The first coin in 2012 to appear as part of the United States Mint America the Beautiful Quarters® Program will be the 2012 El Yunque National Forest Quarter featuring El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico. The quarter entered circulation beginning on January 23, 2012.
The program of America the Beautiful Quarters itself started in 2010 and features five new quarters a year, making this strike the eleventh in the series.
Five potential or candidate designs were created to represent the reverse of the El Yunque quarter. Two bodies responsible for making recommendations on their appearance (the Citizen’s Coinage Advisory Committee and the Commission of Fine Arts) reviewed the candidates in late 2010. On December 8, 2011, the United States Mint published the line art image of the final design that was selected by the Treasury Secretary.
Designed by Gary Whitley and sculpted by Michael Gaudioso, the reverse features a Coqui tree frog sitting on a leaf and a Puerto Rican parrot behind an epiphyte plant with tropical flora in the background. Inscriptions include EL YUNQUE, PUERTO RICO, 2012 and E PLURIBUS UNUM.
The obverse of all the America the Beautiful Quarters feature the 1932 portrait of George Washington by John Flanagan. However, the image used was restored to "bring out subtle details and the subtle details and the beauty of the original model," states the United States Mint. Obverse inscriptions include UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, LIBERTY, IN GOD WE TRUST and QUARTER DOLLAR.
Also issued by the United States Mint and containing the same basic design will be the El Yunque America the Beautiful Silver Uncirculated Coin and the El Yunque America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin, each struck from five ounces of .999 fine silver.
Additional 2012 America the Beautiful Quarter releases for the year include:
- Chaco Culture National Historical Park Quarter
- Acadia National Park Quarter
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Quarter
- Denali National Park Quarter
El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico
This national forest in Puerto Rico stands as a unique member among the national forest program in that it is the only tropical rain forest in the federal system. Its 28,000 acres hosts an extremely diverse bio system found nowhere else.
Yunque means anvil in Spanish and may be the source of the name as early visits from Spaniards show that the thunderstorms they encountered in the region sounded like hammers hitting anvils. Another possible source for the name is the indigenous peoples word for the area of "Yu-ke", thought to mean "White Lands."
However, the name came about, it is certain that the area is unique. At its highest regions, including the second highest peak in the mountain range also known as El Yunque, an estimated 250 inches of rain fall annually. Even on the lower levels, it is not uncommon for 50-60 inches of rain to be seen. All of this moisture is brought to the forest through the trade winds that blow from Africa across the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea.
For those seeking some adventure, it is possible to find gold in the rivers of the park. However, it will not be a very profitable undertaking as a full days work might only yield a few dollars worth of the precious metal.
Many may be unfamiliar with the name of El Yunque. This may, in part, be due to the fact that it was changed in 2007 from the Caribbean National Forest by an executive order signed by President George W. Bush. It was done to better reflect the culture and history of the land.