Ponce is both a city and a municipality in the southern part of Puerto Rico. The city is the seat of the municipal government.
Ponce, Puerto Rico's most populated city outside the San Juan metropolitan area, is named for Juan Ponce de León y Loayza, the great-grandson of Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León. Ponce is often referred to as La Perla del Sur (The Pearl of the South), La Ciudad Señorial (The Noble, or Lordly, City), and La Ciudad de las Quenepas (Genip City). The city serves as the governmental seat of the autonomous municipality as well as the regional hub for various Government of Puerto Rico entities, such as the Judiciary of Puerto Rico. It is also the regional center for various other commonwealth and federal government agencies.
The Municipality of Ponce, officially the Autonomous Municipality of Ponce, is located in the Southern Coastal Plain region of the island, south of Adjuntas, Utuado, and Jayuya; east of Peñuelas; west of Juana Díaz; and bordered on the south by the Caribbean Sea. The municipality has a total of 31 barrios (wards), including 19 outside the city's urban area and 12 in the urban area of the city. The historic Ponce Pueblo district, located in the downtown area of the city, is shared by several of the downtown barrios, and is located approximately three miles inland from the shores of the Caribbean. Ponce is a principal city of both the Ponce Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Ponce-Yauco-Coamo Combined Statistical Area. The municipality of Ponce is the second largest in Puerto Rico by land area, and it was the first in Puerto Rico to obtain its autonomy, becoming The Autonomous Municipality of Ponce in 1992