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Matanzas (city, Cuba)

Matanzas, city (1994 est. pop. 115,000), capital of Matanzas prov., W central Cuba. A port with a large, deep harbor, it exports sugar, fruits, and sisal. Industries in the city include sugar refineries and textile mills. Matanzas is located on the turnpike between Havana and Varadero Beach, and is a popular stopover for vacationers, who explore the picturesque Yumurí River valley and the caves of Bellamar, famous for their calcite crystal formations. Founded in 1693, it was once a pirate haven but by the early 19th cent. had become Cuba's second city, mainly because of the growth of the sugar industry. As the industry moved eastward, the city's importance declined. Matanzas remains an important cultural center for the area.

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Matanzas (province, Cuba)

Matanzas (mätän´säs), province (1990 pop. 601,500), W central Cuba. Matanzas is the capital. The northern coast is lined with ports and bays and contains one of the world's finest beaches, at Varadero ( "Playa Azul" ). In the northern half of the province are plains; in the south are low-lying wetlands. The southern coast includes the site of the Bay of Pigs Invasion. Sugarcane and henequen are the major crops; subsistence agriculture is also practiced, and there is some cattle raising. Matanzas has a tourist industry as well as many mineral springs.

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