Isle of youth

Coordinates: 21°45′N 82°51′W / 21.750°N 82.850°W / 21.750; -82.850 (Isla de la Juventud)

Isla de la Juventud
Province of Cuba
Country Cuba
Capital Nueva Gerona
 • Total 2,419 km2 (934 sq mi)
Population (2010-12-31)[1]
 • Total 86,420
 • Density 36/km2 (93/sq mi)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
Area code(s) +53-061

Isla de la Juventud[2] ("Isle of Youth") is the second-largest Cuban island and the seventh-largest island in the West Indies (after Cuba itself, Hispaniola, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, and Andros Island). The island was called the Isle of Pines (Isla de Pinos) until it was renamed in 1978. The island has an area 2,200 km2 (850 sq mi) and is 50 km south of the island of Cuba, across the Gulf of Batabanó. The island lies almost directly south of Havana and Pinar del Río and is a Special Municipality (2,419 km2), not part of any province. The Isle of Youth is, therefore, administered directly by the central government of Cuba. The province has only one municipality, also named Isla de la Juventud.

The largest of the 350 islands in the Canarreos Archipelago (Archipiélago de los Canarreos), the island has an estimated population of 100,000. The capital and largest city is Nueva Gerona in the north, and the second-largest and oldest city is Santa Fe in the interior. Other communities include Columbia, Mac Kinley, Santa Bárbara, Cuchilla Alta, Punta del Este, Sierra de Caballos and Sierra de Casas.


Little is known of the pre-Columbian history of the island, though a cave complex near the Punta del Este beach preserves 235 ancient drawings made by the native population. The island first became known to Europeans in 1494 during Christopher Columbus's second voyage to the New World. Columbus named the island La Evangelista and claimed it for Spain; the island would also come to be known Isla de Cotorras ("Isle of Parrots") and Isla de Tesoros ("Treasure Island") at various points in its history.

Pirate activity in and around the area left its trace in English literature. Both Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson and Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie are rooted in part on accounts of the island and its native and pirate inhabitants, as well as long dugout canoes (which were often used by pirates as well as indigenous peoples) and the American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) on the island.

Following the victory of the United States in the Spanish-American War, Spain dropped all claims to Cuba under the terms of the 1898 Treaty of Paris. The ownership of Isla de la Juventud was left undetermined by the sixth article of the Platt Amendment, which defined independent Cuba's boundaries, and this led to competing claims to the island by the United States and Cuba. In 1907, the U.S. Supreme Court decided, in Pearcy v. Stranahan, that control of the island was a political decision not a judicial one.[3] In 1925 a political settlement was finally reached. The Hay-Quesada Treaty, which recognized Cuban ownership of the island, had been signed between the two countries in 1904. Twenty-one years later, over the objections of the small colony of American planters traders on the island, it was ratified by the U.S. Senate.[4]

Geography and economy

Much of the island is covered in pine forests, which is the source of the island's large lumber industry. The northern region of the island has low ridges from which marble is quarried, while the southern region is an elevated plain. Agriculture and fishing are the island's main industries, with citrus fruit and vegetables being grown. A black sand beach was formed by volcanic activity.

The island has a mild climate, but is known for frequent hurricanes. It is a popular tourist destination, with many beaches and resorts, including Bibijagua Beach. Until the Cuban government expropriated all foreign-owned property in the early 1960s, much land was owned by Americans, and the island contained a branch of the Hilton Hotel chain.


In 2004, the province of Isla de la Juventud had a population of 86,637.[5] With a total area of 2,419.27 km2 (934.09 sq mi),[6] the province had a population density of 35.8 /km2 (93 /sq mi).


The main transportation to the island is by boat or aircraft. Hydrofoils (kometas) and motorized catamarans will make the trip in between two and three hours. A much slower and larger cargo ferry takes around six hours to make the crossing, but is cheaper.


From 1953 to 1955, Cuban leader Fidel Castro was imprisoned in the Presidio Modelo on the Isla de la Juventud by the regime of Fulgencio Batista after leading the failed July 1953 attack on the Moncada Barracks in the Oriente Province. After the Cuban Revolution, the same facility was used to imprison counterrevolutionaries, and people allegedly otherwise opposing the revolution. Huber Matos (a comandante in the revolutionary army who attempted to resign) and Armando Valladares were also imprisoned there. Matos says he was tortured there.[7]

Presidio Modelo is now closed, and turned into a museum. It has been replaced by more modern prisons. These include (MIS = minimum security prison; COR = correctional):

  • Prison El Guayabo (MIS)
  • Center for Reeducation of Minors (COR)
  • Correctional Los Colonos (COR)
  • Paquito Rosales Cueto (1 y 11) (COR)
  • Prison la 60 (Columbia) (COR)




  • .

External links

Cuba portal
  • Supreme Court decision of 1907
  • Municipality page (Spanish)

Template:Settlements in Isla de la Juventud

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.