Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by learning ten fun facts about Cuba. Find even more on our Fun Facts About Central America and the Caribbean page! Part of our Fun Facts for Kids series.
1. Cuba’s Indigenous People
Tracing back to 4,000 BC, the hunter-gatherers Ciboney and Guanatabey were Cuba’s first indigenous people. Around 1,050 AD, the Taino people, who practiced shifting agriculture, arrived in Cuba and displaced the Ciboney and Guanatabey.
2. Cuba’s Geography
Cuba is the largest country in the Caribbean, and it is an archipelago consisting of the main island and around 4,000 cays and small islands. Located 90 miles from the south of Florida, Cuba is 777 miles long and 119 miles wide at its widest point. Viewed from the air, it looks like a crocodile, so it is called “El cocodrilo” and “El caima.”
3. Cuba’s Capital City
Havana, known in Spanish as La Habana, is Cuba’s capital and largest city, functioning as the country’s principal port and commercial area. It is famous for its historic architectural center, Habana Vieja, Old Havana, and its fortification system, which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
4. Cuba’s Nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Cuba is the proud home of nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Old Havana and its impressive fortification system is the most renowned site. The other eight sites are Trinidad and the Valley of the Sugar Mills, San Pedro de la Roca Castle in Santiago de Cuba, Desembarco del Granma National Park, Viñalles Valley, the Archeological Landscape of the First Coffee Plantations in the south-east of Cuba, the Alejandro de Humboldt National Park, the Urban Historic Center of Cienfuegos, and the Historic Center of Camaguey.
5. Cuba’s Flag
Miguel Teurbe Tolón and Narciso López designed the Cuban flag in 1849, but the government did not adopt it until May 20, 1902. It is known as La Estrella Solitaria, The Lone Star Flag. The three blue stripes represent the past three military districts the Spaniards designated in Cuba: Central, Occidental, and Oriental. The two white lines represent the purity of the patriots who fought for Cuba’s independence from Spanish rule. The red triangle means liberty, equality, fraternity, and the lives lost to the cause of freedom. The lone white star symbolizes independence.
6. Cuba’s Cuisine
Cuban cuisine is exquisite. Ropa Vieja, Old Clothes, is Cuba’s most famous dish. However, other popular dishes include Moros y Cristianos (Moors and Christians), known as congrí, picadillo (ground beef), lechón asado (roasted pork), ajicao, and tamal cubano (Cuban tamal).
7. Cuba’s Music
The fusion of European, mainly Spanish, and African roots characterizes Cuban music. The most celebrated musical genres in Cuba are danzón, son, bolero, mambo, rumba, chachachá, salsa, guajira, timba, conga, Cuban jazz, nueva trova, and reggaeton. Because of its diverse musical styles and richness of sounds, Cuban music is considered one of the best in the world.
8. Cuba’s Cigars
Cuban cigars are celebrated as the finest in the world due to their meticulous preparation. Handcrafted with homegrown tobacco, which has been grown in Cuba for thousands of years, Cuban cigars became a sought-after item worldwide after the Spaniards began to mass-cultivate tobacco and export it. Local tobacco growers are known as vegueros, and Cubans call the cigars puros and habanos.
9. Cuba’s Literature
Cuba is the homeland of many great authors. Some of them include José Martí, Reinaldo Arenas, Alejo Carpentier, Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, Leonardo Padura Fuentes, Lydia Cabrera, and Dulce María Loynaz.
10. Cuba’s Smallest Bird
The Bee Hummingbird is the tiniest bird on the planet and is native to Cuba. Its scientific name is Mellisuga helenae, and Cubans call it the zunzuncito.
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