The main gate at the prison in Guantanamo at the US Guantanamo Naval Base on October 16, 2018, in Guantanamo Base, Cuba.
CNN  — 

Here’s a look at Guantánamo Bay Naval Station and its detention facilities.


The base, sometimes referred to as “Gitmo,” is located in southeastern Cuba, on the coast of Guantánamo Bay.

The United States has been leasing the 45 square miles that the base sits on since 1903. The base shares a 17-mile fenced border with Cuba.

The lease can only be terminated by mutual agreement.

Detention Facilities

In response to the 9/11 attacks in 2001, and subsequent military operations in Afghanistan, existing migrant detention facilities at Guantánamo were repurposed to hold detainees in the “war on terror.”

During the administration of President George W. Bush (2001-2009), the United States claimed that Guantánamo Bay detainees were not on US soil and therefore not covered by the US Constitution, and that “enemy combatant” status meant they could be denied some legal protections.

There are 30 detainees at Guantánamo Bay.

More than 700 detainees have been held at Guantánamo since it opened. Peak population was 684 detainees in June 2003. According to Human Rights First, 500 detainees were transferred or released during the Bush Administration and 197 detainees were transferred or released during the Obama Administration.

At least nine detainees have died in custody.

The US Defense Department spent about $445 million to run Guantánamo Bay in 2015, down from $522.2 million in 2010.


1903 - The new Republic of Cuba leases 45 square miles of land in Guantánamo Bay to the United States for construction of a naval station. Building on the naval station begins that same year.

1934 - Cuba and the United States sign a perpetual lease that rents the 45 square miles of Cuba to the United States for $4,085 a year.

1991 - Approximately 34,000 Haitian refugees are detained on the base after they flee a coup in Haiti.

1994-1995 - More than 55,000 Cubans and Haitians captured at sea are kept at Guantánamo.

January 11, 2002 - The first detainees from Afghanistan and Pakistan arrive at the temporary facility of Camp X-Ray.

June 28, 2004 - A divided US Supreme Court rules that the Guantánamo detainees have some rights but leaves open how these rights will be exercised.

January 18, 2005 - The Supreme Court refuses to consider whether the government’s plan for military trials unfairly denies the detainees basic legal rights.

July 13, 2005 - A report presented to the Senate Armed Services details the interrogation of the suspected “20th hijacker” in the 9/11 attacks, Mohamed al-Khatani. He was forced to wear a bra, dance with a man and do dog tricks while tied to a leash. Military investigators said that was not considered prohibited, inhumane treatment.

April 19, 2006 - Following a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the Associated Press, the Pentagon releases the most detailed and extensive list of detainees ever provided. It provides the names and nationalities of 558 detainees who’ve gone through a hearing at Guantánamo Bay.

May 15, 2006 - The Defense Department releases another list of current and former detainees to the AP. It says this list of 759 names includes everyone who has ever been held at Gitmo, since 2001. The list does not include the names of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or Ramzi Bin al-Shibh.