Cuba has been in the news frequently in the past week thanks to endurance swimmer Diana Nyad, 64, completing the crossing to Florida. In doing so, she became the first to swim without a shark cage. This is obviously something you did know about but what might you not know about the Communist country?
With a history of internal and external problems, there’s never really been a stable time for what Alexander von Humboldt once called the “Caribbean Galapagos.” But, the romance of the country remains and it is the Cuban people who have kept Cuba afloat making it an enthralling journey no matter how many times you visit. Here we go then with 9 things you didn’t know:
- Castro Escaping Death—Fidel Castro traded power to brother Raul last month and marked the occasion by explaining how he was diagnosed with a fatal illness back in 2006. Aside from this, it is believed he has dodged many assassination attempts. Some tweeters have, unfortunately, been getting their Ariel and Fidel Castro’s mixed up in recent days.
- Mistaken Identity—In 1492, Christopher Columbus landed here and thought he’d reached China.
- Animal Safety—You can hike around safe in the knowledge that there are no animals after you, no poisonous snakes or lethal flora around. Putting your mind at ease.
- Integration—More than half of all Cubans have mixed ancestors or one black and one white parent. Known as “Mulattos” over there.
- Smallest Bird in the World—Cuba can boast having the smallest living bird as an endemic creature to its forests and woodlands. The Bee Hummingbird is just two inches long and has a chunky and rounded appearance.
- World’s Smallest Frog—While deforestation continues to be an issue for animals in Cuba, they continue to have some protection. Along with the smallest bird, they have the smallest frog—Eleutherodactylus Iberia—which is a rare species found in Southern Cuba. The frog can be happy that by being found in the Alejandro Humbold National Park they should be safe.
- Entrepreneurial Spirit—While you wouldn’t expect entrepreneurial success in a Communist country, this is making great strides for the country. As mentioned higher up, it is the people who give Cuba its charm and there is a new revolution happening since laws on private enterprise were relaxed back in 2010.
- A-List—OK, so maybe not anymore but Cuba did play host to famous and infamous people alike. Al Capone was allegedly a fan of Veradero while Ernest Hemingway definitely had a home outside Havana in 1940 as he became a fixture of the country.
- Rich History—We know that many things have happened in the country but Havana boasts as many as 1,000 significant buildings. From castles to convents, the cobbled Old Havana has great charm for those who visit.