kids encyclopedia robot

Cuba facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
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 (Spanish)
"Homeland or Death"
Anthem: La Bayamesa  ("The Bayamo Song")
Political map of the Caribbean region with Cuba in red. An inset shows a world map with the main map's edges outlined.
Status Client state of the United States
and largest city
Official languages Spanish
Recognised national languages Cuban Creole Oriental and Haitian Creole
Ethnic groups
35% European, 35% African, 30% Mulatto
Demonym(s) Cuban
Government Unitary Marxist–Leninist one-party socialist republic
• First Secretary of the Communist Party
Raúl Castro
Miguel Díaz-Canel
• First Vice President
Salvador Valdés Mesa
• Second Secretary of the Communist Party
José Machado Ventura
• Prime Minister
Manuel Marrero Cruz
• President of the
National Assembly
Esteban Lazo Hernández
from Spain/U.S.
• Declared
October 10, 1868
from Spain
• Republic declared
May 20, 1902
from the United States
January 1, 1959
• Total
109,884 km2 (42,426 sq mi) (99th)
• Water (%)
• 2010 estimate
11,241,894 (73rd)
• 2002 census
• Density
102.3/km2 (265.0/sq mi) (106th)
GDP (PPP) 2010 estimate
• Total
$114.1 billion (63rd)
• Per capita
$9,900 (86th)
GDP (nominal) 2010 estimate
• Total
$57.49 billion (68th)
• Per capita
$5,100 (90th)
HDI (2011) Increase 0.776
high · 51st
Currency Cuban peso(CUP)
Cuban convertible peso (CUC)
Time zone UTC−5 (CST)
• Summer (DST)
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.


Cuba is famous for many types of music, especially dance music such as the Salsa and Mambo. Because Cubans have ancestors from Spain, Africa, South America and North America, Cuban music is special and different.

Reading is very popular in Cuba. Many people especially enjoy reading books or things that come from outside the country, even though the government does not approve of this. They also love music and sports. Cuban music is very lively. This is because a lot of it comes from African and Spanish rhythms. Baseball, basketball, and athletics events are loved by many Cuban people. The Cuban football-team took at one Football-World-Cup part. In 1938, they reached the quarter-final and lost against Sweden 0:8.


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

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.


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.

Health and education

Cuba is a developing country, and is often depicted as a very poor country. In some aspects, however, like education, health care and life expectancy it ranks much better than most countries in Latin America. Its infant death rate is lower than some developed countries. The average life expectancy is 78 years.

All the children are required to go to school from six to twelve years old, and nearly everybody is able to read and write at least. There is free education at every level. Because of this, Cuba has a 99.8% literacy rate.

In 2006, the World Food Programme certified Cuba to be the only country in this region without undernourished children. In the same year, the United Nations said that Cuba was the only nation in the world that met the World Wide Fund for Nature's definition of sustainable development.


See also: List of cities in Cuba
Tobacco field cuba1
A tobacco field in Pinar del Río.

Cuba is the largest island in the West Indies. It has many resources. Only about one-fourth of the land is mountains or hills. Much of the land is gentle hills or plains which are good for farming or raising cattle. Cuba has fertile soil and a warm climate that makes it great for growing crops.

Sugar is the most important crop of Cuba, and they may get it from the sugar cane. Sugar cane is the largest cash crop grown in Cuba, and it brings in most of the money. After that, the second is tobacco. Tobacco is made into cigars by hand. A hand-made cigar is considered by many people to be the finest in the world. Other important crops are rice, coffee, and fruit. Cuba also has many minerals. Cobalt, nickel, iron, copper, and manganese are all on the island. Salt, petroleum, and natural gas are there too. The coast of Cuba has many bays and a few good harbors. Havana, which is the capital, is also a port. Other harbors have port cities. Nuevitas is a port city on the north coast. Cienfuegos, Guantánamo, and Santiago de Cubaare some of the port cities on the south coast.

Cuba has a semi-tropical climate. That means that the cool ocean winds keep it becoming hot, despite its being in the tropiocal zone. Cuba has a wet season and a dry season. The dry season is from November to April, and the wet season is from May to October. August to October is also the hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean. Because of this, most of Cuba's port cities can be flooded along the coast. also found in Cuba is the S.M.A assosiation lead by parthiv.

Related pages

Images for kids

kids search engine
Cuba Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.