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Isla de la Juventud ("Island of Youth") is Cuba's 2nd-largest island. With total area approx 2200 km2 (850 ml2) it is also 7th-largest in the West Indies - following Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, Andros. The island is located approx 50 km (31 ml) south of Cuba Island (across Batabano Gulf). It is located south of Cuba's capital city Havana and is not part of any Cuban province. Until 1978, the island was named Isla de Pinos ("Isle of Pines").
The island's total population is around 100,000. Its largest city and capital is Nueva Gerona (located on the northern coast). The 2nd-largest and oldest is Santa Fe (located in the interior). Much of the island is covered with pine forests, which is the source of large lumber industry. Its northern parts feature low ridges with marble quarried there, while the southern area is an elevated plain. Fishing and agriculture are the main industries, with vegetables and citrus fruit being grown. The volcanic activity formed black sand beaches.
Isla de la Juventud has a mild climate, but is famous for frequent hurricanes. The island is among Cuba's most popular tourist destinations, with plenty of beaches and resorts, such as Bibijagua Beach. Until the government of Cuba expropriated foreign-owned property during the early 1960s, Americans owned much of the land.
The main transportation to Isla de la Juventud is by plane or boat. Hydrofoils and motorized catamarans offer, respectively, 2 and 3 hours ferry service from Cuba. A much larger and slower cargo ferry takes around 6 hours to make the crossing, but is much cheaper.
Presidio Modelo prison is not functioning as prison facility since 1967, when was declared a national monument. The prison's hospital rooms were converted into a museum.
Isla de la Juventud cruise terminal
Cruise ships to Isla de la Juventud (aka Isle of Youth) dock (anchor) at Nueva Gerona - capital and port town on the northern coast.
Some ships may alternatively anchor near Punta Frances (on the island's southwest coast).
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