As the largest island in the Caribbean, Cuba has built up a reputation as a place you simply have to visit.
With a rich history spread throughout the streets, and vibe that sends you back to times of old, this is a truly fascinating holiday destination.
But there’s much more to Cuba than the way it looks and feels. Here are our top five facts you may not know about this island retreat.
1. The Alligator Island
Don’t worry, Cuba isn’t swarming with these potentially killer animals, but it may not be uncommon to hear people saying things like ‘El Caiman’. You may wonder why, but the answer is quite simple; with the national language being Spanish, this is simply a Spanish word for alligator, which the island resembles from an aerial view.
2. Unique Wildlife
This brings us on to our next fun fact about the island’s wildlife. Firstly you won’t find any poisonous snakes here, so you can wander safely. But what you will find is the world’s smallest bird, the Bee Hummingbird, which only grows to a length of two inches, and the world smallest frog, the Eleutherodactylus Iberia. Cuba is also the only home of the prehistoric fish, the Manjuari.
3. A Land of Wonder and Beauty
Taking a trip to Cuba you’ll instantly be fascinated by the old time look that fills the streets, giving it a charm many are instantaneously attracted to. But beyond its wondrous, music filled streets, you’ll find a number of historical and natural wonders (22% of the country’s natural areas are protected), just waiting to be explored in the shape of nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites – seven cultural and two natural. These are:
- Old Havana
- Valley de los Ingenious
- San Pedro de la Roca Castle
- Desembarco del Granma National Park
- Viñales Valley
- The Landscape of the First Coffee Plantations in the South-East of Cuba
- Alejandro de Humboldt National Park
- The Urban Historic Centre of Cienfuegos
- The Historic Centre of Camagüey
4. They Love John Lennon
It’s not just Liverpool that loves The Beatles and John Lennon in particular. In Cuba you’ll find a Lennon statue located at John Lennon Park, which can be found at the Vedado district in Havana. Fidel Castro unveiled the statue back in 2000, declaring the musician a ‘true revolutionary’.
When visiting the park and the effigy in particular, you’ll notice the inscription ‘Dirás que soy un soñador pero no soy el único’ on a marble tile. This is the Spanish translation of the lyrics ‘You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one’ from the song Imagine.
5. Adverts, Coke and Mobile Phones
As you may have heard, back in 1959 there was a revolution in Cuba, leaving a lasting legacy on the country we see today. One noticeable effect of this is the lack of adverts; in fact the only adverts you’ll see are those advertising the revolution more than 50 years later. Until 2008 the sale of computers and mobile phones were not permitted, and internet access is still only accessible to a few. Finally if you want the sugary sweet taste of Coca-Cola, then you’re in the wrong place, as Cuba remains one of only two countries that doesn’t sell the soft drink; the other being North Korea.