Cuba



Official name: Republic of Cuba

Area: 110,860 square kilometers (42,803 square miles)

Highest point on mainland : Pico Turquino (2,005 meters/6,578 feet)

Lowest point on land: Sea level

Hemispheres : Northern and Western

Time zone: 7 A.M. = noon GMT

Longest distances: 89 kilometers (55 miles) from north to south; 1,223 kilometers (760 miles) from east to west

Land boundaries : None

Coastline: 3,735 kilometers (2,017 miles)

Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)

1 LOCATION AND SIZE

The long, narrow island of Cuba has a shape that has been compared to a cigar caught between the fingers of Florida and the Yucatán Peninsula. It is flanked by Jamaica on the south, Hispaniola on the southeast, and the Bahamas on the northeast. Slightly smaller than the state of Pennsylvania, Cuba extends some 1,200 kilometers (746 miles) from Cape Maisí on the east to Cape San Antonio on the west, about the distance from New York to Chicago. The largest of the West Indian islands, its territory almost equals that of all the other islands combined. In addition to the main island, the Cuban archipelago includes the Isla de la Juventud (Isle of Pines) near the south coast in the Gulf of Batabanó plus over one thousand coastal cays and islets.

2 TERRITORIES AND DEPENDENCIES

Cuba has no territories or dependencies.

3 CLIMATE

Cuba has a pleasant subtropical climate strongly influenced by gentle northeast trade winds, which shift slightly to the east in the summer. The island's long, tapered shape allows the moderating sea breezes to cool all regions, and there are no pronounced seasonal variations in temperature. July and August are the warmest months, and February is the coolest. The wet summer season is between May and October, and the drier winter season runs from November through April. Annual rainfall averages over 180 centimeters (70 inches) in the mountains, 90 to 140 centimeters (35 to 55 inches) in the lowlands, and 65 centimeters (26 inches) at Guantanamo Bay. On average, rain falls on Cuba 85 to 100 days per year with three-quarters of it falling during the wet season. The humidity varies between 75 percent and 95 percent year-round. The eastern coast is subject to hurricanes from August to October, and the country averages about one hurricane every year. Droughts are also common.

S EASON M ONTHS A VERAGE TEMPERATURE
Summer May to September 27°C (81°F)
Winter November to March 22°C (72°F)

4 TOPOGRAPHIC REGIONS

Well over half of the terrain consists of flat or rolling plains with a great deal of rich soil well suited to the cultivation of sugarcane, the dominant crop. There are rugged hills and mountains in the southeast, and the most extensive mountainous zone of Cuba lies near its eastern extremity. Smaller mountain zones with lower elevations occur near the midsection and in the far west.

5 OCEANS AND SEAS

Cuba is cradled between the Caribbean Sea to its south, the North Atlantic Ocean to its northeast, and the Gulf of Mexico to its northwest.

Seacoast and Undersea Features

Cuba is surrounded by coral reefs.

Sea Inlets and Straits

Cuba is separated from Florida to the north by the Straits of Florida, and from Hispaniola to the southeast by the narrow Windward Passage. Off the central northern coast, the sea-lane of the Old Bahama Channel at some points is only ten miles wide as it passes between the Cuban shelf and the shallows of the Great Bahama Bank. The Gulf of Batabanó borders the northwestern end of Cuba's Caribbean coast.

Islands and Archipelagos

The 220-square-kilometer (570-square-mile) Isla de la Juventud is the westernmost island in a chain of smaller islands, the Archipiélago de los Canarreos, which extends 110 kilometers (68 miles) across the Gulf of Batabanó. The extreme northwestern coast of Cuba is flanked by the Archipiélago de los Colorados. Offshore to the north of Sagua la Grande lie the islands of the Archipiélago de Sabana. East of those islands, stretching around the coast from Morón to Neuyitas, is the Archipiélago de Camagüey, the largest of the archipelagos that surround Cuba. Overall, about 4,200 coral cays and islets surround Cuba, most of them low-lying and uninhabited.

Coastal Features

Except for near its western tip, a wealth of excellent harbors indent Cuba's shoreline. The coastline includes more than 289 natural beaches. In the north, the beaches tend to be longer and whiter with rolling surf and undertow, while the southern beaches are darker, feature sea urchins, and are rockier or more swampy. While rugged beaches comprise most of the northern coast, swamps still occur there, as well as on the Isla de la Juventud.

Cuba's coastline is indented by some of the world's finest natural harbors. There are about two hundred in all, and many are shaped like pouches or bottlenecks, with narrow entrances that broaden into spacious deepwater anchorages. Ports on the north coast with these kinds of harbors include Mariel, Havana, and Nueyitas. South coast bottleneck ports include Guantánamo, Santiago de Cuba, and Crenfuegos. The principal open bay ports, Cárdenas and Matanzas, are located on the north coast.

6 INLAND LAKES

There are no large lakes in Cuba, but many coastal swamplands extend throughout the country. Zapata Swamp, the largest on the island, covers more than 4,403 square kilometers (1,700 square miles) on the Zapata Peninsula.

7 RIVERS AND WATERFALLS

About two hundred rivers run northward or southward from an interior watershed and are predominantly short and rapid. They provide good drainage but are not generally suitable for navigation.

8 DESERTS

There are no deserts on Cuba.

9 FLAT AND ROLLING TERRAIN

Almost two-thirds of the Cuban landscape consists of flatlands and rolling plains. Cattle graze on these fertile flatlands, and sugarcane, coffee, and tobacco are grown there. Three-fourths of the national territory consists of grasslands, hills, and the lower and gentler mountain slopes.

10 MOUNTAINS AND VOLCANOES

The Oriental, Central, and Occidental Mountains cover 25 percent of the country. The loftiest mountain system is the Sierra Maestra; it is the steepest of the Cuban ranges, and its peaks include the country's highest summit: Pico Turquino, at 2,005 meters (6,578 feet). The southeastern tip of the island is mostly mountainous and includes such ranges as the Sierra de Nipe, the Sierra de Nicaro, the Sierra del Cristal, and the Cuchillas de Toa. The Escam-bray Mountains are the principal mountains of central Cuba. They are located in the southern part of that region, and are separated by the Agabama River into two ranges: the Sierra de Trinidad in the west and the Sierra de Sancti Spíritus in the east. The principal ranges of the western highlands are the Sierra del Rosario and the Sierra de los Organos.

11 CANYONS AND CAVES

The limestone formations known as karst are most characteristic of the western highlands, where they form numerous sinkholes and underground caverns.

12 PLATEAUS AND MONOLITHS

Situated in Cuba's western highlands, known collectively as the Cordillera de Guaniguanico, are limestone formations weathered into strange shapes. Ranks of tall, erosion-resistant limestone columns resembling organ pipes gave the Sierra de los Organos its name.

13 MAN-MADE FEATURES

Cuba's infrastructure includes such impressive engineering feats as: the Havana Sewer Tunnel (1912); the Carretera Central (Central Road) (1931), a 1,139-kilometer (708-mile) thoroughfare that spans the island from west to east; the Bay Tunnel (1958), which expanded access to eastern Havana by allowing travel under Havana Bay; and the Viaducto de La Farola (La Farola Viaduct) (1965) connecting Guantánamo and Baracoa.

DID YOU KNOW?

Desembarco del Granma National Park, a park in southwest Cuba near Cabo Cruz, features dramatic cliffs lining the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, as well as limestone terraces uplifted by geological forces.

14 FURTHER READING

Books

Baker, Christopher. Moon Handbooks: Cuba. Emeryville, CA: Avalon Travel Publishing, 2000.

Coe, Andrew. Cuba. Lincolnwood, IL: Passport Books, 1997.

Stanley, David. Cuba. Oakland, CA: Lonely Planet, 2000.

Web Sites

About Cuba. http://www.culturecuba.com/cuba/ (accessed June 13, 2003).

Directorio Turistico de Cuba. http://www.dtcuba.com/eng/default.asp (accessed June 13, 2003).



User Contributions:

1
Megan
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May 7, 2012 @ 3:15 pm
This was a very nice article.It helped me with my school project and it was very organized.Thank you.
2
john doe
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May 16, 2012 @ 8:08 am
i heard that cuba has very rich soil is that true? i also heard that they have good tabacco plants is that true as well?
3
Jade:)
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Oct 11, 2012 @ 12:12 pm
Great reassures! Thanks!:) It really helped a lot.

Sinsearly,
Jadea
4
Bob
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Mar 23, 2013 @ 11:11 am
Thanks alot, I gotmore information than needed for my project.
5
Adriel
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Oct 20, 2013 @ 5:17 pm
this is a good article. it saved me from getting an F on my spanish project. but i wish there was a little bit more info about population. :P
6
Taylor
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Oct 20, 2014 @ 6:18 pm
Thank you for this article it was really interesting I just wish it had more facts because I still had some questions un answered for my Spanish project but great article it had more facts then I needed and 4 questions you didn't have that I need but it's great thank you :)
7
dothory
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Apr 11, 2015 @ 11:11 am
WHAT ABOUT CUBA'S CORAL REEFS, WHAT ARE THOSE FEATURES I'VE LOOKED UP EVERYTHING I CAN AND HAVEN'T FOUND A DEASANT THING ON THEM.
8
Jack
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May 17, 2017 @ 4:16 pm
Thank you so much (even though I was looking for Cuba's volcanoes.) it got the rest of my questions answered had it not have been for you I would've failed.
(giving you credit don't worry.)

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