Welcome to the island of Cuba. Cuba has more than 6,000 types of plants and flowers for horticulturists. Cuba is a great place for mountain climbing as mountains cover 25% of the country, and the highest point is Pico Turquino at 1972 meters. There are also some great places to fish in Cuba. So, if you like the outdoors, Cuba is the place for you.
It is thought that Cuba was first inhabited by South Americans in 3500BC. The Spanish didn't arrive in Cuba until the 15th century. Christopher Columbus sighted Cuba in 1942, and saw it as a beautiful place. The Spanish ignored the island and made their first base on the island of Hispaniola. In 1512, Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar led 300 Spaniards to Cuba and took over the land. They killed many Indians in the process, although Velázquez was not in favor of killing the people who had been living there. The explorers established large estates which enslaved the Indians. In 1542, the system was abolished although the slavery and disease brought by the Spanish had wiped out all but about 5,000 Indians. Cuba had become under an increasing threat of attack by the British. They had already taken over the surrounding islands. On June 6, 1762, Cuba fell under British rule. The British captured Havana and occupied it for 11 months. The British brought 4000 African slaves to Cuba, and expanded Cuba's international trading. Due to the increase of labor from the slaves, Cuba became the largest producer of sugar. In 1820 Cuba became the worlds largest producer of sugar, since Haiti's economy, their biggest competitor, was in the midst of a slave uprising. Between 1810, and 1825, Cuba and Puerto Rico were the only remaining Spanish colonies in the western hemisphere. Spanish loyalists fled to Cuba in masses from the former Spanish colonies. In 1868, Cuba launched independence. After 10 years and 200,000 deaths, Cuba was grated freedom. In more recent times, the US has gained control of many things in Cuba. Soon, Fidel Castro became prime minister, and began giving schooling etc. In the past three decades however, Cuba has been under much criticism for human rights.
The African Slaves brought with them rhythm and ritual dances. These songs then mixed with the Spanish guitars and melodies. The new form of music was them Americanized. The modern party dance form of the "Conga Line" was originated by slaves shackled together, as many of the Cuban dances are associated with Afro-Cuban religions. One of the most popular forms of Cuban music is son, which was formed in the hills of Oriente before the turn of the century. Son incorporated guitars, tres (a small Cuban stringed instrument with three pairs of strings), double bass, bongos, claves, maracas and voice. Other forms of music, such as Mambo, bolero, salsa and chachachá all derived from this form.
The first form of Cuban art is cave painting. Later testimonials included the cartographies of the island, combined with impressions and myths developed by chroniclers.
Unlike the other Latin American colonies, the island during the 15th and 16th centuries was very poor and neglected economically and therefore also of little significance culturally. Foreign artists streamed to Cuba, the "key to the New World", and a great number of paintings were brought from Spain to furnish chapels and churches. Art had a cult function before it became an expression of the culture in any real sense. In the colonial period, (which historically spans four centuries), only the 18th and above all the 19th centuries are significant in terms of the creation of Cuban art. This was the first time that art was thought of in Cuba as an occupation. The artists were mulattos or blacks - self-taught people who exchanged lessons with each other; they were regarded as craftsmen. José Nicolás de la Escalera y Domínguez is the first Cuban painter, with the exception of Tadeo Chirino from Santiago, who, although sixteen years younger, developed a work with more inaccuracies and primitivism.
National painting began to take shape from the mid 19th century onward. Taste and the appreciation of painting developed in Cuba at the same pace as the intellectual environment of the island was infused with new activities. Romanticism made its appearance in the paintings of this era with landscape paintings.
The commercialization of art did not begin until after 1916, with the Salon de Bellas Artes. Prior to that, the portrait represented a two-sided relationship, history was linked more to the state, and the allegorical was attributable to education. The Asociación de Pintores y Escultores cubanos was founded to defend the work of Cuban artists against foreign ones, and to organize the annual Salón de Bellas Artes. Whilst the peninsular sector enjoyed Spanish painting, the ruling oligarchy mainly invested in foreign models, in that production which was dedicated to their cultural style of life. The revolution in sculptural art, introduced in Europe by Cezanne, Gauguin, van Gogh , with the modern - ism , appeared in Cuba with a delay of two decades. Portrait and landscape subjects demanded a return to significance in their own right and were created using other artistic techniques, with the exception of oil on canvas. Those of this period who were to become masters of modern Cuban art drew inspiration from these sources and from Mexican mural painting, until a personal and deeply Cuban work was created.
The 40s and 50s mark the second moment in Cuban sculpture. In this process of the continued modernization of art, a new avant-garde developed; this time coinciding with trends in international art which was no longer focused on Europe but on North America. Abstractionism arrived in the country and provoked the Contrabienale of 1953. The aforementioned artists adapted their work to these new influences. Cuban art of the previous four decades represents the revolutionary period, its continuity and the completion of a process of maturing. The sixties encouraged heterogeneity, plurality and freedom of expression, optimism and trust in order to emphasize the changes taking place in the country. Humorous drawings, based on everyday realities, developed along broad lines.
The decade of the 70s was a time when sketches and graphic art flourished. In the 80s, emancipation had been researched and announced in terms of collective approaches. In the present decade it is difficult to form groups for the very reason that it is a time of individualism and subjectivism. The openness and flexibility of power makes diversity possible. The generation of the 70s remains latent and, together with well-known names, a whole series or younger artists appear.
The history of Cuban art would be incomplete if art in exile, centered mainly on the USA and Paris, were to be excluded. It encompasses the production of the old masters who left the country as well as those of Arte Calle of the eighties, the so-called generation of Mariel and others, who had to adapt their works to suit the requirements of the market. Also those living in Mexico, Paris or Madrid who traveled to Miami after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the generation which trained abroad, Arturo Rodríguez, Juan González and Hernán García from the generation from Miami). We know nothing of the development and fate of any of these.
Almost all tourists in Cuba are required to have a Cuban Visa or Tourist Card. Also, the US does not allow any citizens to travel to Cuba without getting a license. When compared to most other Caribbean destinations, Cuba is considered to be inexpensive. Most travelers checks cleared through New York are not negotiable in Cuba. Eurocheques cannot be used either. If you want to use credit cards, Visa and Mastercard are both acceptable as long as they were not issued by a US bank. Keep in mind, you will be expected to pay in US dollars. Tipping in Cuba is not necessary anywhere, but if you feel that it is necessary, you may leave a tip of one dollar. December to April is the peak tourist season in Cuba, although anytime is fine to go. Other peak times include Christmas, Easter and the period around 26 July. Some of the popular activities for tourists in Cuba include hiking, trekking, horse back riding, surfing, scuba diving and deep sea fishing.