Cuba    Introduction


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. Subsequently, the 1901 Platt Amendment to the Cuban constitution authorized the US to intevene in Cuba in the event of instability. 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 $4-6 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 US’s southwest border – is a continuing problem. The US Coast Guard interdicted 1,357 Cuban nationals attempting to cross the Straits of Florida in 2013. Also in 2013, 14,251 Cuban migrants presented themselves at various land border ports of entry through out the US.



Cuba    Geography


Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, south of Florida

Geographic coordinates:

21 30 N, 80 00 W

Map references:

Central America and the Caribbean


total:  110,860 sq kmland:  110,860 sq kmwater:  0 sq km

Area – comparative:

slightly smaller than Pennsylvania

Land boundaries:

total:  29 kmborder countries:  US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay 29 kmnote:  Guantanamo Naval Base is leased by the US and thus remains part of Cuba


3,735 km

Maritime claims:

exclusive economic zone:  200 NMterritorial sea:  12 NM


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


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

Elevation extremes:

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

Natural resources:

cobalt, nickel, iron ore, copper, manganese, salt, timber, silica, petroleum, arable land

Land use:

arable land:  24%permanent crops:  7%permanent pastures:  27%forests and woodland:  24%

other:  18% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land:

9,100 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards:

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

Environment – current issues:

pollution of Havana Bay; overhunting threatens wildlife populations; deforestation

Environment – international agreements:

party to:  Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollutionsigned, but not ratified:  Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Marine Life Conservation

Geography – note:

largest country in Caribbean
Cuba    People


11,047,251 (July 2014 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years:  20.99% (male 1,205,159; female 1,142,070)15-64 years:  69.14% (male 3,876,432; female 3,855,878)65 years and over:  9.87% (male 511,589; female 592,895) (2001 est.)

Population growth rate:

0.37% (2001 est.)

Birth rate:

12.36 births/1,000 population (2001 est.)

Death rate:

7.33 deaths/1,000 population (2001 est.)

Net migration rate:

-1.36 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2001 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth:  1.06 male(s)/femaleunder 15 years:  1.06 male(s)/female15-64 years:  1.01 male(s)/female65 years and over:  0.86 male(s)/female

total population:  1 male(s)/female (2001 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

7.39 deaths/1,000 live births (2001 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population:  76.41 yearsmale:  74.02 yearsfemale:  78.94 years (2001 est.)

Total fertility rate:

1.6 children born/woman (2001 est.)

HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate:

0.03% (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS:

1,950 (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS – deaths:

120 (1999 est.)


noun:  Cuban(s)adjective:  Cuban

Ethnic groups:

mulatto 51%, white 37%, black 11%, Chinese 1%


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




definition:  age 15 and over can read and writetotal population:  95.7%male:  96.2%female:  95.3% (1995 est.)

People – note:

illicit migration is a continuing problem; Cubans attempt to depart the island and enter the US using homemade rafts, alien smugglers, direct flights, or falsified visas; some 3,000 Cubans took to the Straits of Florida in 2000; the US Coast Guard interdicted about 35% of these migrants; Cubans also use non-maritime routes to enter the US; some 2,400 Cubans arrived overland via the southwest border and direct flights to Miami
Cuba    Government

Country name:

conventional long form:  Republic of Cubaconventional short form:  Cubalocal long form:  Republica de Cubalocal short form:  Cuba

Government type:

Communist state



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


20 May 1902 (from Spain 10 December 1898; administered by the US from 1898 to 1902)

National holiday:

Independence Day, 10 December (1898); note – 10 December 1898 is the date of independence from Spain, 20 May 1902 is the date of independence from US administration


24 February 1976, amended July 1992

Legal system:

based on Spanish and American law, with large elements of Communist legal theory; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction


16 years of age; universal

Executive branch:

chief of state:  President of the Council of State and President of the Council of Ministers Fidel CASTRO Ruz (prime minister from February 1959 until 24 February 1976 when office was abolished; president since 2 December 1976); First Vice President of the Council of State and First Vice President of the Council of Ministers Gen. Raul CASTRO Ruz (since 2 December 1976); note – the president is both the chief of state and head of governmenthead of government:  President of the Council of State and President of the Council of Ministers Fidel CASTRO Ruz (prime minister from February 1959 until 24 February 1976 when office was abolished; president since 2 December 1976); First Vice President of the Council of State and First Vice President of the Council of Ministers Gen. Raul CASTRO Ruz (since 2 December 1976); note – the president is both the chief of state and head of governmentcabinet:  Council of Ministers proposed by the president of the Council of State, appointed by the National Assembly; note – there is also a Council of State whose members are elected by the National Assemblyelections:  president and vice president elected by the National Assembly; election last held 24 February 1998 (next election unscheduled)

election results:  Fidel CASTRO Ruz elected president; percent of legislative vote – 100%; Raul CASTRO Ruz elected vice president; percent of legislative vote – 100%

Legislative branch:

unicameral National Assembly of People’s Power or Asemblea Nacional del Poder Popular (601 seats, elected directly from slates approved by special candidacy commissions; members serve five-year terms)elections:  last held 11 January 1998 (next to be held in 2003)election results:  percent of vote – PCC 94.39%; seats – PCC 601

Judicial branch:

People’s Supreme Court or Tribunal Supremo Popular (president, vice president, and other judges are elected by the National Assembly)

Political parties and leaders:

only party – Cuban Communist Party or PCC [Fidel CASTRO Ruz, first secretary]

Political pressure groups and leaders:


International organization participation:

CCC, ECLAC, FAO, G-77, IAEA, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IFAD, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO, ITU, LAES, LAIA, NAM, OAS (excluded from formal participation since 1962), OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US:

none; note – Cuba has an Interests Section in the Swiss Embassy, headed by Principal Officer Fernando REMIREZ DE ESTENOZ; address: Cuban Interests Section, Swiss Embassy, 2630 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009; telephone: [1] (202) 797-8518

Diplomatic representation from the US:

none; note – the US has an Interests Section in the Swiss Embassy, headed by Principal Officer Vicki HUDDLESTON; address: USINT, Swiss Embassy, Calzada between L and M Streets, Vedado Seccion, Havana; telephone: 33-3551 through 3559 (operator assistance required); FAX: 33-3700; protecting power in Cuba is Switzerland

Flag description:

five equal horizontal bands of blue (top and bottom) alternating with white; a red equilateral triangle based on the hoist side bears a white, five-pointed star in the center; design influenced by the US flag
Cuba    Economy

Economy – overview:

The government, the primary player in the economy, has undertaken limited reforms in recent years to stem excess liquidity, increase enterprise efficiency, and alleviate serious shortages of food, consumer goods, and services, but prioritizing of political control makes extensive reforms unlikely. Living standards for the average Cuban, without access to dollars, remain at a depressed level compared with 1990. The liberalized farmers’ markets introduced in 1994, sell above-quota production at market prices, expand legal consumption alternatives, and reduce black market prices. Income taxes and increased regulations introduced since 1996 have sharply reduced the number of legally self-employed from a high of 208,000 in January 1996. Havana announced in 1995 that GDP declined by 35% during 1989-93 as a result of lost Soviet aid and domestic inefficiencies. The slide in GDP came to a halt in 1994 when Cuba reported growth in GDP of 0.7%. Cuba reported that GDP increased by 2.5% in 1995 and 7.8% in 1996, before slowing down in 1997 and 1998 to 2.5% and 1.2% respectively. Growth recovered with a 6.2% increase in GDP in 1999 and a 5.6% increase in 2000. Much of Cuba’s recovery can be attributed to tourism revenues and foreign investment. Growth in 2001 should continue at the same level as the government balances the need for economic loosening against its concern for firm political control.


purchasing power parity – $19.2 billion (2000 est.)

GDP – real growth rate:

5.6% (2000 est.)

GDP – per capita:

purchasing power parity – $1,700 (2000 est.)

GDP – composition by sector:

agriculture:  7%industry:  37%services:  56% (1998 est.)

Population below poverty line:


Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%:  NA%highest 10%:  NA%

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

0.3% (1999 est.)

Labor force:

4.3 million (2000 est.)note:  state sector 75%, non-state sector 25% (1998)

Labor force – by occupation:

agriculture 25%, industry 24%, services 51% (1998)

Unemployment rate:

5.5% (2000 est.)


revenues:  $13.5 billionexpenditures:  $14.3 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2000 est.)


sugar, petroleum, tobacco, chemicals, construction, services, nickel, steel, cement, agricultural machinery

Industrial production growth rate:

5% (2000 est.)

Electricity – production:

14.358 billion kWh (1999)

Electricity – production by source:

fossil fuel:  94.2%hydro:  0.7%nuclear:  0%other:  5.1% (1999)

Electricity – consumption:

13.353 billion kWh (1999)

Electricity – exports:

0 kWh (1999)

Electricity – imports:

0 kWh (1999)

Agriculture – products:

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


$1.8 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.)

Exports – commodities:

sugar, nickel, tobacco, fish, medical products, citrus, coffee

Exports – partners:

Russia 23%, Netherlands 23%, Canada 13% (1999)


$3.4 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.)

Imports – commodities:

petroleum, food, machinery, chemicals, semifinished goods, transport equipment, consumer goods

Imports – partners:

Spain 18%, Venezuela 13%, Canada 8% (1999)

Debt – external:

$11.1 billion (convertible currency, 1999); another $15 billion -$20 billion owed to Russia (2000)

Economic aid – recipient:

$68.2 million (1997 est.)


Cuban peso (CUP)

Currency code:


Exchange rates:

Cuban pesos per US dollar – 1.0000 (nonconvertible, official rate, for international transactions, pegged to the US dollar); convertible peso sold for domestic use at a rate of 1.00 US dollar per 22 pesos by the Government of Cuba (January 2001)

Fiscal year:

calendar year
Cuba    Communications

Telephones – main lines in use:

473,031 (2000)

Telephones – mobile cellular:

2,994 (1997)

Telephone system:

general assessment:  NAdomestic:  principal trunk system, end to end of country, is coaxial cable; fiber-optic distribution in Havana and on Isla de la Juventud; 2 microwave radio relay installations (one is old, US-built; the other newer, built during the period of Soviet support); both analog and digital mobile cellular service establishedinternational:  satellite earth station – 1 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region)

Radio broadcast stations:

AM 169, FM 55, shortwave 1 (1998)


3.9 million (1997)

Television broadcast stations:

58 (1997)


2.64 million (1997)

Internet country code:


Internet Service Providers (ISPs):

4 (2001)

Internet users:

60,000 (2000)
Cuba    Transportation


total:  11,969 kmstandard gauge:  4,807 km 1.435-m gauge, in public use (147 km electrified)note:  in addition to the 4,807 km of standard-gauge track in public use, 7,162 km of track is in private use by sugar plantations; about 90% of the private use track is standard gauge and the rest is narrow gauge (2000)


total:  60,858 kmpaved:  29,820 km (including 638 km of expressway)unpaved:  31,038 km (1997)


240 km

Ports and harbors:

Cienfuegos, Havana, Manzanillo, Mariel, Matanzas, Nuevitas, Santiago de Cuba

Merchant marine:

total:  15 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 54,821 GRT/78,062 DWTships by type:  bulk 1, cargo 7, liquefied gas 1, petroleum tanker 1, refrigerated cargo 5 (2000 est.)


171 (2000 est.)

Airports – with paved runways:

total:  77over 3,047 m:  72,438 to 3,047 m:  91,524 to 2,437 m:  16

914 to 1,523 m:  10

under 914 m:  35 (2000 est.)

Airports – with unpaved runways:

total:  94914 to 1,523 m:  31under 914 m:  63 (2000 est.) 
Cuba    Military

Military branches:

Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) includes ground forces, Revolutionary Navy (MGR), Air and Air Defense Force (DAAFAR), Territorial Troops Militia (MTT), and Youth Labor Army (EJT); the Border Guard (TGF) is controlled by the Interior Ministry

Military manpower – military age:

17 years of age

Military manpower – availability:

males age 15-49:  3,090,633females age 15-49:  3,029,274 (2001 est.)

Military manpower – fit for military service:

males age 15-49:  1,911,160females age 15-49:  1,867,958 (2001 est.)

Military manpower – reaching military age annually:

males:  79,562females:  85,650 (2001 est.)

Military expenditures – dollar figure:


Military expenditures – percent of GDP:

roughly 4% (FY95 est.)

Military – note:

Moscow, for decades the key military supporter and supplier of Cuba, cut off almost all military aid by 1993
Cuba    Transnational Issues

Disputes – international:

US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay is leased to US and only mutual agreement or US abandonment of the area can terminate the lease

Illicit drugs:

territorial waters and air space serve as transshipment zone for cocaine bound for the US and Europe; established the death penalty for certain drug-related crimes in 1999







El archipiélago de Cuba se encuentra ubicado a la entrada del Golfo de México, entre las Américas del Norte y del Sur. Sus límites son: por el norte la Península de la Florida, Estados Unidos (210 kilómetros), por el sur Jamaica (146 kilómetros), al oeste la Península de Yucatán (210 kilómetros), y al este Haití (87 kilómetros).

Su situación geográfica la ubica entre los 74 grados, 7 minutos y 55 segundos, y los 84 grados, 57 minutos y 11 segundos de longitud occidental de Greenwich; y entre los 19 grados, 49 minutos y 32 segundos, y los 23 grados, 16 minutos y 34 segundos, de latitud norte.

Cuba tiene 1 200 kilómetros de largo desde el Cabo de San Antonio (extremo occidental) hasta la Punta del Quemado (extremo oriental). De norte a sur, su mayor ancho es de 191 kilómetros, entre la Playa de Taracos, al norte de la provincia de Camagüey, y la Punta de Camarón Grande, al sur de la provincia Granma. La porción más estrecha sólo alcanza 31 kilómetros y se encuentra en la zona occidental, entre la Ensenada del Río, la Bahía de Mariel y la ensenada de Majana, en la provincia de La Habana. Su superficie es de 110 920 km. cuadrados.

Esta posición geográfica, por la cual se dice que Cuba mira hacia todos los caminos, hace de la Mayor de las Antillas un crucero de las rutas marítimas y aéreas. En la época colonial sirvió de punto de partida para la conquista de otras tierras, ganándose el título de “Llave del Nuevo Mundo”.

La República de Cuba se rige por el huso horario número 19, cuyo meridiano central es 75 grados oeste que pasa por Yateras, provincia de Guantánamo. Desde mayo a octubre, el país adopta la hora correspondiente al huso horario del meridiano 60 grados oeste para aprovechar más la luz solar, por lo que se adelanta una hora en todo el territorio nacional durante el llamado “Horario de Verano“.Posee una población de 11 millones de habitantes. La Habana es la capital del país y en ella habitan casi 3 millones de personas.




El Cobre: La espiritualidad de los cubanos
Cuba, un Calidoscopio Religioso

Con la conquista, España impuso en Cuba su cultura, su lengua, su civilización y, por supuesto, su religión. El catolicismo pasó a ser por largo tiempo la religión oficial y exclusiva; el clero se ocupó de la educación y la asistencia hospitalaria y social, con una concepción caritativa. Hasta después de la independencia de España, la Iglesia Católica logró conservar en Cuba una posición política y social preponderante.

Varios son los templos que tienen un relieve especial, ya sea por su riqueza arquitectónica, antigüedad, o la devoción popular a las figuras religiosas que albergan. Son notables la Catedral de La habana, la Iglesia del Espíritu Santo, la de la Virgen de Regla, la de San Lázaro, la de la Virgen de las Mercedes, todas estas en La Habana; y la de la Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre (Patrona de Cuba), en la provincia de Santiago de Cuba.

Desde 1935, entre el Vaticano y Cuba existen relaciones diplomáticas al más alto nivel. La Isla es visitada por autoridades de la Curia Romana, superiores órdenes religiosas y de otras organizaciones, como la Conferencia Episcopal Latinoamericana (CELAM), en la que está representada la iglesia cubana al igual que en otras instituciones internacionales. Un momento histórico de estos vínculos fue la visita del sumo pontífice Juan Pablo II a Cuba en enero de 1998, este acontecimiento conmovió al mundo, no sólo por la visita en sí misma, sino por la gran acogida que el gobierno y pueblo de Cuba dieron al Papa.

En Cuba se practican otras religiones conocidas, dentro de ellas tienen más fieles y practicantes los Cultos Afrocubanos, traídos a la Isla por la gran masa esclava africana que arribó durante toda la época colonial y que desde el siglo XIX forman parte intrínseca de la nacionalidad Cubana.


La República de Cuba está dividida en 14 provincias. Son ellas, de oeste a este: Pinar del Río, La Habana, Ciudad de La Habana, Matanzas, Cienfuegos, Villa Clara, Sancti Spíritus, Ciego de Ávila, Camagüey, Las Tunas, Holguín, Granma, Santiago de Cuba y Guantánamo. Existe además el Municipio Especial Isla de la Juventud, que pertenece al archipiélago de Los Canarreos


La caña de azúcar y su industria son la base fundamental de la economía cubana. Otros cultivos tradicionales son el tabaco, los cítricos, el café y los frutos menores.
La minería es renglón básico, especialmente la del níquel, pues Cuba cuenta con los yacimientos a cielo abierto mayores del mundo.
En pleno desarrollo, la industria farmacéutica y la biotecnología, se han convertido en una fuente exportable.
La industria pesquera es también importante. Los mariscos y crustáceos cubanos, tales como langostas y camarones, gozan de gran fama y prestigio internacional.
Otros productos primordiales son: el ron, la miel de abejas, y el cacao, así como el cromo refractario, el manganeso, la asfaltita y los mármoles.
En pleno desarrollo, también el turismo tiene un fuerte peso en la economía nacional.
Las principales exportaciones de Cuba son azúcar crudo y refino, óxido de níquel, pescados y mariscos, cítricos, rones y alcoholes, tabaco en rama y torcido, mármoles, artículos de cuero.