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Republic of Cuba

República de Cuba  (Spanish)
A shield in front of a Fasces crowned by the Phrygian Cap, all supported by an oak branch and a laurel wreath
Coat of arms
Motto: 
"¡Patria o Muerte, Venceremos!"  (Spanish)
("Homeland or Death, We Shall Overcome!")
Anthem: La Bayamesa
(English: "The Bayamo Song")
CUB orthographic.svg
Capital
and largest city
Havana
23°8′N 82°23′W / 23.133°N 82.383°W / 23.133; -82.383
Official languages Spanish
Ethnic groups
(2012)
Religion
  • 59.2% Christianity
  • 35.0% No religion
  • 5.4% Folk religions
  • 0.4% Others
Demonym(s) Cuban
Government Unitary Marxist–Leninist one-party socialist republic
Miguel Díaz-Canel
• Vice President
Salvador Valdés Mesa
• Prime Minister
Manuel Marrero Cruz
Legislature National Assembly of People's Power
Independence from Spain and the United States
• Declaration of Independence
10 October 1868
• War of Independence
24 February 1895
• Recognized (handed over from Spain to the United States)
10 December 1898
• Republic declared (independence from United States)
20 May 1902
26 July 1953 – 1 January 1959
• Current constitution
10 April 2019
Area
• Total
109,884 km2 (42,426 sq mi) (104th)
• Water (%)
0
Population
• 2019 census
Decrease 11,193,470 (83rd)
• Density
101.9/km2 (263.9/sq mi) (80th)
GDP (PPP) 2015 estimate
• Total
US$ 254.865 billion
• Per capita
US$ 22,237
GDP (nominal) 2019 estimate
• Total
Increase US$ 105.355 billion (63rd)
• Per capita
Increase US$ 9,296 (88th)
Gini (2000) 38.0
medium
HDI (2019) Increase 0.783
high · 70th
Currency Cuban peso (CUP)
Time zone UTC−5 (CST)
• Summer (DST)
UTC−4 (CDT)
Driving side right
Calling code +53
ISO 3166 code CU
Internet TLD .cu

Cuba is an island country in the Caribbean Sea. The country is made up of the big island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud island (Isle of Youth), and many smaller islands. Havana is the capital of Cuba. It is the largest city. The second largest city is Santiago de Cuba. In Spanish, the capital is called "La Habana". Cuba is near the United States, Mexico, Haiti, Jamaica and the Bahamas. People from Cuba are called Cubans. The official language is Spanish. Cuba has a warmvery year.

In 1492, Christopher Columbus landed on the island of Cuba. He claimed it for the Kingdom of Spain. Cuba became a Spanish colony until the Spanish–American War of 1898. After the war, it was part of the United States. It gained independence in 1902.

In 1959, guerilla fighters led by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara overthrew Cuba 's dictator Fulgencio Batista in what became the 'Cuban Revolution'. Castro began making relations with the Soviet Union and tried to close a lot of American businesses in Cuba; the United States did not like this. In 1961 Castro officially announced that his government was socialist. The US attempted to invade Cuba to regain control of it and overthrow it's communist led government but failed. The Communist Party of Cuba was created in 1965 and has ruled the island ever since. Today, Cuba is the only communist state outside of Asia, in the Caribbean, and in the western hemisphere.

History

Early history

Before Cuba was conquered by the Spaniards, three tribes lived on the island. They were the Taínos, the Ciboneys, and the Guanajatabeyes. The Taínos were the largest and most common of the three tribes. They farmed crops such as beans, corn, squash, and yams. The Taínos also slept in hammocks which the Spaniards would introduce to the rest of the world. Then, in 1492, Christopher Columbus arrived in Cuba on his first trip to the Americas. Three years later he claimed the islands for the Spanish. The Spanish began to rule Cuba afterwards. The Spanish brought thousands of slaves from Africa to Cuba to work for them. Most of the native Cubans died because of the new diseases brought by the Spanish and Africans. The Spanish also treated the native Cubans very cruelly and massacred many of them.

The Spanish ruled for many years. Cuba became the most important producer of sugar. In the early 1800s, Cubans rebelled against the Spanish rulers, but failed until 1898, when the United States went to war with the Spanish and defeated them. Cuba became American for four years afterwards, before it became an independent republic in 1902. Even though Cuba was independent, the Americans still controlled the island by a law called the Platt Amendment. In 1933 the Cubans stopped the Platt Amendment, but the Americans still had a big say in Cuban politics. Americans owned most of Cuba’s businesses. The Americans supported the leader Fulgencio Batista, who was seen by many Cubans as corrupt.

Cuban Revolution

CheyFidel
Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, photographed by Alberto Korda in 1961

In 1959, Fidel Castro led a revolution against Fulgencio Batista. Castro took power in Cuba with Che Guevara from Argentina, his brother Raul, and others who fought against Batista. Castro made many changes to Cuba. He ended American ownership of Cuban businesses. This made Castro unpopular in America and the United States banned all contact with Cuba. Many Cubans went to America because of this. In 1961, the Americans helped some of these Cubans to attack Cuba and try to remove Castro, but they failed. Castro then asked the Soviet Union to help defend them from the Americans, which they did. The Soviet Union put nuclear weapons in Cuba and aimed them at the United States. American President Kennedy demanded that they be removed or a new war would begin. This was known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Soviet Union removed the missiles when the United States agreed to not continue attacking Cuba and to remove missiles from Turkey.

Cuba became a communist-led country like the Soviet Union after this. The Soviet Union bought most of Cuba’s sugar for expensive prices. Cuba spent this money on health, education and the army. This made Cuba’s schools and hospitals some of the best in the world. The army fought in Africa to support black Africans against the white South African army. Cuba also supported groups in South America fighting against the dictators of those countries.

However, the Cuban government began to control most of life in Cuba under the communist system. Disagreeing with the Cuban government and Fidel Castro in public was not allowed. Some Cubans did not like this and tried to leave Cuba. Most Cubans who left went to the United States. Some Cubans who did not like the government and stayed were put in jail. Many groups from around the world protested against Cuba because of this, and demanded that Fidel Castro give up power.

In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed. This meant that Cuba, which had sold most of its products to the Soviet Union, had no money coming into the country. The Americans made the restrictions against contact with Cuba tighter. America said the restrictions on contact would continue unless Fidel Castro gave up power. Cuba became very poor in the 1990s. This became known in Cuba as “The Special Period”. Because of the disaster, Cuba changed to allow less control by the government, more discussion amongst the people, and private shops and businesses. Cuba also tried to get tourists to visit the island.

In the 2000s, tourism to Cuba began to make money for the island again. Though Fidel Castro had remained in power, he had passed all duties to his brother Raul after an illness. Fidel Castro was one of the longest-serving heads of state. In 2008, Raúl Castro became the official president of Cuba.

In April 2015, historic talks took place with US President Obama and Cuban General Secretary Raúl Castro in improving relations between the two nations.

The trade embargo issued by President Kennedy in the 1960s has been considerably loosened under Obama's administration. US citizens can now travel directly to Cuba at certain times of the year. Before, Americans had to go via Mexico if they wanted to go to Cuba. Americans are still not allowed to purchase or smoke Cuban cigars. The cigars are smuggled over the US-Canadian border since they are legal in Canada.

For military service, men from the age of 17 to 28 years old must go into the army for two years.

Demographics

Escuela Lenin(estudiantes)
Students of the Escuela Lenin

The population of Cuba is close to 13 million. The people of Cuba come from three different groups. The largest group is the descendants of the Spanish settlers who came to Cuba. The smallest group is the descendants of the black African slaves who were brought in to do the work and birth children (in the barracoon) as New World slaves who could be legally sold into life time bondage in the United States. The middle-sized group is a mix of African and Spanish. The government succeeded in seeing that the three different groups were treated the same. According to a DNA Caribbean Studies Institute, the racial-makeup of the population of Cuba is:

  • European Cubans descend from settlers that came during the very late 15th century and onward. Most white Cubans came from many different parts of Spain, but the most numerous were the Canary Islanders, Andalusians, and Catalans. There was as well some French, Italian and English peoples. Whites makeup approximately 30% of Cuba's population as of 2012, and they mostly populate the west part of Cuba, specially cities like Havana and Pinar del Rio. These brought with them their language, religions, music and others.
  • Africans and Mulatto Cubans descend from the arrival of African slaves that came from various parts of Africa but the most numerous were West Africans. There were also more than 500,000 Haitians that came to Cuba during the Haitian Revolution days. Most Cuban slaves tended to come from the Kongo and Yoruba tribes, there were also the Igbos, Ewes, Fons, Fulas, Mandinkas and some others. Afro-Cubans range enormously from 33.9 percent to 70 percent of the population, and they are mostly concentrated in the east parts of Cuba. These brought with them their instruments, reigion (Santeria), and customs to the Cuban culture.
  • Mediterranean Cubans are about 3% of the population, however; one must know that a lot of the Southern Spaniard Cuban descendants have good portion of Moor blood in their family lines; due to the close proximate Spain is to North Africa. Many Mediterranean Cubans came during the 1820s-1880s and sometimes onward. These are most concentrated in the East specially cities like Guantanamo Bay. They brought much of their foods and cuisines to Cuba and a few vocabularies.

Largest cities

Largest cities or towns in Cuba
According to the 2018 Estimate
Rank Name Pop.
1 Havana 2,131,480
2 Santiago de Cuba 433,581
3 Camagüey 308,902
4 Holguín 297,433
5 Santa Clara 216,854
6 Guantánamo 216,003
7 Victoria de Las Tunas 173,552
8 Bayamo 159,966
9 Cienfuegos 151,838
10 Pinar del Río 145,193

Geography

Cuba Topography
Topographic map of Cuba

Cuba is an archipelago of islands located in the northern Caribbean Sea at the confluence with the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. It lies between latitudes 19° and 24°N, and longitudes 74° and 85°W. The United States (Key West, Florida) lies 150 km (93 miles) across the Straits of Florida to the north and northwest, and The Bahamas (Cay Lobos) 21 km (13 mi) to the north. Mexico lies 210 km (130 miles) across the Yucatán Channel to the west (to the closest tip of Cabo Catoche in the State of Quintana Roo).

Haiti is 77 km (48 mi) to the east, Jamaica (140 km/87 mi) and the Cayman Islands to the south. Cuba is the principal island, surrounded by four smaller groups of islands: the Colorados Archipelago on the northwestern coast, the Sabana-Camagüey Archipelago on the north-central Atlantic coast, the Jardines de la Reina on the south-central coast and the Canarreos Archipelago on the southwestern coast.

The main island, named Cuba, is 1,250 km (780 mi) long, constituting most of the nation's land area (104,556 km2 (40,369 sq mi)) and is the largest island in the Caribbean and 17th-largest island in the world by land area. The main island consists mostly of flat to rolling plains apart from the Sierra Maestra mountains in the southeast, whose highest point is Pico Turquino (1,974 m (6,476 ft)).

The second-largest island is Isla de la Juventud (Isle of Youth) in the Canarreos archipelago, with an area of 2,200 km2 (849 sq mi). Cuba has an official area (land area) of 109,884 km2 (42,426 sq mi). Its area is 110,860 km2 (42,803 sq mi) including coastal and territorial waters.

Climate

With the entire island south of the Tropic of Cancer, the local climate is tropical, moderated by northeasterly trade winds that blow year-round. The temperature is also shaped by the Caribbean current, which brings in warm water from the equator. This makes the climate of Cuba warmer than that of Hong Kong, which is at around the same latitude as Cuba but has a subtropical rather than a tropical climate. In general (with local variations), there is a drier season from November to April, and a rainier season from May to October. The average temperature is 21 °C (69.8 °F) in January and 27 °C (80.6 °F) in July. The warm temperatures of the Caribbean Sea and the fact that Cuba sits across the entrance to the Gulf of Mexico combine to make the country prone to frequent hurricanes. These are most common in September and October.

Hurricane Irma hit the island on 8 September 2017, with winds of 260 km per hour, at the Camagüey Archipelago; the storm reached Ciego de Avila province around midnight and continued to pound Cuba the next day. The worst damage was in the keys north of the main island. Hospitals, warehouses and factories were damaged; much of the north coast was without electricity. By that time, nearly a million people, including tourists, had been evacuated. The Varadero resort area also reported widespread damage; the government believed that repairs could be completed before the start of the main tourist season. Subsequent reports indicated that ten people had been killed during the storm, including seven in Havana, most during building collapses. Sections of the capital had been flooded.

Biodiversity

Priotelus temnurus -Camaguey, Camaguey Province, Cuba-8
The Cuban trogon is the island's national bird. Its white, red and blue feathers match those of the Cuban flag.

Cuba signed the Rio Convention on Biological Diversity on 12 June 1992, and became a party to the convention on 8 March 1994. It has subsequently produced a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, with one revision, that the convention received on 24 January 2008.

The country's fourth national report to the CBD contains a detailed breakdown of the numbers of species of each kingdom of life recorded from Cuba, the main groups being: animals (17,801 species), bacteria (270), chromista (707), fungi, including lichen-forming species (5844), plants (9107) and protozoa (1440). The bee hummingbird or zunzuncito is the world's smallest bird with 5.5 cm (2.2 in), and it is native to Cuba. The tocororo or Cuban trogon is the national bird of Cuba. It is endemic of this country. Hedychium coronarium, named Mariposa in Cuba, is the national flower.

Cuba is home to six terrestrial ecoregions: Cuban moist forests, Cuban dry forests, Cuban pine forests, Cuban wetlands, Cuban cactus scrub, and Greater Antilles mangroves. It had a 2019 Forest Landscape Integrity Index mean score of 5.4/10, ranking it 102nd globally out of 172 countries.

According to a 2012 study, Cuba is the only country in the world to meet the conditions of sustainable development put forth by the WWF.

Economy

Cuba Product Exports (2019)
A proportional representation of Cuba, 2019
SantiagoPeople 01
Cigar production in Santiago de Cuba
Cuba 2013-01-23 (8503121480)
Tobacco fields in Viñales

Cuba has Cuban pesos (CUP) set at par with the US dollar. Every Cuban household has a ration book (known as libreta) entitling it to a monthly supply of food and other staples, which are provided at nominal cost.

Cuba's natural resources include sugar, tobacco, fish, citrus fruits, coffee, beans, rice, potatoes, and livestock. Cuba's most important mineral resource is nickel, with 21% of total exports in 2011. The output of Cuba's nickel mines that year was 71,000 tons, approaching 4% of world production. As of 2013 its reserves were estimated at 5.5 million tons, over 7% of the world total. Sherritt International of Canada operates a large nickel mining facility in Moa. Cuba is also a major producer of refined cobalt, a by-product of nickel mining.

Oil exploration in 2005 by the US Geological Survey revealed that the North Cuba Basin could produce about 4.6 billion barrels (730,000,000 m3) to 9.3 billion barrels (1.48×109 m3) of oil. In 2006, Cuba started to test-drill these locations for possible exploitation.

Tourism

Varaderos beach (5982433102)
Varadero beach

1.9 million tourists visited Cuba in 2003, predominantly from Canada and the European Union, generating revenue of US$2.1 billion. Cuba recorded 2,688,000 international tourists in 2011, the third-highest figure in the Caribbean (behind the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico).

The medical tourism sector caters to thousands of European, Latin American, Canadian, and American consumers every year.

A recent study indicates that Cuba has a potential for mountaineering activity, and that mountaineering could be a key contributor to tourism, along with other activities, e.g. biking, diving, caving. Promoting these resources could contribute to regional development, prosperity, and well-being.

Some tourist facilities were extensively damaged on 8 September 2017 when Hurricane Irma hit the island. The storm made landfall in the Camagüey Archipelago; the worst damage was in the keys north of the main island, however, and not in the most significant tourist areas.

Transport

Cuisine

Cubanfood
A traditional meal of ropa vieja (shredded flank steak in a tomato sauce base), black beans, yellow rice, plantains and fried yuca with beer
La Havane (1) Tamales pliés
Cuban-style tamales

Cuban cuisine is a fusion of Spanish and Caribbean cuisines. Cuban recipes share spices and techniques with Spanish cooking, with some Caribbean influence in spice and flavor. Food rationing, which has been the norm in Cuba for the last four decades, restricts the common availability of these dishes. The traditional Cuban meal is not served in courses; all food items are served at the same time.

The typical meal could consist of plantains, black beans and rice, ropa vieja (shredded beef), Cuban bread, pork with onions, and tropical fruits. Black beans and rice, referred to as moros y cristianos (or moros for short), and plantains are staples of the Cuban diet. Many of the meat dishes are cooked slowly with light sauces. Garlic, cumin, oregano, and bay leaves are the dominant spices.

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