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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – They are magnificent landscapes, cityscapes, pristine beaches and lush tropical mountains.

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The breathtaking aerial photographs are part of “Unseen Cuba,” a nearly 500-page book that captures the island like never before.

The photographs are the work of Lithuanian aerial photographer Marius Jovaisa. He spent hundreds of hours in ultralights flying over every corner of Cuba, capturing scenes that had never been photographed from the air.

“When I went to Cuba, I saw that this was a special place in terms of landscapes, unique history and people,” Jovaisa said.

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After publishing books in his native Lithuania, Belize and Mexico, he chose Cuba, a place closed-off from much of the world, for his next project. But getting government permission required two years of intense negotiations.

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“I never gave up,” Jovaisa said about his efforts to convince the Cubans for permission. “There were times I was about to give up. It was really frustrating.”

Jovaisa got approval for him and his Cuban pilot to fly their ultralight and photograph areas few had seen.

“Every time I am above the earth and I see something really beautiful, I experience a sense of euphoria,” he said.

That sense of wonderment can be seen in his images of places that will soon be open to more Americans as travel restrictions to the island are loosened.

Jovaisa believes close ties with the U.S. will have a profound impact on Cuba, but he hopes the island’s resources can be enjoyed in a sustainable fashion.

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“Cuba needs a lot of change.” Jovaisa said. “It will change and I hope it will change in a good way.”

Eliott Rodriguez