Of the description of the island of Cuba or Fernandina by the height and degrees of its position and by its nearest surroundings.
Translated by Isabella Perez ’21
The island of Cuba lies twenty leagues, or eighty miles at four miles per league, from Hispaniola. From the point or promontory called Maycí, which is Cuba’s easternmost point, to the point or promontory of San Nicolás, which is on the northwestern coast of Hispaniola, in truth there is a longitude of nearly 300 leagues, though in many charts they do not attribute more than 220 leagues, and some give it more and others less. But those who have been on land and walked the island’s entire longitude say it is 300 leagues or very little less, according to what I heard many times from the Adelantado Diego Velazquez, who was there for many years as captain general and lieutenant governor for the Admiral; I heard the same from the Licenciado Alonso Zuazo, who was also there for a while as captain general and had walked and sailed the coast of the island. I was informed of this more at length by Captain Pánfilo de Narváez, who finished conquering this island and explored more of it and more particularly than others. And aside from these, many others give it 300 leagues in longitude and sixty-five leagues at its widest in latitude, which is crossing from the point of the Jardines islands (these are some islands with many dangerous shallows) to the point they call Yucanaca. Even this crossing is not very straightforwardly north to south—from southwest to northeast there is also almost a half-wind in distance. For the most part, in everything else it is narrow and should be twenty-five leagues across, and less from there down because it is long and narrow. The point of Maycí that lies to the east is at twenty and a half degrees, and the southernmost part of it, which faces the Jardines islands, is located little more than nineteen degrees from the equinoctial line on the side of our arctic pole, and the part of that island that is on the northern band is at twenty-two and a half degrees on the point of Yucanaca. The point of San Antonio, which is the westernmost tip of said island, is at twenty-one and a half degrees.
What has been said above is the position and genuine borders of Cuba—Hispaniola, as I have said, lies to the east of said island, and the land of Yucatan and New Spain to the west, which are provinces or parts of the Mainland, and to the south there is the end and westernmost tip of Hispaniola; all that runs to the west is the point called San Miguel, which others improperly call Tiburon cape. And likewise to the south you find the island of Jamaica, the islands they call Lagartos and the Jardines islands I mentioned; to the north yo find the Lucayos islands and Bimini and the province called Florida on the Mainland. These are the nearest surroundings of this island of Cuba or Fernandina, which for the most part is all very rough, mountainous, and uneven land; and there are very good rivers in it, rich in gold and of very good and bountiful waters, and there are likewise many lagoons and freshwater ponds, and some of saltwater, which to avoid prolixity I will not write of, so as to move on to the other things and particularities of the history.