Situated in the northern Caribbean, where the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean meet, Cuba is an island of white-sand beaches, rich farmland, exuberant people and rugged peaks. From 1959 until February 2008, the country was controlled by Fidel Castro and his Communist Party, backed by the Soviet Union (at least until the USSR's collapse in 1991). The capital city of Havana is famous for its lively Caribbean nightlife, for 40-year-old classic American cars and for the faded elegance of its Spanish colonial architecture. From the unusual limestone 'mogotes' of the Vinales Valley in the west to the country's highest peak, Pico Turquino (1975m / 6480ft), at the eastern end of the island, Cuba has a great variety of landscape - ripe for exploration. There is excellent trekking on forest trails, quality backroads biking and plenty of opportunity for family groups to take forest walks, explore historic towns and even swim with dolphins.