Mastermind, Eggheads, Beat the Chasers. We’re a nation of quizzers and trivia lovers.
That’s no different for us, here, at Spice Escapes. And we thought what better way to learn about another country than through a quick pop quiz. Especially, when many of the questions and answers come straight out of the wacky and off-the-wall drawer. Our favourite.
Your specialist subject?
El Cocodrilo. The island of revolution, rum and rumba.
You don’t need to have been to Cuba for its name to instantly call to mind a cornucopia of images and associations. From the Buena Vista Social Club, coloured houses and 1940s and 50s classic cars to Che Guevara, Ernest Hemingway, Fidel Castro, cocktails and cigars.
But there are some more unusual and interesting facts about Cuba that you perhaps don’t yet know.
Or do you?
Let’s put you to the test with two fun-packed, Caribbean sun-packed rounds of quiz questions. (Answers after each round. No cheating!)
So, come on down. The Spice is right!
And your time starts … now.
Round 1: Cuban geography & history
An easy one to kick things off:
1. Cuba was discovered in 1492 by which famous navigator?
Now you’re warmed up, let’s ramp up the difficulty level slightly.
2. From an aerial view, what does Cuba’s main island resemble?
3. Cuba is made up of 4,000 islands and cays. But why else is its main island number one?
4. Cuba is home to the smallest what?
5. How many UNESCO World Heritage Sites does Cuba have?
6. What was unique about 12 March 1857?
7. And what was so special about Christmas in 1998?
8. Los Angeles is the City of Angels. Paris, the City of Lights. But what’s the nickname of Cuba’s captivating capital, Havana?
9. What does Havana Cathedral (Catedral de la Habana) have in common with the Cathedral of St. Christopher (Catedral de San Cristobal) and the Cathedral of the Virgin Mary (Catedral de la Virgen María)?
Last one for this round and staying with Havana:
10. If you travelled back in time to the mid-16th century, why might some Habaneros think of Havana as a home from home?
How did you get on? Let’s find out.
The Answers: Round 1
1. Christopher Columbus. Told you it was easy.
2. From above, Cuba looks like a crocodile. Which is why it’s sometimes referred to as El Cocodrilo. Speaking of crocodiles, Cuba has its own native species – the highly endangered leaping crocodile.
3. With a coastline stretching to more than 3,500 miles (5,700 km) and 200 beaches and 250 bays to explore, Cuba’s main island is the largest island in the Caribbean. Both for its size and population.
Also, it’s the 17th largest and 16th most populous island in the world. Greenland is the largest and Great Britain the 9th. Australia – sometimes dubbed ‘the Island Continent’ or ‘the Earth’s largest island, but its smallest continent’ – doesn’t count as it’s a continental mainland.
4. At 5.5 cm long and weighing just 1.95 g, the bee hummingbird is the world’s smallest bird.
Cuba also used to hold the record for the smallest frog at 10 mm long, until an even smaller frog, measuring just 7.7 mm, was discovered in 2012 in Papua New Guinea.
5. Cuba has 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Two natural and seven cultural. Visit at least two of them (Old Havana and its Fortifications; and Trinidad and the Valle de los Ingenios) when you travel with Spice Escapes on our wonderful 11-night Cuban Explorer break.
6. On 12 March 1857, it snowed! In Cárdenas, in the northwest of the island – which is pretty remarkable, considering Cuba’s average year-round temperatures rarely dip below 18.6°C (65.5°F).
More recently, however, in December 2010, Cubans were wrapping up in winter warmers when temperatures as low as 1.9°C were recorded in parts of the island. Still, don’t think we’ll be adding Cuba to the Spice Escapes ski-trip roster anytime soon!
7. It was the first Christmas to be celebrated for 30 years. Christmas was banned in Cuba from 1969 until 1998. Fidel Castro didn’t want any religious celebrations, but he reinstated Christmas as a public holiday in honour of Pope John Paul II visiting the country.
A customary celebration around that time of year that hasn’t been interrupted is the tradition of burning rag dolls at New Year – for forgetting bad times and looking forward to the good.
8. Havana’s nickname: the City of Columns. It’ll seem pretty obvious why when you stroll around historic Havana and notice its colonial architecture and its many, many beautiful columns.
Columns are to Havana what steps and fountains are to Rome and roundabouts are to Cwmbran and Milton Keynes.
9. They’re all the same cathedral. Havana Cathedral, as it’s colloquially known, has two official names. It also has marine fossils in its facade owing to the coral that was used for part of its construction.
10. Havana was originally in an entirely different location. Founded in 1515, it started life on the south coast of Cuba, in a swampy area where Batabanó is now. The city upped sticks just a few years later and moved to its current spot on the north coast.
Half-time in Havana
So how did you do?
10 out of 10? Or close but no Cuban cigar?
Some multiple choice questions coming up in round 2, so expect to pick up a few more points.
But, like all good quizzes – or at least the ones that aren’t on the Beeb – it’s time for a break.
Recharge the old grey matter. Fix yourself a mojito. And we’ll see you back over in part 2 where we’ll be finding out about some unusual laws and bizarre records that perhaps only Cubans could set … or even dream of setting.
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