Monument to chief Mabocadama

Monument to chief Mabocadama

Isabela is located on the north coast of Puerto Rico and has an area of 144.57 square kilometers (55.82 square miles). It is also known as “the garden of the northwest,” ” los gaillos” (the young roosters) and “the town of quesitos de hoja” (traditional Puerto Rican white string cheese). According to the 2000 census, there are 44,444 Isabelinos living in the wards of Pueblo, Arenales Altos, Arenales Bajos, Bajura, Bejuco, Coto, Galateo Alto, Galateo Bajo, Guayabos, Guerrero, Jobos, Llanadas, Moras, and Planas. The patron saint of Isabela is Saint Anthony of Padua.

Isabela’s present economy is based on tourism and high technology manufacturing industries. Cattle ranching and agriculture contribute moderately, most significantly in Jobos, where cassava root is grown. Fishing is the primary economic activity in the coastal region.


The town of Isabela is in the northern coastal plains. It is bordered on the north by the Atlantic Ocean, on the south by the town of San Sebastián, on the east by Quebradillas, and on the west by Aguadilla and Moca. The southern region is rimmed by the Aymamón Mountains, which are an extension of the Jaicoa range. This mountainous zone includes La Bandera, with an elevation of 1,207 feet (368 meters), La Silla, at 1,106 feet (337 meters), El Sombrero, at 1,083 feet (330 meters), El Indio, at 1,017 feet (310 meters), and El Monte Encantado, at 919 feet (280 meters) above sea level. The the central region rises no higher than 656 feet (200 meters) above sea level, with altitudes becoming increasingly lower toward the coast, where the La Vega (between Galateo Alto and Arenales Altos wards) and Las Cotorras (Galateo Alto) valleys lie. Karst topography features include towers, sinkholes, and caves. There are several caves in Coto ward, including are La Cueva del Tunel, La Cueva del Colo, and La Cueva del Goyo.

Isabela’s hydrographic system is principally comprised of the Guajataca River, which runs along the eastern region of the town, creating the border with Quebradillas. The tributary of this river is a brook called La Sequía. The Los Cedros and Del Toro brooks flow directly into the ocean. The principal coastal features are points Sardinas and Jacinto.

San Antonio de la Tuna hermitage

San Antonio de la Tuna hermitage

The origins of Isabela can be traced to the establishment of indigenous groups in the region, the most noteworthy of which was the chiefdom of cacique Mabodomaca. Later, a cattle farm called San Antonio de la Tuna was located in this area, on the banks of the Río Guajataca. Around 1725, governor José Antonio de Mendizábal y Azares authorized the organization of a settlement in the area. It is believed that at the time of this settlement the region was already home to a shrine in honor of Saint Anthony and a small outlying village. By the end of the eighteenth century, according to Fray Iñigo Abbad y Lasierra, the town already had a church, more than 60 dwellings, and close to 1,200 inhabitants throughout the territory. Its primary economic activity was cattle ranching.

In about 1818, neighboring communities granted Pablo Corchado the authority to request Governor Salvador Meléndez’s permission to move the population to a new location, closer to the coast, which would be given the name Isabela, in honor of Queen Isabel of Castile. Meléndez approved the request and the new town was founded on May 21, 1819. Sugar cane, coffee, tobacco, and produce were cultivated at the new location.



The flag of Isabela bears three horizontal stripes of equal width. The upper and lower stripes are yellow and the middle stripe is green.

Coat of arms

The coat of arms is divided horizontally into three parts. The background of the upper and lower segments is golden yellow, and the central segment is an olive green. The golden color represents the Taino Indians who inhabited the region and utilized gold. The green symbolizes the Arcaico and Ignerí Indians, indigenous groups who preceded the Taínos. The top section of the coat of arms bears two fighting cocks, alluding to bravery. In the center section is a bell flanked by two prickly pear cactus plants. These characterize the ancient hermitage of Saint Anthony of Padua. The bottom section bears the figure of a horse, depicting Isabela’s famous paso fino horses and the rich ranching heritage of the region. The coat of arms is crowned by a castle with three turrets, symbol of the status as a town.

City Hall

City Hall

1819-1820 Gabriel Vélez Borrero
1820-1821 Domingo Quijano
1821-1822 Francisco de Nieves
1823 Manuel Corchado, Feliciano Román
1824 Silvestre de Albar
1825 Nicolás Nogués
1826 Silvestre de Albar, Diego López
1826-1827 Juan E. González
1827 Pablo Gómez
1827-1828 Juan E. González
1828-1829 José N. Escamez
1829-1831 Tomás de la Concha
1832-1833 Miguel López
1834-1835 Antonio J. Porrata
1836-1837 Martín Juarbe
1837-1839 José C. Zeno
1840-1841 Juan R. Ramírez de Arellano
1841 José Vendrell
1842-1843 José Anacleto Avilés
1844 José de Castro
1845-1846 José Anacleto Avilés
1846 Martín Juarbe
1846-1848 Felipe Bonilla
1848-1849 Juan José Milán, Vicente de Ayala Cáceres
1849-1851 Ramón Díaz
1851-1852 Juan R. Aguirre
1852-1855 Antolín Nin Capacete
1855-1858 José Vicente Boscana
1858 Carlos Garavaín
1859 Diego Arteaga
1859 – 1861 Carlos Garavaín
1861-1863 Froilán Santana
1864-1866 Francisco Gutiérrez
1866-1868 Manuel García Gaona
1868-1869 Antonio Montenegro Fuentes
1869-1870 Eduardo de Andino
1870 Claudio Llamas
1870-1871 Buenaventura Balber
1871 Carlos de la Rosa
1871-1872 Manuel M. Liceaga
1872 Juan García, Ramón Santaella
1872-1873 Francisco Pino
1873 Angel García Martín, José E. Geigel, José F. Gandia
1873-1874 Juan M. Doménech
1874 Manuel M. Liceaga, Zenón Serrano
1874-1875 Buenaventura Balber
1876 Nicandro García Morales
1876 – 1879 Buenaventura Balber
1879-1884 Francisco A. Pino
1884 José E. Cuevas y Antonio Géigel Paredes
1884-1885 Diego González Guevara
1885-1897 Joaquín de Alarcón Gimeno
1897-1899 Antonio Géigel Paredes
1899-1905 Osvaldo E. de la Rosa
1901 José L. Rafols, Felipe Alfaro
1901 – 1905 Osvaldo E. de la Rosa
1905-1913 Lino García Camacho
1913-1944 Ramón Banuchi, Lino García Camacho
1945-1956 Justo Méndez Cabrera
1957-1958 Rafael A. Guevara
1958-1965 Vicente Corchado Colón
1965-1981 Juan Hernández Ortiz
1981-1984 Augusto Pagán Moya
1984-1988 Angel Luis Crespo González
1988- 2000 Carmelo Pérez Rivera
2000- currently Carlos Delgado Altieri

Jobos beach

Jobos beach

Hon. Carlos “Charlie” Delgado-Altieri

Places of Interest 

• Guajataca State Forest
• Cara del Indio (Limestone sculpture resembling an indigenous man’s face)
• Cara del Indio – Pastillo Beach
• El Brujo natural pool
• Jacinto natural pool
• Sculpture of Chief Mabodamaca
• Saint Anthony of Padua Church
• Manuel Corchado y Juarbe recreational plaza
• Guajataca Square
• Jobos Beach
• Montones Beach
• Sardinera Beach
• Shacks Beach
• Ruins of the Saint Anthony de la Tuna shrine
• Guajataca Tunnel
• City Hall,
• Parish house

Illustrious Citizens

Manuel Corchado y Juarbe
 – lawyer, abolitionist, and writer. He was president of the Liberal Reformist Party and the Puerto Rico Atheneum. He publised poetry, essays, and plays. His most renowned works include a book of poetry, Un beso (1881), an essay, Las barricadas (1870), and a play, El capitán Correa.

Noel Estrada – musician and composer. Author of the famous song, En mi Viejo San Juan.

Vicente Géigel-Polanco 
– lawyer, poet, essayist, and journalist. He contributed work to such newspapers such as El ImparcialLa DemocraciaEl Mundo, and Puerto Rico Ilustrado, among others, and he was director of el Diario de Puerto Rico. He was president of the Puerto Rico Atheneum (1939 – 1941) and member of the Institute of Puerto Rican Literature and the Puerto Rican Academy of History. Géigel was Attorney General of Puerto Rico and director of the Division of Economic and Social Research of the Department of Labor, as well as a university professor. He was a member of the Liberal Party, the Popular Democratic Party (by which he was elected senator at large in 1940 and 1944) and a member of the Puerto Rican Independence Party. Among his writings are a book of poetry, Canto al amor infinito (1962) and the prose piece El despertar de un pueblo (1942).

Esther M. Melón 
– university professor and writer of numerous literary works.

Santiago Polanco-Abreu 
– born in Bayamón, raised in Isabela. Member of the House of Representatives (1948 -1964), over which he presided from 1963 to 1964. He was a delegate of the Constituent Assembly (1951), resident commissioner in Washington (1965 –1969), and Popular Democratic Party candidate for governor in 1968. Journalist, essayist, and poet.

• Three Kings day – January
• Isabela Cock Fight Festival – February
• Textile Festival – May
• Patron Saint Anthony of Padua Festival – June
• Holy Innocents’ Day– December
• Caroling “Escuadrón” (Marina) – December
• Caroling “Siempreviva” (Marina) – January

Note: These articles have been edited and checked by academics and specialists in History. Discrepancies may exist among historians regarding some data.


Author: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: September 07, 2010.

Images Gallery of Isabela

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