You knew about the classic cars, temperate climate, and rollicking music. But did you know these other interesting things about our near neighbor? As our countries resume their old friendship, why not brush up on your knowledge? If you visit, it might come in handy!
1. Cuba houses six biosphere reserves. “Biosphere reserve” is a UNESCO designation for an area that meets specific criteria for sustainability and other characteristics. (UNESCO stands for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.)
Villa Soroa in the Sierra del Rosario Biosphere
2. The world's smallest bird (the bee hummingbird) and one of the oldest species of fish (manjuari, also known as the Cuban gar) can be found only in Cuba and nearby Isla de la Juventud. The fish is edible, but its eggs are poisonous. The odd-looking batfish also lives in Cuba, though not exclusively.
Hummingbird in Playa Giron taken by Carl Pugh on insightCuba's Classic Cuba Trip
3. Traditional Cuban meals are not served in courses. All dishes are brought out and served together.
4. Cuba has one of the lowest birthrates—and highest literacy rates—in the western hemisphere. Those facts aren't necessarily related, but they make us wonder...
Boys in Havana Cuba
5. Havana's Parque Menocal boasts a statue of…musician John Lennon. The likeness sits on a bench, near lyrics from "Imagine," translated into Spanish. (A volunteer protects the glasses, which have been stolen and replaced many times.) In the 1960s and '70s, Beatles music was banned from Cuban radio and TV. Jorge "Papito" Serguera, then president of the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television, later said he liked the Beatles, but was under government order to ban the group’s music from local airwaves. Dedicating the statue in 2000, Fidel Castro called Lennon, once considered subversive, “a revolutionary.”
John Lennon's Park, Vedado, Havana, Cuba Photo credit: Cynansy
6. For four years, Cuba was part of the United States! The Spanish American War gave us Cuba (along with the Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico) around the beginning of 1899, but the island gained its independence soon after.
Written by Chelsea Lowe
Photos by Robin Thom unless otherwise credited