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Havana (Spanish: La Habana) is the capital city, major port, and leading commercial centre of Cuba. The city proper has a population of just over 2.3 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 fourth largest metropolitan area in the Caribbean region. 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.

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. armoured cruiser Maine in Havana's harbor in 1898 was the immediate cause of the Spanish-American War.

Contemporary Havana can essentially be described as three cities in one: Old Havana, Vedado, and the newer suburban districts. The city is the center of the Cuban Government, and home to various ministries, headquarters of businesses and over 90 diplomatic offices. In 2009, the city/province had the 3rd highest income in the country.

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, a 20% increase from 2005. The historic centre was declared a World Heritage Site in 1982. The city is also noted for its history, culture, architecture and monuments.

Geography[]

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 harbors: 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 tall (60.96 meter) 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.

Climate[]

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. 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.

Twin Cities[]

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