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Would you please explain the difference between these two sentences?

Spain ceded (or gave) Puerto Rico to the United States. Since then, Puerto Rico has been a U.S. territory.

Spain ceded(or gave) Puerto Rico to the United States. Since then, Puerto Rico was a U.S. territory.

I am stuck between 'has been' and 'was' in the above sentences.

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"has been" is present perfect. This means that the thing started happening in the past, and continues to happen in the present.

"was" is past simple. This means that the thing started happening in the past, and then stopped happening in the past.

So "was" is inappropriate because Puerto Rico still continues to be a U.S. territory–it never stopped. If it did stop, "was" would be correct (although "since then" would no longer be correct).

I hope that helps!

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