Where is Little Havana located and Why are there so many Cuban Americans in Miami?

Little Havana is a Cuban American neighborhood in Miami, Florida. Here Spanish is widely spoken.

Shops and restaurants reminiscent of Cuba line the main drag, Calle Ocho (Spanish for “eighth street”). Older men play dominoes, a favorite pastime of Cubans, not to mention their West Indian neighbors, Puerto Ricans and Dominicans.

The existence of Little Havana is one sign of how Cubans have transformed Miami.

The change is mostly credited to the Cuban exiles, who settled in large numbers in Miami. The city is only 150 miles from Cuba and already had a small Cuban American population before the exiles arrived.

Its warm climate and large Cuban population reminded them of the old country, la cuba de ayer (“Cuba of yesterday”), for which they felt nostalgia. Some resettled in other parts of the country, only to return to Miami.

In the late 1950s, Miami had only about 46,000 people of Cuban descent. In the late 1990s, more than 700,000 Cuban Americans lived in Miami and the rest of Dade County.