June 28, 2016

2640 CUBA - The Cuban tobacco

Since tobacco and sugarcane were brought to the Caribbean by conquistadores, the two plants - which thrive in the Cuba's tropical climate - have been profitable cash crops in Cuba. In fact, of all countries in the world, Cuba dedicates the second largest land area to tobacco cultivation. Despite the U.S. embargo, Cuba's international market is strong: Tobacco ranks as the third largest source of hard currency for Cuba and the "Isle of Rum" exports some 36 million liters of rum a year to 120 countries.

The region around Pinar del Río is Cuba's primary tobacco-producing region, and not surprisingly, the center of the Cuban cigar industry. Tobacco leaves are harvested, dried and aged using traditional methods that use heat and shade to regulate the leaf’s sugar and water content - it’s a delicate balance that must be properly maintained to avoid rot. For a high-quality, authentic cigar, it’s essential to spend the extra money for cigars rolled by hand.

When Columbus reached Cuba in 1492 , he discovered the  locals "drinking smoke" from an early version of a cigar. While the Spanish, the Portuguese and the Dutch all claim to have brought the habit to the Old World by 1515, the Spanish definitely had a thriving business exporting tobacco from Cuba to Europe and were soon earning more money from the bright leaf than they ever would from gold. The first cigar factories appeared in 1676 in Spain.

When it was acknowledged that Havana cigars survived the trans-Atlantic voyage much better than the leaf itself, the fabricas, or cigar factories, were born in Cuba. The first names to be registered in Havana's trademark office, entered in 1810, were forerunners of a flourishing industry. Between 1830 and 1850 the great brands, many of which survive today, were founded. 200 years after the introduction , tobacco remains the main crop in the Viniales valley with a production of approximately 66000 tons yearly.

About the stamp
The stamp is part of the series The 100th Anniversary of the National Museum of Fine Arts of Havana, issued on January 29, 2013.

Cigars & Rum: Cuba’s Signature Products - Cuba Cultural Trips
History of the Tobacco in Cuba - Havana Live

Sender: Yuri
Sent from Havana (Cuba), on 26.07.2014

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