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Villa Clara Province
Location of Villa Clara Province in Cuba
Location of Villa Clara Province in Cuba
Country  Cuba
Capital Santa Clara
Area 8,412.41 km2 (3,248 sq mi)
Population 817,070 (2004[1])
Density 97.1 /km2 (251 /sq mi)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)

Villa Clara is one of the provinces of Cuba. It's located in the central region of the island bordering with the Atlantic at north, Matanzas Province by west, Sancti Spiritus by east, and Cienfuegos on the South. Villa Clara shares with Cienfuegos and Sancti Spiritus on the south the Escambray Mountain Range. Its main cities are Santa Clara (the capital), Sagua La Grande, Placetas, Camajuani, Remedios and Caibarién.

Contents

History

The current provinces of Cienfuegos, Sancti Spíritus, and Villa Clara were once all part of the now defunct province of Las Villas, but Villa Clara is still referred some times just as "Las Villas" using the shorter old name. Santa Clara was the capital of historical Las Villas and still capital of Villa Clara.

During Pre-Spanish settlement in Cuba what now is Villa Clara province was populated by Cacique people with chieftains of Sabanaque (north west), Sabana (north east), and Cubanacan, literally "The Middle Land" in the center where Santa Clara city is located nowadays. In this region from the eastern landing point of the Spanish was where Columbus believed the "King of India" was living.

In early colonial Cuba, historical province Las Villas was center to cattle industry but by 18th and 19th centuries it has shifted to sugar production with a large concentration of mills. At the beginning of the 20th century it had the highest percentage of land farms (90%). [2] In 1950 was second to Havana in manufacturing establishments.

After Castro's revolution in the 60's it still lead the sugar production of the island, but in the late 80's and 90's after the collapse of the Soviet Union and lack of support thereof, most of the already inefficient mills were close down, some of them were disassemble other became museums. Only the most efficient mills are still producing sugar. Since then the province concentrated it efforts on building beach resorts in the North waters of the Caribbean sea.

Economy

Sugarcane plantations in Villa Clara

Sugar, the commodity that Cuban economy used to rely upon was basically based on the plains in the north of this province, and several large mills provided employment to many people. Now in a new structure of Cuban economy most of this mills have been abandoned and the economy is focusing on newly built beach resort in the north cays. Sugar and Tobacco are still the second most important agricultural activity of the province.

Geography

Camajuani Valley

The northern coast of Villa Clara is dotted with numerous cays (part of the Sabana-Camaguey Archipelago), and there are many coral reefs, sandy beaches, and newly constructed touristic resorts.

The Cays are a capricious cluster of some 500 islands, strewn along a sea of varying shades of blues and greens off the northern coast of the central province of Villa Clara and close to the second largest coral barrier reef in the world. It’s a tropical paradise with more than 17 km of fine-white sand beaches.

Villa Clara Keys, covering more than 77 844 hectares, are a veritable wildlife refuge and provide a habitat for some 248 species of plans. The most precious jewels are Cayo Las Brujas, Cayo Ensenachos and Cayo Santa Maria, renowned for their immaculate landscape of incredible beauty, with sugary-white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters, fringed by autochthonous vegetation and connected to Caibarien, a small fishing town on the Cuban mainland, by a 48 km causeway stretching over the sea -accorded an international prize for its harmonious combination of nature and engineering in an area declared a World Biosphere Reserve- thus enabling visitors to access the keys directly from Santa Clara City, site of the international airport. The causeway has a total of 46 bridges especially designed to allow the flow of sea water, therefore protecting both the biodiversity and sustainability of the area.

There is a small air terminal in Cayo Las Brujas for the operation of small and medium size aircrafts.

Villa Clara Keys, located approximately 300 km from Havana, are part of the Jardines del Rey archipelago, the largest archipelago surrounding Cuba which extends 465 km along the northern coast of the country.

A site of legends, it is said that this island, maze of singular biodiversity, was once a haven for pirates and buccaneers ready to pounce on ship passing along Cuba’s shores.

Cayo Las Brujas takes its name from an old legend about a young couple whose love was thwarted by a jealous uncle, who in turn is the namesake of another islet: Cayo Borracho, which means drunkard. The remains of the San Paulo, a ship that ran aground many years ago, can be observed a mile away from the key. Built in San Francisco, California and launched in 1919, the ship evokes the presence of American writer Ernest Hemingway in the area. From its deck, Cuban painter Leopold Romañach found inspiration for some of his famous marine landscapes.

Cayo Ensenachos is the smallest of the three keys but it’s a refuge for 22 endemic plants and 39 wildlife species. Shaped like a horseshoe, the islet was originally an aboriginal settlement. The beach is always calm due to the position of the key which prevents the large waves from hitting the shore with force.

Cay Santa Maria is also known as the White Rose of Jardines del Rey. The key was named after the flagship of Christopher Columbus’s fleet on his maiden voyage to the New World. Legend has it that this strip of land-some 13 km long and 2 km in width- is haunted by the spirit of Rosa Maria Coraje, a woman who hid aboard a ship in a desperate attempt to find both paradise and her beloved. She landed on the key and managed to survive hiding in the marshes, among the mangroves and feeding on fish, until she finally discovered her dearly-loved in a neighboring key.

Around Santa Clara, the land rises into the Alturas de Santa Clara. The highest point in the Santa Clara region is in the Alturas, at 464 m (1,522 ft) above sea level, while the south, dominated by the Escambray Mountains, reach elevations of over 900 m (2,953 ft). Villa Clara also has numerous lakes, which are used for both water sports and fishing. The largest Cuban river to drain into the Atlantic, Río Sagua la Grande, is also in Villa Clara province.

Municipalities

Vidal Park in Santa Clara
Main Plaza in Remedios
Municipality Population
(2004)
Area
(km²)
Location Remarks
Caibarién &0000000000038064.00000038,064 &0000000000000212.000000212 22°30′57″N 79°28′20″W / 22.51583°N 79.47222°W / 22.51583; -79.47222 (Caibarién)
Camajuaní &0000000000063544.00000063,544 &0000000000000614.000000614 22°28′5″N 79°43′25″W / 22.46806°N 79.72361°W / 22.46806; -79.72361 (Camajuaní)
Cifuentes &0000000000033391.00000033,391 &0000000000000512.000000512 22°37′15″N 80°03′57″W / 22.62083°N 80.06583°W / 22.62083; -80.06583 (Cifuentes)
Corralillo &0000000000027571.00000027,571 &0000000000000843.000000843 22°59′9″N 80°34′58″W / 22.98583°N 80.58278°W / 22.98583; -80.58278 (Corralillo)
Encrucijada &0000000000033641.00000033,641 &0000000000000345.000000345 22°37′2″N 79°51′58″W / 22.61722°N 79.86611°W / 22.61722; -79.86611 (Encrucijada)
Manicaragua &0000000000073370.00000073,370 &0000000000001063.0000001,063 22°09′1″N 79°58′34″W / 22.15028°N 79.97611°W / 22.15028; -79.97611 (Manicaragua)
Placetas &0000000000071837.00000071,837 &0000000000000601.000000601 22°18′58″N 79°39′19″W / 22.31611°N 79.65528°W / 22.31611; -79.65528 (Placetas)
Quemado de Güines &0000000000022590.00000022,590 &0000000000000338.000000338 22°47′24″N 80°15′21″W / 22.79°N 80.25583°W / 22.79; -80.25583 (Quemado de Güines)
Ranchuelo &0000000000059062.00000059,062 &0000000000000556.000000556 22°20′10″N 80°06′46″W / 22.33611°N 80.11278°W / 22.33611; -80.11278 (Ranchuelo)
Remedios &0000000000046482.00000046,482 &0000000000000560.000000560 22°29′32″N 79°32′44″W / 22.49222°N 79.54556°W / 22.49222; -79.54556 (Remedios)
Sagua la Grande &0000000000056097.00000056,097 &0000000000000661.000000661 22°48′32″N 80°04′15″W / 22.80889°N 80.07083°W / 22.80889; -80.07083 (Sagua la Grande)
Santa Clara &0000000000237581.000000237,581 &0000000000000514.000000514 22°24′20″N 79°57′14″W / 22.40556°N 79.95389°W / 22.40556; -79.95389 (Santa Clara) Provincial capital
Santo Domingo &0000000000053840.00000053,840 &0000000000000883.000000883 22°35′1″N 80°14′18″W / 22.58361°N 80.23833°W / 22.58361; -80.23833 (Santo Domingo)
Source: Population from 2004 Census.[1] Area from 1976 municipal re-distribution.[3]

Demographics

Santa Clara's pedestrian boulevard

In 2004, the province of Villa Clara had a population of 817,070.[1] With a total area of 8,412.41 km2 (3,248.0 sq mi),[4] the province had a population density of 97.1 /km2 (251.5/sq mi).

Notable residents

References

  1. ^ a b c Atenas.cu (2004). "2004 Population trends, by Province and Municipality". http://www.atenas.inf.cu/todo/Estadisticas/TABLA%20No_3balance.htm. Retrieved 2007-10-06.   (Spanish)
  2. ^ Luis Martines Fernandez. Enciclopedia of Cuba. VOL 1. Greenwood Press, Connecticut, London. ISBN:1-57356-572-5
  3. ^ Statoids (July 2003). "Municipios of Cuba". http://www.statoids.com/ycu.html. Retrieved 2007-10-06.  
  4. ^ Government of Cuba (2002). "Population by Province". http://www.cubagob.cu/otras_info/censo/tablas_html/ii_4.htm. Retrieved 2007-10-04.   (Spanish)

External links

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