Matanzas is the capital. The
coast is lined with ports and bays and contains one of the
world's finest beaches, at Varadero ("Playa Azul").
In the northern half of the province are plains; in the south
are low-lying wetlands. The southern coast includes the site
of the Bay of Pigs Invasion. Sugarcane and henequen are the
major crops; subsistence agriculture is also practiced, and
there is some cattle raising. Matanzas has a tourist industry
as well as many mineral springs.
Matanzas, city (1994 est. pop. 115,000), capital of Matanzas
prov., W central Cuba. A port with a large, deep harbor,
it exports sugar, fruits, and sisal. Industries in the city
include sugar refineries and textile mills. Matanzas is
located on the turnpike between Havana and Varadero Beach,
and is a popular stopover for vacationers, who explore the
picturesque Yumurí River valley and the caves of
Bellamar, famous for their calcite crystal formations. Founded
in 1693, it was once a pirate haven but by the early 19th
cent. had become Cuba's second city, mainly because of the
growth of the sugar industry. As the industry moved eastward,
the city's importance declined. Matanzas remains an important
cultural center for the area.
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