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Despite the best efforts of the power to its north, the sun still shines on Cuba. It's the Caribbean's largest and least commercialized island and one of the world's last bastions of communism. The island's relative political isolation has prevented it from being overrun by tourists, and locals are sincerely friendly to those who do venture in - even blockade runners from the US get a warm welcome! The Helms-Burton Act has allowed Cuba to find its place in the post-Soviet world gradually, without the sudden destabilizing shock of mass consumer tourism from the United States. It's only a matter of time before American-imposed travel and trade barriers fall. No doubt millions will come when flights from Miami resume. Clearly, the time to go is now.

Although you can't quite hear the colonial architecture peeling in the streets, even Cuba's larger towns are pretty relaxed. The most frenetic it gets is in the middle of an enthusiastic chachachá, and the loudest it gets is behind one of the huge finned American cars chugging the streets. If you want it even quieter, Cuba's backcountry and beaches are perfect chillout destinations for hikers, swimmers, cyclers, spelunkers or those who just want to smoke a fine cigar under a palm tree.

Cuba has undergone a transformation since it first opened its doors to global tourism after almost three decades of isolation. Most noteworthy has been the rapid growth in private accommodation, the extensive network of casas particulares allowing the independent traveller the opportunity, not only to experience life more as it is lived by the average Cubano, but also to explore corners of the country that had previously been inaccessible or off-limits. Good news for the tourist is the growing choice of resorts and the number of new or refurbished hotels that are opening in towns across the country. While eco-tourism is still in its infancy and much of the island’s extraordinary natural beauty remains to be discovered, the government is already making strides in the right direction

Cuba really can offer something for all types of travellers and holiday makers. Whether you are looking for a picture perfect paradise with palm trees shading the pure white sand beaches and blue lagoons, or for an interesting baptism into a culture moulded by its unique history and political climate, next time you draft up your short list of vacations... make sure Cuba is on it.


• Full country name: Republic of Cuba
• Location: Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, south of Florida
• Geographic coordinates: 21 30 N, 80 00 W
• Map references: Central America and the Caribbean
• Area: total: 110,860 sq km
• Land: 110,860 sq km
• Land boundaries: 29 km
• Water: 0 sq km
• Population: 11 million
• Capital city: Havana (pop 2,200,000)
• People: 60% Spanish descent, 22% mixed-race, 11% African descent, 1% Chinese
• Language: Spanish
• Religion: 47% Catholic, 4% Protestant, 2% Santería (many Catholics also practice Santería
• Government: Communist republic
• Head of State: Fidel Castro

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