Cuba, Travel to Cuba touristic information

General Characteristics

The Cuban archipelago is form by the Cuban island, the island of youth (in the past island of pines) and about 4 195 keys and little islands. The Cuban island is long and narrow, and it looks like a big cayman as you can see in the map that is shown in this page. It is located in the Caribbean sea at the entry of the Mexican gulf. Its limit are from the northwest with the mexican gulf, at the north with the Florida's strait and the Bahamas old channel which isolated it from the United States and Bahamas respectively; at the east with the Winds passage which isolated it from Jamaica and at the west with the Yucatan strait which isolated it from Mexico.

 

Language: The official language of the Republic of Cuba is the Spanish. Nevertheless, as a consequence of the high level cultural of cuban people more of its inhabitants speak english and french.

Administrative division: 14 provinces and a special municipality.

Climate: Cuba is a tropical country, with an average of 330 days with sun in the year.
The medium year temperature is 25,5 °C.
The cool month: january with 21 °C
The warm month: july with 30 °C. Annual sun radiation: 80 kilocal
Average temperature in the coast waters: 25 °C in winter, 28 °C in summer
Average relative humidity: 78 %
Average annual rain: 1 515 mm.
Less raining months: december and august .

Flora and Fauna: The cuban's flora have more than 8 000 species of plants, among them we can find ornamental, medicinal, foodstuff and productive plants, with an important tourist attraction. The Cuban subtropical fauna is characterized with the no existence of ferocious and dangerous animals, like snakes and poison insects as they exist in other countries. It has a great diversity with about 900 kinds of fish, 4 000 of mollusk, 300 birds and 1 000 insects. Among the more highlight animals it can be mention the tomeguin del pinar bird; the manjuari, a mammal native of Cuba which live in the rivers; the almiqui wich is a real alive fossil and the crocodile. Besides, it is possible to find some rare animals like the zunzuncito, also known as the fly bird which is the smallest bird in the world (5 cm); the bat butterfly; the iguana; the Polimitas snail (native of Cuba) and the little frog Cubensis, also the smallest in the world. The most beautiful birds are the tocororo, the flamingo and the parrot.


 

National Attributes

 

The National Flag

The flag of the alone star is the cuban national symbol. It was hoist for the first time in 1850 in the city of Cardenas by an insurgent cuban group against the spanish crown. Its equilateral red triangle represent the unity of all cubans, achieve with the spill blood of the cuban people in his freedom fights. The five point solitary star located in the center of the red triangle represents the independent and sovereign character of Cuba. The three blue stripes represent the three department into which the island was divided: Western, Central and Eastern. The blue color also represent the cuban aspiration to freedom. The white stripes represents the pureness and virtues of the Cuban people

The National Scutcheon

As a symbol of the nation, describes in its integrity the cuban country any where in the world. The geographic and political importance of Cuba is represented by a key which is placed transversally between the lands of Cape Sable in Florida and Cape Catoche in Yucatan at the entry of the Mexican gulf, The raising sun represents the young upcoming republic. The inferior left quarter has the same meaning of the flag stripes. The inferior right quarter show a typical cuban countryside, with the royal palm as a symbol of the strong character of the cuban people, because this tree stand, even after the pass of the most furious storms. As a support of the scutcheon, there is a bundle of eleven twig which represent the unity of the cuban people in his freedom fights, The scutcheon is crowned by a frigid cap, which has in its center the alone star as a sample of the independent and sovereign character of the Cuban island. Its red color represent the spill blood of the cuban people in order to obtain his freedom. The escutcheon is bordered on its right side, by an evergreen oak branch, representing strength, and on its left side, by a laurel branch, representing victory.

The National Bird

The Tocororo (Priotelus Temnurus), is a climbing bird, endemic from Cuba, with beautiful showy colors. Its plumage reproduce the colors of the cuban national flag, blue, red and white. With a native name: Guatini, the tocororo live in forest places throughout the whole country, specially in the mountainous areas. It was chosen as the cuban national bird because of two main reasons: the symbolism of its beautiful and alive plumage colors and for its resistance to captivity, which represent the cuban people strive for independence.

 

The National Tree

The Royal Palm
(Roystonea Regia. O.F. Cook) is known by all of the cuban people as the queen of our countryside, because of the majestic of its structure, its peculiar height, its strength and because it is the most numerous of the cuban trees. There is not a cuban landscape without the Royal Palm, in spite of it is not a native cuban tree. It reaches a height between forty and fifty feets, and is topped by a very beautiful tuft of pinnatisec of leaves, Because of its elegance, the palm has inspired a lot of poets. musicians and painters. It is a central part of the cuban landscape stamped on the Cuban national scutcheon.

The National Flower

The Butterfly
(Hedychium Coronarium Koenig), takes its name from the resemblance of its petals with this beautiful lepidopteron insect, It 's the cuban national flower. It is a white flower, beautiful and odorous, native from Cuba. It grows in moist places like the shore of rivers and lakes, but it can also be cultivate in the courtyard or gardens of the cuban houses. Its white color, also present in two stripes of the national ensign is associated to peace and the pureness of the ideals of independence. The butterfly is also a symbol of the delicacy, gracefulness and slenderness of cuban woman and it was used as a symbol of insurrection during the freedom fights.

 

The National Anthem
The words and music of the national anthem were composed by the remarkable cuban patriot Pedro Figueredo Cisneros (Perucho) who in 1867 composed the musics and in October 20 of 1868 made the words, when the soldiers of the Liberation Army seized the city of Bayamo. This date is now recognized as one of the most important acts in the cuban history, and because of that this day was selected as the Cuba's culture day. The anthem was known at the begining as the Bayamesa. Of deep patriotic content, this anthem, forged in the struggle, has been an inseparable companion of all Cubans in our fight for freedom and national sovereignity.

Text:

¡ People of Bayamo rush to the battle
our homeland watches you proudly
don't be affraid of a glorious death
because to die for the homeland is to live

To live with chains is to live
with dishonour and ignominy
listen to the sound of the clarion
Rush to combat braves !


The Cuban People

 

The cuban people is the synthesis of several races and cultures, formed basically for the spanish people who colonized the country and the africans who were bringed as slaves. This two races develop the birth of the cuban nationality with american and caribbean characteristics. The cuban people has a very special charm which it is impossible to resist: He is happy, loquacious, and with a great humor sense, essentially friendly, solidarity and helpful with all the persons but with very special emphasis with the persons who visit their country.


The music and dance are an inseparable part of the cuban people life. Friendly of the joke, the laugh sprout in an explosive and frank way. Passionate with his ideas and convictions, they like the debate. It is one of the most hospitable people in the world. The Cubans like to talk with their visitants, because of that their house's doors are always open to receive them. The cuban people has been make the word "welcome" something more than a simple way of greeting to the visitant who recently arrive to the country. This word has been inscribe in the vocabulary of each cuban person with thousand of differents daily meaning and it is state explicitly in each moment with an spontaneous hospitality and friendly, which makes a very warm climate in the island.

Historical Synthesis

After almost three months of navigating for oceans and sea, on October 27 of 1492, Christopher Colon arrived to the Cuban coast. Eighteen years later, in 1510, Diego Velazquez began the conquest of the Cuban territory. Starting from this date, were founded the first villages: Baracoa (1512), Bayamo (1513), Trinidad (1514), Santi Spiritus (1514), Santiago de Cuba (1515), La Habana (1515) y Camaguey (1515).

Since the spanish conquers were seated in Cuba, they submit the aboriginal people to slave, so because of that this population was extinguished in few decades. In order to supply this worker hand, Spain began to import thousand of black from Africa, to works as a slave in the sugar cane plantations. In this way was introduced one of the elements that mixture with the spanish create the cuban native people. With the time this cuban native joined very hard to Cuba, its native land, losing their connection with Spain and doesn't wanted to be disposed to occupy a secondary place in front of the metropolitan merchants and rulers that obligated them to negotiate only with Spain. It was rising in this way a national feeling that found its maxim expression in the XIX century with the begining of the fighting for independence.

In the middle of the XVIII century, an unexpected fact shaked strongly the economic, political and social environment of Cuba: the occupation of Havana for the english in 1762. During eleven months entered to the Havana port, more than one thousand ships that established a wide trade with the Thirteen northamerican colony, At the same time the english introduced more than ten thousands slaves to impel the development of the sugar cane industry. Havana was recovered in 1763, changed with the peninsula of Florida,discovered and conquered by Spain in the XVI century.

In front of this facts, the process of formation the cuban nationality was speed up and became with the time more stronger the idea of the liberation. On October 10 of 1868, began the fight for the national independence. The landowner and lawyer bayames Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, set on fire his own sugar cane factory known as "La Demajagua" , announced the independence of Cuba and gave the freedom to his slaves. On this way began the first cuban indepence war that continued for ten years (until 1878). In this war stood out many patriots like Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, Antonio Maceo, Maximo Gomez, Ignacio Agramonte, Calixto Garcia and others.

In 1878 began a truce in the hostilities, and from this tuce emerged the most important figure in cuban independence fights; Jose Marti (1853-1895), who founded the Cuban Revolutionary Party. On February 24 of 1895, began again the war, conducted by Jose Marti, who was murdered on battle three months later. on May 19. Maximo Gomez and Antonio Maceo continued the fight and extended the war from the east side of the country to all Cuba. Spain nothing could be done in front of the advance of the Cuban troops. United States, which saw the imminence of the cuban victory and which desired from many years behind the possession of Cuba, announced the war against Spain, took as a pretext the dark fact of the explosion of the north american battleship "Maine" anchored in the Havana Bay.

The war finished with the signature of the peace treaty (The Paris treaty, on December 10 of 1898) between Spain and the United States and as consequence of this North America took the absolute control of Cuba,Puerto Rico and Filipinas. On May 20 of 1902, was conceded to Cuba, after three years of United States guide, a formal independence controled by a cuban oligarchy dependent from Washington, who became the country in a United States neo-colony. Since that, many corrupted governments and north american interventions were succeeded, who completed the mission to deliver the country richness to external interest.

On March 10 of 1952, the general Fulgencio Batista, gave an state blow and established one of the most repressive dictatorial goverment in the cuban history. On July 26, of 1953, a group of young people with Fidel Castro at his head, attacked in Santiago of Cuba (at the east side of the country) the Moncada quarter, the second cuban military fortress with the objetive of arm the people and began general insurrection. The attack finished with a military defeat, but it highlighted the figure of Fidel Castro as a leader of the future revolution . Fidel Castro and the other survivors of the attack were sentenced to jail in the Model Prison at the Island of Pines (today Island of youth). An strong popular campaign obtained the prisoners amnesty, who went to an excile in Mexico in 1955.

In Mexico, Fidel Castro, organized his companion of the attack of the Moncada quarter and other revolutionary that joined them, among them were the argentine Ernesto "Che" Guevara. They left the mexican port of Tuxpan to Cuba on board of the Granma yacht and disembarked on December 2 of 1956 by the Coloradas beach, in the south of the east region, restarted the armed fight, this time as a guerillas on the Sierra Maestra mountains. At the same time it was organized in all of the country a secret fight.

On January 1 of 1959, the dictator Fulgencio Batista, finally defeated for the revolutionary army troops commanded by Fidel Castro, left Cuba. It was the triumph of the Cuban Revolution. The revolutionary government started a socialist program to establish a national development in all the country. At the same time it was impelled a deep social development program that make Cuba the country of the higher levels of social justice in the Third World. It could be highlighted in this program the higher achievements in public health, on which Cuba aspire to be a world leader; in the education, gratuitous for all levels and obligatory until the high school; in sports and in the culture which is accessible to all the cubans and proclaim for our artists all over the world.


 

Major Cities (others than Havana)

Pinar del Rio
Pinar del Río is the most Cuban's west province and it is virtually surrounded by the blue, warm and affectionate sea. It's diverse geography , where we can find mountains and valleys, make from this spectacular region an ideal place for the people who love the nature. The characteristic of this province are the Mogotes of Sierra de los Organos, which can not be appreciate in any other region in Cuba and in only few places in the world; combine with Viñales Valley a place of an impressive beauty and the Rosario mountain range, a Biosphere World Reservation, where we can find the "Guajaibon Bread", the highest point in the Cuban west region. Between the mountains we can find the named "holes", little spaces of fertile earth where the world's finest black tobacco leaf is grown.

Soroa is a famous place, because of its water leap wich fall from 22 meters high, and its orchid place,the most complete and ancient in Cuba with more than 700 types, 250 cubans. This province also have the island area where are preserved the fauna and vegetation original from Cuba and the greater underground caverns system in Cuba and one of the greater in Latin America

Located in the south coast, inside one of the greater forest park in Cuba, It could be find the International Center of Diving Maria la Gorda. This place, considered one of the best place of diving in the island, have a clear water beach with marvelous and peaceful bottom submarine.

The City of Pinar del Rio is 112 Miles (180 Km) from Havana, this city exhibits ancient colonial mansions with a very peculiar seal, with portals and columns of great variety. Because of that the city is known as "the city of the portals".

 


Matanzas (Varadero)
At their origins, Matanzas was an indian town known as Yucayo, settled near the Guanima Bay. The Spanish named the place as Matanzas, after a ship with thirty men and two woman shipwrecked nearby the port and were attacked and died by the indians. In this zone, the spanish in 1693 founded the city with the name of San Carlos and San Severino of Matanzas nearby the splendid bay with the higher soaked of Cuba.

Matanzas has the pride of having in its territory, one of the best beach of the world: Varadero, a nature's masterpiece. Its perfect coastline of fine white sand runs for 20 kilometers and can be considered a holiday paradise.This resort is located on the Northern coast of Matanzas province, It extend through a narrow peninsula, the Hicacos peninsula. The fine white sand and its warm transparent waters makes from this place one of the most important and recognize beach place in the world

Just 2 hours from Havana, Varadero is easy to reach from any part of the world. You can arrive either by direct flight to its international airport or by private boat to its harbor, or by well maintained roads from any region of the Island. Yachts and private aircraft can enter Varadero by establishing radio contact with Cuban authorities.

Matanzas, the city of the bridge and the poets, is the capital of the province with the same name. In the heart of the city we can find the Jose White cultural center, the place where more than a century ago was danced the first "danzon" compound by Miguel Failde.

Matanzas have besides Varadero, other places with tourist interest like; The Yumuri Valley, where we could see the cuban nature in its all brightness. the Bellamar cave, with more than 2 km long, and in the south part, at the Zapata peninsula, is located the Natural Park Montemar, a paradise for the one who love nature.This incredible natural reservation have an area of thousands of square kilometers of forest and coast vegetation, extensive places of moisture and manglars which are the habitat of 160 species of birds and 900 of superior trees. Mammals, fishes, and amphibians are joined to this wonderful show in the Caribbean island.

This province is a faithful index of the afrocuban religion. The black slaves settled in the vicinity of Yumury Valley resolved his spanish masters prohibition to celebrated his african cult, with the identification of the christian saints with the colours of his god. In this way the Caridad Virgin is Ochun. From this place was born the Palo Monte, el Abacua and the santeria, specially in the regions of Jovellanos, Colon and the city of Matanzas.


Cienfuegos (The South pearl )
In the middle of the Island, this province surround one of the most beautiful bay in Cuba, Jagua, settlement of aboriginal communities and later besieged with privateers and pirates have so many legends that it has its own mythology. Agriculture for tradition, in the last years had reached a development that transform it in one of the province with most potential industrial in the country.

Located in an earth tongue inside the bay, the city of Cienfuegos, founded in 1819 by french colonist which came from Burdeos, was named Fernandina de Jagua. Perfectly simetrical, its streets were subdivided from the Central Park Jose Marti, It is considered as a modern city, clean and wide. Cienfuegos have palaces, parks, theaters, churches, restaurants and an avenue named as Paseo del Prado, wich extend to the sea, where the people meet, always laughing and elegant."The South Pearl" as it is also known is always ready to receive to whom like to walk for his streets


Sancti Spiritus (Trinidad)
Sancti Spíritus is located practically in the middle of the island, nearby to the west with the province of Villa Clara and Cienfuegos and to Ciego de Avila at the east. The water of the Bahamas' channel bathe its north coast and to the south the Caribbean sea had formed nice beaches, sunny and warm during the whole year.

Located in the province of Sancti Spiritus it can be find Trinidad, the capital of the central mountains of the island, and one of the populations most beautiful of Cuba. Its beauty architectonic combined with the sublime grate, the lathe wood, complex works of smithy, walls amazing decorated by hand, inside gardens, traditional and ancestral legends and pave streets, distinguish Trinidad, the Cuban museum city, a place inhabited by people that makes the preservation of the beauty its reason to live, This colonial pearl, preserved with care by the cuban people was considered by the UNESCO a Humanity Patrimony since 1988.

Founded by the conquer Diego Velazques in 1514, the city was converted in a place of marked economical and cultural opulence, which made a great influence in the architectonic, as an expression of the social status of a rich social class. There are here great hotels and residence which show in their style the notable influence baroque and neoclassic.

Very close to Trinidad, in the mountain range of Escambray, it can be find Topes de Collantes, a place that exhibits its ferocious nature and a special microclimate. An ideal place for health tourism. Over its impressive landscape, it can be distinguish the Caburni river and its spectacular water leap of 65 meters high, which give to the zone a particular attractive

Trinidad invite to know the sugar factory Valley, today a natural and archeological reservation, scene of the economical enriched of the city, a place where existed more than 50 sugar factory, which in one year achieved the biggest sugar cane production for its time.

In the suth, at the Ancon peninsula, 12 km from Trinidad, bathed by the caribbean sea waters, it expands the best beach from the south coast of the country; Ancon Beach. Here you can practice every kind of nautical sports and see the marine bottom with an incomparable beauty.


Villa Clara (Santa Clara)
It is one of the central province in the Island, located at the north of Cienfuegos, with an exit to the Atlantic ocean. Their coasts, to the north, allow that the warm and affectionate Atlantic Ocean sigh in four beaches; El Salto, Cataratas, Isabela and Caibarien.

Santa Clara, the city, capital of the province, was founded in an inside earth in 1869 by ancient inhabited of a coast village to flee from the frequently attacked of privateers and pirates. Simple and discreet, their inhabitant live on typical houses constructed with brick and tile of red mud, with tbe same style as the litte spanish cities.

Despite of to be still a city with a little tourism development, it has some interest places like theaters, a beauty architecture and many historic places related with the struggled against the Batista dictator. Besides for the people who admired the figure of the legendary guerilla Ernesto "Che" Guevara, since 1997, their cadaver remainder reposed in a mausoleum together with some other guerillas that accompany him in Bolivia.

This province is the second tobacco plantation area in the island, after Pinar del Rio, and a important place in sugar


Camagüey
Is the biggest province in the country, with more than 14 thousands square kilometers, its geography its characterize for extensive plain, which make the province an ideal place to cultivate the sugar cane and to shepherd a great number of cattle. This two activities are the most economic important in this zone, followed by the rice and the citrics.

Camagüey is not absent of nature beauty, in spite of the apparent monotony of its plains, the rivers that cross it had been made marvelous green zones and natural pool, figured in the limestone rock, like the well known forms in the Maximo river, without reply in no other place in the country

Their key and little islands in the north and in the south are valuable reservation of the flora and fauna and its beaches of whiteness sand and transparent waters are waiting to be conquer

The province has 120 kilometers of beaches, almost the 25 percent of the whole country, which convert it in the potential most important tourist focus in Cuba. In Santa Lucia, with its 20 kilometers of beach, many of them virgin and protected by a choral barrier, you can learn and practice dive here. The best beaches in the zone are in the Boca, near the access channel to the Nuevitas Bay, semi isolated and little visited. Immerse in this water you can see an incredible choral variety (50 species), more than 200 of sponge and 500 of tropical fishes, and like a thirty spanish galleon and some ship sank from the II World War. Following to the west, it can be find the Sabinal key joined to the island by a road of stone. Romano and Cruz with 40 kilometers of beaches with very fine sands, are ideal places for dive too. In this zone live an important colony of pink flamingo on the Caribbean.

The capital of the province is the city of Camagüey, one of the seven first village founded by Diego Velazques in 1515, with the name of Santa Maria del Puerto Principe, in the place known as Punta del Guincho, at the west side of the Nuevitas Bay. The constant pirates' attack obligated to their firsts residents to move the city in 1516 to the border of the Caonao river, in 1528 the city was settled finally in the indian place known as Camaguelo Camaguebax, in the center of the province. Very soon it lose this peculiar name and it was named as Puerto Principe, which was losed too. Today every body call it Camagüey.

Camagüey is known as the Tinajones city. Its first residents were in serious problems with the absence of water, since its extensive plain is not plentiful in water sources. However, it rained so much. The problem was how to stock the precious liquid: Spanish potters settled in the village found the solution to the problem of stock water. They made the now famous tinajones, a kind of vessel to stock water, following the models of the spanish vessels that came from Spain with wine and oil. They found that some local clays were easy to mold, resistant and with refractory properties. With this clays began the manufacture production of big vessels named as Tinajones to stock the water. In that way surged the most important ceramic industry in the country, which maintain its production in the actual days.

Since that time, the Tinajon became an important element in every home in Camagüey. It was located in the most shadow areas, where you can still see them, over the ground or sunken in the ground to its middle size, but under the channels that collect the rain water from the roof.


Santiago de Cuba
In 1515, Don Diego Velázquez found the village of Santiago de Cuba, in one of the most protected bay in the island. With the course of the years arrived to this territory multiple migrations from different parts of the cuban archipelago, transforming the city in the most caribbean of all the cuban cities. Santiago is a possessor of a rich spiritual life. Here you can find the sanctuary of the Caridad del Cobre virgin (The Cuban Patron), one of the most popular center of adoration in Cuba

Santiago, is the second inhabited city in the country. It was the residence of the spanish governor until the middle of the 16th century, when was transfered to Havana. Its port was one of the most important points of arrive emigrations from the old continent. In its bay was surrendered the spanish ship float in 1898 by the northamerican float and this fact marked the exit of Spain from the island to began a United States domination. The neuralgic center of the city is the Cespedes Park, where is settled the cathedral, the city council and the house of Diego Velazques, also very near it can be find the Trovas' house. Another important places that you don't forget to visit is the Moncada quarters, today without the presence of militaries shelter a museum and a school. Outside the city it can be find the castle of San Pedro de la Roca del Morro.

Santiago was the city where born the son and bolero, two important gender of the Cuban music. It is one of the city most happy in the island, where the most popular carnivals in the country take place. Among the many natural attractive that have this land, are the Sierra Maestra, the most important mountain range in the country, where it can be find the biggest rock in Cuba known as La Gran Piedra. At the east it is located the major National Park of the territory, Baconao, which had been declared a Biosphere Reserve. Besides Santiago, have the most warm beaches in the island.