Geography, Climate, Flora and Fauna in Cuba
On this page you will find all you need to know about the geography, climate, flora and fauna of the largest and most beautiful of the Caribbean islands.
Cuba is approximately 1250km long, 160km across its widest point in the east and 30kmacross its widest pointin the west. The island is the largest in the Caribbean, in terms of both land area and population. Also known as the “Pearl of the Antilles”, Cuba is located at theentrance tothe Gulf of Mexico. The Yucatàn Peninsula lies to the west of Cuba, Florida to the north, the Bahamas to the east and Jamaica to the south. Covering an area of 110 922km², this sprawling island is a treasure chest of diverse landscapes. The 7000km long coastline offers endless palm-lined beaches and year round warm temperatures, which makes it perfect for swimming.Or if you prefer, Cuba’s picturesque colonial towns are perfect for a stroll back in time.
Thanks to its moderate, subtropical climate and its pleasant temperatures, Cuba is ideal for travelling all year round. The average temperature sits at 25°C. Naturally, the weather varies according to season; the dry season runs from November to April, and brings a welcome relief from the humid summer months of May to October, when humidity levels can reach 90-95%. This is also the monsoon season; the coast of Cuba lies in the path of hurricanes, and winds of over 200 km/h are therefore to be expected. In the south east of the island, temperatures reach 1 to 2 °C higher than in the west.
Ocean currents pushing warm Atlantic water into the Caribbean Sea are responsible for Cuba’s climate. The cool north-eastern trade winds moderate the climate and maintain the pleasantly warm temperatures. This explains why there are no extreme temperatures of a summer or winter. All year round, the sun rises at 6am and sets at 6pm, meaning the difference in temperature between day and night is significant.
Flora and Fauna in Cuba
Cuba is a natural paradise, home to 8000 different species of plants and an equally diverse wildlife. The world below the water’s surface is a favoured place for tourists as 900 species of exotic fish make their home there. Cuba also houses some 350 different species of birds, 185 species of butterfly and over 1000 species of insects. In the wild mangrove forests of the south, all kinds of water birds are a common sight, whilst the north is teaming with huge flamingo breeding colonies. The most famous tree in Cuba is the Cuban Royal Palm, which is also the national tree of the island.
Mahogany and pine forests make up 25% of the island’s landscape, but tobacco and sugar cane plantations cover even more of the land. The folded mountains in eastern Cuba are made up of slate, chalk and gneiss, whereas in the west, the mountains are primarily composed of chalk and limestone deposits. Much of the limestone has eroded away over the last few centuries, leaving steep conical rocks, or “mogotes” of up to 300m high, which characterise the landscape of Pinar del Río. Furthermore, over thousands of years, several caves have become washed out, some of which are now open to the public to explore. The red alluvial and laterite soil of the river valleys provides an ideal foundation for growing the best tobacco in the world. Mangroves thrive on the flat and often swampy southern coast, whereas the north coast is somewhat rockier, so boasts towering cliffs. In Havana and Varadero, some of the bays have fine shell sand.