Primary Source

Map of the Range of Nuclear Missiles in Cuba, 1962

a map of the western hemisphere showing the united states in white. A red bullseye target centered on Cuba shows the range of various nuclear missiles with the outer rings reaching as far as Northern Canada. The bottom shows the words Top Secret scratched out and a note reading declassified by the CIA in 1978.


Marking one of the most dangerous periods of the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis began on October 16, 1962, when U.S. national security advisors alerted President John F. Kennedy that a Soviet missile base was under construction in Cuba. Only 90 miles from the coast of Florida, a communist Cuba aligned with the Soviet Union posed a significant nuclear threat to the United States should the construction continue. After many discussions, President Kennedy chose to implement a naval blockade around Cuba, and on October 22nd gave a televised speech calling for the removal of Soviet missiles from Cuba. Tensions were impossibly high—should a U.S. Navy vessel fire upon a Russian ship heading for Cuba, it could ignite an irreversible nuclear war between the major global superpowers. By the 25th, the U.S. government became aware that some of the Cuban missiles were now operational and President Kennedy again called for Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev to halt Soviet ships to Cuba and remove the missiles. Public debate between the U.S. and the Soviet Union dominated the United Nations and eventually a solution is offered: the missiles will be removed from Cuba in return for a pledge that the U.S. will not invade the island. Later, documents were released regarding a secret additional understanding that the U.S. would also remove their missiles from Turkey, though at the time this was not public information. Khrushchev accepts these terms, ending the Cuban Missile Crisis on October 28th, 1962. This map was used as a briefing material for President Kennedy in the earliest days of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

This source is part of the Analyzing Official Documents methods module. 


"Map of the western hemisphere showing the full range of the nuclear missiles under construction in Cuba, 1962," John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

How to Cite This Source

"Map of the Range of Nuclear Missiles in Cuba, 1962," in World History Commons, [accessed July 1, 2022]