Western Cuba

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t The pool at Hotel Los Jazmines in Viñales.

Experience Western Cuba

Colonized in the 16th and 17th centuries by Europeans, mainly from the Canary Islands, Western Cuba retains its traditionally agricultural air. According to the inhabitants of Santiago de Cuba, Pinar del Río and Artemisa provinces are the least “revolutionary” parts of Cuba. They form the island’s most rural region, populated by white farmers who have never been known for their warlike passion. But, despite this reputation, Western Cuba was the scene of several battles against the Spanish in the late 1800s, and there was in fact a revolutionary front here in 1958.

Historically, Pinar del Río province has preferred to concentrate its efforts on producing what they claim is the best tobacco in the world. Tobacco fields are scattered among the Sierra del Rosario and Sierra de los Órganos ranges, which are barely 600 m (1,970 ft) above sea level – not high enough to be mountains yet tall enough to create a breathtaking landscape. The Sierra del Rosario, and the Guanahacabibes peninsula in the far west, are UNESCO world biosphere reserves, emphasizing conservation-conscious ecotourism.

Ecotourism is less of a priority on Cayo Largo, a long-established island resort with numerous hotels. This island forms part of the Archipiélago de los Canarreos, in the Caribbean Sea, which is made up of 350 cayos or keys and provides excellent diving opportunities.

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