This map plots the settings and references in The Old Man and the Sea
To start exploring, click a red pin
The port city of Havana, Cuba, is repeatedly referenced in The Old Man and the Sea. Its official name in Spanish is Ciudad de La Habana. It is the capital of Cuba.
Cuba in the 1950s was quite different than today. It was a popular tourist destination. Although often corrupt, the government was democratically elected. It was not until 1959 that Fidel Castro took control and turned the island into a Communist nation.
Santiago's village is not named in the novel but Cojimar likely served as Hemingway's model; it is located on the northern coast of Cuba, near Havana, and is on a harbor. In 1952, when Life magazine was planning to publish The Old Man and The Sea, the editors sent photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt to Cuba to meet with Hemingway and get shots to illustrate the work. They went to the village of Cojimar, which was just "a few minutes from the author's home." Surprisingly, when the article was published, the photos were not included; an artist's illustrations were used instead. However, Life has now put Eisenstaedt's photos online, and I highly recommend viewing them to get a sense of place for Santiago's village. They are available here.
The Gulf of Mexico is actually considered to be a sea. According to gulfbase.org, it “is bordered by the United States to the north . . ., five Mexican states to the west . . , and the island of Cuba to the southeast.” It’s roughly 900 kilometers (over 550 miles) from north to south and 1,600 kilometers (over 990 miles) from east to west. It is home to rich petroleum deposits and some of the most productive fisheries in the world.
Casablanca in this case is not the famous Moroccan city but an area of Havana, close to Cojimar. The name "Casablanca" means "white house" in English.
Cienfuegos is the name of both a province and a city near the southern coast of Cuba.
"The hand game" is a reference to arm wrestling.
A spring leaf would be one of the metal layers of a leaf spring, "a composite spring, used especially in automotive suspensions, consisting of several layers of flexible metallic strips joined to act as a single unit" (answers.com).
Guanabacoa is a township in eastern Havana.