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Cuba ( KEW-b?, Spanish: ['ku?a] ), officially the Republic of Cuba (Spanish: República de Cuba [re'pu?lika ðe 'ku?a] ) is a country comprising the island of Cuba, as well as Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos. Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean meet. It is east of the Yucatán Peninsula (Mexico), south of both the U.S. state of Florida and the Bahamas, west of Hispaniola, and north of both Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Havana is the largest city and capital; other major cities include Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey. The official area of the Republic of Cuba is 109,884 square kilometers (42,426 sq mi) (without the territorial waters). The main island of Cuba is the largest island in Cuba and in the Caribbean, with an area of 104,556 square kilometers (40,369 sq mi). Cuba is the second-most populous country in the Caribbean after Haiti, with over 11 million inhabitants.

The territory that is now Cuba was inhabited by the Ciboney Taíno people from the 4th millennium BC until Spanish colonization in the 15th century. From the 15th century, it was a colony of Spain until the Spanish-American War of 1898, when Cuba was occupied by the United States and gained nominal independence as a de facto United States protectorate in 1902. As a fragile republic, in 1940 Cuba attempted to strengthen its democratic system, but mounting political radicalization and social strife culminated in a coup and subsequent dictatorship under Fulgencio Batista in 1952. Open corruption and oppression under Batista's rule led to his ousting in January 1959 by the 26th of July Movement, which afterwards established communist rule under the leadership of Fidel Castro. Since 1965, the state has been governed by the Communist Party of Cuba. The country was a point of contention during the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States, and a nuclear war nearly broke out during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Cuba is one of a few extant Marxist-Leninist socialist states, where the role of the vanguard Communist Party is enshrined in the Constitution. Independent observers have accused the Cuban government of numerous human rights abuses, including short-term arbitrary imprisonment.

Under Castro, Cuba was involved in a broad range of military and humanitarian activities in Guinea-Bissau, Syria, Angola, Algeria, South Yemen, North Vietnam, Laos, Zaire, Iraq, Libya, Zanzibar, Ghana, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Somalia, Ethiopia, Congo-Brazzaville, Sierra Leone, Cape Verde, Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Cuba sent more than 400,000 of its citizens to fight in Angola (1975-91) and defeated South Africa's armed forces in conventional warfare involving tanks, planes, and artillery. Cuban intervention in Angola contributed to the downfall of the apartheid regime in South Africa. (Full article...)
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Location of Cuba (red), Angola (green), and South Africa (blue), including South West Africa

The Cuban intervention in Angola (codenamed Operation Carlota) began on 5 November 1975, when Cuba sent combat troops in support of the communist-aligned People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) in against the pro-western National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA). The intervention came after the outbreak of the Angolan Civil War, which occurred after the former Portuguese colony was granted independence after the Angolan War of Independence. The civil war quickly became a proxy war between the Eastern Bloc led by the Soviet Union and the Western Bloc led by the United States. South Africa and the United States backed UNITA and the FNLA, while communist nations backed the MPLA. 4,000 Cuban troops helped to turn back a three-pronged advance by the SADF and Zairean troops, backed up by foreign mercenaries. Later, 18,000 Cuban troops defeated the FNLA in the north and UNITA in the south. Separatists from the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) fought the Cubans but were defeated. In 1976, the Cuban military in Angola reached 36,000 troops. Following the withdrawal of Zaire and South Africa (March 1976), Cuban forces remained in Angola to support the MPLA government against UNITA in the continuing civil war. South Africa spent the following decade launching bombing and strafing raids from its bases in South West Africa into southern Angola, while UNITA engaged in ambushes, hit-and-run attacks, and harassment of Cuban units.

In 1988, Cuban troops (increased to about 55,000) intervened again to avert military disaster in a Soviet-led People's Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola (FAPLA) offensive against UNITA, which was still supported by South Africa, leading to the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale and the opening of a second front. This turn of events is considered to have been the major impetus to the success of the ongoing peace talks leading to the New York Accords, the agreement by which Cuban and South African forces withdrew from Angola while South West Africa gained its independence from South Africa. Cuban military engagement in Angola ended in 1991, while the Angolan Civil War continued until 2002. Cuban casualties in Angola totaled approximately 10,000 dead, wounded or missing. (Full article...)

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  • ...that Santa María del Mar is one of a chain of beaches called the Eastern Beaches (Spanish: Playas del Este) which extend for 15 miles along the north coast of Havana province? And that it is a very popular spot for tourists?

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Havana Moon is a concert film by the Rolling Stones, directed by Paul Dugdale. Havana Moon was filmed on 25 March 2016 in Havana, Cuba. The film is a recording of a free outdoor concert put on by the band at the Ciudad Deportiva de la Habana sports complex, which was attended by an estimated 500,000 concert-goers. The concert marked the first time a rock band had performed in Cuba to such a large crowd, breaking the previous record of the Italian singer Zucchero Fornaciari who performed to a crowd of nearly 70,000 goers in 2012. On 11 November 2016 the film was released in multiple formats.

When the news that sitting United States president, Barack Obama was to visit Cuba was released--marking the first time a sitting president had visited the island nation in 88years--the concert was rescheduled from 20 March 2016 to 25 March 2016. (Full article...)

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Gerardo Machado y Morales (28 September 1869 - 29 March 1939) was a general of the Cuban War of Independence and President of Cuba from 1925 to 1933.

Machado entered the presidency with widespread popularity and support from the major political parties. However, his support declined over time. Many people objected to his running again for re-election in 1928, as his victory violated his promise to serve for only one term. As protests and rebellions became more strident, his administration curtailed free speech and used repressive police tactics against opponents. (Full article...)

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Watercolour painting by Jacques Barraband, ca. 1800

The Cuban macaw or Cuban red macaw (Ara tricolor) was a species of macaw native to the main island of Cuba and the nearby Isla de la Juventud that became extinct in the late 19th century. Its relationship with other macaws in its genus was long uncertain, but it was thought to have been closely related to the scarlet macaw, which has some similarities in appearance. It may also have been closely related, or identical, to the hypothetical Jamaican red macaw. A 2018 DNA study found that it was the sister species of two red and two green species of extant macaws.

At about 45-50 centimetres (18-20 in) long, the Cuban macaw was one of the smallest macaws. It had a red, orange, yellow, and white head, and a red, orange, green, brown, and blue body. Little is known of its behaviour, but it is reported to have nested in hollow trees, lived in pairs or families, and fed on seeds and fruits. The species' original distribution on Cuba is unknown, but it may have been restricted to the central and western parts of the island. It was mainly reported from the vast Zapata Swamp, where it inhabited open terrain with scattered trees. (Full article...)



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