Some famous buildings in Havana.
|Nickname(s): City of Columns|
|• Total||728.26 km2 (281.18 sq mi)|
|Elevation||59 m (194 ft)|
|Population (2012) Official Census|
|• Density||2,892.0/km2 (7,490/sq mi)|
|Demonym(s)||habanero (m), habanera (f)|
|Time zone||EST (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
|Area code(s)||(+53) 7|
|Patron Saints||Saint Christopher|
Havana is a very old city. It was found 1515 by Spanish explorers.
Havana lies on the northern coast of Cuba, south of the Florida Keys, where the Gulf of Mexico joins the Atlantic Ocean. The 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 sluggish Almendares River traverses the city from south to north, entering the Straits of Florida a few miles west of the bay.
The low hills on which the city lies rise gently from the deep blue waters of the straits. A noteworthy elevation is the 200-foot-high (60-metre) limestone ridge that slopes up from the east and culminates in the heights of La Cabaña and El Morro, the sites of colonial fortifications overlooking the eastern bay. Another notable rise is the hill to the west that is occupied by the University of Havana and the Prince's Castle. Outside the city, higher hills rise on the west and east.
Havana, like much of Cuba, has a tropical climate that is tempered by the island's position in the belt of the trade winds and by the warm offshore currents. Under the Köppen climate classification, Havana has a tropical savanna climate that closely borders on a tropical monsoon climate. Average temperatures range from 22 °C (72 °F) in January and February to 28 °C (82 °F) in August. The temperature seldom drops below 10 °C (50 °F). The lowest temperature was 1 °C (34 °F) in Santiago de Las Vegas, Boyeros. The lowest recorded temperature in Cuba was 32 °F (0 °C) in Bainoa, Mayabeque Province (before 2011 the eastern part of Havana province). Rainfall is heaviest in June and October and lightest from December through April, averaging 1,200 mm (47 in) annually. Hurricanes occasionally strike the island, but they ordinarily hit the south coast, and damage in Havana has been less than elsewhere in the country.
Landmarks and historical centres
- Habana Vieja: contains the core of the original city of Havana. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Plaza Vieja: a plaza in Old Havana, it was the site of executions, processions, bullfights, and fiestas.
- Fortress San Carlos de la Cabaña, a fortress located on the east side of the Havana bay, La Cabaña is the most impressive fortress from colonial times, particularly its walls constructed at the end of the 18th century.
- El Capitolio Nacional: built in 1929 as the Senate and House of Representatives, the colossal building is recognizable by its dome which dominates the city's skyline. Inside stands the third largest indoor statue in the world, La Estatua de la República. Nowadays, the Cuban Academy of Sciences headquarters and the Museo Nacional de Historia Natural (the National Museum of Natural History) has its venue within the building and contains the largest natural history collection in the country.
- El Morro Castle: is a fortress guarding the entrance to Havana bay; Morro Castle was built because of the threat to the harbor from pirates.
- Fortress San Salvador de la Punta: a small fortress built in the 16th century, at the western entry point to the Havana harbour, it played a crucial role in the defence of Havana during the initial centuries of colonisation. It houses some twenty old guns and military antiques.
- Christ of Havana: Havana's 20-meter (66 ft) marble statue of Christ (1958) blesses the city from the east hillside of the bay, much like the famous Cristo Redentor in Rio de Janeiro.
- The Great Theatre of Havana: is an opera house famous particularly for the National Ballet of Cuba, it sometimes hosts performances by the National Opera. The theater is also known as concert hall, García Lorca, the biggest in Cuba.
- The Malecon/Sea wall: is the avenue that runs along the north coast of the city, beside the seawall. The Malecón is the most popular avenue of Havana, it is known for its sunsets.
- Hotel Nacional de Cuba: an Art Deco National Hotel famous in the 1950s as a gambling and entertainment complex.
- Museo de la Revolución: located in the former Presidential Palace, with the yacht Granma on display behind the museum.
- Necrópolis Cristóbal Colón: a cemetery and open-air museum, it is one of the most famous cemeteries in Latin America, known for its beauty and magnificence. The cemetery was built in 1876 and has nearly one million tombs. Some gravestones are decorated with sculpture by Ramos Blancos, among others.
Havana, by far the leading cultural centre of the country, offers a wide variety of features that range from museums, palaces, public squares, avenues, churches, fortresses (including the largest fortified complex in the Americas dating from the 16th through 18th centuries), ballet and from art and musical festivals to exhibitions of technology. The restoration of Old Havana offered a number of new attractions, including a museum to house relics of the Cuban revolution. The government placed special emphasis on cultural activities, many of which are free or involve only a minimal charge.
The traditional sugar industry, upon which the island's economy has been based for three centuries, is centred elsewhere on the island and controls some three-fourths of the export economy. But light manufacturing facilities, meat-packing plants, and chemical and pharmaceutical operations are concentrated in Havana. Other food-processing industries are also important, along with shipbuilding, vehicle manufacturing, production of alcoholic beverages (particularly rum), textiles, and tobacco products, particularly the world-famous Habanos cigars.
Images for kids
Havana Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.