National Geographic : 1906 Oct
VOL. XVII, No. io WASHINGTON OCTOBER, 1906 THE SATIr NAIL CUBA-THE PEARL OF THE ANTILLES* HE island of Cuba is especially favored by nature in point of both geographical position and material resources. It lies at the gate way of the Gulf of Mexico, midway be tween the United States on the north and Mexico and South America on the south, and is the largest and by far the richest in natural resources of all the scores of islands and islets on the north, east, and south, and forming collectively what is generally termed the West Indies. Cuba is entirely within the Torrid Zone, but not so far south as to make its climate characteristically torrid. The tempera ture does not differ materially from that of our own Gulf states, though the rain fall is greater. Its insularity insures a moist, equable atmosphere, as in the case of Great Britain, and the sea breezes of the afternoons and evenings tend to make the nights cool and comfortable, even in the warmest months. The outlying Ba haman chain of islands and banks shelters it in a great measure from the cold Atlan tic gales of winter, and about its only cli matic disadvantage consists in its ex posure to the occasional Caribbean hurri canes. The island is long and narrow and its longitudinal trend is nearly easterly and westerly. It is 730 miles long and its width varies from about 25 miles to about 100 miles. Its area comprises about 44,ooo square miles. In respect to these features and dimensions, as well as in some other respects, there is a striking similarity between Cuba and Java, in the East Indies. In area it is about as large as Pennsylvania or Louisiana. The coast lines are exceedingly jagged and irreg ular, and the coasts themselves are gener ally either rocky or marshy and in many places menaced by outlying reefs and sand banks, notwithstanding which there are a number of safe and commodious harbors, notably those of Habana, Ma tanzas, Cardenas, Nuevitas, Cienfuegos, Manzanillo, Santiago de Cuba, and Guan tanamo. The harbor of Habana, as is well known, is one of the largest and finest in the world. The Cienfuegos har bor is also a very fine one. Measuring from the points of nearest approach to its neighbors, Cuba is about o100 miles from Key West, Florida; 54 miles from Haiti, 85 miles from Jamaica, and about 130 miles from Yucatan, on the * This article is derived from the following authorities, all of which are particularly rec om mended to those desiring further information on the subject : " Commercial Cuba in 1905," by O. P. Austin, published by Bureau of Statistics, Department of Commerce and Labor; " Handbook of Cuba," by Senor Gonzalo de Quesada, Minister of Cuba to the United States, published by the Bureau of American Republics, 1905 ; " Census of Cuba, 1899," by Gen. J . P. Sanger, Henry Gannett, and W. F. Wilcox, published by the War Depart ment; " Commercial Cuba," by Edwin V. Morgan, U. S. Minister to Habana, Consular Reports No. 2629, August I, 1906; "Trade Conditions in Cuba," by Charles M. Pepper, published by the Department of Commerce and Labor, 19o6.