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Weekly report on Cuba's tourism industry
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Cuba: First-Hand Tourism

The Cuban archipelago, a tourist destination par excellence in the Caribbean, offers a wide range of options linked to nature, culture, traditions and beaches.

All these options allow tourists to get first-hand information about one of the fastest-growing destinations in the region.

In addition to excellent beaches distributed nationwide, Cuba has also inherited the Spanish architectural wealth and the European influence that followed the colonial period.

Precisely, that element turns the Cuban capital, one of the first seven villages founded by the Spanish conquistadors and initially called San Cristóbal de La Habana, and especially its historic heart, into a key element in many tourist programs.

Havana's historic heart, declared Humankind's Heritage by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1982, holds most of the city's museums, churches, cultural centers and buildings from the Spanish colonial period. Old Havana covers an area of 4.5 square kilometers and has a rich colonial architecture and centuries-old customs and traditions.

Called at the time the Fortified City of the West Indies and the Key to the New World, Havana is at present a living museum showing a wide range of architectural styles, as a result of the different stages of the development of the city.

City Museum
Center for the Development of Visual Arts
Balloonfish

Natural and biosphere reserves, natural landscapes, national parks and protected areas create a varied offer characterized by its excellent preservation and unique features in the region.

Cuban fauna is very diverse and consists of more than 350 species birds that live on islets and keys throughout the country, many of which are endemic.

Tours to the country's mountain ecosystems are also highly demanded by foreign tourists who bet on Cuba to spend their vacations.

The potential of ecotourism lies in the Cuba's relief, which consists of four main mountain ranges that cover about 21 percent of the island's territory and hold 37 percent of the country's forests.

Experts say that there are more than 10,000 caves in Cuba, many of which are 25 million years old.

Pinar del Río, Cuba's westernmost province, also has several caves. Two of the most famous caves are the 45-km-long Santo Tomás, in western Sierra de Quemados, which is one of the longest cave systems in Latin America, and Cueva del Indio, through which the San Juan River runs.

Another site that is visited by thousands of tourists every year is the Bellamar Cave, in western Matanzas province.

Bellamar, which is 23 kilometers long and 300,000 years old, is made up of three caverns that were a single cave in ancient times: Bellamar, El Jarrito and Soto Jíbaro.

The Cuban archipelago also offers more than 70,000 square kilometers of insular platform and some 5,000 kilometers of coasts, which are bathed by the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

In addition, nearly 6,500 varieties of fish, crustaceans, sponges and mollusks, and an 850-kilometer coral reef in perfect state of preservation turn the island into one of the best-preserved underwater ecosystems in the region.

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