of the coat and the flag represent the coat of arms of the family of Don Hernando de Cataño, an Hidalgo to whom the town owes its name. The color silver represents nobility and the color blue was used by hidalgos on their armories. It symbolizes royalty and serenity.

On top of the coat of arms, there's a crown with three towers distinct of others coat of arms. The coat itself is surrounded by two green palm trees, an allusion to one of the original names of the town: Hato de las Palmas de Cataño.


Aside of its name, derived from its original owner, Cataño has several nicknames. The city is known as "La Antesala de la Capital" (the Foyer of the Capital) because of its location across the bay from the capital of Puerto Rico, the city of San Juan. Also back in the sixties and before, jokingly the residents of Catano called it "Fanguito Town" because of the many muddy streets.


Cataño consists mostly of flat plains that belong to the Northern region of Puerto Rico. Its northern shore falls on the San Juan Bay of the Atlantic Ocean.



The town of Cataño is divided itself into several barrios or districts:

  • Cataño Pueblo
  • Palmas
  • Juana Matos
  • Cucharillas
  • Las Vegas
  • Puente Blanco
  • Bahía
  • Vista al Morro
  • Marina Bahía
  • Bay View


View of the San Juan Bay from the Cataño shore.
Monumento a Cultura Taina Cataño
Monument to Taino Culture in Cataño. It is part of a pedestrian walk which faces the San Juan Bay.


One of the main tourist attractions in Cataño is the boardwalk or "Tablado" that commands a view of the San Juan Bay, including views of Fort San Felipe del Morro on the opposing side. There are several monuments and sculptures along the boardwalk, including a monument to taíno culture called "India Taína".

The Bacardi Distillery also offers tours of its facilities to visitors that want to see and learn about the rum manufacturing industry in the island and the Caribbean.

Christopher Columbus statue

The town gained notoriety in 1998, when Mayor Edwin Rivera Sierra traveled to Russia and acquired a huge statue of Christopher Columbus called "Birth of the New World". The statue Columbus by Tsereteli was designed by artist Zurab Tsereteli and would measure 350 feet (110 m) when erected. Tsereteli had offered the statue to the United States as a gift in 1992 with the intention to use it for the celebrations of the 500th year of its voyage. However, the United States rejected it.

The transportation of the statue from Russia to Cataño cost $2.4 million. After arriving at the island, the 2,700 bronze pieces of the statue were scattered in a terrain awaiting for funds for the project, but Rivera Sierra was unable to garner enough public support and funding for it. Allegedly, there's an agreement to erect the statue in the city of Mayagüez instead, for the celebration of the 2010 Central American and Caribbean Games.


Although Cataño hosts all professional sports team, there are several important sports facilities located in the town, including the Perucho Cepeda Stadium, the Pedro Rodríguez Gaya Boxing Colisseum, and the Cosme Beitía Salamo Colisseum.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1930 8,504
1940 9,719 14.3%
1950 19,865 104.4%
1960 25,208 26.9%
1970 26,459 5.0%
1980 26,243 −0.8%
1990 34,587 31.8%
2000 30,071 −13.1%
2010 28,140 −6.4%
2020 23,155 −17.7%
U.S. Decennial Census
1930-1950 1960-2000 2010 2020

Despite its small size, Cataño has a large population when compared to municipalities of similar areas. This is perhaps due to its location near the capital of San Juan. The population, according to the 2000 census, was 30,071 with a population density of 6,014.2 people per square mile (2,313.1/km2). Although the current population is almost the double of what it was in the 1950 census, the current census reflects a small decrease of inhabitants.

As a whole, Puerto Rico is populated mainly by people from a Mulatto (Of African and European descent) and European descent, with small groups of African and Asian people. Statistics taken from the 2000 census shows that 66.9% of Catañenses have Spanish or White ancestry, 8.6% are black, 0.8% are Amerindian etc.

Race - Cataño, Puerto Rico - 2000 Census
Race Population  % of Total
White 20,427 67.9%
Black/African American 2,279 7.6%
American Indian and Alaska Native 226 0.8%
Asian 58 0.2%
Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 7 0.0%
Some other race 1,839 6.1%
Two or more races 5,235 17.4%


PARTIAL ELEVATION OF NORTHWEST PARAPET - Puente Blanco Bridge, Spanning Mosquito Control Channel, Barrio Palmas neighborhood, Catano, Catano Municipio, PR
Puente Blanco Bridge, Barrio Palmas neighborhood, Cataño, Cataño Municipio, PR

Puerto Rico Highway 22 provides access to Cataño from San Juan or from other adjacent towns. Like most other towns in the island, it has a public transportation system consisting of public cars. Taxis are also available around the town.

Cataño also has a ferry service known as La Lancha de Cataño, or the Ferry of Cataño. The ferry service, which has been working since 1853, operates a five-minute harbor route between Cataño and Old San Juan, and vice versa daily. There is a large ferry terminal at Cataño, and tourists can enjoy the view of the Castillo del Morro and the large cruise ships docked at the old San Juan terminal during this journey.

There are 16 bridges in Cataño.


PR BacardiCathedralOfRum
Bacardi factory, located in Cataño

Due to its location, Cataño has always played an important role as a port to the island. Fishing has also been a main source of economy for centuries. Bacardi, one of the largest rum manufacturers of the world, has a distillery in Cataño.

Other industries established in the town are refineries, commerce companies, transport and logistics, among others.


Cataño has several public and private schools managed by the Puerto Rico Department of Education.

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