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Chimu put us a good tailor made tour together meeting our needs perfectly starting in Mexico City and ending at the Caribbean resort of Varedero for some rest and relaxation. We found this an amazing trip , it was full of contrasts, the country was vibrant , beautiful and so interesting - 1suzi
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Christopher Columbus discovered the island of Cuba in 1492.Cuba is the largest country in the Caribbean and the westernmost island of the Greater Antilles.Cuba is the 17th largest island in the world by land area, and the largest island in the Caribbean.Cuba’s population is just over 11 million.Fidel Castro ruled Cuba as its President for nearly 5 decades until his resignation in 2008.Christmas did not become an official holiday in Cuba until 1997, prior to Pope John Paul II’s visit. Bacardi was founded in Santiago de Cuba, on February 4, 1862 by Don Facundo Bacardí Massó.Ernest Hemingway wrote “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “The Old Man and the Sea” while he lived in Cuba.The Bee Hummingbird, the world’s smallest living bird is endemic to Cuba.The government owns all cars in Cuba manufactured post 1959.
Cuba was originally inhabited by various American Indian tribes. Christopher Columbus landed on the island of Cuba in 1492, claiming it for the Kingdom of Spain, and it remained a colony of Spain until the Spanish-American War of 1898. Cuba was then under the administration of the United States until it gained nominal independence in 1902.The first Spanish settlement was founded at Baracoa in 1511 and the future capital of San Cristobal de la Habana founded in 1515. Two thirds of the native population of Cuba were wiped out by a measles outbreak.The Seven Years War erupted in 1754 and in 1762 the British took control of Havana and the western part of the island. Following the arrival of the British, trade with their North American and Caribbean colonies opened up resulting in a transformation of Cuban society. But the British occupation of the city was short lived.1868 saw the start of the Ten Years War but ended with the Pact of Zanjon with Spain promising greater autonomy to Cuba.The Cuban Revolutionary Party was founded in 1892 by an exiled dissident called Jose Marti, with the aim of gaining independence for Cuba from Spain. Fighting began, but the Spanish troops greatly outnumbered the rebels. The Spanish military governor of Cuba forced the rural population into fortified towns where hundreds of thousands died from disease and starvation. There were American and European protests against the conduct of the Spanish.The US battleship Maine was dispatched to protect the US interests in Cuba, but she was destroyed and war broke out between the United States and Spain. Cuba came under the administration of the US until its independence in 1902 when it became the Republic of Cuba. The US still retained the right to intervene in Cuban affairs including finances and foreign relations.Over the years there were disputed elections, uprisings and revolts. Cuba came under the dictatorship of Batista in 1952 until he was ousted in 1959 by the July 26 Movement of which Ernesto "Che" Guevara was a part. A government was then established under the leadership of Fidel Castro and his legalization of the Communist Party and the many resulting executions led to the relationship between Cuba and the United States deteriorating. Sanctions were imposed in 1962.Fidel Castro resigned in 2008 and his brother Raúl was declared the new president.
Cuba is an archipelago of islands located between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, 150kms south of Key West, Florida. Cuba is the principal island in the archipelago and largest Caribbean island. It lies between the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas, to the west of Haiti, east of Mexico and northwest of Jamaica.Most of Cuba is flat with rolling plains, but there are rugged hills and mountains in the southeast of the country. The highest point of the Sierra Maestra mountain range is Pico Turquino at 2,005m.The climate of Cuba is mainly tropical, with most of the island lying south of the Tropic of Cancer. Northeasterly trade winds blow all year and the Caribbean current brings in warm water from the equator. From November to April tends to be drier with the rainy season running from May to October.Cuba lies in the path of hurricanes and is subject to these destructive storms on the east coast from August to November, but they are most common in September and October. In general Cuba averages one hurricane every other year.Cuba’s natural resources include cobalt, nickel, iron ore, chromium, copper, salt, timber, silica, petroleum and arable land.
Cuban culture is a melting pot of African, American, European, Caribbean and indigenous Taino influences. Over 64% of the population is white, nearly 27% mestizo and around 9% black.Spanish is the official language and most Cubans speak it, although the Spanish spoken in Cuba is known as Cuban Spanish, a form of Caribbean Spanish. Haitian Creole is the second largest language in Cuba, spoken by Haitian immigrants and their descendants. Lucumi, a dialect of the West African language can also be heard.Cuba’s predominant religion is Roman Catholic, originating from the Spanish colonization. Folk religions such as santería, which originate from the Caribbean, are also practiced. Many of the slaves who were brought to Cuba carried with them religious customs such as animal sacrifice, sacred drumming and dance as well as a trance and divination system for communicating with their ancestors and deities and these practices evolved into santería.Cuba’s music is rich and vibrant and is again an amalgamation of African, European and Caribbean influences. Son cubano is a style of music and dance originating in Cuba and combining Spanish song and guitar with African rhythms. It is one of the most influential forms of Latin American music with derivatives such as salsa, rumba and mamba. Music emanates from the doorways and you cannot help but be captivated by the sounds around you.Cuban cuisine is a fusion of Spanish and Caribbean cuisines. Rice, black beans and plantains are staple foods of the Cuban diet. Pork and chicken may also be included but on the whole the food is fairly bland. Check out the small Havana Chinatown where you may be able to get a little variety with some Chinese dishes! There are also a number of private restaurants opening up which offer a much higher level of cuisine. On the drinks front there are two national cocktails that are worth indulging in - the Cuba Libre (rum and coke) and the Mojito - a blend of run, lime, sugar, mint leaves, soda water and ice - very refreshing!
Prior to Fidel Castro’s revolution of 1959, Cuba was one of the most successful countries of Latin America with a fast growing economy and a 76% literacy rate. Cuba supplied 35% of the world’s export market in sugar. The Cuban revolution and the removal of Russian subsidies resulted in a collapse of the Cuban economy. Sugar exports declined to only 10% of the world market. Raúl Castro and his government have introduced limited economic reforms. Buying and selling of property has been legalized, solar power plants have opened and the dual currency system has been ended. But the standard of living of most Cubans is still lower than before the collapse of the Soviet Union. Venezuela continues to provide Cuba with oil on preferential terms, paid for in part with the services of Cuban personnel in Venezuela, including 30,000 medical professionals. International relations are now in the process of being restored between Cuba and the United States.Cuba’s natural resources include sugar, tobacco, fish, citrus fruits, and coffee.
The Republic of Cuba is one of the world’s last remaining communist states. The Cuban Communist Party is the only legal political party and the country is governed under the 1976 constitution. Fidel Castro was the prime minister from 1959 until 1976 when the post was abolished under the new constitution. He then became President of the Council of State (President of Cuba) and President of the Council of Ministers (Premier of Cuba). After Fidel’s resignation in 2008 his brother Raúl was declared the new president.The National Assembly of People’s Power holds legislative authority and there are 609 assembly seats, with members serving 5-year terms.Cuba is famous for its political instability and various rebellions. After Fidel Castro seized power in 1959, Cuban insurgents fought a 6-year rebellion against the Castro government. Relations with the United States deteriorated with the legalization of communism. In 1960 following Cuba’s commercial trade agreement with the Soviet Union, Eisenhower gave support to a plan for CIA trained Cuban refugees to overthrow the Castro regime. The Bay of Pigs invasion failed and in 1962 Cuba was suspended from the Organisation of American States and sanctions against Cuba imposed.Following the Soviet collapse of 1991 and subsequent withdrawal of Soviet subsidies, Castro’s rule was tested, but his government refused to accept aid from the US until 1993. Cuba now receives support from China, and is close allies with Venezuela and Bolivia.Although the embargo between Cuba and the US has not yet been lifted, it is being relaxed to allow limited import, export and commerce between the two. Times are definitely changing.
Fidel Castro - Former President of CubaAndrés Arturo García Menéndez (Andy Garcia) - ActorTony Perez & Yasiel Puig - Baseball PlayersGloria Estefan - SingerCelia Cruz - SingerCarlos Alvarez - American College Football PlayerSergio Oliva - BodybuilderErnesto Lecuona - Composer & Pianist