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Location of Cuba in the Caribbean
Location of Cuba in the Caribbean
Republic of Cuba
República de Cuba  (Spanish)

Cuba (/ˈkjuːbə/ (listen) KEW-bə, Spanish: [ˈkuβa] (listen)), officially the Republic of Cuba (Spanish: República de Cuba [reˈpuβlika ðe ˈkuβa] (listen)), is an island country comprising the island of Cuba, as well as Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos. Cuba is located where the northern Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and Atlantic Ocean meet. Cuba is located at the east of the Yucatán Peninsula (Mexico), south of both the American state of Florida and the Bahamas, west of Hispaniola (Haiti/Dominican Republic), and north of both Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Havana is the largest city and capital; other major cities include Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey. The official area of the Republic of Cuba is 109,884 km2 (42,426 sq mi) (without the territorial waters). The main island of Cuba is the largest island in Cuba and in the Caribbean, with an area of 104,556 km2 (40,369 sq mi). Cuba is the second-most populous country in the Caribbean after Haiti, with over 11 million inhabitants.

Culturally, Cuba is considered part of Latin America. It is a multiethnic country whose people, culture and customs derive from diverse origins, including the Taíno Ciboney peoples, the long period of Spanish colonialism, the introduction of enslaved Africans and a close relationship with the Soviet Union in the Cold War.

Cuba has a single-party authoritarian regime where political opposition is not permitted. There are elections in Cuba, but they are not considered democratic. Censorship of information (including limits to internet access) is extensive, and independent journalism is repressed in Cuba; Reporters Without Borders has characterized Cuba as one of the worst countries in the world for press freedom. (Full article...)

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Son cubano is a genre of music and dance that originated in the highlands of eastern Cuba during the late 19th century. It is a syncretic genre that blends elements of Spanish and African origin. Among its fundamental Hispanic components are the vocal style, lyrical metre and the primacy of the tres, derived from the Spanish guitar. On the other hand, its characteristic clave rhythm, call and response structure and percussion section (bongo, maracas, etc.) are all rooted in traditions of Bantu origin.

Around 1909 the son reached Havana, where the first recordings were made in 1917. This marked the start of its expansion throughout the island, becoming Cuba's most popular and influential genre. While early groups had between three and five members, during the 1920s the sexteto (sextet) became the genre's primary format. By the 1930s, many bands had incorporated a trumpet, becoming septetos, and in the 1940s a larger type of ensemble featuring congas and piano became the norm: the conjunto. Besides, the son became one of the main ingredients in the jam sessions known as descargas that flourished during the 1950s. (Full article...)
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Cyclura nubila
Cyclura nubila

The Cuban rock iguana (Cyclura nubila), also known as the Cuban ground iguana or Cuban iguana, is a species of lizard of the iguana family. It is the second largest of the West Indian rock iguanas (genus Cyclura), one of the most endangered groups of lizards. A herbivorous species with a thick tail and spiked jowls, it is one of the largest lizards in the Caribbean.

The Cuban iguana is distributed throughout the mainland of Cuba and its surrounding islets with a feral population thriving on Isla Magueyes, Puerto Rico. A subspecies is found on the Cayman Islands of Little Cayman and Cayman Brac. Females guard their nest sites and one population nests in sites excavated by Cuban crocodiles. As a defence measure, the Cuban iguana often makes its home within or near prickly-pear cacti. (Full article...)

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Oviedo playing the tres, c. 1930.
Oviedo playing the tres, c. 1930.

Isaac Oviedo (July 6, 1902 – June 16, 1992) was a Cuban tres player, singer and songwriter. He was the founder and leader of the Septeto Matancero for over 50 years, and the author of many famous sones such as "Engancha carretero". Throughout his long career Oviedo only recorded a handful of sessions, mostly for American record labels. He has been called "one of the greatest Cuban tres players" by other musicians such as Efraín Ríos and Pancho Amat. According to the latter, Oviedo was the pioneering and most influential tresero of the septeto format (the major type of son ensemble of the 1920s and '30s). His technical innovations include the alzapúa thumb stroke and the use of the pinky finger.

His son Ernesto played in his band since the 1940s and became a successful bolero singer, while his other son Gilberto, known as Papi Oviedo, has also had a long career as a tresero, playing with Conjunto Chappottín, Estrellas de Chocolate and Orquesta Revé. (Full article...)
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A nipple-shaped hill near Baracoa, Cuba. Tree is Pinus cubensis.
Credit: DirkvdM
A Cuban Pine tree (Pinus cubensis) in Baracoa.

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Carlos Manuel de Cespedes.jpg
  • ...that Carlos Manuel de Céspedes (pictured) is known as Padre de la Patria, (English:Father of the Homeland) in Cuba, having declared the nation's independence from Spain in 1868?
  • ...that the Guanajatabey were indigenous inhabitants of Cuba, that lived on the island since at least 1000 B.C.? And that they were forced to the western point of the island by the arrival of the Ciboney people?
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