(American Spanish: [sjeɱˈfweɣos]), capital of Cienfuegos Province, is a city on the southern coast of Cuba. It is located about 250 km (160 mi) from Havana and has a population of 150,000. The city is dubbed La Perla del Sur (Pearl of the South). Cienfuegos literally translates to “one hundred fires”—cien meaning “one hundred”, fuegos meaning “fires”.
The area where the city lies was identified as Cacicazgo de Jagua by early Spanish conquistadors. It was originally settled by Taino indigenous people. Cacicazgo translates from the Taino language as “chiefdom”. Cacicazgo de Jagua was therefore the chiefdom of Chief Jagua.
The city was later settled by French immigrants from Bordeaux and Louisiana led by Don Louis de Clouet on April 22, 1819. The settlers named the city Fernandina de Jagua in honor of King Ferdinand VII of Spain and Chief Jagua. The settlement successively became a town (villa) in 1829, renamed for José Cienfuegos, Captain General of Cuba (1816–19), and a city in 1880. Many of the streets in old town reflect French origins in their names: Bouyón, D’Clouet, Hourruitiner, Gacel, and Griffo, for instance. Cienfuegos port, despite being one of the latest settlements established during the colonial era, soon grew to be a powerful town due to the fertile fields surrounding it and its position on the trade route between Jamaica and South American cities to the southeast and the hinterland provincial capital of Santa Clara to the northeast. Its advantageous trading location on the historically eponymous Bay of Jagua was used by the Cuban sugar oligarchy when a railroad was built between both cities between 1853 and 1860.
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