The province takes its name from the yacht Granma, used by Che Guevara and Fidel Castro to land in Cuba with 82 guerrillas on December 2nd, 1956; until 1976 the area formed part of the larger "Oriente Province". The American who sold the guerillas the secondhand yacht in Mexico apparently had named it "Granma" ("Granma", more usually "Grandma", is an affectionate term for a grandmother) after his grandmother. The name of the vessel became an icon for Cuban communism.
The province is full of reminders of the Cuban Revolution, and of the Cuban Wars of Independence; plaques in the mountain commemorate the 1959 struggle against Fulgencio Batista. Other sites, unmarked, include archaeological digs, the sites of several palenques, and the fortified hamlets of escaped slaves. In 2005 Hurricane Dennis destroyed the site of Castro's headquarters at La Plata. There are numerous abandoned gold, silver, and manganese mine sites.
The majority of the revenue comes from coffee grown in the mountainous regions of the province. During the coffee harvest soldiers may set up roadblocks to ensure the delivery of the coffee to the government and not to the black market.
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