page last updated on October 28, 2009
Flag of Cuba
Location of Cuba
 
Map of Cuba
Introduction ::Cuba
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 portrays its difficulties as the result of the US embargo in place since 1961. 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 2,656 individuals attempting to cross the Straits of Florida in fiscal year 2007.
Geography ::Cuba
Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, 150 km south of Key West, Florida
21 30 N, 80 00 W
total: 110,860 sq km
country comparison to the world: 105
land: 109,820 sq km
water: 1,040 sq km
slightly smaller than Pennsylvania
total: 29 km
border countries: US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay 29 km
note: Guantanamo Naval Base is leased by the US and remains part of Cuba
3,735 km
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 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
lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Pico Turquino 2,005 m
cobalt, nickel, iron ore, chromium, copper, salt, timber, silica, petroleum, arable land
arable land: 27.63%
permanent crops: 6.54%
other: 65.83% (2005)
8,700 sq km (2003)
38.1 cu km (2000)
total: 8.2 cu km/yr (19%/12%/69%)
per capita: 728 cu m/yr (2000)
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
air and water pollution; biodiversity loss; deforestation
party to: Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation
largest country in Caribbean and westernmost island of the Greater Antilles
People ::Cuba
11,451,652 (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 72
0-14 years: 18.3% (male 1,077,745/female 1,020,393)
15-64 years: 70.4% (male 4,035,691/female 4,030,103)
65 years and over: 11.2% (male 584,478/female 703,242) (2009 est.)
total: 37.3 years
male: 36.6 years
female: 38 years (2009 est.)
0.233% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 180
11.13 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 174
7.24 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 127
-1.56 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 133
urban population: 76% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 0% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
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 (2009 est.)
total: 5.82 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 181
male: 6.51 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.09 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
total population: 77.45 years
country comparison to the world: 55
male: 75.19 years
female: 79.85 years (2009 est.)
1.61 children born/woman (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 180
less than 0.1% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 138
6,200 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 120
fewer than 100 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 148
degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever (2009)
noun: Cuban(s)
adjective: Cuban
white 65.1%, mulatto and mestizo 24.8%, black 10.1% (2002 census)
nominally 85% Roman Catholic prior to CASTRO assuming power; Protestants, Jehovah's Witnesses, Jews, and Santeria are also represented
Spanish
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.8%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.8% (2002 census)
total: 16 years
male: 15 years
female: 17 years (2006)
9.1% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 9
illicit emigration is a continuing problem; Cubans attempt to depart the island and enter the US using homemade rafts, alien smugglers, direct flights, or falsified visas; Cubans also use non-maritime routes to enter the US including direct flights to Miami and over-land via the southwest border
Government ::Cuba
conventional long form: Republic of Cuba
conventional short form: Cuba
local long form: Republica de Cuba
local short form: Cuba
Communist state
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
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); not acknowledged by the Cuban Government as a day of independence
Triumph of the Revolution, 1 January (1959)
24 February 1976; amended July 1992 and June 2002
based on Spanish civil law and influenced by American legal concepts with large elements of Communist legal theory; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
16 years of age; universal
chief of state: President of the Council of State and President of the Council of Ministers Gen. Raul CASTRO Ruz (president since 24 February 2008); First Vice President of the Council of State and First Vice President of the Council of Ministers Gen. Jose Ramon MACHADO Ventura (since 24 February 2008); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President of the Council of State and President of the Council of Ministers Gen. Raul CASTRO Ruz (president since 24 February 2008); First Vice President of the Council of State and First Vice President of the Council of Ministers Gen. Jose Ramon MACHADO Ventura (since 24 February 2008)
cabinet: Council of Ministers proposed by the president of the Council of State and appointed by the National Assembly or the 31-member Council of State, elected by the assembly to act on its behalf when it is not in session
elections: president and vice presidents elected by the National Assembly for a term of five years; election last held 24 February 2008 (next to be held in 2013)
election results: Gen. Raul CASTRO Ruz elected president; percent of legislative vote - 100%; Gen. Jose Ramon MACHADO Ventura elected vice president; percent of legislative vote - 100%
unicameral National Assembly of People's Power or Asemblea Nacional del Poder Popular (number of seats in the National Assembly is based on population; 614 seats; members elected directly from slates approved by special candidacy commissions to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 20 January 2008 (next to be held in January 2013)
election results: Cuba's Communist Party is the only legal party, and officially sanctioned candidates run unopposed
People's Supreme Court or Tribunal Supremo Popular (president, vice president, and other judges are elected by the National Assembly)
Cuban Communist Party or PCC [Fidel CASTRO Ruz, first secretary]
Human Rights Watch; National Association of Small Farmers
ACP, FAO, G-77, IAEA, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IFAD, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAES, LAIA, NAM, OAS (excluded from formal participation since 1962), OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNITAR, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
none; note - Cuba has an Interests Section in the Swiss Embassy, headed by Principal Officer Jorge BOLANOS Suarez; address: Cuban Interests Section, Swiss Embassy, 2630 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009; telephone: [1] (202) 797-8518; FAX: [1] (202) 797-8521
none; note - the US has an Interests Section in the Swiss Embassy, headed by Chief of Mission Jonathan D. FARRAR; address: USINT, Swiss Embassy, Calzada between L and M Streets, Vedado, Havana; telephone: [53] (7) 833-3551 through 3559 (operator assistance required); FAX: [53] (7) 833-1653; protecting power in Cuba is Switzerland
five equal horizontal bands of blue (top, center, and bottom) alternating with white; a red equilateral triangle based on the hoist side bears a white, five-pointed star in the center
Economy ::Cuba
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.
$108.2 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 64
$103.7 billion (2007 est.)
$96.67 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
$54.71 billion (2008 est.)
4.3% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 99
7.3% (2007 est.)
12.1% (2006 est.)
$9,500 (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 108
$9,100 (2007 est.)
$8,500 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
agriculture: 4.4%
industry: 22.8%
services: 72.8% (2008 est.)
4.962 million
country comparison to the world: 74
note: state sector 78%, non-state sector 22% (2008 est.)
agriculture: 20%
industry: 19.4%
services: 60.6% (2005)
1.6% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 13
1.8% (2007 est.)
NA%
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
10.5% of GDP (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 145
revenues: $45.42 billion
expenditures: $49.96 billion (2008 est.)
35.8% of GDP (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 65
36.8% of GDP (2007 est.)
3.4% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 47
3.1% (2007 est.)
NA%
NA%
$NA
$NA
$NA
sugar, tobacco, citrus, coffee, rice, potatoes, beans; livestock
sugar, petroleum, tobacco, construction, nickel, steel, cement, agricultural machinery, pharmaceuticals
1.9% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 107
16.89 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 74
13.93 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 73
0 kWh (2008 est.)
0 kWh (2008 est.)
52,630 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 61
176,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 63
0 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 143
104,800 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 65
124 million bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 64
400 million cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 70
400 million cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 97
0 cu m (2008)
country comparison to the world: 178
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 185
70.79 billion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 58
$-2.691 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 144
$412 million (2007 est.)
$3.78 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 119
$3.701 billion (2007 est.)
sugar, nickel, tobacco, fish, medical products, citrus, coffee
China 27.9%, Canada 25.3%, Spain 5.7%, Netherlands 5%, Iran 4.3% (2008)
$14.5 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 84
$10.08 billion (2007 est.)
petroleum, food, machinery and equipment, chemicals
Venezuela 31.5%, China 11.8%, Spain 10.6%, Canada 6.7%, US 6.6% (2008)
$3.947 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 85
$4.747 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
$19.58 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 73
$16.79 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
$11.24 billion (2006 est.)
country comparison to the world: 77
$4.138 billion (2006 est.)
country comparison to the world: 58
Cuban pesos (CUP) per US dollar - 0.9259 (2008 est.), 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.
Communications ::Cuba
1.104 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 74
331,700 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 167
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; wireless service is expensive and must be paid in convertible pesos, which effectively limits mobile cellular subscribership
domestic: national fiber-optic system under development; 95% of switches digitized by end of 2006; fixed telephone line density remains low at less than 10 per 100 inhabitants; domestic cellular service expanding but remains at only about 3 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) (2008)
AM 169, FM 55, shortwave 1 (1998)
58 (1997)
.cu
3,637 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 138
1.45 million
country comparison to the world: 77
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)
Transportation ::Cuba
136 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 42
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 (2009)
total: 71
914 to 1,523 m: 13
under 914 m: 58 (2009)
gas 41 km; oil 230 km (2008)
total: 8,598 km
country comparison to the world: 24
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)
total: 60,858 km
country comparison to the world: 73
paved: 29,820 km (includes 638 km of expressway)
unpaved: 31,038 km (2000)
240 km (2008)
country comparison to the world: 95
total: 11
country comparison to the world: 111
by type: bulk carrier 2, cargo 3, passenger 1, petroleum tanker 3, refrigerated cargo 2
foreign-owned: 1 (Spain 1)
registered in other countries: 13 (Bahamas 1, Cyprus 1, Netherlands Antilles 1, Panama 10) (2008)
Cienfuegos, Havana, Matanzas
Military ::Cuba
Revolutionary Armed Forces (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias, FAR): Revolutionary Army (ER; includes Territorial Militia Troops (Milicia de Tropas de Territoriales, MTT)), Revolutionary Navy (Marina de Guerra Revolucionaria, MGR; includes Marine Corps), Revolutionary Air and Air Defense Force (DAAFAR), Youth Labor Army (Ejercito Juvenil del Trabajo, EJT) (2009)
17-28 years of age for compulsory military service; 2-year service obligation; both sexes subject to military service (2006)
males age 16-49: 3,094,388
females age 16-49: 3,024,876 (2008 est.)
males age 16-49: 2,532,495
females age 16-49: 2,468,631 (2009 est.)
male: 75,969
female: 72,253 (2009 est.)
3.8% of GDP (2006 est.)
country comparison to the world: 32
the collapse of the Soviet Union deprived the Cuban Army of its major economic and logistic support and had a significant impact on equipment numbers and serviceability; the army remains well trained and professional in nature; while the lack of replacement parts for its existing equipment and the current severe shortage of fuel have increasingly affected operational capabilities, Cuba remains able to offer considerable resistance to any regional power (2008)
Transnational Issues ::Cuba
US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay is leased to US and only mutual agreement or US abandonment of the facility can terminate the lease
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 2007; Cuba has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol (2008)
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)