off the palette of the finest artist
Overview of Cuba - Travel Guide
The topography of the Cuban archipelago is characterized by a combination of heights and plains. The three main mountain systems of the Big Island are almost equally distributed in the west, the middle, and the east of Cuba. The island's long and narrow shape occupies a considerable portion of the Caribbean basin. The Gulf Stream and favorable trade winds contribute to reducing any unpleasant tropical elements.
All of these characteristics have contributed to highlighting the exceptional subtropical natural elements that provide Cuba with a truly marvellous landscape. Just turn a corner and you might be amazed to find a green valley flecked with red soil. Further on ahead, a cluster of hills with crystal clear streams cascading into sparkling waterfalls are divided by rays of sunlight to create a startling rainbow effect. Far on the horizon lies a blue mountain range where shrub-like ferns, royal palms, pine and fruit trees lend their shade and their branches to hummingbirds, Cuban grass quits, Cuban trogons, flickers and woodpeckers, parrots, Cuban parakeets, almiquies (solenodons) and hutias. The odd hummock-like mogotes or pincushion hills sometimes reveal wide openings, carved in live rock by navigable rivers, which have built miraculous natural cathedrals: Cuba's caves. Some, like Santo Tomás, can be classified among the longest caves in the world, or among the most beautiful, like Bellamar, in Matanzas.
The many and varied fragrances of palms, orchids, jasmines, yagruma, orange trees and guava groves are blended with the greens and other colors and soothed by the lullabies of cool breezes. In the distance, a permanent blue sea serves to remind us that we are indeed on an island, a fact temporarily forgotten amidst the extended grasslands, where everything moves, cradled by the wind.
Many ecological preserves, nature parks,
and specially protected wildlife areas stand out in this natural scenery.
Updated August 20, 2000
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