Havana City

Cuba is such a beautiful country, and everywhere you go, there’s music and people dancing – especially in Havana City.

~Julia Sawalha

Havana is the capital city, largest city, province, major port, and leading commercial center of Cuba. It is one of the fourteen provinces of the Republic of Cuba. The city proper has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of 728.26 km2 (281.18 sq mi) – making it the largest city by area, the most populous city, and the third largest metropolitan area in the Caribbean region.

The Havana city extends mostly westward and southward from the bay, which is entered through a narrow inlet and which divides into three main harbours: Marimelena, Guanabacoa, and Atarés.

The city of Havana was founded by the Spanish in the 16th century and due to its strategic location, it served as a springboard for the Spanish conquest of the continent becoming a stopping point for the treasure laden Spanish Galleons on the crossing between the New World and the Old World.

King Philip II of Spain granted Havana the title of City in 1592. Walls, as well as forts, were built to protect the old city. The sinking of the U.S. battleship Maine in Havana’s harbor in 1898 was the immediate cause of the Spanish–American War.

The city attracts over a million tourists annually; the Official Census for Havana reports that in 2010 the city was visited by 1,176,627 international tourists. The city is also noted for its history, culture, architecture and monuments. As typical of Cuba, Havana also features a tropical climate.

In May 2015, Havana was officially recognized as one of the New7Wonders Cities together with Vigan, Doha, La Paz, Durban, Beirut, and Kuala Lumpur.


Conquistador Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar founded Havana on August 25, 1515, on the southern coast of the island, near the present town of Surgidero de Batabanó.

Havana began as a trading port and suffered regular attacks by buccaneers, pirates, and French corsairs. The first attack and resultant burning of the city were by the French corsair Jacques de Sores in 1555. Such attacks convinced the Spanish Crown to fund the construction of the first fortresses in the main cities – not only to counteract the pirates and corsairs but also to exert more control over commerce with the West Indies.

By the middle of the 18th century, Havana had more than seventy thousand inhabitants and was the third-largest city in the Americas and, by 1740, it had become Spain’s largest and most active shipyard and only drydock in the New World.

As trade between the Caribbean and North American states increased in the early 19th century, Havana became a flourishing and fashionable city. Havana’s theaters featured the most distinguished actors of the age, and prosperity among the burgeoning middle-class led to expensive new classical mansions being erected. During this period Havana city became known as the Paris of the Antilles.

Numerous luxury hotels, casinos, and nightclubs were constructed during the 1930s to serve Havana’s burgeoning tourist industry. Havana achieved the title of being the Latin American city with the biggest middle-class population per-capita, simultaneously accompanied by gambling and corruption where gangsters and stars were known to mix socially.

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