tronghold and a significant port for Spanish Main colonial expansion. Various forts and walls, such as La Fortaleza, El Castillo San Felipe del Morro and El Castillo de San Cristóbal, were built to protect the strategic port of San Juan from numerous European invasion attempts. San Juan served as an important port-of-call for ships of all European nations for purposes of taking on water, food and other commercial provisions and mercantile exchange.
In 1607, Puerto Rico served as a port provisioning the English ships Godspeed, Susan Constant and Discovery, which were on their way to establish Jamestown, Virginia, the first successful English settlement in the New World. The Netherlands and England made several attempts to capture Puerto Rico but failed to wrest it from the long-term possession by Spain, which held tenaciously onto its increasingly prized island colony.
During the late 17th and early 18th centuries, Spanish colonial emphasis continued to be focussed on the more prosperous mainland North, Central, and South American colonies. This continued distraction on the part of the Spanish Crown left the island of Puerto Rico virtually unexplored, undeveloped, and (excepting coastal outposts) largely unsettled before the nineteenth century. But as independence movements in the larger Spanish colonies grew successful, Spain began to pay attention to Puerto Rico as one of its last remaining maritime colonies. Amidst the attacks, Puerto Rican culture began to flourish. In 1786, the first comprehensive history of Puerto Rico—Historia Geográfica, Civil y Política de Puerto Rico by Fray Iñigo Abbad y Lasierra—was published in Madrid, documenting the history of Puerto Rico from the time of Columbus' landing in 1493 until 1783. The book also presents a first-hand account of Puerto Rican identity, including music, clothing, personality and nationality.
In 1779, citizens of the still-Spanish colony of Puerto Rico fought in the American