As for flora, Cuba offers a great variety of plant landscapes, despite the fact that man has largely degraded and modified them. Once the island was covered by dense forests, which still at the end of the century. XIX extended over half of the territorial surface while at the beginning of the century. XXI cover just over a quarter of them; Extensive reforestation programs are underway, to reconstitute that impoverished forest heritage initially to encourage the breeding of livestock, and then and above all to allocate ever more vast spaces to the cultivation of sugar cane. The dry tropical forest, in which tropical cedars abounded, acajú etc., it is mostly reduced to restricted spots; more widespread are the pine forests, which resist well in the poorest and most sandy soils, characterizing some localities, so much so that they have given them their name (Pinar del Río etc.). Finally, the equatorial evergreen forest appears on the northern slope of the Sierra Maestra and on the nearby plateau of Baracoa, while at the foot of the southern slope of the same sierra there is a semixerophilous cactaceae vegetation. On the reliefs, above 1500 m of altitude, low and bushy plant formations take over; widespread is the savannahherbaceous and arborate, which usually develops on poor soils. The royal palm is the symbol of Cuba and various species of palm trees are found on the island. The fauna also counts numerous species, some of which are endemic: butterflies, fish, snails, such as the polymyta with a multicolored shell; among the birds stand out the tocororo, that is the Cuban trogon, a bird whose red, blue and white plumage gave the colors to the national flag, and the zunzuncito, a local name of the elena hummingbird, the smallest bird in the world; among mammals the hutia, a small rodent: among the reptiles crocodiles, lizards, such as the colored blue stateless, iguanas and snakes. At risk of extinction are, among other things, the Cuban crocodile protected in the Zapata and Lanier swamps and the sea turtles, present on the Isle of Youth and on the southern cayos. The national system of protected areas, which covers 9.9% of the territorial surface, is managed by the Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment through the National Protected Areas Center with the aim of conserving the rich local heritage and providing environmental education paths. The categories into which the areas are divided, managed at the provincial level, range from the national park to the natural, ecological and floristic reserve to the wildlife oasis; then there are protected natural landscapes, protected natural elements and protected areas with managed resources. In addition, Cuba boasts the attribution, by the UNESCO, of two natural World Heritage sites: the Desembarco del Granma National Park (1999), located in the SE area around Cabo Cruz, and the Alejandro de Humboldt National Park (2001), between the provinces of Guantánamo and Holguín, a exceptional tropical island ecosystem in which the presence of numerous endemic species of plants and animals is noted. Visit cachedhealth.com for Cuba as a tourism country. Attempts to protect this heritage however collide with the industrial and tourist development of the island which has caused an increase in air pollution (especially in large cities), water (with the degradation of the coral reef) and soil, despite the intention of the authorities to effectively regulate human activities in order to avoid further repercussions on the ecosystem.
Situated between the Antillean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean almost at the height of the Tropic of Cancer, the island of Cuba occupies an area greater than half of the total area of the Caribbean islands; it is bordered by numerous islets and archipelagos, including – in addition to the vast Isle of Youth (2200 km²) in the Antilles Sea – the archipelagos of the Colorados to the NW, of Sabana (or Jardines del Rey) and of Camagüey off the central-northern coast, the Jardines de la Reina and the Canarreos on the southern coast. Narrow and elongated in shape, extending from W to E for 1200 km, and with an average width of 100, Cuba consists of the emerged part of an underwater continental shelf, which is linked to those of the Bahama and Florida. The island is mainly flat or tabular, bumpy here and there by reliefs that rarely exceed 1000 m. In fact, it rests on an ancient metamorphosed crystalline base, long leveled by erosion; on several occasions, from the Cretaceous period onwards, orogenetic thrusts gave rise to the reliefs, while the repeated periods of marine submersion caused the formation of those sedimentary soils that today cover most of the territorial surface. The reliefs, whose axis is mostly oriented from W to E, do not form a single alignment, but are interspersed with wide flat or slightly undulating expanses, so as to form massive blocks or short chains. We distinguish, proceeding from W to E: the Sierra de los Órganos, whose name derives from the characteristic organ pipe shape of its rocks, an interesting example of karst phenomena (karst phenomena are also widespread throughout the island, due to its essentially calcareous nature; typical are for example also the mogotes, small conical hills); the Sierra del Rosario, which, like the previous chain, barely exceeds 650 m; the mountain group consisting of the sierras of Trinidad and Sancti Spíritus; finally the Sierra Maestra, at the south-eastern end of the island, which reaches the highest elevation of Cuba in the Pico Turquino (1974 m). ‘East; over 7000 m deep). This is the cause of structural instability of the area, characterized by frequent seismic phenomena; the region is also characterized by the presence of lava rocks, attesting to the important function that volcanism played in this part of the island. The coasts are generally low and sandy, often bordered by lagoons; However, there is no shortage of extensive coastal terraces, due to eustatic movements and the consequent variations in sea level, in correspondence with which excellent natural harbors have formed: Havana, Santiago de Cuba, etc. Very rough, the coasts show a continuous succession of large bays and gulfs, including the Atlantic ones of Buenavista and Jigüey and the Caribbean ones of Batabanó, Cienfuegos, Guacanayabo and Guantánamo.