CURIOUS FACTS ABOUT CUBA AND ITS PEOPLE

HISTORY

  • Havana was occupied by French pirates for 24 hours in 1537. Two centuries later the city was occupied again, but this time by English troops, who took the city during 11 months between 1792 and 1793.
  • Cuba did not have its own currency until 1915. It was introduced by the government of President Mario García Menocal.
  • Divorce became legal in Cuba in 1918.
  • The female vote was officially approved in 1933.

CULTURE

  • The first paper printed in Cuba was in 1723 – the price for the General Tariff of Medicines.
  • The first Cuban newspaper was published in 1764 and was called La Gaceta de La Habana. It had a “pink press” on the nobility of the Island.
  • The first recognized Cuban literary work — “Mirror of Patience”.— was not written by a Cuban, but by a Canary Islands writer living in Havana, Silvestre de Balboa.
  • Cuba’s national dance – “ Simpson’s Hills” by Miguel Failide — was composed in 1878 and performed for the first time in Matanzas on January 1,1879.
  • The first Cuban radio broadcast was in English on October 10, 1922 when the station PWX was inaugurated by President Alfredo Zayas. The first voice that was heard on Cuban radio was Raúl Falcón who introduced the president and presented the presidential message — in English.
  • Cuba was one of the first countries to have TV broadcasts. Union Radio Channel 4 was inaugurated on October 24, 1950 from the private house in Havana of Gaspar Pumarejo, one of the leaders of Cuban TV. The first images transmitted were advertisements for CompetidoraGaditana cigars and Cerveza Cristal. The first show featured Pedro Armendariz and Carmen Montejo, famous Mexican artists at that time.
  • Cuba was the second country in the world (after the USA) to introduce color TV, in 1958, and the third country in the world to have a color TV channel.

ARCHITECTURE

  • The first Latin American cemetery built outside a church grounds was Espada Cemetery (now Columbus Cemetery), founded in 1806.
  • The walls of Havana, a fundamental part of the city’s defense system against pirates, were built between 1671 and 1740. Its demolition began in 1863.
  • The first electrical lighting system in Cuba is more than 120 years old. It was inaugurated in Havana in March 1889 and illuminated some streets, the Parque de Isabel II (now Central Park) and the Paseo de Isabel la Catolica (today Paseo del Prado).

TRANSPORTATION

  • Cuba ran the first railroad in Latin America – about a decade earlier than Spain. The railroad was inaugurated on November 19, 1837 with the Habana-Güines line. The second line linked Havana and Bejucal and continued to Surgidero de Batabanó.
  • The first tram was built in Cuba more than a century ago. It was launched in March 1900 and linked Regla and Guanabacoa (4 km). The trams stopped working in 1952.
  • The first automobile in Cuba was driven on the streets of Havana over a hundred years ago, in about 1900.
  • Cuban pilots AgustínParlá and Domingo Rosillo flew from Cuba to Key West on May 17, 1913, taking 2 hours 40 minutes and setting a world record for the time.

MEDICINE

  • Cuba’s first blood bank was established in 1845.
  • Dr. Vicente Antonio de Castro performed the first surgery in Cuba using anesthesia (ether) on March 10, 1847. In that same year, ether surgeries were performed in several other Latin American countries.
  • The first ministry of health in the world was created in Cuba on January 28, 1909, making Cuba a precursor country in achieving a national health system.

SPORTS

  • A Cuban, Alfredo de Oro, was the world’s billiard champion for 18 consecutive games – the most consecutive wins since 1891.
  • The first Latin American Olympic champion was the Cuban Ramon Fonst for sword fighting in the Paris Olympics of 1900.
  • Cuban Jose Raul Capablanca was the first world chess champion from an undeveloped country.
  • Cuba was the first country in Latin America to live-broadcast major league games. The Mestre brothers maintained two DC-3 aircraft, one between New York and Miami and the other between Miami and Havana, to operate as antennas to broadcast the games.
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