PUERTO PRINCIPE (officially, CAMAGUEY), a city and the capital of the province of Camaguey in east-central Cuba, about 528 m. E.S.E. of Havana. Pop. (1899), 25,102; (1907), 29,616. In addition to the axis-railway of the island, which connects it with Havana and Santiago, the city has connexion by a branch line with Nuevitas. Puerto Principe lies on a broad plain about equally distant from the north and south coasts of the island, and between two small rivers, the Tinima and Hatibonica. In appearance it is one of the most ancient of Cuban towns. Many of the churches, convents and other ecclesiastical establishments were built in the second half of the 18th century, some in the first half; and some parts of the original cathedral of 1617 have probably survived later alterations and additions. Some of the bridges, too, built in the 18th century, are picturesque. The city hall was begun in 1733. There is a provincial institute for secondary education. The city is the seat of a court of appeal. Puerto Principe is connected by railway, 47 m. long, with its port, Nuevitas (pop. in 1907, 4386), which is on the north side of the island and has a spacious land-locked bay of good depth, approached through a break in the off-lying coral keys and a narrow canyon entrance. About 50 m. south of Puerto Principe is Santa Cruz del Sur (pop. in 1907, 1640) dn the south coast. Cabinet woods, fruit, tobacco, sugar, wax, honey and cattle products are the leading exports. In 1514 Diego Velasquez founded, on Nuevitas Bay (then known as the Puerto del Principe), a settlement that was moved in 1515 or 1516 to the site of the present city of Puerto Principe (or Santa Maria del Puerto del Principe). From very early times the surrounding plains were given over to horse and cattle-raising. As early as the beginning of the 17th century Havana depended on this supply to furnish the fleets of royal ships which monopolized trade between Spain and America. From very early times, too, a prosperous clandestine trade was maintained with Providence, the Bahamas, and especially with Curacoa and Jamaica (after its capture by the English in 1655). After the capital, Puerto Principe was the richest prize of the island when it was captured and plundered in 1668 by a force of Frenchmen and Englishmen under Henry Morgan, the buccaneer. In the 18th century land grants and illicit trade led to serious disturbances. In 1775 Nuevitas was resettled, and in 1780 was made a legal (habilitado) port. After the cession of Santo Domingo to France in 1800, the Real Audiencia, the supreme court of the Spanish West Indies, was removed to Puerto Principe. A superior audiencia was created for Havana in 1838, but the older court continued to exist throughout the Spanish period. Puerto Principe boasts of being the most Creole of Cuban cities. It was prominent in the war of 1868-78 and in the disaffection preceding and following it.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)