Local Information


General Information

Puerto Rico itself offers miles upon miles of white sand beaches, an unbelievable rainforest and mountains. As one of the oldest and most diversified cultures in the world, Puerto Rico is a vibrant, modern, bilingual, multicultural society, one that has been molded by Spanish, African, Indian and U.S. influences. With 21st century conveniences in an alluring 16th historical setting, both ultramodern and bewitchingly exotic, Puerto Rico is truly the Island of Enchantment. San Juan is the capital and most populous municipality in Puerto Rico. As of the 2000 census, it has a population of 433,733, making it the 42nd largest city under the jurisdiction of the United States. San Juan was founded by Spanish colonists in 1521, who called it Ciudad de Puerto Rico (“Rich Port City”). Puerto Rico’s capital is the second oldest Europeanestablished city in the Americas, after Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic. 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 Cristobál, and La Fortaleza, the oldest executive mansion in continuous use in the Americas.

Today, San Juan is one of Puerto Rico’s most important seaports, and is the island’s manufacturing, financial, cultural, and tourism center. The population of the Metropolitan Statistical Area, including San Juan and the municipalities of Bayamón, Guaynabo, Cataño, Canóvanas, Caguas, Toa Alta, Toa Baja, Carolina and Trujillo Alto, is about 2 million inhabitants; thus, about half the population of Puerto Rico now lives and works in this area. San Juan is also a principal city of the San Juan-Caguas-Fajardo Combined Statistical Area. The city has been the host of numerous important events within the sports community, including the 1979 Pan American Games, 1966 Central American and Caribbean Games, 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classics and the Caribbean Series.

Originally, the city of San Juan was called Puerto Rico and the entire island was called San Juan. The capital and the island’s names were later accidentally switched.


San Juan Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (IATA: SJU, ICAO: TJSJ) is a public airport located in Carolina, 3 miles (14 km) southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico. It is the island’s main international gateway, and its main connection to the mainland United States. The airport serves as the Caribbean hub for American Airlines and American Eagle.

Banks and Exchange Offices

Regular banking hours are Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 3:30pm, although many branches have extended hours. ATM machines (called ATH in Puerto Rico) are readily available and accept many United States cards. International cards like American Express, Carte Blanche, Diner’s Club, Discover, Visa and Master Card are widely accepted for accommodations, dining and shopping.


The climate of Puerto Rico falls into a tropical climate zone and therefore the temperatures are moderate all year round. Between winter and summer, there is only a temperature swing of around 6 °F (3.3 °C). In August the maximum temperatures average at 89 °F (31.7 °C) and the minimum temperature averages at 77 °F (25.0 °C). Easterly trade winds pass across the island year round. Puerto Rico has a rainy season which stretches from April into November.


As Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the United States, the official currency is the United States dollar (USD). The dollar is often referred to as the “peso”. Bank notes are available in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 Dollars, and coins in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25 Cents.

Culture and Entertainment

Should the schedule allow there is much to discover in San Juan, before, during or after the Congress. The culture of Puerto Rico is the result of a number of international and indigenous influences, both past and present. Modern cultural manifestations showcase the island’s rich history and help to create an identity which is a melting pot of cultures – Taíno (Native Indian), Spanish, African, Other Europeans, Asians, Middle Easteners, and North American.


Electric current in Puerto Rico is United Standards 110 and 120 volts AC, and the outlets take the same two prong plugs found in the United States. Appliances designed to operate 220 V/50 Hz need a voltage converter and a plug adapter. International adaptors can be found in the major electric shops as well as airports.

Emergency Numbers

Should you require to contact the emergency services in Puerto Rico (police, ambulance or fire) the number to dial is 911. If there is no 911 service, the contact numbers that can be used are:

Police: 787-343-2020
Ambulance: 787-343-2222
Fire Department: 787-343-2330

Food and Drink

Puerto Rican cooking is somewhat similar to Spanish, Cuban and Mexican cuisine, it is a unique tasty blend of Spanish, African, Taíno, and American influences, using such indigenous seasonings and ingredients as coriander, papaya, cacao, nispero, apio, plantains and yampee. Locals call their cuisine “cocina criolla” (creole cuisine). The mingling flavours and ingredients passed from generation to generation among the various ethnic groups that have settled on the island, have produced the exotic blend of today’s Puerto Rican cuisine.

Tap water is safe to drink in Puerto Rico, but when heading out to urban centres, it would be wise to drink from bottled water.

Health and Medicare

Health standards in Puerto Rico are generally comparable with those of the United States, its medical facilities are among the finest in the Caribbean. There are physicians and hospitals in all cities. For further information, contact the “Departamento de Salud” (Department of Health) at 787-766-1616.


Participants are advised to arrange adequate travel and medical insurance, as the Congress Organisers cannot cover persons against cancellations of bookings, medical treatment or theft of belongings.


Both English and Spanish are the official languages of Puerto Rico, although Spanish is without a doubt the island’s dominant language. Approximately one quarter of the population speaks English, but with limited capability. English, however, is required in all federal matters and is spoken in all major tourist areas, it is also studied by all in the education system.


Shoppers from the Caribbean and beyond are drawn to metropolitan San Juan, Plaza Las Americas in Hato Rey is the largest shopping mall in the Carribean, containing 190 stores, including J.C. Penney’s, Sears, Macy’s and dozens of smaller stores for clothing, gifts, electronics, cosmetics, etc. Other commercial centres on the island include Plaza Carolina, Rio Hondo in Bayamon, The Outlets in Canovanas, Prime Outlets in Barceloneta and Plaza del Caribe in Ponce.

Opening Hours

Most commercial businesses operate from 08.30hrs to 17.00hrs Monday to Friday. Government offices are open 8:30hrs to 16.30hrs. Opening hours for shops and supermarkets in the centres are normally from 9.00hrs to 21.00hrs.


The smoking ban is effective in Puerto Rico, therefore it is illegal to smoke indoors and this ban covers most indoor public spaces, including bars, restaurants, hotel lobbies and casinos. Violators face fines of up to $250 for a first offense. This ban is also extended to smoking in cars with children under the age of thirteen.

Taxes and Tipping

Puerto Rico has a 7% Sales & Use Tax. There is an 11% tax on room charges in hotels with casinos and 9% on hotels without casinos. As in the U.S. mainland, a 15% to 20% tip is customary. Some hotels and hotel restaurants add a 15% to 17% service charge to the total bill.


Special tourist taxis are ideal for travelling toward the hotels and sights and can be easily distinguished by their white colour and the logo on their side. These operate on a zone system, which means that certain taxis run only in certain areas, ensuring that travellers are able to establish flat-rate fares to their destination. Vacationers who are interested in seeing other areas of the island should have no problem finding a non-zoned taxi, which are all universally metered. Travellers visiting with young children could bring their own child safety seats from home or could rent them while in Puerto Rico, as it is against the law to ride without one, and taxis will not provide seats for their smallest passengers.

Telephone and Postal Services

Mobile coverage is almost 100% in the San Juan area. When calling Puerto Rico from abroad please dial +1 followed by the area code and the number required. When calling abroad from Puerto Rico please dial 011 plus the country code followed by the area code and phone number.

Puerto Rico is part of the USPS (US Postal System) and has the same mail rates: 28¢ for a postcard and 44¢ for a first-class letter for mail sent within Puerto Rico and mainland United States.

Time Zone

Puerto Rico is on Atlantic Standard (AST), which is one hour later (+1) than Eastern Standard Time (EST) and four hours earlier (-4) than Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Puerto Rico does not observe Daylight Savings Time.


The IFLA World Library and Information Congress 2011, 77th IFLA General Conference and Assembly (IFLA 2011) and/ or its agent Congrex UK Ltd and/or its agents have the right to immediately alter or cancel, without prior notice, the Congress or any of the arrangements relating directly or indirectly to IFLA 2011 due to reasons beyond their control. The IFLA World Library and Information Congress 2011, 77th IFLA General Conference and Assembly (IFLA 2011) and/ or its agent Congrex UK Ltd and/or its agents shall not be liable for any loss, damage expenditure or inconvenience caused as a result of such alterations or cancellations.

Last update: 26 May 2011