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About Guantanamo

Guantánamo , city, capital of Guantánamo prov.,  SE Cuba, on the Guaso River. It is the processing center for a rich sugar- and coffee-producing region and has road and rail connections with Santiago de Cuba. Founded in the early 19th cent. by Frenchmen fleeing the slave rebellion in Haiti, Guantánamo retains many vestiges of French architecture. The city is c.20 mi (30 km) inland from its port, Caimanera, on landlocked Guantánamo Bay,. where the United States maintains an important naval station. Often called the Pearl Harbor of the Atlantic, the base has naval installations covering c.45 sq mi (116 sq km).
Its site was leased to the United States in 1903 by a treaty that was renewed in 1934; consent of both governments is needed to revoke the agreement. Since 1960 the Cuban government has refused to accept the token annual rent ($5,000) from the United States and has pressured for the surrender of the base. In the mid-1990s thousands of refugees fleeing Cuba and Haiti were temporarily housed at the base.


Little Beach of Cajobabo

Cajobabo Beach
This beach became a place of historical value on April 11th of 1895 when the National Hero José Martí landed in the area in order to join the fight for independence waged by the Mambi Army against the Spanish colonialism. To tour this area in the eastern-most province of Guantánamo is to retrace the path of Cuba’s Apostle up to his fall in mortal combat, an event that happened on May 19th of 1895 in the place known as Two Rivers (Dos Ríos). The Dominican patriot Máximo Gómez also landed together with Martí, who kissed the sands in a gesture of respect towards the land that always considered him as one of its sons. Marcos del Rosario, one of the crew from the boat, retraced the place on April 23rd of 1922, and identified the specific point of landing where a monument was raised in 1947. This difficult to reach place treasures enough merits to be hailed as a National Monument.


Alejandro Humboldt National Park

ALEJANDRO DE HUMBOLT NATIONAL PARK
It became one of the most important in the Caribbean and is named for the German scientist that visited Cuba in the XVIII century. It is located in the vast area of the province of Guantánamo in the extreme eastern part of the country and there one can find many species of native Cuban flora and fauna that add to the area’s attractions. It is also home to one of the most varied and protected ecosystems in the country. The park is one of the world’s most endemic places and an example of this is that it is home to two percent of the planet’s flora. Due to its wealth of attributes it has been proclaimed a National Monument.

Baracoa

Baracoa was the first village founded by the Spanish in 1511, and five centuries later is still standing as the main tourist attraction of Guantánamo. Its name is of Arauaco origin and means “existence of the sea”. It is also called the Landscape City, Rainy City, Mountain City, Water City (Ciudad Paisaje, Ciudad de las Lluvias, Ciudad de las Montañas, Ciudad de las Aguas), and is the capital of wood, coconuts and cacao. Its natural environment, enveloped in mountain massifs adorned by a vigorous vegetation of virgin forests, full of native flora and fauna, with crystalline rivers and beaches surrounded by mangroves, almond and coconut trees, gives it a distinctive seal, if we compare it with the rest of the country.

Guantanamo Museum

Museo Municipal de BaracoaThis municipal museum is located in the place where the Fort Matachín was erected more than 200 years ago. The vast collection offers the visitor a fairly complete account of the history of the first town founded in Cuba in the far year of 1512, the subsequent economical and cultural development, and aspects of vital importance related to its rich flora and fauna.

Address: Fuerte Matachín, Baracoa

Guantanamo Tourism

Guantánamo, the easternmost Cuban province, located more than 900 km (562 mi) away from Havana, is the only site of the island where there are zones with semi-desertic landscapes.
In the territory of this province we find the city of Baracoa, the first town founded by the Spaniards in Cuba (1512), which constitutes the first tourist attraction of the region.
The visitor that arrives to the city can appreciate a system of colonial fortresses erected to defend the city against pirate raids. Forts like Matachín, La Punta, and Seboruco, the fortified towers at Joa and Caguase or the Castillo de la Villa, currently become a comfortable hotel, reveal the secrets of that epoch.
One can also enjoy a ride on a “cayuca”, a typical boat of the region, along rivers Duaba, Miel, Yumurí or Toa.
Nature lovers, are able to appreciate the beauty of the mountain range that constitutes the national park Alejandro de Humboldt, treasuring the widest rivers of the country, and admire the terraces at La Máquina or the “monitongos” of Hatibonico.

Guantanamo fauna

The fauna of this privileged site is the most diverse of the island. Among the vertebrate species we can find the rare almiquí (Solenodon cubanus), representative of Cuban Pleistocene fauna; the royal woodpecker (Campephilus principalis bairdii); the Cuban parrot (Amazona leucocephala leucocephala), and the catey (Aratinga euops), endemic species belonging to the same family of the parrot. Another curious species that lives here is the sapito guantanamero (Peltoplrine ramsdeni), a tiny tailless amphibious species about 3 cm (1.2 in) long.
In the zones of Baracoa and Maisí, the easternmost of the province, there is a mollusk having arboricole habits, the polimita picta. This species, producing extraordinarily beautiful and colorful shells, is quite sensitive to changes in luminosity, humidity, temperature and salinity of the environment reason why it has not adapted to live in other territories.

Guantanamo flora

In this zone, there are surfaces covered by latifoliate, evergreen, and mesophilous woods of low altitude.
Littoral vegetation is typical of this region and consists of latifoliate thorny semi-desertic coastal heaths, located in littoral heights or high coasts from the mouth of the Yateras river and Puntacaleta. This kind of vegetation occurs again between the points of Maisí and Quemado.
Cultural vegetation, like that of pastures with crop focuses, natural grassy prairies, and secondary vegetation have occupied the valleys of rivers Sabanalamar, Yacabó Abajo, and Imias.
Wildlife is quite diverse and presents a high degree of endemism associated to the diverse kinds of natural vegetation.
The heights of Moa, Toa and Baracoa, constitute the territories with the highest quantities of endemic flora species of the country. Among them are worth-mentioning the ocuje colorado (Aristida pradana), the Calophyllum utile, a 30 m (98 ft) tree considered the most important among timber-yielding species of these woods, and the palm Hemithrinax rivularis.

Guantanamo climate

Mean annual temperature of the air presents two well-defined ranges: one north from the city of Guantánamo, with values between 24 and 26 oC (75 and 79 oF), and another south from it, exceeding the 26 oC (79 oF) value. In general, the region known as Guantánamo plain is dry, the record of mean annual evaporation is one of the highest in Cuba, specially towards the south, where it reaches its highest value (over the 2440 mm/year, 95 in/year) similar to that of coastal and sub-coastal sectors of all the Guantánamo territory. Mean annual precipitation descends from north to south, with values ranging from 1000 mm (39 in) to less than 600 mm (24 in).

Guantanamo culture

The development of communications in this region has favored cultural and educational interchange, as well as political and economical life. Although in 1961 the farthest spots in the mountains of the zone received the so called “alphabetizers”, who combated illiteracy and planted the seed of eagerness for new knowledge among the inhabitants of the region, it was not until the completion of the road of La Farola, linking the city of Guantánamo with the previously isolated Baracoa, that all the people from the region had access to culture.
After that, many other roads that allow access to this province have been built. Now Baracoa can widely display its fortified system that used to defend the city from the attack of pirates and privateers, and among them the fort Matachín, which houses the Museo Municipal.
There we find also the parochial church where they treasure the Cruz de la Parra, a cross that constitutes the first Christian symbol found in the island.
The Duaba Obelisk, erected at the place where lieutenant general of the Liberation Army Antonio Maceo disembarked in 1895.