This study investigates the contents, distribution patterns, and sources of lanthanoid elements (La to Lu) in aerosols with an aerodynamic diameter <= 10 mu m (PM10) in a coastal Caribbean region in order to better constrain the origin of the atmospheric PM contamination. We sampled and analysed PM10 aerosols during 2015 simultaneously at a rural and an urban site in Cienfuegos (Cuba) as well as particles samples from regional contamination sources. Results showed that the sum of the studied lanthanoids concentrations ranged from 0.03 to 13.42 ng m(-3) and from 0.51 to 18.75 ng m(-3) at the rural and the urban site, respectively. Time variations for the lanthanoid concentrations displayed similar trends and showed that the highest concentrations corresponded to the influence of the African dust for both sites, but presented distinct variability and lower concentrations when dust intrusions were less frequent. The lanthanoid distribution patterns in the rural and urban sites were significantly different, due to the impact of different local combustion sources. Our results were comforted by comparing the degree of fractionation of the lighter and heavier lanthanoids and the delta Eu and delta Ce anomalies between our PM10 samples and those of the local sources of contamination. Ultimately, we highlight the added value of lanthanoid elements as reliable indicators for discriminating emission sources and for tracking the origin of atmospheric particulate matter.