Guantanamo - Encyclopedia




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GUANTANAMO, the easternmost important town of the S. coast of Cuba, in the province of Santiago, about 40 m. E. of Santiago. Pop. (1907) 1 4,559. It is situated by the Guazo (or Guaso) river, on a little open plain between the mountains. The beautiful, land-locked harbour, 10 m. long from N. to S. and 4 m. wide in places, has an outer and an inner basin. The latter has a very narrow entrance, and 2 to 2.5 fathoms depth of water. From the port of Caimanera to the city of Guantanamo, 13 m. N., there is a railway, and the city has railway connexion with Santiago. Guantanamo is one of the two ports leased by Cuba to the United States for a naval station. It is the shipping-port and centre of a surrounding coffee-, sugarand lime-growing district. In 1741 an English force under Admiral Edward Vernon and General Thomas Wentworth landed here to attack Santiago. They named the harbour Cumberland bay. After their retreat fortifications were begun. The history of the region practically dates, however, from the end of the 18th century, when it gained prosperity from the settlement of French refugees from Santo Domingo; the town, as such, dates only from 1822. Almost all the old families are of French descent, and French was the language locally most used as late as the last third of the 19th century. In recent years, especially since the Spanish-American War of 1898,1898, the region has greatly changed socially and economically. Guantanamo was once a fashionable summer residence resort for wealthy Cubans.

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