Guantánamo is a mountainous region, with profoundly contrasting landscapes; it’s the only place in Cuba where you’ll find semi-desert areas.
Like everywhere in Cuba, the Spaniards were the first Europeans to settle in Guantánamo and the island’s first capital and first bishopric was in Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Baracoa , founded in 1511. In 1805, French colonists fleeing the Haitian Revolution flocked to Cuba; 35,000 of them secured land titles in the Guantánamo area, starting coffee and cacao plantations. Like in New Orleans, French influences can be seen in the architecture here.
Guantánamo Bay is situated in the south and is considered the third largest bay in the world (after Canada’s Hudson Bay and Bahia de Nipe in Cuba). Since 1903, the US Naval Base has been located here.
Guantánamo is a study in contrasts: indeed, it has both the driest and the wettest zones in the country. This is thanks to the Sagua-Baracoa Massif which divides the province – the northern coast, battered by prevailing winds, is Cuba’s wettest region, while the south is the hottest and driest. The north is characterized by rainforests, while the south is arid and dotted with cacti.
Guantanamo’s rich history is linked to its aboriginal name, meaning "land between rivers”. The province has a large fluvial network including the rivers Toa, Miel, Duaba and Yumurí .
National Park Alejandro de Humboldt (declared a UNSECO World Heritage Site in 2001) is a magnificent natural reserve spread over the provinces of Holguín and Guantánamo. It is one of the most important areas of endemic flora conservation in the Western Hemisphere.