The Municipality of Trinidad, which includes the town of Trinidad and other population centers, has about 67,000 inhabitants in an area of about 434 square miles, equivalent to a square about 20 miles on a side. The town of Trinidad was the fourth of seven cities founded by Diego de Velásquez, in 1514. It is unique in Cuba, being one of the two cities in this hemisphere designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Trinidad is located on the south shore of Cuba, a little to the west of center.
Its historical integrity is protected by its designation as a national monument by Cuba. As a result, it is virtually free of concessions, souvenir shops and billboards, and restoration has been quite rapid due to UNESCO funding. It is perhaps the best restored city in Cuba. Not surprisingly, tourism is its major industry now, and it has been described as a ‘must see’ site. But the tourist who visits Trinidad is not the tourist who visits urban Havana. The attractions of Trinidad are not urban, but historical and cultural. Though tourism is very prominent, farming, mainly of sugar, coffee and cattle as well as fishing are important to the economy as well. There is also a developing lobster fishery, which is selling on the international market.
Trinidad was used by Cortes to provision his conquest of the Aztecs, was later home to smugglers and pirates (being far from the authorities in Havana by sea), was prominent in the slave trade and more recently, in the 19 th century, was the thriving center of Cuba’s sugar production and trade – based in part on the abundance of slave labor. Many Mainers, including prominent Portland families and many Maine mariners had connections with Trinidad and the sugar trade. Trinidad is famous for its cobblestone streets, paved in part with stones carried as ballast in ships from Maine. The nearby Valle de los Ingenios – the valley of the Sugar Mills – itself a UNESCO World heritage site at the foot of the Sierra del Escambray; a magnificent nearby four kilometer long white sand beach, Playa Ancón; and the beauties of old Trinidad itself all make the area a treasure.