On Tuesday, President Trump revealed that he doesn’t know where Puerto Rico is, saying it is “in the middle of an ocean” when it is not.
He was discussing the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on the island. “This is an island sitting in the middle of an ocean — and it’s a big ocean, a really, really big ocean,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
Later in the day, he told the visiting prime minister of Spain the same thing, in discussing the challenges of getting supplies out to the now largely wrecked, utilities-free island. “It’s out in the ocean. You can’t just drive your trucks there,” he said. “This is tough stuff.”
Trump has been heavily criticized for lacking empathy and reacting too slowly to the unfolding humanitarian crisis. A week after the hurricane hit, 97% of Puerto Rico’s residents are without power, and food is running out.
So, where is Puerto Rico on the world map?
Puerto Rico is not in the middle of the ocean, the Atlantic or otherwise. Its eastern edge is 550 miles away from the Atlantic Ocean.
The unincorporated territory of the U.S. is in the northeastern Caribbean Sea, about 1,033 miles or a two-and-a-half-hour flight from Miami.
Puerto Rico is about 3,791 sq km in size, or about three times the size of Rhode Island.
And Puerto Rico is indeed part of the United States. Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, have U.S. passports and can travel freely between the territory and the mainland U.S. But a recent poll of 2,200 adults found that only 54 percent of those surveyed knew that citizens of Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens.
In the last referendum held in the territory, 97% of Puerto Ricans voted to become a state. Congress would have to approve that, but it’s not on the agenda anytime soon.