Isabela, Puerto Rico

From Academic Kids

The city of Isabela is located on the northwestern most tip of Puerto Rico. It is known as the "Jardín del Noroeste," the "Garden of the Northwest," because of the many wild flowers in its landscape; el "Pueblo de los Quesitos de Hoja", the "town of Leaf Cheeses," (a typical fresh white cheese wrapped in banana plant leaves), because its residents were famous for producing the island's best. It is also known as la "Ciudad de los Gallitos or the "City of the Fighting Cocks." Since the 18th century, cocks fighting was very common throughout the island, and the town became famous and well known for the quality of its fighting cocks and special breeding and training techniques used by its people.



The town was first founded in 1725 by European settlers, most of them Spaniards, near the Guajataca Rivera, and named San Antonio de la Tuna (Tuna is the Spanish name for cactus, in honor of a wild cactus growing in the region.) The town was relocated in the early 1800s and officially renamed Isabela on May 21, 1819, in honor of Queen Isabela of Spain.

Since then, it has continued to thrive. The 2000 U.S. Census revealed it has a population of 41,789.

The town's coat of arms, dated 1819, has two cocks in honor of its reputation, and the cactus.


One of Isabela's main industries is tourism, because it's a coastal city with several beautiful beaches. It is visited by many local tourists as well as those seeking some sun and fun from the States and other countries. Driving time from Luis Munoz Marin International Airport, in San Juan, to Isabela is between 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on the day of the week and time. It's less than an hour's ride from the smaller Rafael Hernandez Airport, in Aguadilla. It borders with the Atlantic Ocean to the North, San Sebastián to the South, Quebradillas to the East, and Aguadilla and Moca to the West.

It has 14 wards (the equivalent of counties): Arenales Alto, Arenales Bajo, Bajuras, Bejuco, Coto, Galateo Alto, Galateo Bajo, Guayabos, Guerrero, Jobos, Llanadas, Mora, and Pueblo.

Aside from tourism, Isabela is also has several small clothing and shoe manufacturing plants, and a major shopping mall, Plaza Isabela.

Professional sports

Isabela has a basket team, the Isabela Bantams ("Gallitos de Isabela"). The team has 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 they star player, Mickey Coll, died in a motorcycle accident. The home team's court is named after him.

The local basketball team is 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 cock fighting 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.


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.

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