Cuba: 15 Things You Didn’t Know (Part 1)

Cuba is now experiencing a tourism boom impulsed by Obama‘s recent restoration of full diplomatic relations with the Caribbean country. Here are 15 facts you most likely didn’t know about Cuba. Stay tuned for part two, coming soon!

Number Fifteen: It Snowed on the Island Once

Reports show that March 12, 1857, was the only time it has ever snowed in Cuba in recorded history. The improbable phenomenon took place in Cárdenas, to the North of the island. Cuba is a tropical country, which makes the weather warm and humid year round. Although it never snowed again, the mercury dropped dramatically to 35.9 F (1.9 C) in 2010 in Matanzas, located right next to Cárdenas.

Number Fourteen: It Has a Reptilian Nickname

Cuba is sometimes referred to as “el caimán verde” (“the green alligator”) or “el caimán dormido” ( “the sleeping alligator”) because it resembles a crocodile when looked at from the air. There’s a unique crocodile species native to the island as well: the “Cuban crocodile.” It cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

Number Thirteen: Picking Up Hitchhikers Is Mandatory

Hitchhiking is a common means of transportation in Cuba, since not many people on the island owns a car. In fact, it only became legal for citizens to acquire a car without a government license in 2014. Government cars are still expected by law to pick up any hitchhikers they come across on the road, provided there’s enough space inside the vehicle.

Number Twelve: The Beatles Were Banned on the Country

While the rest of the world was going crazy over the Fab Four, Castro declared a nationwide ban of their music in 1964. The Beatles weren’t welcome at all in Cuba. Flash-forward 47 years and Castro unveiled a bronze statue of John Lennon in Havana Park during a ceremony held on the 20th anniversary of his death. Castro confessed to admiring the musician, whose outlook on life she claims to share.

Number Eleven: Owning a Computer Used to Be Illegal

Up until 2008, it was illegal for Cuban civilians to purchase computers, which they could only use inside official buildings with a proper permit. Internet activity is tightly controlled still today. Emails are monitored and most web pages, especially foreign ones, are banned altogether.

Number Ten: Coca-Cola Can’t Be Sold There

Coca-Cola is one of the many products that are prohibited within Cuban territory, although executives of the popular brand have expressed their desire to return to the beautiful island. Cuba was one of the first countries to get their own Coca-Cola bottling plant, which was then shut down by Castro’s regime.

Number Nine: Cuba Libres Have a Different Name Here

A cocktail mixing rum, coke and lime is called a “Cubalibre” (“Free Cuba”) in all Spanish-speaking nations, except for Cuba. Cubans call it a “mentirita” (“little lie”), perhaps because real Coke can’t be used anymore to prepare them. The cubalibre was invented in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. American soldiers coined the term while toasting ¡Por Cuba Libre! in light of the Spaniards’ recent defeat.

Number Eight: Home to the Smallest Bird in the World

The bee hummingbird, with an average length of 5 cm (2.0 in), is the smallest living bird. This cute, tiny animal can only be found in Cuba. This bird is roughly the size of a bumblebee, this its name. Stay tuned for part two, coming soon!