Flag of Cuba

Cuba

The Republic of Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean at the confluence of the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, and consists of the island of Cuba (the largest of the Greater Antilles), the Isle of Youth and adjacent small islands. Cuba is north of the Cayman Islands and Jamaica, east of Mexico, south of Florida and the Bahamas, and west of the Turks and Caicos Islands and Haiti.

Cuba is the most populous country in the Caribbean. Its culture and customs draw from several sources including the aboriginal Taíno and Ciboney peoples, the period of Spanish colonialism, the introduction of African slaves, and its proximity to the United States. The island has a tropical climate that is moderated by the surrounding waters; the warm currents of the Caribbean Sea and its location between water bodies also make Cuba prone to frequent hurricanes.

Cuba is an island that assaults the senses. Surprisingly for one of the last remaining communist countries, the visitor is greeted with strains of exotic rhythms - the salsa or rhumba - emanating from every corner. An aquamarine sea laps the white, palm-fringed beaches of Varadero and offshore Cayos Largo and Coco. Here you can try your hand at blue marlin or barracuda fishing, just as Hemingway depicted in his novel The Old Man and the Sea, or dive to the coral reef and search for shipwrecks. The little visited Zapata Peninsula or the Bahia de Naranjo Nature Park offer the chance to swim with the dolphins.

Inland, only the roar of 1950s US cars disturbs deserted roads. The tobacco-growing area of Viñales with its intriguing limestone mogotes (outcrops), contrasts dramatically with the rugged tree-covered mountains of the Sierra Maestra. Cuba's rich history as a Spanish colony is evident in the wealth of colonial architecture in major towns such as Havana and Santiago de Cuba.

A tourism revolution is transforming this once isolated country with an ever-increasing range of flights and hotels opening up previously inaccessible corners. Once faded and crumbling houses with ornate wrought iron balconies and central courtyards are now being lovingly restored, while weathered campesinos sucking on titanic cigars watch contentedly as visitors discover this intoxicating island.

Map of Cuba