Amy Toensing. Dresses.

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Little girl dresses hang on a laundry line on a porch on August 1, 2002 in Utuado, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico was an outpost of Spanish colonialism for 400 years, until the United States took possession in 1898.

Today Puerto Rico's Spanish-speaking culture reflects its history - a mix of African slaves, Spanish settlers, and Taino Indians. Puerto Ricans fight in the U.S. armed forces but are not entitled to vote in presidential elections. They passionately debate their relationship with the U.S. with about half the island wanting to become the 51st state and the other half wanting to remain a U.S. commonwealth. A small percentage feel the island should be an independent country. While locals grapple with the evils of a burgeoning drug trade and unchecked development, drumbeats still drive the rhythms of African-inspired bomba music.

Amy Toensing is a photojournalist committed to telling stories with sensitivity and depth and has been a regular contributor to National Geographic magazine for over twenty years.

Follow Amy on Instagram @amytoensing.

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