Tag Archives: scuba

San Diego- My Journey Contest Video for Lonely Planet

379px-SD_Montage

450px-MuseumofManSD08

800px-Sandiego_harbor_and_skyline

771px-FA18CHornetOverSanDiegoNov08

San Diego- My Journey Contest Video for Lonely Planet

[media id=29 width=500 height=400]

San Diego is the second-largest city in California and the ninth largest city in the United States, located along the Pacific Ocean on the west coast of the United States. The US Census Bureau estimates the city’s population at 1,279,329 as of 2008. This coastal city is also the county seat of San Diego County as well as the economic center of the San Diego–Carlsbad–San Marcos metropolitan area.

As of 2008, this metropolitan area is the 17th-largest in the United States with a population of 3,001,072 and the 38th-largest metropolitan area in the Americas when including Tijuana, Mexico. According to Forbes the city of San Diego ranks as the fifth wealthiest in the United States. San Diego’s biggest industries are manufacturing, the military, and tourism.

San Diego’s economy is largely composed of agriculture, biotechnology/biosciences, computer sciences, electronics manufacturing, defense-related manufacturing, financial and business services, ship-repair, ship-construction, software development, telecommunications, wireless research, and tourism. The presence of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) with the affiliated UCSD Medical Center promotes research in biotechnology.

Geography

The city of San Diego itself lies on deep canyons and hills separating its mesas, creating small pockets of natural parkland scattered throughout the city and thus giving it a hilly geography. The same canyons give parts of the city a highly segmented feel, creating literal gaps between otherwise proximal neighborhoods and contributing to a low-density, car-centered built environment.

Downtown San Diego is located on San Diego Bay. Balboa Park lies on a mesa to the northeast. It is surrounded by several dense urban communities and abruptly ends in Hillcrest to the north. The Coronado and Point Loma peninsulas separate San Diego Bay from the ocean. Ocean Beach is on the west side of Point Loma. Mission Beach and Pacific Beach lie between the ocean and Mission Bay, a man-made aquatic park. La Jolla, an affluent community, lies north of Pacific Beach and west of Mira Mesa.

The Cuyamaca Mountains and Laguna Mountains rise to the east of the city, and beyond the mountains are desert areas. Cleveland National Forest is a half-hour drive from downtown San Diego. Numerous farms are found in the valleys northeast and southeast of the city. San Diego County has one of the highest counts of animal and plant species that appear on the endangered species list among counties in the United States.

Ecology

Like most of southern California, the majority of San Diego’s current area was originally occupied by chaparral, a plant community made up mostly of drought-resistant shrubs. The endangered Torrey Pine has the bulk of its population in San Diego in a stretch of protected chaparral along the coast. The steep and varied topography, and proximity to the ocean creates a number of different habitats within the city limits, including tidal marsh and canyons.

The influence of humans has altered existing habitats and has also created habitats that did not exist prior to human development, by construction of buildings, the introduction of new species, and the use of water for lawns and gardens. A number of species of parrots, including the Red-masked Parakeet and Red-crowned Amazon have established feral populations in urban neighborhoods such as Ocean Beach. The chaparral and coastal sage scrub habitats in low elevations along the coast are prone to wildfire, and the rates of fire have increased in the 20th century, due primarily to fires starting near the borders of urban and wild areas.

San Diego’s broad city limits encompass a number of large nature preserves, including Torrey Pines State Reserve, Border Field State Park, Mission Trails Regional Park. Torrey Pines State Preserve and a coastal strip continuing to the north is the only location where the rare species of Torrey Pine, P. torreyana torreyana, is found. Due to a combination of the steep topography that prevents or discourages building, and some efforts for preservation, there are also a large number of canyons within the city limits that are nature preserves, including Tecolote Canyon Natural Park, and Marian Bear Memorial Park in the San Clemente Canyon, as well as a number of small parks and preserves.

Downtown urban renewal

Downtown San Diego has experienced some urban renewal since the early 1980s. This has resulted in the opening of Horton Plaza, the revival of the Gaslamp Quarter, and the construction of the San Diego Convention Center. The Centre City Development Corporation (CCDC), San Diego’s downtown redevelopment agency, has been instrumental in change. PETCO Park opened in 2004. The 2005 boom in the construction of condos and skyscrapers brought gentrification as well.

Demographics

As of the census[20] of 2000, there were 1,223,400 people, 450,691 households, and 271,315 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,771.9 people per square mile (1,456.4/km²).

There were 451,126 households out of which 30.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.6% were married couples living together, 11.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.8% were non-families. 28.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.61 and the average family size was 3.30.

In the city the population was spread out with 24.0% under the age of 18, 12.4% from 18 to 24, 34.0% from 25 to 44, 19.1% from 45 to 64, and 10.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 101.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.4 males.

Race

As of the 2005-2007 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, White Americans made up 65.3% of San Diego’s population; of which 48.2% were non-Hispanic whites. Blacks or African Americans made up 6.9% of San Diego’s population; of which 6.7% were non-Hispanic blacks.

American Indians made up 0.6% of the city’s population; of which 0.3% were non-Hispanic. Asian Americans made up 15.0% of the city’s population; of which 14.8% were non-Hispanic. Pacific Islander Americans made up 0.4% of the city’s population; of which 0.3% were non-Hispanic. Individuals from some other race made up 8.3% of the city’s population; of which 0.3% were non-Hispanic. Individuals from two or more races made up 3.5% of the city’s population; of which 2.4% were non-Hispanic. In addition, Hispanics and Latinos made up 27.0% of San Diego’s population.

Culture

Many popular museums, such as the San Diego Museum of Art, the San Diego Natural History Museum, the San Diego Museum of Man, and the Museum of Photographic Arts are located in Balboa Park. The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) is located in an ocean front building in La Jolla and has a branch located at the Santa Fe Depot downtown. The Columbia district downtown is home to historic ship exhibits belonging to the San Diego Maritime Museum, headlined by the Star of India, as well as the unrelated San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum featuring the USS Midway aircraft carrier.

San Diego has a growing art scene. “Kettner Nights” at the Art and Design District in Little Italy has art and design exhibitions throughout many retail design stores and galleries on selected Friday nights. “Ray at Night” at North Park host a variety of small scale art galleries on the second Saturday evening of each month. La Jolla and nearby Solana Beach also have a variety of art galleries.

The San Diego Symphony at Symphony Towers performs on a regular basis and is directed by Jahja Ling. The San Diego Opera at Civic Center Plaza, directed by Ian Campbell, was ranked by Opera America as one of the top 10 opera companies in the United States. Old Globe Theatre at Balboa Park produces about 15 plays and musicals annually.

The La Jolla Playhouse at UCSD is directed by Christopher Ashley. Both the Old Globe Theatre and the La Jolla Playhouse have produced the world premieres of plays and musicals that have gone on to win Tony Awards[39] or nominations[40] on Broadway. The Joan B. Kroc Theatre at Kroc Center’s Performing Arts Center is a 600-seat state-of-the-art theatre that hosts music, dance and theatre performances. The San Diego Repertory Theatre at the Lyceum Theatres in Horton Plaza produces a variety of plays and musicals. Other professional theatrical production companies include the Lyric Opera San Diego and the Starlight Theatre.

Tourism has affected the city’s culture, as San Diego houses many tourist attractions, such as SeaWorld San Diego, Belmont amusement park, San Diego Zoo, and the nearby San Diego Wild Animal Park and Legoland California. San Diego’s Spanish influence can be seen in the many historic sites across the city, such as the Spanish missions and Balboa Park. Cuisine in San Diego is diverse, and includes European-American, Mexican-American, and Asian-American cuisine. Annual events in San Diego include Comic-Con, San Diego/Del Mar Fair, and Street Scene Music Festival.

Public transportation

San Diego is served by the trolley, bus, Coaster, and Amtrak. The trolley (system map) primarily serves downtown and surrounding urban communities, Mission Valley, east county, and coastal south bay. A planned Mid-Coast line will operate from Old Town to University City along the 5 Freeway. There are also plans for a Silver Line to expand trolley service downtown.

The Amtrak and Coaster trains currently run along the coastline and connect San Diego with Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura via Metrolink. There are two Amtrak stations in San Diego, in Old Town, and Downtown (downtown).

The bus is available along almost all major routes; however, a large number of bus stops are concentrated in central San Diego. Typical wait times vary from 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the location and route. Trolleys arrive at each station every 7 to 30 minutes (depending on time of day and which trolley line is used). Ferries are also available every half hour crossing San Diego Bay to Coronado.

San Diego, San Diego photo, San Diego video, San Diego culture, San Diego galleries, San Diego information, San Diego facilities, San Diego conceirge services, San Diego cafe, San Diego hotel, San Diego hostel, San Diego room categories, San Diego shopping complex, San Diego market, San Diego night market, San Diego beach, San Diego island, travel, travelling, hotel, hostel, beach, island, resort, tourism, holiday, destination, guide, travel video, travel video clip, undersea world, diving, casino, crafts, surf, cultural, culture, market, night market, history museum, nomad, districts, festival, archery, adventure, travel, flying fox, scuba, diving, ruins, hiking, rafting, reef, Destination guide, adventure nature, backpacker, Lonely Planet travel video,  my journey, contest, t-mobile, myTouch, san diego

Malacca – Historical City,Malaysia

Malacca, Malacca photo, Malacca video, Malacca culture, Malacca galleries, Malacca information, Malacca facilities, Malacca conceirge services, Malacca cafe, Malacca hotel, Malacca hostel, Malacca room categories, Malacca shopping complex, Malacca market, Malacca night market, Malacca beach, Malacca island, Malacca history, Malacca airport, travel, travelling, travel video, travel video clip, hotel, hostel, backpackers, beach, island, resort, tourism, holiday, destination, destination guide, guide, undersea world, diving, casino, crafts, cultural, culture, market, night market, history museum, nomad, districts, festival, archery, flying fox, scuba, diving, surf, winter, snow, ruins, hiking, rafting, reef, adventure, adventure nature, Lonely Planet, honored, Malacca, Turkey, dancing, movie, television, google,Malacca,Historic,City,Malaysia

Malacca – Historical City,Malaysia

[media id=52 width=500 height=400]

Malacca (Malay: Melaka, dubbed The Historical State or Negeri Bersejarah amongst locals) is the third smallest Malaysian state, after Perlis and Penang.

It is located in the southern region of the Malay Peninsula, on the Straits of Malacca. It borders Negeri Sembilan to the north and the state of Johor to the south.

The capital is Malacca Town. This historical city centre has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 7 July 2008.

Although one of the oldest Malay sultanates, the Yang di-Pertua Negeri or Governor, rather than a Sultan, acts as the head of state.

Geography

The state of Malacca covers an area of 1,650-km2, or 0.5 percent of the whole area of Malaysia. The state is divided into 3 districts: Central Melaka (Melaka Tengah) (314 km²), Alor Gajah (660 km²), and Jasin (676 km²).

Malacca sits upon the southwestern coast of Malay Peninsula opposite Sumatra, with the state of Negeri Sembilan to the north and Johor to the east.

Malacca is also situated roughly two-thirds of the way down the West coast, 148 km south of Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia and 245 km north of Singapore and commands a central position on the Straits of Malacca.

The state capital Malacca Town is strategically located between the two national capitals (of Malaysia and Singapore, respectively) and connected with excellent roads and highways.

Malacca still harbors no train station, though the terminal at Tampin, Negeri Sembilan is easily accessible. However, a domestic airport terminal rests in Batu Berendam.

The offshore Pulau Besar, Pulau Upeh and Tanjung Tuan are also parts of Malacca.

Economy

The tourism and manufacturing sectors are the two most important sectors in the state economy. Malacca has adopted as its slogan, “Visiting Malacca Means Visiting Malaysia” (“Melawat Melaka Bererti Melawati Malaysia“).

It is rich in cultural heritage and bears several places of historical interest.

Malacca is home to several modern shopping complexes to attract more visitors to the state.

Examples include Mahkota Parade Shopping Centre at Plaza Mahkota (City Centre), Dataran Pahlawan Melaka Megamall (which is situated on the historical field of Padang Pahlawan, where Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al Haj announced the independence day of the Federation Of Malaya), Melaka Mall Shopping Complex (formerly known as Kotamas Shopping Complexe), A’Famosa Safari and Theme Park and Plaza Melaka Raya at the Taman Melaka Raya.

Malacca also has its very own hypermarket and departmental store.

A few examples include Parkson Departmental Store (Mahkota Parade and Melaka Mall), Jusco Supermarket and Departmental Store (Ayer Keroh and coming soon near Melaka Sentral), Tesco Hypermarket and Giant Hypermarket at Bachang Utama; also a Supermarket at (Mahkota Parade).

Apart from tourism, Malacca is also a manufacturing centre for products ranging from food and consumer products, through high-tech weaponry and automotive components to electronic and computer parts.

There are at least 23 industrial estates that houses some 500 factories from the United States, Germany, Japan, Taiwan, and Singapore.

Transport

Pulau Sebang at Alor Gajah district, a town 30 km north of Malacca town, is the nearest train station that serves Malacca. There were railway tracks from Pulau Sebang to Malacca before World War II but were dismantled by the Japanese during the war for the construction of the infamous Burmese Death Railway.

It was never rebuilt after the war though traces of the line remain.

Malacca has a bus station, Melaka Sentral which has air-conditioned waiting areas and separate areas for buses plying the town routes and for buses plying the intertown routes with regular bus services to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru, and other places in Malaysia.

Batu Berendam Airport in Batu Berendam mainly serves chartered flights from around the region. It also serves as a flight school for Malaysia Flying Academy. It is now refurbished into a brand new international airport for the state of Melaka.

The Ayer Keroh exit at the North-South highway is the main entry to Malacca. There are two additional exits along the North-South highway, namely the Simpang Ampat and Jasin exits.

State government

Breakdown of State Seats Representatives elected 2008

Malacca is administered by its State Assembly and Executive Committee (EXCO).

The State Assembly represents the highest authority in the state and decides on policy matters. The EXCO is responsible to the State Assembly and comprises members who are appointed every five years by the political party in power.

It is headed by the Governor (Yang Di-Pertua Negeri) who is appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia.

The Chief Minister’s Department is the administrative pillar of the State Government, and is responsible for the overall administration of the State, as well as its political interest.

The administrative complex houses the Chief Minister’s office, as well as the office of the State Secretariat. For administrative purposes, Malacca is divided into three districts under separate jurisdiction:

  • Malacca Central District & Land Office
  • Alor Gajah District & Land Office
  • Jasin District & Land Office

These offices render various services and facilities to the people in their daily lives.

Culture

The historic centre of Malacca was inscribed on the World Heritage List on 7 July 2008 together with George Town, the capital of Penang.

The Malays who are the original settlers of Malacca since 1400, form the largest community. The Malaccan Malays are rich in culture from their daily life to the building arts. The famous Malacca Steps or Tangga Melaka are common in front of many Malay houses in Malacca.

Two of the most important museums in Malacca are the Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum and the Melaka Sultanate Palace Museum.

Malacca is well-known for its food. Most notable of all is the traditional Malay dishes like ikan asam pedas, sambal belacan and cencaluk.

Belacan, a Malay variety of shrimp paste, is prepared from fresh tiny shrimp of a species known as keragu in Malay.

These are mashed into a paste and dried in little mashed lumps, pounded and formed into large balls, dried again for a week or so, wrapped in plastic and stored for future use. It is in this form that most of these blachan balls are sold.

Belacan is used as an ingredient in many dishes, or eaten on its own with rice. A common preparation is sambal belacan, made by mixing belacan with chili peppers, minced garlic, shallot paste and sugar and then fried.

The aroma from the frying mixture can be unpalatable to Westerners who have not become accustomed to it, but is an absolute delight to the Asian connoisseur.

Malacca is also famous for satay celup. Raw fish and meat are skewered onto sticks which is then cooked in a peanut sauce. The satay celup is often self-service where you pay for individual sticks.

There is also Nyonya-Baba cuisine which is a mixture of Chinese (mostly southern Hokkien or Fujian influence), Portuguese, Dutch, Indian, British and Malay cooking with most dishes being spicy in nature.

Interesting dishes of the Peranakan include Itik Tim (a soup containing duck and salted vegetables), Ayam Pong Teh (chicken casserole with salted brown-bean sauce which is usually served with potatoes) as well as the famous Nyonya Laksa.

Chicken Rice Ball is another dish popular with domestic Chinese tourists.

Breakdown of State Seats Representatives elected 2008

St. Paul’s Hill (A’Famosa)

The Portuguese colonised Melaka from 1511 to 1641. The first thing they did was build a fort overlooking the river, calling it A’Famosa.

As Melaka was the centre of struggles between super powers of the time, and suffered the constant threat of attack, the A’Famosa fort was critical in Portugal maintaining its colonial foothold in the Far East.

Within the fort walls were housing and food stores, a castle, a meeting room for the Portuguese Council and five churches.

A seven-month attack by the Dutch just about destroyed the entire fortress, leaving only the entrance façade and the structure of a church at the top of the hill.

Go for a stroll up St. Paul’s Hill on a cool late afternoon and wander among the majestic trees and historical remnants. Here, you can almost imagine the glories and miseries of the besieged lives the Portuguese would have led right here all those years ago…

Christ Church, Malacca

Christ Church: Constructed in 1753, the structure reflects original Dutch architecture.

The building houses hand-crafted church benches, jointless ceiling skylights, a copper replica of the Bible, a headstone written in the Armenian language, and a replica of “The Last Supper”.

St. John’s Fort

Reconstructed by the Dutch in the third quarter of the 18th century, the cannons in this fort point inwards towards the mainland because at that time, the threat to Malacca was mainly from inland rather than the sea.

Taming Sari Tower

Witness a host of interesting and historical sights of Melaka from a height of 80 metres of Menara Taming Sari.

Rest assured with the beauty of the vast scenic Melaka straits and the fast development of Melaka, your visit will be an unforgettable and memorable one.

Menara Taming Sari which located at Jalan Merdeka, Banda Hilir, Melaka was opened on 18 April 2008. The 110 metre viewing tower was designed based on the legendary Taming Sari Keris.

It will be the 1st tower in the country to have a fully revolving structure. The air-conditioned viewing cabin will be able to accommodate 66 people at one time.

Taman Mini Malaysia & Mini ASEAN

The Taman Mini Malaysia cultural park is located a few kilometres outside of Melaka, near the town of Ayer Keroh.

If you have an interest in traditional architecture and ways of life, this is a great place to go exploring. Each of the homes represents the architectural style of the 13 states in Malaysia and is furnished with various items, arts and crafts which depict the culture of each state.

Inside each house, you can find a range of genuine handicrafts originating from each state or county. The life-like figures ‘inhabiting’ each charming home on stilts are garbed in their respective traditional costumes.

Other attractions in the park include weekly cultural shows and traditional games. Basically, this is an opportunity to see all Malaysian architecture and heritage in a short all-encompassing outing. And it’s a nice break from the hustle and bustle of nearby urban Melaka.

Malacca, Malacca photo, Malacca video, Malacca culture, Malacca galleries, Malacca information, Malacca facilities, Malacca conceirge services, Malacca cafe, Malacca hotel, Malacca hostel, Malacca room categories, Malacca shopping complex, Malacca market, Malacca night market, Malacca beach, Malacca island, Malacca history, Malacca airport, travel, travelling, travel video, travel video clip, hotel, hostel, backpackers, beach, island, resort, tourism, holiday, destination, destination guide, guide, undersea world, diving, casino, crafts, cultural, culture, market, night market, history museum, nomad, districts, festival, archery, flying fox, scuba, diving, surf, winter, snow, ruins, hiking, rafting, reef, adventure, adventure nature, Lonely Planet, honored, Malacca, Turkey, dancing, movie, television, google,Malacca,Historic,City,Malaysia

Havana with Tony Wheeler – Lonely Planet Travel Video

450px-Revolution_square

TeatroGarciaLorca

400px-Museo_de_la_Revolución,_La_Habana

800px-Havana_harbour_entrance

Castillo_del_morro

Havana with Tony Wheeler – Lonely Planet Travel Video

[media id=26 width=500 height=400]

Havana is the capital city, major port, and leading commercial centre of Cuba. The city is one of the 14 Cuban provinces. The city/province has 2.4 million inhabitants, and the urban area over 3.7 million, making Havana the largest city in both Cuba and the Caribbean region. The city extends mostly westward and southward from the bay, which is entered through a narrow inlet and which divides into three main harbours: Marimelena, Guanabacoa, and Atarés. The sluggish Almendares River traverses the city from south to north, entering the Straits of Florida a few miles west of the bay. In 1959 the city halted its growth, and since then has suffered a net loss of living units, despite its population increase.

King Philip II of Spain granted Havana the title of City in 1592 and a royal decree in 1634 recognized its importance by officially designated as the “Key to the New World and Rampart of the West Indies”. Havana’s coat of arms carries this inscription. The Spaniards began building fortifications, and in 1553 they transferred the governor’s residence to Havana from Santiago de Cuba on the eastern end of the island, thus making Havana the de facto capital.

The importance of harbour fortifications was early recognized as English, French, and Dutch sea marauders attacked the city in the 16th century. The sinking of the U.S. battleship Maine in Havana’s harbor in 1898 was the immediate cause of the Spanish-American War. Present day Havana is the center of the Cuban government, and various ministries and headquarters of businesses are based there.

Geography

The city extends mostly westward and southward from the bay, which is entered through a narrow inlet and which divides into three main harbours: Marimelena, Guanabacoa, and Atarés. The sluggish Almendares River traverses the city from south to north, entering the Straits of Florida a few miles west of the bay.

The low hills on which the city lies rise gently from the deep blue waters of the straits. A noteworthy elevation is the 200-foot- (60-metre-) high limestone ridge that slopes up from the east and culminates in the heights of La Cabaña and El Morro, the sites of colonial fortifications overlooking the bay. Another notable rise is the hill to the west that is occupied by the University of Havana and the Prince’s Castle.

Landmarks

  • Fortaleza San Carlos de la Cabaña, a fortress located on the east side of the Havana bay, La Cabaña is the most impressive fortress from colonial times, particularly its walls constructed (at the same time as El Morro) at the end of the 18th century.
  • El Capitolio Nacional, built in 1929 as the Senate and House of Representatives, this colossal building is recognizable by its dome which dominates the city’s skyline. Inside stands the third largest indoor statue in the world, La Estatua de la República. Nowadays, the Cuban Academy of Sciences headquarters and the Museo Nacional de Historia Natural (the National Museum of Natural History) has its venue within the building and contains the largest natural history collection in the country.
  • Castillo de los Tres Reyes Magos del Morro is a picturesque fortress guarding the entrance to Havana bay, constructed because of the threat to the harbor from pirates.
  • Castillo San Salvador de la Punta, a small fortress built in the 16th century, at the western entry point to the Havana harbour, it played a crucial role in the defence of Havana during the first centuries of colonisation. The fortress still houses some twenty old guns and other military antiques.
  • El Cristo de La Habana, Havana’s statue of Christ blesses the city from the other side of the bay, much like the famous Cristo Redentor in Rio de Janeiro. Carved from marble by Jilma Madera, it was erected in 1958 on a platform which makes a good spot from which to watch old Havana and the harbor.
  • The Great Theatre of Havana, famous particularly for the acclaimed National Ballet of Cuba, it sometimes hosts performances by the National Opera. The theater is also known as concert hall, Garcia Lorca, the biggest in Cuba.
  • Hotel Nacional de Cuba, Art Deco National Hotel.
  • El Malecón Habanero, the avenue that runs beside the seawall built along the northern shore of Havana, from Habana Vieja to the Almendares River, it forms the southern boundary of Old Havana, Centro Habana and Vedado.
  • Museo de la Revolución, located in the former Presidential Palace, with the yacht Granma on display behind the museum.
  • Necrópolis Cristóbal Colón, a cemetery and open air museum, it is one of the most famous cemeteries in Latin America, known for its beauty and magnificence. The cemetery was built in 1876 and has nearly one million tombs. Some of the gravestones are decorated with the works of sculptors of the calibre of Ramos Blancos, among others.

Culture

Havana, by far the leading cultural centre of the country, offers a wide variety of features that range from museums, palaces, public squares, avenues, churches, fortresses (including the largest fortified complex in the Americas dating from the 16th through 18th centuries), ballet and from art and musical festivals to exhibitions of technology. The restoration of Old Havana offered a number of new attractions, including a museum to house relics of the Cuban revolution. The government placed special emphasis on cultural activities, many of which are free or involve only a minimal charge.

Before the Communists, Havana cinema rivalled New York City and Paris. As Guillaume Carpentier put it in a Le Monde article, “with nationalisation, they closed one by one, for lack of maintenance, films or electricity… Havana, Cubans complain, is a cemetery of cinemas. It is also a cemetery of bookshops, markets, shops…”.

Tourism

Before the Cuban Revolution – and particularly from 1915 to 1930 – tourism was one of Cuba’s major sources of hard currency (behind only the sugar and tobacco industries). Havana, where a kind of laissez-faire attitude in all things leisurely was the norm, was the Caribbean’s most popular destination, particularly with US citizens, who sought to skirt the restrictions of prohibition America.

Following a severe drop in the influx of tourists to the island (resulting, primarily, from the Great Depression, the end of prohibition in the United States and the outbreak of World War II), Havana began to welcome visitors in significant numbers again in the 1950s, when US organized crime secured control of much of the leisure and tourism industries in the country.

This was a time when Cuba’s foreign minister boasted that Havana spent as much on parties as any major capital in the world, when the island was the mob’s most secure link in the drug-trafficking chain which culminated in the United States and when the country’s justified reputation for sensuality and dolce vita pursuits earned it the appellation of “the Latin Las Vegas”. Meyer Lansky built the Hotel Riviera, Santo Trafficante came to own shares in the Sevilla and a casino was opened at the Hotel Plaza during this time.

It was tourism’s association to the world of gambling and prostitution which made the revolutionary government established in 1959 approach the entire sector as a social evil to be eradicated. Many bars and gambling venues were closed down following the revolution and a government body, the National Institute of the Tourism Industry, took over many facilities (traditionally available to wealthy) to make them accessible to the general public.

With the deterioration of Cuba – US relations and the imposition of a trade embargo on the island in 1961, tourism dropped drastically and did not return to anything close to its pre-revolution levels until 1989. The revolutionary government in general, and Fidel Castro in particular, initially opposed any considerable development of the tourism industry, linking the sphere to the debauchery and criminal activities of times past. In the late 1970s, however, Castro changed his stance and, in 1982, the Cuban government passed a foreign investment code which opened a number of sectors, tourism included, to foreign capital.

Through the creation of firms open to such foreign investment (such as Cubanacan, established in 1987), Cuba began to attract capital for hotel development, managing to increase the number of tourists from 130,000 (in 1980) to 326,000 (by the end of that decade).

As a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union and its Eastern European allies in 1989 and early 90s, Cuba was plunged into a severe economic crisis and saw itself in desperate need of foreign currency. The answer, again, was found in tourism, and the Cuban government spent considerable sums in the industry to attract visitors. Following heavy investment, by 1995, the industry had become Cuba’s main source of income.


Havana, Havana photo, Havana video, Havana culture, Havana galleries, Havana information, Havana facilities, Havana conceirge services, Havana cafe, Havana hotel, Havana hostel, Havana room categories, Havana shopping complex, Havana market, Havana night market, Havana beach, Havana island, travel, travelling, hotel, hostel, beach, island, resort, tourism, holiday, destination, guide, travel video, travel video clip, undersea world, diving, casino, crafts, surf, cultural, culture, market, night market, history museum, nomad, districts, festival, archery, adventure, travel, flying fox, scuba, diving, ruins, hiking, rafting, reef, Lonely Planet, honored, havana, Cuba, Destination guide, Tony Wheeler, adventure nature, paris, london, france, spain, google