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Cuba

Cuba LocatorCuba LocatorCuba LocatorCuba, officially the Republic of Cuba is the largest island and the second-most populous with over 11 million in the Caribbean. The island nation lies 93 miles (150 km) south of its famous neighbor, the United States of America. The native population of Cuba began to decline after the European discovery of the island by Christopher Columbus in 1492. During the next several centuries as a Spanish colony, large numbers of African slaves were imported to work the coffee and sugar plantations, and Havana became the launching point for the annual treasure fleets bound for Spain from Mexico and Peru. Referred to as The Pearl of the Antilles, Cuba is a multi-ethnic country and the result of multiple cultures, mixture of races and customs that gave birth to one of the most unique and fascinating Caribbean destinations. Considered part of Latin America, Cuba is one of the world's last remaining socialist countries following the Marxist-Leninist ideology. When thinking of Cuba images of colonial architecture, vintage cars, Cuban cigars, brilliant white sands and clear turquoise waters usually come to mind. Cuba is certainly all of these things, but it is also a country where its people are joyful, imaginative, intelligent, unprejudiced and display an incredible resilience and creativeness in the face of hardship. Typical Cuban gastronomy is made up of Buñuelos, Tamales and Roasted Pork, and always accompanied by a good coffee, a Cuba Libre, a Daiquiri, Mojito or Piña Colada drink. Cuba enjoys a warm tropical climate with two distinct seasons, wet and dry. The best time to visit is from November to May during the country's dry season where you can expect dry, sunny days and plenty of blue skies. The wet season begins in June, with the months between August and October having the highest risk of hurricanes. 

Location: Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, 150 km south of Key West, Florida

Border countries (1): US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay

Area: 110,860 sq km (42,803 sq mi)

Comparative: Slightly smaller than Pennsylvania

Population: 11,116,396 Million (ranked 82nd in the world)

Religions: Christian 59.2%, folk 17.4%, other .4%, none 23%

Languages: Spanish (official)

UNESCO World Heritage Sites (9): Archaeological Landscape of the First Coffee Plantations in the South-East of Cuba (2000), Historic Centre of Camagüey (2008), Old Havana and its Fortification System (1982), San Pedro de la Roca Castle, Santiago de Cuba (1997), Trinidad and the Valley de los Ingenios (1988), Urban Historic Centre of Cienfuegos (2005), Viñales Valley (1999), Alejandro de Humboldt National Park (2001) and Desembarco del Granma National Park (1999)

Popular Destinations in Cuba

Havana

Havana Cathedral de San CristobalHavana Cathedral de San CristobalHavana, named by Spanish conquistadors as San Cristóbal de la Habana is the national capital and largest city of Cuba with a population of 2.1 million. Founded on August 25, 1515, Havana became the vital trading port for treasure-laden ships and the cosmopolitan center of the New World because of its magnificent  deep-sea bay and sheltered harbor. Early colonists erected a ring of fortifications around Havana that withstood most invaders and that are still standing to this day. Two of the city's finest forts overlook the harbor from the Parque Histórico Militar Morro-Cabaña, one of Cuba's nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  Today's Havana mixes the old and and new (somewhat loose term), where cobblestones plazas and colonial architecture mix with post 1950's buildings and vintage American made cars. Havana is by far the cultural hub of the country and a fiesta for the senses with its rumba music, museums, galleries and performance groups to enjoy. The city was made to explore by foot with its cobbled streets, public squares and many restaurants including those where Hemingway once dined. Three of Havana's most iconic attractions include: Old Havana (a UNESCO world heritage site) with its magnificent Cathedral de San Cristobal, Malecón (El Malecon) the famous seafront boulevard and Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro, also known as El Morro that stands proudly at the entrance of the Bay of Havana.

 

Varadero

Varadero BeachVaradero BeachConsidered Cuba's crown jewel, the popular beach resort area of Varadero is known the world over for its 13 miles (21 km) of stunning sandy beaches and turquoise waters. Varadero is situated on the Hicacos Peninsula, a narrow arm of land only 3/4 of a mile (1.2 km) at its widest and 87 miles (140 km) east of Havana. Varadero has something for everyone and offers a wide range of travel choices;  all-inclusive vacations, cruises and land tours to meet every budget. Varadero  provides a taste of the Cuban culture with its numerous art galleries, handicraft markets, cigar and rum shops. It also has numerous bars, discotheques, cafes, and cabarets for those looking for a nightlife scene. Activities available in Varadero include watersports, such as diving, snorkeling, sailing, fishing, catamaran cruises and 1 of only 2 golf courses in the country, the other being in Havana.

 

Cienfuegos

CienfuegosCienfuegos

The colonial town of Cienfuegos is located on the central southern coast of Cuba and was founded in 1819 by French immigrants from Bordeaux and Louisiana. Dubbed La Perla del Sur (Pearl of the South), Cienfuegos retains its French essence from it’s elegant classical architecture the settlers left behind. The Historic Centre of the city was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005, siting Cienfuegos as the best example of early 19th century Spanish urban planning in Latin America and contains the most impressive collection of Neoclassical structures in the Caribbean.  Cienfuegueros are a cultured bunch and extremely proud of their legendary native son, Cuban singer Benny More. A true symbol and ultimate figure of the city, Benny Moré was a self-taught singer, composer and songwriter who left a lasting mark in Cuban music. The Flamenco dance, theatre and visual arts are quite prolific in Cienfuegos too. Wandering along the bay, shopping and listening to music are some of the top activities to enjoy when visiting this beautiful city. Also Cienfuegos isn't considered one of the island's best foodie cities and called the 'Paris of Cuba' for no reason. A must is to enjoy lunch at the Palace Club Cienfuegos, one of the city’s many neo classical palaces which now houses the Cienfuegos Yacht Club.

 

 

Vinãles Valley

Vinãles ValleyVinãles Valley

Viñales Valley is one of Cuba’s most beautiful and fertile areas located in the western region of the island. This is where some of the world’s best tobacco is grown, harvested, dried and processed. With its striking landscape of towering karst hills (mogotes) and its traditional agricultural practices related to growing tobacco, the valley was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999. Activities found in the area include visiting a tobacco plantation, hiking, caving, rock climbing and horseback riding. A 120-meter tall ‘Mural of Prehistory’ painted on a mogote shows the evolution of life in the Sierra de los Órganos (mountain range) where the valley is located. There is an awe-inspiring panoramic view from the viewpoint close to the Hotel Los Jazmines.