CUBA. An island In the West Indies, is separated from the United States by the Strait of Florida and from Mexico by the Yucatan and corrusrands the entrances of the Gulf o Mexico. Extending east and west from the74th to the 85th metidian, it constitutes the most important part of the northern barrier of the Carribean Sea, ancrg-trards the Windward Passage, the natural route . for commerce between the Atlantic Ocean and the °American which is equivalent to saying that it guards the route of commerce between the Atlantic and Pal:* oceans, via the Isthmus of Panama. Its eastern -point, Cape Maisi, lies directly south of New York city; its western point, Cape San Antonio, nearly south of Cin cinnati. But the length of the island, 730 miles, is somewhat greater than that statement would indicate, for Cuba curves °like a bird's tongue,* as the Spaniards used to say, from lat. 19 40' N. in the province of Oriente up to lat. 23° 13' N., the most northerly provinces being those of Matanzas and Havana. In its upward curve the coast-line attains it point that is only 96% miles • distant from Key West; thence it falls away again until but 130 miles separate it from the mainland of Mexico. Its width decreases gradually from 100 miles in the east to less than 25 near the line between the two western provinces, Pinar del Rio and Havana. Its total area, including the Isle of Pines and the caws or keys (more than 1,000 islets that form an irregular border along the northern and southern coasts) is estimated at 44,164 square miles. Thus it is larger than Vir ginia; smaller than Pennsylvania.
Physical Nature has provided unusual facilities for making the most of Cuba's favorable situation upon a great and permanent marine highway. The coast-line is 2,000 miles long, or much more than that if we take into account all its indentations. Capacious harbors, quite evenly distributed along the north coast, are Baracoa, Nipe, Gibara, Nuevitas, Sagua la Grande Matanzas, Havana, Cabanas and Bahia Honda; and, on the south coast, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Manzanillo, Santiago •de Cuba and Guantanamo. Besides these there are scores of fairly safe roadsteads and of moderate size. Therefore no plantation on the narrow island can be very far away from some port at which supplies may be received and from which produce may be shipped. The mountains of
Cuba occur in three distinct groups. In the westernmost province, Pinar del Rio, the Guani guanico Range (Sierra de los Organos; greatest altitude, 2,532 feet), extends from Cape San Antonio to the boundary-Iine of Havana prov ince, and thence continued in lower discon nected hills which give a bold outline to the northern coast of the four central provinces, it becomes the chief feature of the impressive landscapes around Sagua de Tanamo and Bars coa, far away in 'the east. The Guamuhaya group occupies but a limited area in the south ern part of Santa Clara province, between the cities of Cienfuegos and Trinidad. Its highest summit, El Poterillo, is 2,900 feet While the foregoing of no great height, but owe their attractiveness rather to beauty or oddity of line, the luxuriance of the foliage on their slopes, and the exquisite charm of the valleys they enclose, on the southern coast of Oriente province is a range that, in majesty, rivals and probably surpasses any mountains of the North American continent, east of the Mississippi. This is the Sierra Maestra (includiag the Sierra del Cobre and Macaca group). Rising precipi tously above the Caribbean Sea, this cyclopean wall extends through two degrees of longitudes from Cape Cruz to the city of Santiago, in a nearly straight east and west line. The altitudes of three widely separated peaks are given as follows: The Cerro del Oro, 3,300 feet; La Gran Piedra, 5,200 feet; and Pico Tailuino, 8,600 feet. From this it will be seen that all the northern parts of the island, and the southern coast- as far west as Cape Cruz, are either mountainous or at least well above sea-level. But a long stretch of coast on the Caribbean Sea, especially the southern portion of Santa Clara and Matanzas provinces, is comparatively low-lying and swampy. The great Zapata swamp is formed where the gradual southern slope reaches the Caribbean level. Beyond the limits of the Zapata is an archipelago of islets, the so-called *Gardens" or *Little Gardens' (Jardinillos), crowding the shallow waters be tween Cuba and the Isle of Pines.