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Coamo () is a municipality founded 1579 in the south-central region of Puerto Rico, located north of Santa Isabel; south of Orocovis and Barranquitas; east of Villalba and Juana Díaz; and west of Aibonito and Salinas. Coamo is spread over 10 barrios and Coamo Pueblo – the downtown area and the administrative center of the city. It is both a principal city of the Coamo Micropolitan Statistical Area and the Ponce-Yauco-Coamo Combined Statistical Area. Coamo is a small town nestled in a valley about east of Ponce (about 30 minutes by car). It was named "San Blas Illescas de Coamo" by its first settlers. Saint Blaise (San Blas) was the Catholic saint who remains the town's patron. ''Illescas'' is the Spanish town where the town founders originated (nowadays in Toledo province, Castile-La Mancha, Spain). There are several theories regarding the origin of the word "''Coamo''". Some think it comes from an indigenous word that means "valley" but it is also plausible that Coamo derives its name from ''Coamex'' (or ''Coamey''), who was a celebrated local ''cacique'' (or "chieftain" in the Taino language). Archeological digs near the region have produced some of the best examples of the island's pre-Columbian cultural artifacts. Coamo has a series of natural hot springs, ''Los Baños de Coamo''. The Battle of Coamo was a decisive battle of the Spanish–American War (1898).

History

Founded on July 15, 1579, Coamo is the third-oldest settlement of the island's post-Columbian period (after San Juan in the north and San Germán in the west). By 1582, there were twenty families living in Coamo, in the same area where the Tainos had had their village of Guayama. Coamo officially became a town in 1616, and was given the title of "Villa" by Spanish Royal Decree in 1778. Coamo was the administrative center that encompassed most of the southern half of the island during the early colonial period. As the agricultural and sugar industries grew and became the mainstays of the colony's economy, the province would eventually subdivide into several distinct municipalities, and the administrative center of the region would later shift west to the coastal town of Ponce. Coamo is the home of a series of natural hot springs, ''Los Baños de Coamo'', which have attracted visitors since before the Spaniards landed. These springs were once rumored to have been Juan Ponce de León's legendary "fountain of youth". In the early nineteenth century, a system of pools of varying depths, sizes and temperatures was constructed at the site of these springs to serve as a spa for the colonials. During the North American invasion in the Spanish–American War (1898), this site was the scene of one of the decisive battles of that conflict (the Battle of Coamo). The American troops took possession of the island, and the spa was subsequently abandoned. Though the site lay in ruins for most of the twentieth century, it continued to be a landmark to the ''Coameños'', who would often go to bathe in its healing thermal waters. The pools remain, but the old buildings which once hosted the island's affluent and colonial soldiers are gone, except for the remains of one central wall structure which has been preserved and incorporated into a fountain courtyard on the grounds of a popular tourist hotel and rest stop which has replaced the ancient Spanish ruins. Hurricane Maria on September 20, 2017 triggered numerous landslides in Coamo with the significant amount of rainfall.


Geography


Coamo is located in the South Central region of Puerto Rico.


Barrios


Like all municipalities of Puerto Rico, Coamo is subdivided into barrios. The municipal buildings, central square and large Catholic church are located in a small barrio referred to as , near the center of the municipality. # Coamo Arriba # Coamo barrio-pueblo # Cuyón # Hayales # Los Llanos # Palmarejo # Pasto # Pedro García # Pulguillas # San Ildefonso # Santa Catalina

Sectors

Barrios (which are like minor civil divisions) and subbarrios, in turn, are further subdivided into smaller local populated place areas/units called sectores (''sectors'' in English). The types of ''sectores'' may vary, from normally ''sector'' to ''urbanización'' to ''reparto'' to ''barriada'' to ''residencial'', among others.

Special Communities

(Special Communities of Puerto Rico) are marginalized communities whose citizens are experiencing a certain amount of social exclusion. A map shows these communities occur in nearly every municipality of the commonwealth. Of the 742 places that were on the list in 2014, the following barrios, communities, sectors, or neighborhoods were in Coamo: Zambrana neighborhood, Cuyón, Sector Varsovia in El Cerro, Río Jueyes, and Sector Sabana Hoyo.

Economy



Agriculture

Coamo is an agricultural center where mangoes, corn, guanabanas, tamarindo, quenepas, avocados, oranges and plantains are grown, and where poultry and cattle are raised.

Industry

Coamo is a trading center for machinery, aircraft radio components, and clothing.

Tourism



Landmarks and places of interest

Some of the landmarks of Coamo are: * Los Baños de Coamo (Coamo Thermal Baths) – near the Santa Isabel border * Historic Museum (Pico Pomar Residence) * Church San Blas de Illescas of Coamo, construction on the church began in 1661 and is one of the oldest parish on the island.

Culture



Festivals and events

Coamo celebrates its patron saint festival in February. The is a religious and cultural celebration that generally features parades, games, artisans, amusement rides, regional food, and live entertainment. Other festivals and events celebrated in Coamo include: * San Blas Half Marathon – February * Crafts festival in honor of the flag – June * Coamo Anniversary – July * Concert and lighting of the Christmas tree – December

Sports

Coamo is famous for being the host of the San Blas Half-Marathon, a yearly world-class professional marathon that attracts the best competitive runners in the world. It was inaugurated in 1963 by Delta Phi Delta fraternity in honor to the founder of the town. World-class international and local runners compete in a half-marathon. It is Puerto Rico's biggest race, and the crowds are always large. The Maratonistas de Coamo (from the BSN) is the only professional team which the town hosts. The team has played in Coamo with mixed success since joining the league in 1985.

Demographics



Government

All municipalities in Puerto Rico are administered by a mayor, elected every four years. The current mayor of Coamo is Juan Carlos García Padilla, of the Popular Democratic Party (PPD). He was elected at the 2000 general elections. The city belongs to the Puerto Rico Senatorial district VI, which is represented by two Senators. In 2012, Miguel Pereira Castillo and Angel M. Rodríguez were elected as District Senators.Elecciones Generales 2012: Escrutinio General
on CEEPUR


Transportation

There are 31 bridges in Coamo.

Symbols



Flag

The flag of Coamo derives its colors from the coat of arms. Its colors are red, yellow, and black.

Coat of arms

The top left and the lower right have a red background with a gold Episcopal hat each. These parts of the coat of arms represent the old seat of San Blas de Illescas. The horse and the bull represent the cattle wealth of the population. The gold color that serves as background in contrast with the black color, recalls the yellowish reddish tone of the fields of Coamo during the droughts. The heavy border of the coat of arms contains the following figures: two flames; three bell towers with gold bells outlined in red; two red crosses with arms ending in three petals; and a circle with a surface divided by horizontal blue and silver-plated stripes.

Notable people

Some of its notable people include: * Lely Burgos, Olympic athlete, * Bobby Capó, singer, composer * Margarita Nolasco, senator and Vice-President of the Senate of Puerto Rico * Antonio García Padilla, former President of the University of Puerto Rico * Jose Garriga Pico, former senator * Willie Rosario * Alejandro García Padilla, Governor of Puerto Rico * Victor Caratini, Catcher for the Chicago Cubs

See also

* List of Puerto Ricans * History of Puerto Rico * Did you know-Puerto Rico?

References



Sources

* ''Historia de Coamo'', "La Villa Añeja", Ramon Rivera Bermúdez, 1980.

External links


Coamo and its barrios, United States Census Bureau

Historic Places in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, a National Park Service Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary
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Welcome to Puerto Rico! Coamo

Coamo Municipality on Facebook
{{Authority control Category:Municipalities of Puerto Rico Category:Populated places established in 1579 Category:1579 establishments in the Spanish Empire