Cuba, Land and Resources
deep harbors, mogotes, los Organos, Nuevitas, intensive cultivation
Three-quarters of Cuba’s land area is fertile, rolling country consisting of plains and basins with sufficient naturally occurring water to allow for intensive cultivation. The soil mostly consists of red clay with some sand and limestone hills. Cuba is unique among the Caribbean islands because so much of its land area is arable and accessible to harbors. The access to harbors enables Cubans to transport agricultural products easily to foreign markets.
Cuba has three major mountain ranges. In the west the Sierra de los Organos range rises to the height of 800 m (2,500 ft) above sea level. In the south central region, the Sierra de Trinidad, or the Escambray mountains, tower 1,150 m (3,800 ft) above sea level and overlook the colonial city of Trinidad. In the east, Cuba’s tallest mountains, the Sierra Maestras, topped by Real de Turquino peak at 2,005 m (6,578 ft) above sea level, soar from the Caribbean’s Windward Passage, the strip of water that separates Cuba and Haiti.
Cuba has several other prominent mountains and hills. Lying north of the Sierra Maestras are the Baracoa Highlands, which climb to 1,230 m (4,050 ft) above sea level. In the far western end of the island are large, haystack-shaped eruptions called mogotes in Spanish. These unique hills form the Sierra de los Organos, which rise steeply from flat, lush valleys to heights of more than 300 m (1,000 ft).
Cuba’s 3,740-km (2,320-mi) coastline has deep harbors, coral islands, and white, sandy beaches to the north. On the southern shore are coral islands, reefs, and swamps. The largest harbors are Havana, Matanzas, Cienfuegos, Nuevitas, Guantanamo, and Santiago de Cuba. Since the arrival of European explorers in 1492, Cuba’s harbors have served transatlantic fleets in trade, ship repair, and naval defense.
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