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Weekly report on Cuba's tourism industry
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Flowers: A World of Colors in the Largest Antillean Island

The arrival of summer in the largest Antillean island, a traditional season to enjoy the sun and beaches, is accompanied every year by a true world of colors emerging from everywhere, thanks to the abundance of vegetation in cities and rural areas.

The goodness of a tropical climate and more than 6,300 species of plants - half of which are autochthonous - are the foundations of the presence of the most diverse varieties of flowers, which give a touch of freshness and beauty.

A complement in streets, avenues, parks, houses, and even in balconies, different kinds of flowers contribute with their colors to the environment, offering a pleasant image to visitors.

Cuba has excellent soils and a favorable climate for the cultivation of flowers, in addition to a deeply rooted taste for them, both in an intimate and domestic environment and at a social level in work places, public halls or recreation areas.

The richness and natural magic of flowers have not given in to the technological development marking the beginning of the new millennium. They maintain the same freshness they have had for many centuries.

For some experts, floriculture arrived in the island along with the development of the sugar industry, which was Cuba's main economic sector for many centuries.

Many years ago, landowners and sugar mill owners would build their homes near their industrial facilities or sugarcane plantations, so they would seek to make their living conditions more pleasant with gardens where they would also cultivate medicinal plants and condiments.

Cultural and economic development allowed for the emergence of a more refined taste among Cubans, along with the arrival of experts from Spain, France and Italy, and new varieties of flowers from Europe and the United States.

For some social events, floral ornaments are a key element without which many consider that the event itself loses its significance.

Bouquets, corsages, wreaths and tiaras are some ways in which these small and fragile representatives of a multicolor nature can be arranged, often incorporating their perfume into the environment.

Weddings, birthday parties, funeral ceremonies or special dates such as Women's Day or Mother's Day turn Cuba into a huge flower market.

However, some people often buy flowers just to give a touch of freshness to their homes or please their partners.

Experts say that flowers not only have the gift of beauty, but also the capacity of calming people down and softening their character, as well as purifying the air. They become a sedative for humans and symbolize fecundity and the renovation of life.

Carnations, dahlias, roses, gladioli and daisies are the most popular flowers for Cubans, although the place of honor is undoubtedly reserved for the mariposa (butterfly), regarded as the national flower of the largest Antillean island.

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