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Isabela, Puerto Rico facts for kids

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Municipio de Isabela
Aerial view of Isabela and its coastline
Aerial view of Isabela and its coastline
Flag of Isabela
Coat of arms of Isabela
Coat of arms
"El Jardín del Noroeste", "El Pueblo de los Quesitos de Hoja"
Anthem: "Isabela – Danza "
Map of Puerto Rico highlighting Isabela Municipality
Map of Puerto Rico highlighting Isabela Municipality
Commonwealth  Puerto Rico
Founded 1725
 • Total 91.95 sq mi (238.15 km2)
 • Land 55.36 sq mi (143.39 km2)
 • Water 36.58 sq mi (94.75 km2)
 • Total 42,943
 • Density 467.024/sq mi (180.319/km2)
Demonym(s) Isabelinos
Time zone UTC−4 (AST)
ZIP Code
Area code(s) 787/939
Major routes PR primary 2.svg PR secondary 112.svg PR secondary 119.svg PR secondary 212.svg Ellipse sign 113.svg
Isabela Cathedral
Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic parish church
Surfing in Middle Beach, Isabela
An annual surfing competition is held at Middles Beach

Isabela is a town and municipality of Puerto Rico located in the north-western region of the island, north of San Sebastián; west of Quebradillas; and east of Aguadilla and Moca. It is named in honor of Isabella I of Castile. Isabela is spread over 13 barrios and Isabela Pueblo, which is the downtown area and administrative center. It is a principal part of the Aguadilla-Isabela-San Sebastián Metropolitan Statistical Area.



The chief Mabodamaca, one of the most important chieftains of the Island of Boriken (name for the island of Puerto Rico) during the firsts decades of the 16th century, ruled the region of the 'Guajataca' (Taíno name for the northwestern region of Puerto Rico) where Isabela was founded. Although the actual date of the origins of the first Spanish settlement is not precisely known, a small settlement/hermitage is known to have existed by the end of the 17th century or beginning of the 18th century in a great extension of land into what encompass today the municipalities of Isabela, Camuy and Quebradillas. The settlement bordered to the east with the shoreline of the Guajataca River and was located on the grounds of an earlier Taíno settlement.

Around 1725, José Antonio de Mendizábal y Azares, Governor of the Island of Puerto Rico granted authorization to base a population on the existing hermitage/village. Its given name, San Antonio de La Tuna, derives from the avocation of the Spanish settlers to the saint San Antonio de Padua and in honor of a wild cactus growing in the region (Tuna is the Spanish name for cactus). At the end of the 18th century San Antonio de la Tuna had a church, more than sixty houses, and almost 1,200 inhabitants, which was a considerable population for those times.


Prompted by economic and health factors, the decision to relocate the hermitage to a more favorable location was pursued. Around 1818, the village obtained authorization from then Governor Salvador Meléndez to transfer the population to a new location closer to the coast. . Meléndez approved the transfer request and a new town was founded the following year on May 21, 1819. In this same year the construction of the church began, which finished in 1824. In 1918 the church was damaged during a strong earthquake that affected the western region of the island, it was rebuilt soon after.



  • Arenales Altos
  • Arenales Bajos
  • Bajuras
  • Bejucos
  • Coto
  • Galateo Alto
  • Galateo Bajo
  • Guayabos
  • Guerrero
  • Isabela Pueblo
  • Jobos
  • Llanadas
  • Mora
  • Planas


It could be said that Isabela is a hybrid town of sorts, with the rarity of being a coastline city that has beaches but is also known for its mountains (with peaks of over 1,000 ft [300 m] above sea level), rivers (surface and submarine), lake, caves (surface and submarine), cliffs, coastal flats and forests (Tropical and Mangroves).

Geographically, the municipality of Isabela belongs to the Northern Coastal Plains. Running through the south, the Aymamón mountains, a prolongation of the Jaicoa Mountain Range that begins in the neighboring town of Aguadilla, boasts peaks of over 1,000 feet (300 m) above sea level. The most prominent hills that are part of these mountains are La Bandera (Galateo Alto ward) at 1,207 ft (368 m); La Silla (Arenales Alto ward) at 1,106 ft (337 m); El Sombrero (in Galateo Alto) at 1,083 feet (330 m); Indio (Planas ward) at 1,017 feet (310 m); and Monte Encantado (in Arenales Altos) at 919 feet (280 m) of elevation above sea level. The central part of the territory, which consists mostly of flatlands, the mountains does not surpass 656 feet (200 m) of height; the coastline flats (Bajuras), is slightly above sea level.


One of present Isabela's main industries is tourism, because it's a coastal city with several beautiful beaches, outstanding panoramic views and other diverse attractions such as its rainforest, rivers, lake, cordillera mountains, submarine rivers and caves and archaeological sites among others. It is visited by many local tourists as well as those seeking some sun and fun from the United States and other countries.

Landmarks and places of interest

  • El Pozo Brujo (The Bewitched Well)
  • Jobos Beach & Pozo de Jacinto
  • Montones Beach
  • San Antonio de la Tuna Ruins
  • Punta Sardina
  • La Poza de Punta Sandina
  • La Princesa Beach & Blow Hole
  • Centro Empresarial Playero - Villa Pesquera
  • Shacks Beach
  • Río Guajataca
  • Guajataca Tunnel
  • La Cara del Indio (The Indian's Face)
  • La Posita de Teodoro
  • Middle Beach
  • La Posita de Montones
  • Casa Parroquial
  • Parroquia San Antonio de la Tuna
  • La Posita de la Princesa
  • Shore Island Beach
  • Paseo Lineal
  • San Antonio de la Tuna Museum
  • La Pocita de Isabela(Poza de Teodoro)
  • La Cueva de las Golondrinas
  • Cueva los Vientos (Bosque Guajataca)
  • Photo Museum of Isabela
  • Alcaldia de Isabela
  • The Pink House (Casa Rosada), (Demolished in 2014 by the Municipality to be transformed into a museum) [1]
  • Bajura Beach also known as Shacks Beach known for the best wind/sail surfing in the world. In front of the Villa Tropical Apartments is the "Blue Hole" Coral Reef. A favorite for snorkelers, scuba and free divers and underwater caverns enthusiasts.


Festivals and events

  • Three King Day Festivities - January 5,6 with the "Reyes Cantores Isabelinos".
  • Isabelino Fighting Cock Festivities - February
  • Weave Festival - May
  • Kite Festival - May
  • Patron Festivities - June
  • Isabela Muscle Cars Auto Show - August
  • Isabela Tango Fest - June - 3 days of Tango.
  • Las Noches de la Puertorriqueñidad - November
  • Feria de Autos Clasicos y Antiguos del Noroeste Inc. - November
  • Isabela Has Flavor - November
  • Innocent Saints Day - December


Isabela is also well known for its world-class surfing spots, and was the host site for two World Cup Surfing Championships in the 20th century.

Isabela had a basketball team that played at the Jose "Buga" Abreu Coliseum, the Isabela Roosters ("Gallitos de Isabela"). The team had average success. In 1987, one of its superstars, Frankie Torruella, was diagnosed with heart disease, and the trading of another star player, Edwin Pellot, to the Coamo team, hastened the team's fallout. In 1984, the team lost the championship, four games to two, to the Canovanas Indians team ("Indios de Canóvanas"). Between the mid-1970s and mid-1980s, the Bantams were serious championship contenders. In the late 1970s their star player, Mickey Coll, died in a motorcycle accident. The first home team's court was named after him. The Bantams where Isabela's home team until October 2005 when they moved the franchise to Guaynabo. The Playeras, a female volleyball team, played in Isabela for 2 seasons until they as well moved to Aguadilla becoming Las Divas.

Isabela have the first Muscle Cars Club in Puerto Rico, is called Isabela Muscle Cars Club. They celebrate their annual event since August 25, 2002, their Auto Show in which unites all the lovers for Classic Cars and Muscle Cars. Is one of the most busy events on town. On August 28, 2016 they celebrate their 15th Anniversary on the famous Coliseum Jose "Buga" Abreu.

The town also have their own classic cars club, called "Club de Autos Clasicos y Antiguos del Noroeste" (Classic and Old Car Club from Northwest). They also celebrate their own Exhibition of Classic Cars on the famous Coliseum on November.

The local basketball team was called the "Gallitos" ("Little Cocks," in reference to the slim, lightweight body of the fighting variety) due to the town's fame for quality fighting cocks. The name was translated literally into English as "Bantams", a variety of dwarf cocks.

The town has a cockfighting arena, traditionally called a "Gallera." Fights are customarily held on Sunday mornings, and the bet and stakes are controlled by the government of Puerto Rico, and pay prizes based on the fighting record of the cocks.

Isabela also has amateur baseball teams. Also Isabela is well known for its Fine Step Horses ("Caballos de Paso Fino") and its world class board, wind and kite surfing spots.



Flag of Isabela
The Isabela Flag

Isabela's flag derives its design, colors and symbolism from its Coat of Arms. It consists of three horizontal stripes of equal width. The top and bottom stripe are yellow and the center one green. The Coat of Arms may be superposed on the green stripe in the center.

Coat of Arms

Isabela PR Seal
The Original Coat of Arms of Isabela

The town's coat of arms, dated 1819, is divided an olive tree in its center, symbolizes the first inhabitants of Isabela and of the island of Puerto Rico, the Igneris Indians. The gold represents the Taíno Indians (they made extensive use of gold), who lived in this area about two hundred years before the discovery of the island. The gold bell represented in the center stripe between two cactus is a symbol of the town of San Antonio de la Tuna. The two cocks represent the bravery of the inhabitants and Isabela's famous fighting cocks. The horse represents the cattle wealth of the region and honors the fine step horses (Paso Fino) for which Isabela is famous. The coat of arms is embellished with a mural crown having three towers, the standard emblem at the time for formally established 'pueblos' (townships) under Spanish rule. A new Coat of Arms is shown here; it depicts a revised mural crown with five towers to represent a city, but historically, only 11 communities in Puerto Rico were conferred this title under Spanish rule.

On the occasion of the celebration of 186 years of Isabela was necessary to adopt an ordinance to establish properly and historical veracity heraldic elements of the emblazoned shield and official seal of the City of Isabela. Next, information drafted pursuant to Ordinance Number 3, series 2005-2006 approved by the Municipal Legislature on August 5, 2005:


"The Mural Crown: Current mural crown that has the coat of Isabela has three towers. Due to population increase of over 50,000 inhabitants who had Isabela in this last decade, the HUD office in Washington DC, conferred status as a "city" to Isabela last year. Given this demographic reality and focused on the mural crown that represents the spirit of unity and growth of the inhabitants of our city of Isabela, we understand appropriate that the crown mural consists of "five" distinct towers that symbolize the passage from town to city."




The early economy of the hermitage had been based mainly on cattle [ranching], its derivative products and hogs products, but trading was limited due to many factors: its inland location and topography. The settlement was posted above a hill overlooking the river (now River Guajataca) which made it difficult to use the river as a trading route, as did the location's propensity to disease and outbreaks.

After the transfer to the present Isabela location the economic realities that resulted from the new land and property opportunities that were readily available, the healthier environment formed due to the wide open plains and prevalent northern winds, and the proximity to the coast and the natural sea port at the bay of Punta Sardina prompted for the diversification of the agricultural products and an increase in trade. The cultivation of sugarcane, coffee, tobacco, cotton, Cassava/yuca, coconut and other fruits was stimulated further. Isabela continued to flourish until recent years due to the island's economic crisis, the closing of important factories and the rising crime rate.


Isabela also has a hi-tech plant, a higher education institution, a world-renowned agricultural research center and a major shopping center, Plaza Isabela.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1900 14,888
1910 16,852 13.2%
1920 19,809 17.5%
1930 23,068 16.5%
1940 25,842 12.0%
1950 29,113 12.7%
1960 28,754 −1.2%
1970 30,430 5.8%
1980 37,435 23.0%
1990 39,147 4.6%
2000 44,444 13.5%
2010 45,631 2.7%
2020 42,943 −5.9%
U.S. Decennial Census
1899 (shown as 1900) 1910–1930
1930–1950 1960–2000 2010 2016 2020

In the 2010 Census, there were 45,631 people in the city. This represents an increase of more than 1,000 from the 2000 Census. The population density was 825.1 inhabitants per square mile (318.6/km2). The 2020 Census indicated the municipality had 42,943 residents a decline of over 3,000.

As a whole, Puerto Rico is populated mainly by people from a Creole (born on the Island of European descent) or Spanish and European descent, with small groups of African and Asian people. Statistics taken from the 2000 census shows that 83.6% of Aguadillanos have Spanish or white origin, 5.0% are black, 0.2% are Amerindian, 0.2% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, 8.2% were Some other race, 2.8% Two or more races.


There are 5 bridges in Isabela.

Notable people

Images for kids

See also

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