Each and every visit to the Caribbean is like no other. There is always something new to learn, places to go or things to do. Sculpted by nature, the islands are ever-changing and evolving. With so many islands to choose from it is never easy to decide on where to stop.
We want to introduce you to our beautifully unique islands. Make sure you stay a while, take your time! In the Caribbean there’s no rush, let’s just ‘go with the flow’.
The more you learn, the more you will want to know, so relax and discover
The Cuban flag consists of five horizontal stripes where two are white and three are blue. In the left part of the flag, a red triangle and a white five-pointed star are located. The flag was designed in 1849 by Narciso Lopez, but was not adopted until 1902. Lopez was fighting for independence from Spain and he wanted Cuba to join the United States, this is why he included one white star on the flag. He wanted the star to represent one of the stars on the American flag. This vision, however, never materialized and Cuba became a communist country. The three blue stripes denote the three Cuban departments. White represents purity of ideals of people fighting for independence, and red recalls the blood shed during these fights. Each of the peaks of the triangle points to one of the ideals of the Cuban revolution – liberty, equality, and fraternity.
Information adapted from flagpedia.net
The Cuban Coat of Arms consists of a shield, a wreath, and a Phrygian cap. The Phrygian cap represents liberty.
The shield is divided into three sections. The key between two rocks symbolizes Cuba’s position between both American continents. The blue and white stripes represent the flag. The lower right division of the shield contains a Cuban landscape scene.
The wreath is made of an oak branch and a laurel branch. The oak branch symbolizes the strength of Cuba and the laurel branch represents the honour of Cuba.
Information courtesy of worldatlas.com
Al combate corred bayameses
que la patria os comtempla orgullosa
no temais una muerte gloriosa
que morir por la patria es vivir
En cadenas vivir es morir
en afrenta y oprobio sumidos
del clarin escuchad el sonido
a las armas valientes corred.
Hasten to battle, men of Bayamo,
For the homeland looks proudly to you.
Do not fear a glorious death,
Because to die for the country is to live.
To live in chains
Is to live in dishonour and ignominy.
Hear the clarion call,
Hasten, brave ones, to battle!
TOOK OFFICE: 03/01/1959 – LEFT OFFICE: 18/07/1959
TOOK OFFICE: 18/07/1959 – LEFT OFFICE: 02/12/1976
TOOK OFFICE: 02/12/1976 – LEFT OFFICE: 24/02/2008
TOOK OFFICE: 31/07/2006 – LEFT OFFICE: 24/02/2008
TOOK OFFICE: 24/02/2008 – INCUMBENT
TOOK OFFICE: 19/04/2018 – INCUMBENT
Most of the Península de Zapata is protected and part of Ciénaga de Zapata, a nature reserve (also known as Gran Parque Natural Montemar). Its vast swamps and forests create the perfect habitat for diverse wildlife species, including many rare and endemic ones. Since 2001, Ciénaga de Zapata has been a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Ciénaga de Zapata translates in English to Zapata Swamp.
Beach lovers don’t give just up yet. Península de Zapata has over 30 km of beaches!
Information courtesy of breathewithus.com
Valle de Viñales is a real Cuban gem. Best-known for its plantations that grow the world famous Cuban tobacco, this valley in the Sierra de los Organos has a lush karst landscape surrounded by mountains that blew us away the second we arrived there.
The mogotes (limestone outcrops), basically hills that pop off the ground of the valley, can reach up to 300 m and are one of the features that make the landscape of Valle de Viñales unique. The other is its rural environment. The valley is dotted with farms and its fertile red soil is suitable for all kinds of agriculture, where traditional methods and techniques are used and part of the authenticity of Viñales.
Information courtesy of breathewithus.com
Habana Vieja, or ‘Old Havana’ in English is the city-centre of Havana. Old Havana and its fortifications were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982. Home to many historic forts and museums which have been beautifully restored. With beautiful cobbled squares, lively plazas and streets lined with vintage cars, Old Havana has an interesting mix of Baroque and neoclassical monuments. There is so much to see, do and learn about the city’s long and colourful history.
Jardines del Rey, known as the King’s Garden, developed on the coral reef system that lines Cuba’s shore and is an 450km long archipelago. It contains hundreds of islands some of the most popular being Caya Guillermo, Cayo Coco and Cay Romano. Some of the major cays are also linked to the mainland however only Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo have tourist facilities. Both have beautiful white sand beaches that drift out into crystal clear and warm waters. Magnificent birds inhabit the nature reserve and flamingos can be sighted along the inshore lagoons.
According to historical data. Cuba was discovered by Cristobal Colon in 1492. It was another nine years before Diego Colon, his son settled and a further 3 years before the discovery of the city of Santiago.
Arawak Indians were the original inhabitants. They were wiped out by the Spaniards, who ruled for the next four centuries barring a brief period of British occupation during the eighteenth century.
The soul of the Cuban nation was forged during the nineteenth century, lead by Father Felix Varela of Havana. The culminations of his philosophical writings was his “Lecciones de Filosofia”. Which was for decades the textbook in logic, metaphysics, ethics, natural philosophy, and chemistry in colleges not only in Cuba, but in Mexico and other countries of Spanish origin.
He viewed science and religion as not being in conflict. That one could not be blind to the truth surrounding one, and that truth would lead one closer to God. Among his students were the leaders of the ten years war. One of these leaders described Varela as “the one who taught us Cubans to think.”
The Ten Years’ War emerged as the struggle for the independence of Cuba. It was led by the Cespedes and Agramonte families, who liberated large numbers of slaves. Although many of their battles failed, they pursued further uprisings. The struggles also had a dramatic influence on José Martí the “Apostol” or messenger of the revolt against Spain in the 1890’s.
José Martí was born in Havana in 1853. At 17 he was exiled to Spain for his opposition to colonial rule. While in exile he became an accomplished writer and journalist whilst drifting throughout Latin America trying to avoid living under dictatorship.
His views on racism, liberty, class and patriotism, were heavily influenced by Varela. Marti stated, “there is no racial hatred, because there are no races… the universal identity of man is evident in his victorious love and his turbulent appetites”.
He was annoyed at the talk of social classes. Because to “recognize their existence is to contribute to them.” To refuse to would result in their destruction, which was his end goal. Marti returned to Cuba under a general amnesty but was banished again as he conspired against the Spanish authorities. Marti then lived in New York until 1895, when he left to join the war for Cuban independence. He died in one of the first battles.
Cuba’s independence came about when the United States won the Spanish American War in 1898 and granted Cuba independence in 1902 after four years of U.S. occupation.