Covering Cuba’s southern base is the country’s oldest city and province, Santiago de Cuba. The province contains many historical sites, an interesting economy and mesmerizing mountain rocky shore landscapes. Green and rich, blue and clear, Cuba’s southern tier is a remarkable microcosm of what explorers saw when they arrived on Cuba’s shores.
The Bay of Santiago de Cuba is about as picturesque a port as Cuba has to offer. With great natural rivers and the tallest peak in the tallest mountain chain, the dynamic Sierra Maestra, this province is a natural wonderland. But, in the province are some of the finest gems in the pearl of the Antilles.
Before 1976, Cuba was composed of six historical provinces. One province was Oriente, which was known as Santiago de Cuba province until 1905. Today, the province of Santiago de Cuba includes territory from south-central Oriente.
Over time, the combination of the port and the mountain ranges has proved to be home of many of Cuba’s most historical battles. The mountains have provided staging grounds and hideaways from some of the most important guerrilla fighting in the Cuban Revolution.
Other than Santiago de Cuba, there are a number of important cities and municipalities in the province, including Palma Soriano, Contramaestra, San Luis and Song-la Maya. As of 2004, the population of Santiago de Cuba province was 1,043,202. The territory spans about 2,377 square miles.
The provincial economy relies on natural resources like nickel and iron and agriculture, such as prolific banana, cacao and coffee plantations and, of course, tourism. In this province, just about every resident has some sort of entrepreneurial endeavor.
The second largest provincial municipality is Contramaestra with more than 105,000 residents as of 2004. The largest municipality, Palma Soriano, rests on the upper Cauto River and was founded in 1824. With more than 125,000 residents, Palma Soriano has many historical moments, including being the destination where Jose Marti’s body was brought en route to his final burial place in Santiago de Cuba city.
Palma Soriano is divided into localities of Alto Cedro, Caney del Sitio, Guanino, Jose Marti, Juan Baron, La Concepcion, Las Cuchillas, Los Durados, Norte, Palmarito de Cauto, San Leandro, Sam Ramon, Santa Flomena and Sur.
According to the 2004 census, San Luis had 88,500 residents. The town lies 12 miles north of Santiago de Cuba. San Luis is an important railroad junction that serves the sugar mills and processing centers as well as abundant coffee and fruit plantations. For mining, San Luis relies on significant manganese deposits.
What we love about Santiago de Cuba province s that in many ways it is more historic, more culturally unified and traditional than Havana. Whether it is fantastic architecture or intriguing history, amazing landscape, hiking trails, clean beaches, fishing or just about anything else the rest of Cuba offers, you can find it in Santiago de Cuba Province.