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Pinar del Rio

Pinar del Río is a Cuban city, capital of Pinar del Río Province. With a city population of 139,336 (2004), in a municipality of 190,332, it is the 10th largest Cuban city. Inhabitants of the area are called Pinareños.GeographyThe municipality borders with San Luis, San Juan y Martínez, Viñales and Consolación del Sur. The villages included in the municipality are Briones Montoto, Cayo Conuco, La Coloma, La Conchita and Las Ovas.HistoryPinar del Río was one of the last major cities in Cuba founded by the Spanish. The city and province was originally founded as Nueva Filipinas (New Philippines) in regard to influx of Asian laborers coming from the Philippine Islands to work on tobacco plantations.Pinar del Rio's history begins with the Guanahatabeys, a group of nomadic Indians who lived in caves and procured most of their livelihood from the sea. Less advanced than the other indigenous natives who lived on the island, the Guanahatabey were a peaceful and passive race whose culture more or less independently of the Taino and Siboney cultures further east. Extinct by the time of the Spanish arrived in 1492, little firsthand documentation remains on how the archaic Guanahatabey society was structured and organized although some archeological sites have been found on the Guanahacabibes Peninsula.Post-Colombus the conquistadors left rugged Pinar del Rio largely to its own devices, and the area developed lackadaisically only after Canary Islanders started arriving in late 1500's. These Canarians became the tobacco farmers of the region. It was originally called Nueva Filipina (New Philippines), but the region was renamed Pinar del Rio in 1778, supposedly for the pine forests crowded along the Rio Guama. Tobacco plantations and cattle ranches quickly sprang up in the rich soil and open grazing land that typifies Pinar and farmers who made a living from the delicate and well-tended crops were colloquially christened Guajiros, a native word that means - literally - 'one of us '. By the mid 1800s, Europeans were hooked on the fragrant weed and the region flourished. Sea routes opened up and the railways was extended to facilitate the shipping of the perishable product. Pinar del Rio is known to be the Mecca of Tobacco.
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