The Zapata swamp, located in the county of Matanzas whose capital is separated for less than 100 kilometers from Havana, is the most extensive municipality and at the same time the less inhabited of Cuba, as a significant contrast; although it possesses 19 populational establishments.
Half century behind, a clear image of the life of its residents was the enormous quantity of people who subsisted producing vegetable coal under very unfavorable conditions. The changes are of such a magnitude that the area is presented like one of the tourist attractions in that region.
To visit these places constitutes an opportunity to know part of the most recent Cuban history, because places like Playa Girón and Playa Larga are part of the municipality, where happened the facts of the well-known invasion for Bahía de Cochinos in April 1961.
There are also very deep caverns near the South coast, whose waters vary from sweet in near areas to the surface until completely salted in the depths.
These caverns are the habitat of some species of the marine fauna, including corals and fish.
The area presents a humid ecosystem and its lands are constant object of great interest for the environmental protection, because the Zapata Swamp and other coastal areas of the country are true natural laboratories.
30 archaeological places are reported in this area. Besides other tourist places, as the Guamá tourist complex, where the grateful Cuban sculptress Rita Longa sculpted the Taino Village.
In Zapata Swamp we can find the biggest wetland in the insular Caribbean, with an approximate area of 300 000 hectares. It has a longitude of 175 kilometers from east to west, among Punta Gorda and Jagua, and a maximum width of 58 Km from north to south. And it holds the most complex calcium drainage system of the country and it is part of the better conserved green regions of the archipelago, a true widespread pride!
Near 56 percent of the wetland is covered with forests. In these forests exist 900 floral species, many of them are autochthonous.
Besides the presence of 109 kinds of the fauna, with 230 species of birds. (such as Gallinuela de Santo Tomás (Cyanolimnas cerverai) and the Fermina (Ferminia cerverai), considered one of the more restricted birds habitat in the entire world).
12 varieties of mammals, 31 of reptiles and great variety of amphibians and spineless live in the vast area.
Also, the biggest center of reproduction of crocodiles is in this municipality (Crocodylus rhombifer), which is endemic of Cuba. This guarantees the continuity of the species besides constituting a tourist attraction.
Also the Center of Reproduction of the Cuban parrot (Amazon leucocephala leucocephala), an endemic subspecies was founded. The manjuarí (Atractosteus tristoechus), well-known as the fish crocodile, belonging to the order of the Lepisosteiformes, which constitutes the main objective of the Center of Reproduction of the Indigenous Ictiofauna, where it is also the Cuban turtle of fresh water, well-known as Jicotea Trachemys decussatta.
For its treasures, this region was declared with the condition of Reservation of the Biosphere by the UNESCO.