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Cuba Geographical Information

Cuba lies just south of the Tropic of Cancer at 21 30° N in the blue-green waters of the Caribbean on the edge of the North Atlantic. At 110,860 sq km it is the largest of the Caribbean islands. The topography of the island is for the most part of plains, both flat and in places undulating. The southeastern part of the island is mountainous.

Much of Cuba’s forests were cleared out during the Spanish occupation to accommodate sugarcane cultivation and cattle grazing. A reforestation programme aims to rectify the damage. The fauna is a mixture of semi deciduous forests, rainforests, and coastal and upland scrub. Where the soil is deficient, like in the savannah, the vegetation is sparse savannah-type, in the Sierra de los Organos there is limestone vegetation, in the coastal areas and wetlands one finds xerophytes and mangroves. In the southeastern mountains there are pine forests.

The best-preserved areas are the Parque Nacional Sierra de los Organos, the Reserva Ecologica del Macizo de Guamuhaya, the Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario, and the Montanas de Moa-Nipe-Sagua-Baracoa. There are more than 7000 species of flora on the Cuban island, including some rare specimens like the Pinguicola lignicola, the only carnivorous epiphyte, the Solandra grandiflora, one of the world’s largest flowers, the cork palm, a living fossil, and the Pleurothallis shaferi, a minute orchid. There are about a 100 species of palm on the island.

There aren’t any large mammalian species on the island. The animals found in Cuba include the manatee, bats and hutia. There are a variety of reptiles ranging from the Cuban crocodile to iguana and salamander. The smallest mammal, the shrew-like amiqui, is found in Cuba. You’ll also find the Cuban pygmy frog and the butterfly or moth bat.

Bird life is plentiful in Cuba: the bee hummingbird, the carpintero reel woodpecker, the caracara, pygmy fowl, the Cuban green parrot and the Zapata wren are only some of the species found here. The Cuban Trogon is the national bird. Bird life is at its most plentiful in the Zapata peninsula, which also attracts numerous migratory waterfowl and swallows.

Cuba has many UNESCO biosphere reserves and 14 national parks. The biosphere reserves are Cuchillas del Toa, Guanahacabibes in the west, the Sierra del Rosario, 1 ½ hours from Havana, Baconao in the east, the mangroves of Cienaga de Zapata and Buena Vista.

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