47 facts about Cuba

11.Cuba's climate is hot and humid, tempered by the northeasterly trade winds.
Most of the country is in the humid equatorial climate zone, where there is a single rainy season that lasts from May to November. The western edge has a tropical climate with a distinct dry season. Cuba lies in the path of tropical cyclones, which occur in late summer and autumn.
12.Cuba's river network is well developed, with over 200 rivers flowing there. The longest is the Rio Cauto, 340 km (211 mi) long, which flows into the Caribbean Sea.
Most of the rivers are located in the eastern part of the country. Of the 340 km of the Rio Cauto, only 80 km (50 mi) of the lower reaches are navigable. There are a small number of small lakes, and the reservoirs near the coast are saline. The largest lakes are Laguna de Leche and Laguna de Ariguanabo.
13.Cuba has characteristic soils belonging to the Caribbean soil region.
Much of the country is covered with red feralitic soils (characteristic of tropical equatorial and subequatorial climates, they may be red, reddish-yellow or yellow), with high fertility. In places there are ferruginous savannah soils and dark alluvial soils in the river basins.
14.Cuba's forests cover less than a quarter of the country's land - where tropical forests once grew are now cultivated fields and plantations.
The flora is species-rich but not very numerous. The primary vegetation formation of the island is savanna and xerophytic scrub. Many plant species are endemic. On the coast, forests and mangrove thickets grow.
15.There are 65 nature reserves, including two national parks that are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The wildlife, like the flora in Cuba, is rich in number of species but modest in quantity. There are nearly 7,000 species of insects and 4,000 species of mollusks. Many poisonous animals, dangerous to humans, such as hairy spiders, black widows, and scolopendras live there. There are no large mammals on the island. Crocodiles live in the swampy areas while iguanas occupy savannahs.
16.Cuba is home to the largest number of snail species in the world, including one that is considered the most beautiful - the Painted Snail.
One of these, the Cuban land snail - the Painted Snail (Polymita picta), boasts of its beautiful shell colors. They come in a wide range of colors and look like they came out of a painter's brush. For years they have been sought after by collectors from all over the world, and local traders capture the snails from their natural habitat to sell their shells. They are purchased not only by tourists visiting Cuba, but also shipped in packages to the United States and Europe. It has been illegal to harvest Polymita snails for more than a decade. Painted snails are critically endangered not only due to shell traders but also by losing their habitat to coffee plantations and climate change.
17.Cuba is also home to the world's smallest bird, the Havana hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae).
It is a small species of bird in the hummingbird family (Trochilidae). It is endemic to Cuba and to Isla de la Juventud. The body length of this hummingbird is about 6.3 cm, of which 1.2 cm is the bill, and 1.5 cm is the tail. The wing measures 2.9 cm, and the body weight is 1.6-1.9 g. The bright, iridescent colors of the plumage make the bird look like a little jewel. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies the Havana hummingbird as a near-threatened species because of the destruction and conversion of its habitat.
18.Before Christopher Columbus arrived in Cuba in 1492, the island was inhabited by the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean, the Taíno and the Ciboney.
In the early 16th century (1511-1514), Cuba was overrun by Spain and became the base for the Spanish Conquest (Spanish and Portuguese military expeditions to conquer newly discovered territories) in the New World.
19.The colonial authorities caused the extermination of the local population by introducing the encomienda system (slavery and control over the Indian population).
In the first half of the 16th century, black slaves were brought to Cuba to work on plantations. From 1797, the island became a major point of the slave trade.
20.In the first half of the 19th century, Cuba was one of the most developed places in Latin America (countries of the South and Central America where Romance languages are spoken, i.e. Spanish, Portuguese or French).
It was also one of the last Spanish colonies. Cuba became the leading sugar producer in the region. It maintained close trade relations with the United States from the late 18th century - becoming the object of its expansionism in the 19th century.