San Juan is the capital city of Puerto Rico and has one of the largest metropolitan areas of the Antilles. It is the oldest city under U.S. flag (almost a century older than Jamestown in Virginia). The site was first visited in 1508 by the spaniard Juan Ponce de Leon who later established a settlement called Caparra in 1509 in what now forms part of the municipality of Guaynabo (southwest of Old San Juan). The city location was changed in 1521 to the actual site in an isle called back then Puerto Rico (or what in English means Rich Port). The city name was subsequently changed to San Juan which conformed at the moment the name of the whole colony, and the colony was renamed Puerto Rico. Fortifications for the city began in 1533 due to constant invasions.
Nowadays what used to be a small citadel located west of the isle of San Juan, has extend well into the interior of the island of Puerto Rico in what’s known as the Metropolitan Area. Downtown San Juan is better known as Hato Rey, the banking district of the city. Building height has been restricted due to air traffic from near airports, possibilities of major earthquakes and by the dangers posed by its location, prone to hurricanes. Old San Juan is a tourist mecca and home to a busy seaport. The city is currently experiencing a renaissance, with a new state-of-the-art convention center being constructed, as well as a new metro rail system set to open in 2004. The city economy is now based on trade, manufacturing, government, and tourism.