A New Cuban Atlas

A New Cuban Atlas


By Ana Laura Arbesú

The Institute of Tropical Geography (IGT in Spanish) was founded in 1962 by Cuban geographer, archaeologist and speleologist Núñez Jiménez, the brains behind the “Amazon to Caribbean Canoe Voyage”, and the organization will celebrate its 55th anniversary with a number of projects.

The most important is a new edition of Cuba’s National Atlas, which according to its creators is more than just a collection of maps.

In line with today’s technological developments, geographers have perfected details in this new geophysical and socioeconomic encyclopedia of the island, a multimedia compilation comprising audio-visual presentations, images, charts, graphs and the most advanced geographical and global positioning systems (GPS) information.

The work, nicknamed 60th Anniversary, will be launched on the very day that Cuba celebrates sixty years of Revolution.

IGT director Luis Machín told The Havana Reporter that the atlas acquired its name because “a new perspective on the country’s geophysical and socioeconomic data was required to help visualize the Revolution’s achievements.”

The compilation – the third edition since 1959 – supersedes the previous editions which contained information that had become outdated in certain areas.

Transformations have taken place in the country in both socioeconomic and natural landscapes that include the restructuring of the sugarcane industry, a reforestation process, plus changes in land use and protected areas.

According to the expert, experiments relating to national territory management systems are especially identified. He explained that after 30 years, this is the primary point that the atlas addresses.

The content also includes studies on risk, vulnerabilities, climate change, environmental pollution, the territorial organization of tourist zones, comprehensive water basin management and non-state management systems in the agricultural and services sectors.

The country’s geographical compilation was first edited in 1970 and named “10th Anniversary”. A second edition was published under the aegis of the IGT in the late 1980s.

Specialists agree that both are true monographs of great value for those interested in the transformations that took place in Cuba between 1959 and the end of the 1980s.

The authors of the second edition – which included 627 comprehensive maps of different scales – were awarded the Order of Carlos J. Finlay, the highest recognition bestowed by the Council of State for scientific endeavors.