Santiago de Cuba

Seaport capital of Santiago de Cuba province, on the eastern part of the island. Founded in 1514 by Spaniard Diego Velázquez. Musically, Santiago de Cuba rivals Havana in overall importance in the development of Cuban music. The son, urbanized in and exported to the world as salsa from Havana, originated in Santiago de Cuba as rural son. Many of Cuba's finest and most famous musicians were born here, among them Desi Arnaz, whose father was mayor of the city.

Historically, it was the first cultural and political heart of Cuba. Later, it would gain a reputation as the birthplace of Cuban revolutionary thought. In 1898, the Battle of Santiago, a decisive conflict in the Spanish-American War, occurred here. In 1953, a Santiago de Cuba army installation was the object of an abortive attack by forces under Fidel Castro, marking the beginning of his ultimately successful revolution. Appropriately, the province is associated with socially-conscious nueva trova and lays claim to being the source of guajira music.

Population (1994 estimate) 440,084.