CUBA, the largest and most westerly of the West Indies. It stretches in the form of a narrow crescent, convex on the N. side, at the entrance of the Gulf of Mexico, which it divides into two channels, the N. W., 124 miles wide, and the S. W., miles at its narrowest part.
Topograpluy.—Cuba is 775 miles long from Cape Maysi on the E. to Cape An tonio on the W., with a breadth vary ing from 30 miles to 160 miles, a coast line of 1,976 miles, and an area of 44, 215 square miles. Only about one-third of the coast-line is accessible to vessels, the remainder being beset by reefs and banks. The shores, low and flat, are lia ble to inundations, but there are numer ous excellent havens. A watershed running lengthwise through the island, rises into mountainous heights only in the S. E., where are the Sierra de Maes tro, shooting up in the Pico de Tar quinto to 8,400 feet, and the Sierra del Cobre (copper). The mountains, com posed of granite overlaid with calca reous rocks, and containing minerals, es pecially copper and iron, are clothed in almost perennial verdure, wooded to the summits. Carboniferous strata appear in the W., schistose rocks on the N. coast. The limestone rocks abound in caverns, with magnificent stalactites. Mineral waters are plentiful. The rivers running N. and S., are navigable for only a few miles by small boats, but are very serviceable for irrigation of the plantations, and supply excellent drink ing water. The climate, more temper ate than in the other West Indian is lands, is salubrious in the elevated in terior, but the coasts are the haunt of fever and ague. No month of the year is free from rain, the greatest rainfall being in May, June, and July. Earth quakes are frequent in the E. Hurri canes, less frequent than in Jamaica, sometimes cause widespread desolation. A hurricane in 1846 demolished 1,872 houses and sank 216 vessels, and another in 1870 caused the loss of 2,000 lives.
Soil, Productions, Etc.—The soil of Cuba is a marvel of richness, and a large part is still covered with virgin forest containing magnificent mahogany, cedar, ebony, logwood, lignum-vitte, pine and caiguaran. The vegetation of Cuba also
includes tamarind, palms, ferns, lianas, etc. Among the cultivated products are sugar, tobacco, coffee, cacao, rice, maize, cotton, esculent roots and tropical fruits. Among the animals are a species of tail less rat peculiar to Cuba, a great abun dance of birds, including the mocking bird, a species of vulture (valuable as a scavenger), woodpecker, partridge, fla mingo, and albatross. Of noxious ani mals and insects there are the crocodile, scorpion, and mosquitoes. The rivers and seas are well stocked with fish, the turtle abounding in the shallows and sandy places of the beach. The chief crops of the country are sugar and to bacco. The abnormal demand for sugar during the World War, especially from the date of the entrance of the United States into it, produced conditions in Cuba which resulted in great prosperity among the sugar planters and, in fact, throughout all classes on the island. The sugar crop in 1918 was 4,048,480 tons, and in 1919, 4,446,229 tons. The total area planted to sugar was nearly 1,400,000 acres, and there were over 200 sugar mills in operation. The vast specu lation in sugar in 1919 and 1920 resulted in financial conditions which made it ne cessary to take stringent measures to prevent complete collapse of the bank ing system. A moratorium was de clared which lasted for the greater part of 1920 and into 1921. The value of the tobacco manufactured in 1918 was $13,829,627. Other important produc tions were rum, alcohol, live stock, lum her. Rich mineral resources, especially in the province of Oriente, iron, copper, zinc, lead, gold, and petroleum, are found there in abundance. In other districts in the island there were also valuable mineral deposits. In 1919 there were about 4,000 workmen employed in the iron mines. Iron was exported to the United States averaging 50,000 tons a month. In 1918-1919 the sugar crop was 4,446,220 tons.