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The city is located on La Habana (Havana) only on the island’s phibìc coast. That is the largest city in the Caribbean region and has one the the good treasuries that historic colonial preserves in the western Hemisphere. Prior to 1959, once Fidel Castro involved power, it was a mecca for tourists from the unified States, who were attracted by the city’s many attractions, which consisted of climate and also nightlife in enhancement to history. Throughout the adhering to years, however, in spite of its continued importance as the island’s major economic hub, Havana lost much of its lustre, because Castro’s socialist federal government redirected the country’s resources mostly toward the advancement of problems in rural Cuba. Havana hence deteriorated, also though rehabilitation projects began in the 1980s. The city’s Old Havana (La Habana Vieja) district and also its fortifications to be designated a UNESCO world Heritage site in 1982. Area city (province), 281 square mile (728 square km). Pop. (2002) Old Havana, 96,753; city (province), 2,201,610; (2011 est.) Old Havana, 91,066; city (province), 2,154,454.


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Character that the city

Havana’s ar along a splendid deep-sea bay through a sheltered harbour made the city a prime place for economic development from Spanish colonial times in the early 16th century. Cuba is endowed v a number of such harbours, but Havana’s top top the north coast was prized above the rather by the early on Spanish colonizers. With land ~ above both political parties of the harbour, the harbor was quickly defended. The early homesteaders erected a number of fortifications in the area that sustained most invaders. In early american times Havana to be the very first landfall for Spanish fleets comes to the new World, and also it came to be a staging area, first, because that the occupation of the americas by Spanish conquistadores and, later, because that the economic and also political supremacy of the hemisphere through Spain. The city early ended up being a cosmopolitan centre with sprawling fortifications, cobblestone plazas, and buildings with ornamental facades and ornate iron balconies. Today’s Havana mixes these structures with a selection of conventional modern buildings.

Havana’s rich social milieu consisted of not only Spaniards from diverse regions the the Iberian Peninsula however other European peoples as well. The small native Indian populace of Cuba was not a significant factor in the Havana area and, in any case, was largely decimated in that early contact with the Spanish. The early american years lugged a large influx the Black slaves from Africa who, ~ the end of enslavement in the late 19th century, began flocking come Havana. Today’s Havana is a mix that white Spanish stock, black color ethnic groups, and significant mulatto strains.


City site

The city extends greatly westward and southward native the bay, i m sorry is entered through a small inlet and also which divides right into three key harbours: Marimelena, Guasabacoa, and Atarés. The slow Almendares river traverses the city from southern to north, beginning the Straits the Florida a couple of miles west of the bay.



The low hills on i beg your pardon the city lies increase gently from the deep blue waters the the straits. A noteworthy elevation is the 200-foot- (60-metre-) high limestone ridge that slopes increase from the east and culminates in the heights the La Cabaña and also El Morro, the sites of early american fortifications overlooking the bay. An additional notable increase is the hill come the west the is lived in by the university of Havana and the Prince’s Castle.


Havana, like much of Cuba, enjoys a satisfied year-round climate the is tempered through the island’s position in the belt the the profession winds and also by the warmth offshore currents. Median temperatures range from 72 °F (22 °C) in January and February to 82 °F (28 °C) in August. The temperature hardly ever drops listed below 50 °F (10 °C). Rainfall is most difficult in October and also lightest indigenous February through April, averaging 46 inches (1,167 mm) annually. Hurricanes sometimes strike the island, yet they ordinarily fight the southern coast, and also damage in Havana is typically less than elsewhere in the country.

City layout

Walls and also forts were constructed to protect the old city, yet by the 19th century Havana had already grown past the original barriers. The city very first spread come the south and also west. Development to the east was assisted in later by the construction of a tunnel under the enntrance gate to the bay; together suburbs as La Habana del Este were subsequently able to be developed.

Several large avenues and boulevards stretch throughout the city. Among the most picturesque is the Malecón, i beg your pardon extends southwestward along the coast from the harbor entrance come the Almendares River, under i m sorry it overcome via a tunnel, emerging on the various other side in Miramar together Avenida Quinta. Roughly paralleling the Malecón in the Vedado neighbourhood is Linea, an additional long avenue that passes under the river. Among other thoroughfares of note are Avenida del Puerto, Paseo Martí (or Prado), Avenida Menocal (Infanta), and Avenida Italia.

A discussion of restoration occupational in Old Havana, native the documentary Curious about Cuba: The great Museums that Havana.

Contemporary Havana can basically be explained as 3 cities in one: Old Havana, Vedado, and the more recent suburban districts. Old Havana, with its small streets and overhanging balconies, is the traditional centre of much of Havana’s commerce, industry, and also entertainment as well as being a residential area. The is richly endowed with historical buildings, representing architectural styles from the 16th through the 19th century. Extending some 3 square miles and hugging the harbour, Old Havana contains Spanish colonial structures, towering Baroque churches, and also buildings in Neoclassic style, and also commercial property and less pretentious houses on the fringes.

To the north and west a newer section, centred ~ above the uptown area well-known as Vedado, has become the rival of Old Havana for commercial task and nightlife. This part of the city, constructed largely in the 20th century, has attractive homes, high apartments, and offices along wide, tree-lined boulevards and avenues. The is additionally the location of many hotels that before 1959 to be frequented by U.S. Tourists. Central Havana, sometimes described as component of Vedado, is mainly a shopping district that lies between Vedado and also Old Havana.

Old Havana
Cobblestone street in Old Havana.
Ellen Mack (A bsci-ch.org publishing Partner)

A 3rd Havana is that of the an ext affluent residential and industrial districts that spread out out greatly to the west. Among these is Marianao, among the more recent parts that the city, dating mostly from the 1920s. Some of the suburban exclusivity was lost after the revolution, many of the suburban dwellings having been expropriated by the Castro federal government to serve as schools, hospitals, and also government offices. Number of private country clubs to be converted come public to chat centres.

From colonial times Havana has actually been listed for its parks and plazas. Habaneros, together its occupants are called, gather day and also night under the sprawling tree of these plenty of green areas. Through colonial times and nearly to the end of the 19th century, the Plaza de Armas in Old Havana to be the center of Cuban life. That is most well known building, perfect in 1793, is the royal residence of the Captains General, an ornate framework that housed the Spanish early american governors and, from 1902, 3 Cuban presidents. The structure is now a museum.

In the 1980s many parts of Old Havana, consisting of the Plaza de Armas, became component of a projected 35-year multimillion-dollar repair project. The federal government sought come instill in Cubans an appreciation of their past and likewise to do Havana more enticing to tourist in accordance through the government’s effort to an increase tourism and also thus increase foreign exchange.

One the the very first buildings to be revitalized was the Cathedral that Havana, the church of Havana’s patron saint, san Cristóbal (St. Christopher); it was built in the 18th century by the Jesuit order. Located near the waterfront, the ornate facade is pertained to by art chroniclers as one of the world’s best examples of Italian Baroque design. The restoration occupational left the cathedral looking lot as that did when originally completed.

Havana: cathedral
Cathedral the Havana.

The expansive Plaza de la Revolución, west the Old Havana, to be the site of Fidel Castro’s major speeches as president, which were delivered prior to crowds of, it is estimated, as much as a million citizens. The plaza is distinguished by several of the city’s most-imposing architecture. Bordering the towering monument come José Martí, leader of Cuban independence, space such modern-day structures as the National government Centre, the headquarters that the Communist Party of Cuba and also the armed forces, and also various federal government ministries. In main Havana are an ext traditional buildings, including the white-domed former National Capitol, now real estate the Cuban Academy that Sciences; the Museum the the Revolution, housed in the old Presidential Palace; and the nationwide Museum of Art.

Street step in main Havana.

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Ellen Mack (A bsci-ch.org posting Partner)

Another restoration job was centred ~ above the old Spanish fortifications that overcome Havana’s harbour and, for a time in the 17th and also 18th centuries, do Havana the most-fortified city in Spanish America. The most famous and also impressive of these is Morro lock (Castillo del Morro), completed in 1640. It ended up being the center of the network that forts protecting Havana, and, v La Punta Fortress (Castillo de la Punta), dominated the actual enntrance gate to the harbour. The earliest fortification, La Fuerza (Castillo de la Fuerza), was started in 1565 and completed in 1583. Its site at the Plaza de Armas was that of an even older fort erected by Hernando de Soto in 1538 and later destroyed by French pirates.