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Cuba (; Spanish pronunciation: ['ku?a]), officially the Republic of Cuba (RCUB.ogg), is a country comprising the island of Cuba as well as Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos. Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean meet. It is east of the Yucatán Peninsula (Mexico), south of both the U.S. state of Florida and the Bahamas, west of Haiti and north of both Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Havana is the largest city and capital; other major cities include Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey. The area of the Republic of Cuba is 110,860 square kilometers (42,800 sq mi) (109,884 square kilometers (42,426 sq mi) without the territorial waters). The island of Cuba is the largest island in Cuba and in the Caribbean, with an area of 105,006 square kilometers (40,543 sq mi), and the second-most populous after Hispaniola, with over 11 million inhabitants.

The territory that is now Cuba was inhabited by the Ciboney Taíno people from the 4th millennium BC until Spanish colonization in the 15th century. From the 15th century, it was a colony of Spain until the Spanish-American War of 1898, when Cuba was occupied by the United States and gained nominal independence as a de facto United States protectorate in 1902. As a fragile republic, in 1940 Cuba attempted to strengthen its democratic system, but mounting political radicalization and social strife culminated in a coup and subsequent dictatorship under Fulgencio Batista in 1952. Open corruption and oppression under Batista's rule led to his ousting in January 1959 by the 26th of July Movement, which afterwards established communist rule under the leadership of Fidel Castro. Since 1965, the state has been governed by the Communist Party of Cuba. The country was a point of contention during the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States, and a nuclear war nearly broke out during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Cuba is one of a few extant Marxist-Leninist socialist states, where the role of the vanguard Communist Party is enshrined in the Constitution. Independent observers have accused the Cuban government of numerous human rights abuses, including short-term arbitrary imprisonment.

Culturally, Cuba is considered part of Latin America. It is a multiethnic country whose people, culture and customs derive from diverse origins, including the aboriginal Taíno and Ciboney peoples, the long period of Spanish colonialism, the introduction of African slaves and a close relationship with the Soviet Union in the Cold War.
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Granma is the yacht that was used to transport the fighters of the Cuban Revolution from Mexico to Cuba in 1956 for the purpose of overthrowing the regime of Fulgencio Batista. The 60-foot (18-meter) diesel-powered cabin cruiser was built in 1943 and designed to accommodate 12 people. It is said to have been named for the original owner's grandmother.

The yacht was purchased on 10 October 1956 for the amount of MX$50,000 (US$15,000) from the U.S.-based Schuylkill Products Company, Inc. by a Mexican citizen secretly representing Fidel Castro. Castro's 26th of July Movement had attempted to purchase a Catalina flying boat or a US naval crash boat for the purpose of crossing the Gulf of Mexico to Cuba, but had been thwarted by lack of funds. The money to purchase the Granma had been raised in Florida by former President of Cuba Carlos Prío Socarrás.

Shortly after midnight on 25 November 1956 in the Mexican port of Tuxpan, Veracruz, the Granma was surreptitiously boarded by 82 members of the 26th of July Movement including their leader, Fidel Castro, his brother, Raúl Castro, Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos. The group — who later came to be known collectively as los expedicionarios del yate Granma — set out from Tuxpan at 1 a.m. and, after a series of vicissitudes and misadventures, including the near foundering of their heavily overladen and leaking craft, disembarked on the shores of what is now Granma Province on 2 December. The location was chosen to emulate the voyage of Cuban hero José Martí, who had landed in the same region 61 years earlier during the wars of independence from Spanish colonial rule.

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The Castillo del Morro San Pedro de la Roca, near Santiago de Cuba.
Credit: DirkvdM
The Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca, a coastal fortress near Santiago de Cuba completed in 1700.

Did you know...

  • ...that the Cuban night lizard is less than 4 cm long and lives exclusively in the west corner of the southern-most coast of Cuba?

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