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CUBA ON MY MIND: Hitting the Cartographic Jackpot

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New Cuban provinces as announced in the Gaceta Oficial de La Republica de Cuba, No. 023, September 2010


I have been assigned the task of researching and compiling our forthcoming map of Cuba. During the early stages of my research, I hit the cartographic jackpot—the possibility of two new provinces forming in 2011. Not only were we going to be publishing a map of Cuba for the first time since 1906, we were also going to be among the first to showcase its new administrative structure. This is considered an exciting event for cartographers here at the National Geographic. Why? Because before any element is mapped, we need to assure that it portrays the most up-to-date information.

My first stop was Cuba’s official government website. Unfortunately, it was a bit difficult to navigate, especially since the English version of the site was “under construction.” My next stop was the Cuban Embassy—well, not exactly since Cuba and the U.S. have not had formal diplomatic relations since 1961. But there is the Cuban Interests Section embedded within the Embassy of Switzerland here in Washington. It was there that I was able to obtain the official document (Gaceta Oficial de la Republica de Cuba, No. 023) spelling out the upcoming changes to Cuba’s new administrative divisions—Artemisa and Mayabeque provinces.

As Cuba is organized administratively by province and municipality, we were able to delineate the new provincial boundaries pretty easily by using a map of municipalities contained in the most recent Nuevo Atlas Nacional de Cuba. In the latter stages of my research I was able to reconfirm the delineation of these boundaries with the Cuban statistics office, La Oficina Nacional de Estadísticas, as they were now providing statistics for these two new provinces.

Now I have to keep abreast of the deepwater oil exploration off the northern coast of Cuba. If possible, we would like our map to also showcase the location of such prospective oil fields.

—Julie A. Ibinson
Map Researcher & Editor
National Geographic Maps


Read All Posts in This Series


CUBA ON MY MIND: Hitting the Cartographic Jackpot

CUBA ON MY MIND: Armchair Traveling

CUBA ON MY MIND: Creating a New Classic Map

CUBA ON MY MIND: An Editorial Tour of the Island

CUBA ON MY MIND: “At the corner of Yield and One Way”


  1. jvaldes
    June 8, 2011, 8:20 am

    Mr. Sequin, many thanks for your recommendation. In her research, Ms. Ibinson noted the term “North Cuba Basin” being often used and wondered if it should be shown on the map. After contacting the USGS regarding the use of the name, we were informed that it is not a formally recognized term and thus we decided to leave it off the map.

    Juan José Valdés

  2. Rob Sequin
    Cape Cod Massachusetts
    June 7, 2011, 2:07 pm

    Search for the term North Cuba Basin. You will find images with blocks for lease of potential oil drilling operations.

    I have a thick atlas from 1976 showing all the growing regions, political boundaries etc if that would help you.