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Cuban Archipelago and its Natural Riches
A string of 4,195 small islands, cays and islets scattered between the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea form the archipelago, but the largest and most important is the Island of Cuba, which resembles a huge alligator floating in the clear waters.

The beauty and quality of its beaches are renowned; however, its seabeds are little known. Along the 3,200 kilometers of insular platform and among the well-preserved coral reefs, the most diverse marine fauna of the Antilles inhabits a wonderful underwater world of shapes and colors.

Cuba's geographical position, long and narrow shape, geological structure and isolation, have resulted in huge biodiversity, protected and preserved by the competent institutions within Wildlife Refuges, Ecological Reserves and National Parks, many of which are located in the major mountainous regions of the country: to the east, the Sierra Maestra, the setting for momentous events in the history of our people; in the center, the Escambray or Guahumaya mountain ranges; and to the west, the Guaniguanico. The entire archipelago can be toured safely; there are no dangerous mammals or poisonous reptiles.

Anyone who enters its forests will immediately realize that the greatest interest and originality of Cuba's fauna stems from the high level of endemism and exclusivity. There is major interest given the size of certain species, including the bee hummingbird, tiny frogs, dwarf scorpions, and among the insectivores, the solenodon, a jewel of Cuban zoology.

Species such as the Cuban night lizard, a living fossil, and the Liguus Tree Snail, which inhabit the eastern end of the island, do not exist elsewhere in the archipelago or the world. Cuban bird life is varied, colorful and beautiful, with melodious trills capable of softening even the hardest heart. Among these are the Cuban trogon or tocororo, the national bird, the Cuban tody, the rose-throated parrot, the sandhill crane, the largest population of Caribbean flamingos, and the Cuban solitaire or nightingale, whose song is impossible to forget.

The first tree that welcomes those visiting the country is the Royal Palm. Practically covering the Cuban countryside; Cuba is hard to imagine without it.

The nation has the largest floral diversity of the region and one of the most interesting and valuable in the world.

At the western end of the island visitors can appreciate plants such as the Cork Palm, exclusive to the island and a living fossil, having existed here for millions of years, as well as countless varieties of orchids and trees species that have existed since colonial times. There are also Melocactus, which make up a third of all known cactus species, tree ferns and countless other beautiful and unique plants.

Another curious aspect is the high density of Cuban flora. According to experts, this is seven times higher than in Spain, 36 times higher than in India and China and 45 times higher than in Australia.

The diversity of ecosystems has shaped landscapes of extraordinary beauty, with a wealth of unique specimens of flora and fauna spread across the many islands and cays of the archipelago.

These natural resources are protected by state institutions as one of the most valuable riches of the Cuban people. / By Radio Guantanamo.

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