10 Fun Facts About Cuba, the Pearl of the Antilles

On our trip through #ElEspañolEnElMundo #SpanishAroundTheWorld, we landed on the largest island in the Caribbean.

Rosario Traducciones y Servicios SA invites you to join us on a virtual linguistic tour through the different countries of Latin America, as we explore their diversity and cultural riches. In this second installment, we invite you to discover ten unique characteristics of Cuba, the largest island in the Caribbean. Home to the purest cigars and world-famous rum, Cuba has more than 11 million inhabitants, which makes it the second most populated island in the region, as well as the sixteenth most populated island in the entire world.

1) The best beaches in the world

 Choosing a beach in Cuba is not an easy task, since the island has more than 300, along 600 kilometers of coastline. Soft white sand and clear-blue water are some of the wonders that this little paradise offers. Several international tourism sites have recognized the beaches of Varadero as some of the best in the world. Cayo Guillermo, Cayo Coco and Cayo Santa María have also been recognized for their incredible beaches.

2) The smallest bird in the world

The zunzuncito, also known as fly bird or the elf of bees, is a tiny bird that can only be found in Cuba. The mellisuga helenae or hummingbird bee, its maximum size in adulthood is 5 centimeters (including its beak and tail), but it can fly at 114 km per hour, something that is really quite impressive given its size. Interestingly, the smallest amphibian on the planet is also found on this island; a fact that is recorded in the book Guinness Record. It is the Monte Iberia frog (Eleutherodactylusiberia) measuring between 9 and 10.5 millimeters.

3) Land of world champions

Cuba is renowned for having the first world champion of chess born in a developing country. José Raúl Capablanca, already knew how to play at the young age of four; at 12, he was  Cuba's national champion; and at 18, he defeated the world champion Lasker. He came to be considered the best chess player of all time.
Likewise, the first Latin American Olympic champion was the Cuban Ramón Fonst, won the gold medal for fencing at the Olympiad of Paris in 1900. 


4) The first Latin American astronaut

Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez was a shoeshine as a child who managed to reach space. After the victory of the Cuban revolution in 1959, he had the opportunity to enter a military school and ended up becoming a fighter pilot. On September 18, 1980, as a crew member on Soyuz 38, he became the first person from a country in the Western Hemisphere other than the United States to travel into Earth orbit, and the first person of African heritage to travel into space. Over the following seven years, he completed three missions to space, setting a record of time spent in orbit.

5) The oldest automotive park

Many think that going to Cuba is like traveling back in time to the 1950s. Old models of Buick, Packard, Hudson, Edsel and Ford are the most popular. Just to see these relics is reason enough to visit the country for many people. Some travelers take advantage of their stay to acquire original parts for their own collection, although the sale of these parts is not very widespread. 

6) The highest number of doctors per inhabitant

Cuba has one doctor for every 130 people. At present, there are 22 medical schools distributed throughout the provinces of the country. All resident Cuban citizens have the right to receive assistance at any of the health institutions, which is free. According to UNICEF, it is the only country in Latin America that has eradicated child malnutrition and the infant mortality rate is the lowest in Latin America and the Caribbean. 

7) Podium at the Olympic medals table of Latin America

Cuba is ranked 18th in the historic medals table of the Olympic Games and second among the countries throughout the Americas, second only to the United States. The country has won a total of 220 medals at the summer games: 77 gold, 69 silver and 74 bronze. At the Pan-American Games, it holds the second place of the historical medals table (the first one is also USA). In the Central American and Caribbean Games, it is in the lead position.

8) Two types of coins

For several years, two official currencies have circulated in Cuba and none of them is a foreign currency. Both the Cuban peso (CUP) and the convertible peso (CUC) are uniquely local, the first destined to a predominantly local use and the second one designed for the management of the money coming from tourism. A convertible peso is equivalent to a dollar or 24 Cuban pesos, approximately. 

9) Celebrating the new year with a bucket of water

The Cubans have unique customs. One of them is on new year's eve, when the inhabitants of the island have the tradition of throwing buckets of water into the street, with the aim of throwing out all the bad things from the previous year.  It is also believed that rocking chairs call evil spirits and can bring bad luck. 

10) The best boxing school

 Cuba stands out as the birthplace and school of great boxers. The island has 32 Olympic titles, 71 world champions and 64 youth world champions in this sport. The country has participated in the last three World Boxing events and hold two first places and a second place.