Cuba: The Land of Bongos, Dominoes and Chunky Montecristos
The appeal of Cuba is intoxicating. Defying logic and carving their own niche in the world, the 11 million inhabitants of this island nation march to a different drummer. The four hundred years of Spanish rule has certainly left this island country with unique customs, and its coffee, sugar and tobacco interests, as well as its beaches, have made it one of the most visited island nations in the Caribbean.
Columbus landed on the island in 1492, near the town of Baracoa, and claimed the island for Spain. He named it Isla Juana, and 1511 the first Spanish settlement was developed by Diego Velazquez de Cuellar. The Spanish made slaves out of 100,000 indigenous people, and one hundred years later most of those Indians were wiped out by disease and poor living conditions. Slavery was abolished in 1886 and after years of revolutions and wars, Cuba became an independent nation, although US had the right to intervene in Cuba’s affairs and supervise its finances, thanks to the 1898 Treaty of Paris, which ended the Spanish-American War. In 1956 Fidel Castro and a small group of followers launched a popular insurrection, and in 1959 Castro became prime minister and the rest, as they say, is history.
Cuba is emerging from the Castro era slowly. Raul Castro has loosened some of the restrains that has crippled Cuba’s ability to improve its economic position in the world. Cuba actually is an archipelago of islands in the northern Caribbean Sea where the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico meet. The main island is 745 miles long, and it is the 16th largest island in the world. Cuba’s terrain is flat, but the Sierra Maestra Mountains in the southeast does give the island some height. Cuba mines almost as much nickel as Russia and it is the fifth largest producer of cobalt, which is a byproduct of nickel. Oil was recently discovered in the North and drilling began in 2006.
Cuba in a Few Words
Cuba can’t be described in a few words. It is filled with people who enjoy life and appreciate their rich cultural diversity. Cuba is one of those magical islands that can take you through poverty stricken areas and deposit you in luxurious amenities. Some say that within the next twenty years Cuba will grow into one of the most relaxing and popular tourist’s spots in the world. Some say it has already earned that title. Anyone who has experienced the beauty of this magnificent country makes it a point to return. It is truly a one-of-a-kind nation overflowing in intrinsic beauty, and robust, but tempered energy.