1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cienfuegos

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CIENFUEGOS (originally Fernandina De Jagua), one of the principal cities of Cuba, in Santa Clara province, near the central portion of the S. coast, 195 m. E.S.E. of Havana. Pop. (1907) 30,100. Cienfuegos is served by the United railways and by steamers connecting with Santiago, Batabanó, Trinidad and the Isle of Pines. It lies about 6 m. from the sea on a peninsula in the magnificent landlocked bay of Jagua. Vessels drawing 16 ft. have direct access to the wharves. A circular railway about the water-front, wharves and warehouses facilitates the loading and unloading of vessels. The city streets are broad and regularly laid out. There is a handsome cathedral; and the Tomas Terry theatre (given to the city by the heirs of one of the millionaire sugar planters of the jurisdiction), the governor’s house (1841–1844), the military and government hospitals, market place and railway station are worthy of note. In the Cathedral Square (Plaza de Armas), embracing two city-squares, and shaded—like all the plazas of the island—with laurels and royal palms, are a statue of Isabel the Catholic, and two marble lions given by Queen Isabel II.; elsewhere there are statues of General Clouet and Marshal Serrano, once captain-general. The city is lighted by gas and electricity, has an abundant water-supply, and cable connexion with Europe, the United States, other Antilles and South America. The surrounding country is one of the prettiest and most fertile regions in Cuba, varied with woods, rivers, rocky gulches, beautiful cascades and charming tropic vegetation. Several of the largest and finest sugar estates in the world are situated in the vicinity, including the Soledad (with a botanical experiment station maintained by Harvard University), the Terry and others—most of them connected with the city by good driveways. Cienfuegos is a centre of the sugar trade on the south coast; tobacco too is exported.

The bay of Jagua was visited by Columbus. The city was founded in 1819, with the aid of the Spanish government, by a Louisianian, General Luis de Clouet; it was destroyed by a hurricane and was rebuilt in 1825. Many naturalized foreign Catholics, including Americans, were among the original settlers. The settlement was first named in honour of Ferdinand VII., and later in honour of Captain-General José Cienfuegos Jovellanos. The harbour was known from the earliest times, and has been declared by Mahan to be the most important of the Caribbean Sea for strategic purposes. In 1740–1745 a fortification called Nuestra Señora de los Angeles was erected at the entrance; it is still standing, on a steep bluff overlooking the sea, and is one of the most picturesque of the old fortifications of the island. On the 11th of May 1898 a force from two vessels of the United States fleet under Admiral Schley, searching for Cervera and blockading the port, cut two of the three cables here (at Point Colorado, at the entrance of the harbour), and for the first time in the Spanish-American War the American troops were under fire.