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(həvăn`ə), Span. La Habana (lä ävä`nä), city and, as Ciudad de La Habana, province (1997 est. pop. 2,200,000), capital of Cuba, W Cuba; largest city and chief port of the West Indies and one of the oldest cities in the Americas. Havana is the political, economic, and cultural center of CubaCuba
, officially Republic of Cuba, republic (2015 est. pop. 11,461,000), 42,804 sq mi (110,860 sq km), consisting of the island of Cuba and numerous adjacent islands, in the Caribbean Sea. Havana is the capital and largest city.
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. An important hub of air and maritime transportation, it is the focal point of Cuban commerce, exporting sugar, tobacco, and fruits and importing mainly foodstuffs, cotton, and machinery and technical equipment. Industries include shipbuilding, assembly plants, rum distilleries, sugar refineries, and factories making the famous Havana cigars. Tourism has been greatly revived since the 1990s, and the port has increasingly focused on cruise ships. The city's hot, humid climate is moderated by sea winds.

Havana possesses one of the best natural harbors in the Caribbean and has long been strategically and commercially important. The original settlement, called San Cristóbal de la Habana, was founded in 1515 by the Spanish explorer Diego de Velázquez on Cuba's southern coast but was relocated to the site of present-day Havana in 1519. Spanish treasure galleons assembled in Havana's harbor for their return voyage to Spain, and the city tempted many English, French, and Dutch buccaneers. It became the capital of Cuba in the late 16th cent. In 1762, during the French and Indian WarsFrench and Indian Wars,
1689–1763, the name given by American historians to the North American colonial wars between Great Britain and France in the late 17th and the 18th cent.
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, Havana fell to Anglo-American forces, but the following year it was returned to Spain in exchange for the Floridas. By the early 19th cent., the city ranked as one of the wealthiest and busiest commercial centers in the Western Hemisphere.

The blowing up of the U.S. battleship Maine in Havana harbor in Feb., 1898, was the immediate cause of the Spanish-American War. U.S. troops occupying Havana in the wake of their victory there improved sanitary conditions and eliminated yellow fever from the city. Until 1959 the close political and economic relations between Cuba and the United States were strongly reflected in the commercial and cultural life of the city. After the Castro government took control, the U.S. presence in Havana was replaced by that of the Soviet Union, with which the Cuban government maintained close ties.

Castro's policy of directing economic resources toward rural areas resulted in the deterioration of Havana, particularly the old city, but restoration efforts began in the 1980s. The old city is dominated by Morro CastleMorro Castle
, fort at the entrance to the harbor of Havana, Cuba. It was erected by the Spanish in 1589 to protect the city from buccaneers. The fort was also used as a prison. Morro Castle was captured by the British under Sir George Pocock in 1762.
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 and other fortresses and is also known for its narrow streets, numerous churches, and fine examples of colonial architecture. The modern section of the city has wide boulevards, impressive public buildings (notably the lavishly decorated capitol), and magnificent residences. Havana Univ. was founded in 1721. The city has many cultural facilities.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(La Habana), a province in western Cuba. Area, about 9,300 sq km (1970), including the Isle of Pines, which is 2,200 sq km. Population, 2,335,000 (1970); 93 percent of the population is urban, and 76 percent live in Greater Havana. The province’s administrative center is the city of Havana.

Economically, Havana is the country’s most developed province. It has metallurgical, machine-building, chemical, petroleum-refining, food, and building-materials industries, as well as light industry. A major part of the province is given over to sugarcane plantations. In the western section and in the Güines region food crops are grown, and there is dairy farming. Rice is grown in the southern part of the province, and there is fishing in Batabano. The Isle of Pines has large plantations of citrus fruits, mangoes, and other tropical crops, as well as dairy farming. In the region of the city of Havana a zone of suburban farming is being established.



(La Habana), the capital and the major economic, political, and cultural center of Cuba.

Havana is located in the northwest part of the island of Cuba, on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. The area of greater Havana is 724 sq km, and the population was 1,755,000 inhabitants in 1970, including about 1 million in Havana itself. Greater Havana is divided into six administrative districts: Marianao, Plaza, Central Havana, Guanabacoa, October Tenth, and Boyeros. Between 1940 and 1970 the population of greater Havana doubled, and its share of the country’s total population rose from 19.6 percent to 20.7 percent.

Havana was founded about 1515 by the Spanish conquistador Diego Velasquez on the southern coast of the island; in 1519 it was moved to the northwest coast. In the 16th and 17th centuries Havana suffered frequent attacks from English, French, and Dutch pirates. In the late 16th century it became the administrative center of Cuba, and in 1762-63 it was occupied by the English. During the Spanish-American War of 1898 it was occupied by United States troops until 1902, when it became the capital of the Republic of Cuba. After the victory of the Cuban Revolution in 1959 a national revolutionary government was formed in Havana. In 1960-61 municipal reforms were introduced which placed housing resources entirely in the hands of the workers. In September 1960 and February 1962, the First and Second General National Assemblies of the people of Cuba, which accepted the historic Havana Declarations, were held in Havana.

Havana is the country’s major transport junction. Through the port of Havana, which is accessible to large oceangoing vessels, pass more than three-fifths of Cuba’s imports and about one-fourth of her exports. Havana is located on the principal railway line and the country’s major highway, which crosses the city from west to east. In the southwest part of greater Havana is the José Martí International Airport. Havana supplies about half of the country’s industrial production. The majority of the enterprises (predominantly small ones) are located in Regla and other suburbs. Most fully developed are the textile and food industries. There are also garment, metalworking, and chemical industries. After the 1959 revolution, with the help of the USSR, the Jose Marti Havana Metallurgical Combine was reconstructed, an automobile repair plant was put into operation in 1964, and a large fishing port was built with refrigeration and repair facilities. Around the capital, the creation of a zone of local economy and of plantations of export crops was begun.

To the west of the bay is the old part of Havana with its picturesque narrow streets and buildings from the colonial period. In the 16th-18th centuries fortifications were built, such as the fortress of El Morro (1589-1630), as well as rectangular squares, such as the Plaza de Armas with its municipal building (1776-92) and the Post Office (1770-92) and Plaza de la Catedral with its cathedral (1748-77). Numerous churches and houses in the baroque style were also built in this period. In the 19th century Havana expanded to the south and west (the areas of Cerro and Vedado); sumptuous mansions and villas were built. In the 20th century the park areas of Marianao and Miramar were annexed, large landscaped squares were created, and wide highways, such as the Malecon along the shore, were built. The seafront of the city is very picturesque, formed by the 15-30-story buildings of Vedado. Among the largest buildings are the National Capitol (1925-29; architect, R. Otero), the buildings of the societies for social welfare (1951-55; architects, A. Quintana and others), the Ministry of Internal Affairs (1951-54; architect, A. Capablanca), the hotels Habana Libre and Habana Riviera (both 1958-59). After the 1959 revolution there was new planning and construction: the large residential area of Havana del Este (begun in 1959), the University Campus (begun in 1960), the Art School (1963; architects, R. Parro, V. Garatti, and R. Gottardi), and the National Center for Scientific Research (1960’s; architects, González Lines, J. Galvan, O. Pairol, S. Dominguez, C. Noyola, and S. Ferro). A memorial park was created (1967; architects, S. Dominguez, E. Escobar, M. Coyula, and A. Hernandes). A tunnel was laid under the bay, which connects the city’s center with newly developed areas such as Habana del Este and with a recreation area with magnificent seashore beaches.

Havana has a university (the University of Havana, founded in 1728), the Academy of Sciences (founded in 1962), libraries (the largest being the José Marti National Library, and museums and theaters. The main museums are the National Museum (European and Cuban art), the L. Montané Antrhopological Museum (the culture of the peoples of America, Asia, and Africa), and the Museum of the Revolution.


Stolitsy stran mira. Moscow, 1966.
Roig de Leuchsenring, E. La Habana: Apuntes históricos. Havana, 1939.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


the capital of Cuba, a port in the northwest on the Gulf of Mexico: the largest city in the Caribbean; founded in 1514 as San Cristóbal de la Habana by Diego Velásquez. Pop.: 2 192 000 (2005 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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