Cuba

THE PEARL OF THE CARIBBEAN: BEACHES, MUSIC, CIGARS AND RUM Images of Cuba show hot sun and fields of sugar cane, tall palm trees and deep clear blue sea. It is also a country of deep-rooted complex cultures, and religions.

Spanish Catholiscism merge with the cults from Yoruba slaves (mostly from Nigeria) and their wide-spread African faith “santeria”. It is a young and vibrant island with a unique identity. Since 1959 it has been a one-party socialist republic. The country has been under a US embargo since April 1961. Foreign tourism was only allowed in the 1980’s and this is now Cuba’s strongest economic sector followed by sugar cane and rum.

Cuba is a poor, socialist (communist) 3rd World Country, yet despite the economic difficulties, limited infrastructure and political restrictions, it has a unique nostalgic charm. Havana a lively and colourful city full of entertainment and architectural gems was declared UNESCO cultural heritage site in 1982. Many attractions are concentrated in three main areas: Habana Viejo (old Havana), Centro. Habana and the Vedado on the western side. The Vinales Valley (Western Cuba) – easily accessible to the west of Havana by car, the famous Vinales Valley possesses some of Cuba’s most dramatic natural landscapes in the world’s best tobacco growing region. Varadero (Central West Cuba) is the oldest and top Cuban resort on a 19-km beach peninsula. Trinidad (Central East Cuba) is one of Cuba’s earliest settlements. Prosperity boomed with the slave trade and expansion of the sugar industry and some of the opulent buildings still standing in the town are testimony to this golden era. Cayo Coco (Central East Cuba) is a pristine stretch of 22-km of white sandy, palm-fringed beaches and a natural reserve for marine birds such as flamingos. Santiago de Cuba (East Cuba) the second largest town in Cuba, at the southern point is perhaps the most African, most musical and most passionate city in Cuba. It is the cultural melting pot of ethnic diversity between African, Spanish, French and Chinese – mixing European, Catholic and pagan traditions. It plays host to one of Latin America’s most famous carnivals during June/July.

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