Sugar cane played a fundamental role in the development of Salinas. The cane was processed in the Aguirre Central sugar mill, one of the last to cease operations on the island. Today, Salinas has factories that produce plastic and metal products, electrical and electronic equipment, clothing, fruit drinks and frames for lenses and eyeglasses. Other industries include fruit orchards, raising livestock, and fishing. Tourism is another source of income for the municipality.
Salinas is located on the southern coast of Puerto Rico. It is bordered on the north by the municipalities of Coamo, Aibonito and Cayey, on the south by the Caribbean Sea, on the west by the municipalities of Coamo and Santa Isabel and on the east by Guayama.
Geographically, Salinas is part of the sub-region called the Ponce-Patillas alluvial plain in the southern coastal plain region, which is formed by the consolidation of the valleys that descend southward from the central mountain range and the Cayey range. This region is one of the driest in Puerto Rico. Despite that, Salinas is known for its agricultural wealth.
In the north, it has elevations that are part of the Cayey range, which many consider to be an extension of the central mountain range. The highest of these are Las Tetas peaks, at 2,756 feet (840 meters) above sea level. The next highest peaks are Los Soldados at 2,592 feet (790 meters), the highest point in the Jájome mountains at 2,395 feet (730 meters) and Los Cielos peak, which rises to 1,870 feet (570 meters) in elevation.
To the west, on the border with the municipality of Coamo, are the peaks of Modesto, Respaldo, Pío Juan and Cariblanco, or Cerro de la Bandera. To the east, on the border between the Quebrada Yeguas sector of Salinas and the Pozo Hondo sector of Guayama, rises the Garau peak at 438 meters (1,437 feet) above sea level.
A geological formation in Salinas is Las Piedras del Collado (The Stones of the Pass), popularly known as the Tetas de Cayey. This area was designated a nature reserve by law in September 2000. The designated area includes the two promontories, a segment of primary forest with species of significant ecological value, and a buffer zone, for a total area of 7.86 hectares.
The municipality's hydrological system consists of the Salinas, Majada, Lapa and Jueyes rivers. The Salinas River forms in the Lapa sector and runs for 17 kilometers (10.5 miles) until it empties into the Caribbean Sea. Its tributaries are the Lapa River, which forms from the Pasto Viejo, Callao and La Palma streams, and the Majada River, which has as a tributary the Jájome River and is fed by the Carmen, Del Palo and De la Mina streams. The Jueyes River originates between Salinas and Coamo and is approximately 13 kilometers in length. Also within the municipality are the Brenes, Yeguas, Cerrillos, Amorós and Aguas Verdes streams. The last two of these form in the Aguirre sector and empty into Jobos Bay.
Another element worth mentioning is that the coast of Salinas, specifically the coast in the Aguirre sector, is low-lying and swampy with many lagoons. One of these is called Mar Negro, or Black Sea. The coast of the municipality includes Rincón Bay, Salinas Beach, Arenas Point, Mar Negro, Colchones Point and Rodeo Point. Along the coast there are also numerous keys, among them the Mata, Ratones, Pájaros and De la Barca keys. On the Mata, Ratones, Pájaros and De la Barca keys, as well as Arenas point and Mar Negro, are mangrove swamps populated with red mangroves. These cover an area of 180 hectares.
Version: 09041701 Rev. 1