About Cuba [ Country ]

Here we've distilled information and facts from various sources about the location, size, population, geography, transport, climate, economy, history, government, law, and so on, of Cuba; into a view that makes sense for a traveller to, or within, this country.

Location

Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, 150 km south of Key West, Florida

Climate

Tropical; moderated by trade winds; dry season (November to April); rainy season (May to October)

Terrain

Mostly flat to rolling plains, with rugged hills and mountains in the southeast

Elevation

lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Pico Turquino 2,005 m

Geo Notes

Largest country in Caribbean and westernmost island of the Greater Antilles

Approved Official Names

conventional long form: Republic of Cuba
conventional short form: Cuba
local long form: Republica de Cuba
local short form: Cuba

Capital City

name: Havana
geographic coordinates: 23 07 N, 82 21 W
time difference: UTC-5 (same time as Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

Administrative Divisions

14 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia) and 1 special municipality* (municipio especial); Camaguey, Ciego de Avila, Cienfuegos, Ciudad de La Habana, Granma, Guantanamo, Holguin, Isla de la Juventud*, La Habana, Las Tunas, Matanzas, Pinar del Rio, Sancti Spiritus, Santiago de Cuba, Villa Clara

Natuaral Hazards

The east coast is subject to hurricanes from August to November (in general, the country averages about one hurricane every other year); droughts are common

Environmental Issues

Air and water pollution; biodiversity loss; deforestation

Infectious Diseases

degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever (2009)

Life Expectancy

total population: 77.64 years
male: 75.36 years
female: 80.05 years (2010 est.)

Sex Ratio

at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Languages Spoken

Spanish (official)

Religions Practiced

Nominally 85% Roman Catholic prior to CASTRO assuming power; Protestants, Jehovah's Witnesses, Jews, and Santeria are also represented

Legal System

Based on Spanish civil law and influenced by American legal concepts with large elements of Communist legal theory; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

National Holiday

Triumph of the Revolution, 1 January (1959)

Illicit Drugs

Territorial waters and air space serve as transshipment zone for US- and European-bound drugs; established the death penalty for certain drug-related crimes in 1999 (2008)

Telephone System

general assessment: greater investment beginning in 1994 and the establishment of a new Ministry of Information Technology and Communications in 2000 has resulted in improvements in the system; national fiber-optic system under development; 95% of switches digitized by end of 2006; mobile-cellular telephone service is expensive and must be paid in convertible pesos, which effectively limits subscribership
domestic: fixed-line density remains low at less than 10 per 100 inhabitants; mobile-cellular service expanding but remains less than 5 per 100 persons
international: country code - 53; fiber-optic cable laid to but not linked to US network; satellite earth station - 1 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region) (2009)

Broadcast Media

Government owns and controls all broadcast media with private ownership of electronic media prohibited; government operates 4 national TV networks and many local TV stations; government operates 6 national radio networks, an international station, and many local radio stations; Radio-TV Marti is beamed from the US (2007)

Background

The native Amerindian population of Cuba began to decline after the European discovery of the island by Christopher COLUMBUS in 1492 and following its development as a Spanish colony during the next several centuries. Large numbers of African slaves were imported to work the coffee and sugar plantations, and Havana became the launching point for the annual treasure fleets bound for Spain from Mexico and Peru. Spanish rule eventually provoked an independence movement and occasional rebellions that were harshly suppressed. US intervention during the Spanish-American War in 1898 assisted the Cubans in overthrowing Spanish rule. The Treaty of Paris established Cuban independence from the US in 1902 after which the island experienced a string of governments mostly dominated by the military and corrupt politicians. Fidel CASTRO led a rebel army to victory in 1959; his iron rule held the subsequent regime together for nearly five decades. He stepped down as president in February 2008 in favor of his younger brother Raul CASTRO. Cuba's Communist revolution, with Soviet support, was exported throughout Latin America and Africa during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. The country faced a severe economic downturn in 1990 following the withdrawal of former Soviet subsidies worth $4 billion to $6 billion annually. Cuba at times portrays the US embargo, in place since 1961, as the source if its difficulties. Illicit migration to the US - using homemade rafts, alien smugglers, air flights, or via the southwest border - is a continuing problem. The US Coast Guard intercepted 982 individuals attempting to cross the Straits of Florida in fiscal year 2009.

Economy Overview

The government continues to balance the need for economic loosening against a desire for firm political control. It has rolled back limited reforms undertaken in the 1990s to increase enterprise efficiency and alleviate serious shortages of food, consumer goods, and services. The average Cuban's standard of living remains at a lower level than before the downturn of the 1990s, which was caused by the loss of Soviet aid and domestic inefficiencies. Since late 2000, Venezuela has been providing oil on preferential terms, and it currently supplies about 100,000 barrels per day of petroleum products. Cuba has been paying for the oil, in part, with the services of Cuban personnel in Venezuela including some 30,000 medical professionals.

People Trafficking

current situation: Cuba is principally a source country for women and children trafficked within the country for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation and possibly for forced labor; the country is a destination for sex tourism including child sex tourism, which is a problem in many areas of the country; some Cuban nationals willingly migrate to the United States but are subsequently exploited for forced labor by their smugglers; Cuba is also a transit point for the smuggling of migrants from China, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Lebanon, and other nations to the United States and Canada
tier rating: Tier 3 - Cuba does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; exact information about trafficking in Cuba is difficult to obtain because the government does not acknowledge or condemn human trafficking as a problem in Cuba; tangible efforts to prosecute offenders, protect victims, or prevent human trafficking activity do not appear to have been made during 2008; Cuba has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol (2009)

National Anthem

name: "La Bayamesa" (The Bayamo Song)
lyrics/music: Pedro FIGUEREDO
note: adopted 1940; Pedro FIGUEREDO first performed "La Bayamesa" in 1868 during the Ten Years War against the Spanish; a leading figure in the uprising, FIGUEREDO was captured in 1870 and executed in front of a firing squad; just prior to the fusillade he is reputed to have shouted, "Morir por la Patria es vivir" (To die for the country is to live), a line from the anthem

Cuba location map
Size

total: 110,860 sq km
land: 109,820 sq km
water: 1,040 sq km

Cuba flag
Population

11,477,459 (July 2010 est.)

Nationality

noun: Cuban(s)
adjective: Cuban

Ethnic Groups

white 65.1%, mulatto and mestizo 24.8%, black 10.1% (2002 census)

HIV/AIDS Rate

Less than 0.1% (2007 est.)

Independence Date

20 May 1902 (from Spain 10 December 1898; administered by the US from 1898 to 1902); not acknowledged by the Cuban Government as a day of independence

Government Type

Communist state

Voting Rights

16 years of age; universal

Internet Users

1.45 million
note: private citizens are prohibited from buying computers or accessing the Internet without special authorization; foreigners may access the Internet in large hotels but are subject to firewalls; some Cubans buy illegal passwords on the black market or take advantage of public outlets to access limited email and the government-controlled "intranet" (2008)

Internet Hosts

3,025 (2010)

Internet Country Code

.cu

Number Airports

136 (2010)

Number Paved Airports

total: 65
over 3,047 m: 7
2,438 to 3,047 m: 9
1,524 to 2,437 m: 17
914 to 1,523 m: 5
under 914 m: 27 (2010)

Railways

total: 8,598 km
standard gauge: 8,322 km 1.435-m gauge (176 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 276 km 1.000-gauge
note: 4,533 km of the track is used by sugar plantations; 4,257 km is standard gauge; 276 km is narrow gauge (2006)

Roadways

total: 60,858 km
paved: 29,820 km (includes 638 km of expressway)
unpaved: 31,038 km (2000)

Inland Waterways

240 km (2008)

Ports & Terminals

Antilla, Cienfuegos, Guantanamo, Havana, Matanzas, Mariel, Nuevitas Bay, Santiago de Cuba, Tanamo

National Budget

revenues: $47.08 billion
expenditures: $50.34 billion (2009 est.)

Account Balance

$539 million (2009 est.)
-$2.592 billion (2008 est.)

Exchange Rates

Cuban pesos (CUP) per US dollar - 0.9259 (2009), 0.9259 (2008), 0.9259 (2007), 0.9231 (2006)
note: Cuba has two currencies in circulation: the Cuban peso (CUP) and the convertible peso (CUC); in April 2005 the official exchange rate changed from $1 per CUC to $1.08 per CUC (0.93 CUC per $1) both for individuals and enterprises; individuals can buy 24 Cuban pesos (CUP) for each CUC sold or sell 25 Cuban pesos for each CUC bought; enterprises, however, must exchange CUP and CUC at a 1:1 ratio.

Inflation Rate

-0.5% (2009 est.)
0.8% (2008 est.)

Main Industries

Sugar, petroleum, tobacco, construction, nickel, steel, cement, agricultural machinery, pharmaceuticals

Agricultural Products

Sugar, tobacco, citrus, coffee, rice, potatoes, beans; livestock

Labor Force

5.159 million
note: state sector 78%, non-state sector 22% (2009 est.)

Main Occupations

agriculture: 20%
industry: 19.4%
services: 60.6% (2005)

Unemployment Rate

1.7% (2009 est.)
1.6% (2008 est.)

GDP (USD Parity)

$110.8 billion (2009 est.)
$109.2 billion (2008 est.)
$104.9 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

GDP Per Capita

$9,700 (2009 est.)
$9,600 (2008 est.)
$9,200 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

Family Income Percent

lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Below Poverty

NA%