Cuba

Alternate meanings: see Cuba (disambiguation)

The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the northern Caribbean, in between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. To the north are found the United States and the Bahamas, to the west Mexico, to the south the Cayman Islands and Jamaica, and to the southeast Haiti.

República de Cuba
(In Detail)
National motto: None
Official language Spanish
Capital Havana
Largest City Havana
President Fidel Castro
Area
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 106th
100,860 km²
Negligible
Population
 - Total (2002)
 - Density
Ranked 67th
11,184,023
101/km²
Independence
 - Declared
 - Recognised
Sp.-Am. War
October 10, 1868
May 20, 1902
Currency Cuban Peso
Time zone UTC -5
National anthem La Bayamesa
Internet TLD .CU
Calling Code53

Table of contents
1 History
2 Politics
3 Provinces
4 Geography
5 Economy
6 Demographics
7 Culture
8 Miscellaneous topics
9 External links

History

Main article: History of Cuba

Cuba and its originally Amerindian population came under Spanish control in the 16th century. The colony's struggle for independence started in 1868 and continued during the 19th century until the Spanish-American War of 1898. The US then occupied the island until recognising independence in 1902, though limited by the Platt Amendment, after which the US continued to exercise considerable control over Cuban affairs.

Fidel Castro and a rebel army in 1959 overthrew president Fulgencio Batista, and Castro has ruled the island as dictator ever since. Relations with the US deteriorated when Castro, breaking pledges he made before the 1959 coup, declared a Communist state and sought closer ties with the Soviet Union, leading a strict US trade embargo largely still in place today.

Cuba was subsequently involved in communist takeovers in Africa and Latin America, while it enjoyed close economic ties with the Soviet bloc. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 however the country suffered an economic setback, but has recovered to an extent since then, though economic and political reforms have been made only haltingly.

Politics

Main article: Politics of Cuba

Cuba is a communist dictatorship led by an un-elected president. Fidel Castro has been in power since 1959, first as prime minister and after the abolition of that office in 1976 as president. He is both head of state and head of government, as well as First Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party, and commander in chief of the armed forces.

The unicameral Cuban parliament is the National Assembly of People's Power or Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular. Its 609 members are appointed in mock elections, all candidates being chosen by the communist party, and they serve five-year terms. The communist party is constitutionally recognised as Cuba's only legal political party. The party and its affiliated organisations monopolise all government positions, including judicial offices. The question of who will succeed Fidel Castro presents a crisis for the republic, with power struggles likely as the death of the ailing and aged dictator approaches. Other political issues include illegal emigration to the US, and the government's torture, murder, and imprisonment of political dissidents.

Provinces

Main article: Provinces of Cuba

Cuba is divided into 14 provinces (provincias, singular provincia) and 1 special municipality (municipio especial), marked by a *:

  • Camagüey
  • Ciego de Avila
  • Cienfuegos
  • Granma
  • Guantánamo
  • Havana (La Habana)
  • Havana City (Ciudad de La Habana)
  • Holguín
  • Isle of Youth * (Isla de la Juventud)
  • Las Tunas
  • Matanzas
  • Pinar del Río
  • Sancti Spíritus
  • Santiago de Cuba
  • Villa Clara

Geography

Main article: Geography of Cuba

The elongated island of Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean and is bounded to the north by the Straits of Florida and the greater North Atlantic Ocean, to the northwest by the Gulf of Mexico, to the west by the Yucatan Channel, to the south by the Caribbean Sea, and to the east by the Windward Passage. The Republic comprises the entire island, including many outlying islands such as the Isle of Youth, with the exception of Guantanamo Bay, a naval base that has been leased by the United States since 1903.

The island consists mostly of flat to rolling plains, with more rugged hills and mountains primarily in the southeast and the highest point is the Pico Real del Turquino at 2,005 m. The local climate is tropical, though moderated by trade winds. There is a drier season from November to April, and a rainier season from May to October. Havana is the largest city and capital, other major cities include Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey.

Economy

Main article: Economy of Cuba

The government continues to exert firm political control over the economy. It 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 seems unlikely to implement extensive changes. A major feature of the economy is the dichotomy between relatively efficient export and tourism enclaves and inefficient domestic sectors.

The Cuban economy was hit hard in the early 1990s following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Comecon economic bloc, with which it had traded predominantly. A continuing United States trade embargo has had a detrimental effect on the economy since the early 1960s. More recent problems include high oil prices, recessions in key export markets such as sugar and nickel, damage from hurricanes, depressed tourism, and faltering world economic conditions.

Demographics

Main article: Demographics of Cuba

Cuba is a multiracial society with a population of either mixed (mulatto) or more specific Spanish and African origins. There is also a small ethnic Chinese community. The largest organised religion is the Roman Catholic Church. Afro-Cuban or Santeria religions, a blend of native African religions and Roman Catholicism, are widely practiced in Cuba. Officially, Cuba had been an atheist state for most of the Castro era, but religious restrictions have been relaxed since 1991 and the state secularised. Smaller Protestant and Jewish minorities also exist.

Culture

Main article: Culture of Cuba

Holidays
DateEnglish NameLocal NameRemarks
January 1Liberation Day
July 26Rebellion Day

Miscellaneous topics

External links


Countries of the world  |  North America
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