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Nature

Nature

To call Cuba a country with a high level of biodiversity is to put in mildly. Cuba's climate and terrain provide it with ideal conditions for a whole range of wildlife to flourish. Cuba has eight large national parks, three of which are so special that they are now UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These are Alejandro de Humboldt National Park, Desembarco del Granma National Park and Viñales Valley. But, really, anywhere you go to Cuba you will never be far from the beauty of nature.

The country is home to an estimated 7,000 different species of plants, around half of which can be found nowhere else in the world. It is impossible not to witness the vibrant colours of Cuba's plant life - if you are in a rural area then it will be growing naturally all around you, but even if you are in an urban setting, flowers and plants can often be seen growing in people's houses and in any available green spaces.

As well as getting to experience the sight and smell of the plants in Cuba, tasting them is also one of life's great pleasures. Cuba has an abundance of fresh fruits all year round, and nothing quite beats eating a freshly chopped papaya or ripe mango that has recently been picked from the tree.

Cuba is home to around 350 species of birds, 27 of which are endemic to the country, making it a paradise for bird-lovers. One of these birds, the "bee hummingbird" (zunzuncito in Spanish), is the world's smallest bird. It grows to a maximum length of just 61 millimetres from beak to tail and is found across the island, especially at the Zapata Swamp.

Cuba contains the largest flamingo colonies in the western hemisphere, with approximately 70 thousand Caribbean flamingos and 50 thousand chicks. The largest colonies can be found in the Rio Maximo Wildlife Reserve, where Cuban biologists are focused on the conservation and rehabilitation of the birds. Cuba is also home to one of the world's smallest frogs. The Mount Iberia dwarf frog (also known as the Mount Iberia eleuth) has a body that grows to a maximum length of just ten millimetres.

From a safety perspective, it is worth noting that there are almost no animals or plants in Cuba that are poisonous or lethal to humans. Cuba is a remarkably safe place with far fewer natural dangers than many other countries in the world. The country is home to the "Cuban Crocodile", but it is a critically endangered species, so the only place a visitor is likely to come across it is at the zoo.

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