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Santiago de Cuba is the capital city of Santiago de Cuba Province in the south-eastern area of the island nation of Cubamarker, some east south-east of the Cuban capital of Havanamarker.

The municipality extends over , and contains the communities of El Caneymarker, Guilera, Antonio Maceo, Bravo, Castillo Duany, Leyte Vidal and Moncada.

Historically Santiago de Cuba has long been the second most important city on the island after Havana, and still remains the second largest. It is on a bay connected to the Caribbean Seamarker and is an important sea port. In 2004 the city of Santiago de Cuba had a population of about 494,337 people.


The Castillo del Morro
Santiago de Cuba was founded by Spanishmarker conquistador Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar on June 28, 1514. In 1516 the settlement was destroyed by fire, and was immediately rebuilt. This was the starting point of the expeditions led by Juan de Grijalba and Hernán Cortés to the coasts of Mexicomarker in 1518, and in 1538 by Hernando de Soto's expedition to Floridamarker. The first cathedral was built in the city in 1528. From 1522 until 1589 Santiago was the capital of the Spanish colony of Cuba.

The city was plundered by Frenchmarker forces in 1553, and by Britishmarker forces under Christopher Myngs in 1662.

The city experienced an influx of French immigrants in the late 18th century and early 19th century, many coming from Haitimarker after the Haitian slave revolt of 1791. This added to the city's eclectic cultural mix, already rich with Spanish and African culture.

It was also the location where Spanish troops faced their main defeat at San Juan Hillmarker on July 1, 1898, during the Spanish-American War. Spainmarker later surrendered to the United Statesmarker after the destruction of its Atlantic fleet just outside Santiago's harbor.

Cuban poet, writer, and national hero, José Martí, is buried in Cementerio Santa Efigenia.

Role in the Cuban Revolution

Santiago was also the home of the revolutionary hero, Frank País. On July 26, 1953, the Cuban Revolution began with an ill-prepared armed attack on the Moncada Barracksmarker by small contingent of rebels led by Fidel Castro. Shortly after this disastrous incident, País began talking with students and young working people informally, drawing around him what became an extremely effective urban revolutionary alliance. This developed into highly organized cells coordinating a large scale urban resistance that became instrumental in the success of the Cuban Revolution.

País' group prepared carefully, accruing weapons, collecting money, collecting medical supplies. They published a cheap newsletter that reported news that criticized the government, attempting to counter Batista's censorship.

In the summer of 1955, País’ organization merged with Castro's July 26 Movement. País became the leader of the new organization in Oriente province.

On 1 January 1959, Fidel Castro proclaimed the victory of the Cuban Revolution from a balcony on Santiago de Cuba's city hall.

Change in province boundaries

Until a rearrangement of province boundaries in 1976, Santiago de Cuba was the capital of Cuba's Oriente Province, which included the present day provinces of Holguín, Las Tunas, Guantánamo, Granma and Santiago de Cuba.

World Heritage Site

The local citadel of San Pedro de la Rocamarker is inscribed on the UNESCOmarker World Heritage List as "the most complete, best-preserved example of Spanish-American military architecture, based on Italian and Renaissance design principles".

World Heritage Biosphere Reserve

The Baconaomarker Park was inscribed on the UNESCOmarker World Heritage Biosphere Reserve List in 1987.



In 2004, the municipality of Santiago de Cuba had a population of 494,337. With a total area of , it has a population density of .



Santiago is served by Antonio Maceo Airportmarker.

The main secondary education institution is the University of Santiago de Cuba (Universidad de Oriente - Santiago de Cuba, UO).

See also


  1. Cuba demographics
  2. World Heritage Site
  3. Heritage Biosphere Reserve Site

External links

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