Cuba: Turquoise beaches, ‘Son’ rhythm, and more!

The Republic of Cuba is an archipelago consisting of the main island — Cuba — and the archipelagos of Colorados, Sabana-Camagüey, Jardines de la Reina, and Canarreos, along with a chain of cays, islands, and adjacent islets. It is the largest island in the Caribbean, and the 17th largest in the world. Thanks to its geographical location, Cuba is home to more than 300 beautiful and paradisiacal beaches, with crystal clear turquoise waters and various sand textures — from the spectacular white found in Varadero to the glittery gold hues found at Guardalavaca — attracting tourists from all over the world.

Music is a commonly known expression of Cuban culture, and that is where we find the musical style known as Son (it means “beat” in Spanish), which mixes Spanish and Afro-Cuban styles with percussion elements and has become widely popular around the world. The Son rhythm is the basis for other musical genres, too, such as salsa, rumba, and mambo.

Cuban cuisine is a fusion of Taino (native inhabitants), Spanish, African, and Caribbean foods. Among their most popular dishes are the Ropa Vieja, Moros con Cristianos (black beans and rice), the Cuban sandwich, and many more. Cuba was a pioneer in the production of sugar cane and is ranked among the most-literate populations of the world, boasting a 99.8% literacy rate.

Did you know: Ernest Hemingway wrote “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “The Old Man and the Sea” while he lived in Cuba. There are no animals or plants in Cuba that are poisonous or lethal to humans. Christmas did not become an official holiday in Cuba until 1997. More than 98 percent of Cuba’s coastal boundaries are bordered by reefs.

This is the ninth in a series of articles spotlighting different countries in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. To see a complete list of previous entries, click here.