US & Canada

Puerto Rico profile - Leaders

Head of state: President Barack Obama

Governor: Alejandro Garcia Padilla

Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla

Alejandro Garcia Padilla narrowly beat incumbent governor Luis Fortuno in the November 2012 gubernatorial race, and was inaugurated in January.

His main challenges as governor are dealing with the large budget deficit and the influx of illegal immigrants from the nearby Dominican Republic.

In a sign of initial progress on getting to grips with the territory's debt crisis, Mr Padilla presented the US territory's first balanced budget for more than a decade, but the enduring recession left him struggling to repay a debt that amounted to $72bn by 2015.

He has also pledged to hold another plebiscite on Puerto Rico's status by 2016.

Governor Garcia Padilla, born in 1971, is a lawyer by training. His Popular Democratic Party is affiliated with the US Democratic Party.

He served briefly as consumer affairs secretary during the Popular Democratic governorship of Anibal Acevedo Vila in 2005-2007 before securing election as a Puerto Rican senator.

He served on several leading Senate committees during the governorship of Luis Fortuno of the rival New Progressive Party.

Puerto Ricans elect their governor for a four-year term. The constitution, modelled on that of the US, provides for a Senate and House of Representatives. However, voters in a referendum in 2005 backed the idea of replacing the bodies with a one-house legislature.

Residents of Puerto Rico cannot vote in US presidential elections, but they do elect a non-voting delegate to the US Congress.