Last update: September 18th, 2019 at 6:00 pm
The largest country in the Caribbean and the westernmost island of the Greater Antilles, Cuba lies only 150 km (93 mi) south of the tip of the state of Florida. Although near-at-hand, tourism from the United States had been severely limited in the past, until rules were relaxed in 2016. According to an article published by the New York Times, Cuba’s tourism industry saw 3.5 million travelers in 2015 and from January until early March 2016, before the new rules were announced, a million people visited the country. The number of Americans travelling to Cuba is expected to expand rapidly – although the country’s tourism infrastructure remains limited.
Cuba’s land area is about 110,860 sq km (42,803 sq mi), making it slightly smaller than Pennsylvania. Cuba is home to six UNESCO biosphere reserves and seven national parks. The somewhat bottle-opener-shaped Peninsula de Guanahacabibes Biosphere Reserve sits at the westernmost tip of Cuba, and is known for its diverse vegetation of mangroves, marshy grasslands, forest, and coastal scrublands.
From space, the most notable feature of Cuba is probably the jewel-toned Gulf of Batabanó. The Gulf is about 130 km (80 mi) long, stretching from the Pinar del Rio province in the west to the Zapata Peninsula to the east. The Isla de la Juvetud lies on the southern edge of the Gulf. The Isla de la Juvetud is most famous as a historical penal colony – and the most famous history is the Presidio Model (Model Jail), where Fidel Castro spent 18 months in his youth.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra satellite captured this true-color image of Western Cuba on April 28, 2016.