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Weekly report on Cuba's tourism industry
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Cuba Offers Non-traditional Tourist Options

Cuba, a major tourist destination in the Caribbean region, promotes recreational options that are not part of the traditional sun and beach offers that characterize the archipelago.

Cuba's many natural attractions are an essential element in that strategy, where hundreds of kilometers of excellent beaches, history and traditions blend with the country's geography, which contributes its mountains, flora, fauna and interesting cavern system to the tourist industry.

In fact, more than 60 percent of Cuban territory is composed of calcareous rocks, which, along with the influence of the glacial periods and the climate, have created the largest caverns in the region.

Experts have identified more than 10,000 caves throughout Cuba, many of which are 25 million years old.

Special attention has been given to the Cave of Bellamar, on the outskirts of the western city of Matanzas, which stands out due to its crystalline shapes made of calcite and aragonite.

Discovered accidentally on April 17, 1861, the Bellamar system runs along 24 kilometers of complex galleries.

Bellamar Cave
Bellamar Cave
Wall in Bellamar Cave

The 300,000-year-old system is made up of three caverns that used to be a single one in ancient times: Bellamar, El Jarrito and Soto Jíbaro.

That region also holds the Cavern of Santa Catalina, which has one-of-a-kind stalagmites of calcite and aragonite that resemble champignons.

The cavern, which has been designated a Prominent Natural Element, has cave paintings among other proofs of aboriginal presence, and the only fossil skeleton reported in Cuba, as a result of an accelerated process of mineralization, was found there.

Cuba's westernmost province, Pinar del Río, holds the Cave of Santo Tomás, which consists of more than 45 kilometers of underground galleries in Sierra de Quemados, and Cueva del Indio, through which the San Juan River runs.

Among the world's leading caves in Cuba are two other colossuses: the groups Palamarito-Novillo (42 kilometers long) and Majagua-Canteras (35 kilometers long).

To the west, on the Guanahacabibes Peninsula, researchers found a species of bat that was considered extinct in Cuba in the Cave of La Barca.

Furthermore, in the Perico-I cavern, in Bahía Honda, the remains of 164 individuals from an aboriginal community were identified in the largest cemetery from the pre-pottery period in Cuba.

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