About La Habana, Cuba
- Population: 2.1 million
- Distance from Pinar del Río: 164 km
- Distance from Santiago de Cuba: 862 km
One of the many streets in Havana.
Photo credit: Sarah Helmes
The capital of Cuba, La Habana is a bustling city full of culture, arts, and entertainment that is also, as a result of Cuba’s Castro-era relative isolation, surprisingly uncommercial: free of the billboards and the over-advertised feel of much of the rest of the globe. Old Habana is an UNESCO World Heritage site and is one of the best-preserved colonial Spanish complexes in the Americas, untouched, (and one could even say faded) with a sense of romance, but also with a very real sense of the poverty and the limited means Cuba has had during its more isolated last few decades. Further contributing to the "time-capsule" feel of the city, 1950s-era American and late twentieth-century Soviet-made vehicles mix with more modest transportation on the streets. There is a poignant, fleeting feel to this time in La Habana’s history, making it all the more relevant to live in and study this culture and society in transition firsthand.
Colorful artwork and markets are plentiful in Cuba.
Photo credit: USAC staff
The sincerely friendly, expressive, multicultural Cuban society supports a rich and varied Caribbean culture that is a fusion of African, Spanish, and American influences. Cuban music, dance, literature, cuisine, and art all reflect this historical and cultural mixture resulting in a sensory overload of exotic rhythms, vibrant colors, and tropical flavors. Cuba's natural beauty is as unique as its culture, with verdant agricultural valleys and plains and thousands of miles of shoreline and pristine beaches.