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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 was severe and exploitative and occasional rebellions were harshly suppressed. It was US intervention during the Spanish-American War in 1898 that finally overthrew Spanish rule. The subsequent Treaty of Paris established Cuban independence, which was granted in 1902 after a three-year transition period. Fidel CASTRO led a rebel army to victory in 1959; his iron rule has held the regime together since then. Cuba's Communist revolution, with Soviet support, was exported throughout Latin America and Africa during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. The country is now slowly recovering from a severe economic recession 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. Some 2,500 Cubans attempted the crossing of the Straits of Florida in 2003; the US Coast Guard apprehended about 60% of the individuals.
Geography Cuba
Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, 150 km south of Key West, Florida
Geographic coordinates:
21 30 N, 80 00 W
Map references:
Central America and the Caribbean
total: 110,860 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 110,860 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Pennsylvania
Land boundaries:
total: 29 km
border countries: US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay 29 km
note: Guantanamo Naval Base is leased by the US and thus remains part of Cuba
3,735 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 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
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Pico Turquino 2,005 m
Natural resources:
cobalt, nickel, iron ore, chromium, copper, salt, timber, silica, petroleum, arable land
Land use:
arable land: 33.05%
other: 59.35% (2001)
permanent crops: 7.6%
Irrigated land:
870 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
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
Environment - current issues:
air and water pollution; biodiversity loss; deforestation
Environment - international agreements:
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
Geography - note:
largest country in Caribbean and westernmost island of the Greater Antilles
People Cuba
11,308,764 (July 2004 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 20% (male 1,163,741; female 1,102,391)
15-64 years: 69.8% (male 3,949,197; female 3,948,196)
65 years and over: 10.1% (male 528,162; female 617,077) (2004 est.)
Median age:
total: 34.8 years
male: 34.2 years
female: 35.5 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.34% (2004 est.)
Birth rate:
12.18 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate:
7.17 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate:
-1.58 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Sex ratio:
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: 0.86 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 6.45 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.6 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
male: 7.25 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 77.04 years
male: 74.77 years
female: 79.44 years (2004 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.66 children born/woman (2004 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
less than 0.1% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
3,300 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
less than 200 (2003 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 write
female: 96.9% (2003 est.)
male: 97.2%
total population: 97%
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 2,500 Cubans took to the Straits of Florida in 2002; the US Coast Guard interdicted about 60% of these migrants; Cubans also use non-maritime routes to enter the US; some 1,500 Cubans arrived overland via the southwest border and direct flights to Miami in 2002
Government Cuba
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Cuba
conventional short form: Cuba
local short form: Cuba
local long form: Republica de 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; Rebellion Day, 26 July (1953)
24 February 1976, amended July 1992 and June 2002
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 government
elections: president and vice presidents elected by the National Assembly for a term of five years; election last held 6 March 2003 (next to be held in 2008)
election results: Fidel CASTRO Ruz reelected president; percent of legislative vote - 100%; Raul CASTRO Ruz elected vice president; percent of legislative vote - 100%
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
head 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 government
Legislative branch:
unicameral National Assembly of People's Power or Asemblea Nacional del Poder Popular (609 seats, elected directly from slates approved by special candidacy commissions; members serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 19 January 2003 (next to be held in NA 2008)
election results: percent of vote - PCC 97.6%; seats - PCC 609
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:
FAO, G-77, IAEA, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IFAD, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO, ITU, LAES, LAIA, NAM, OAS (excluded from formal participation since 1962), OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WCO, 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 Dagoberto RODRIGUEZ Barrera; 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 James C. CASON; 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) 833-3700; 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
Economy Cuba
Economy - overview:
The government continues to balance the need for economic loosening against a desire for firm political control. It has undertaken limited reforms to increase enterprise efficiency and alleviate serious shortages of food, consumer goods, and services. A major feature of the economy is the dichotomy between relatively efficient export enclaves and inefficient domestic sectors. The average Cuban's standard of living remains at a lower level than before the depression of the 1990s, which was caused by the loss of Soviet aid and domestic inefficiencies. The government reluctantly allows a large dollar market sector, fueled by tourism and remittances from Cubans abroad.
purchasing power parity - $32.13 billion (2004 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
2.6% (2004 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $2,900 (2004 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 5.5%
industry: 26.9%
services: 67.6% (2004 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
10.1% of GDP (2004 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA
highest 10%: NA
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
4.1% (2004 est.)
Labor force:
4.58 million
note: state sector 78%, non-state sector 22% (2004 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 24%, industry 25%, services 51% (1999)
Unemployment rate:
2.6% (2004 est.)
revenues: $17.21 billion
expenditures: $18.28 billion, including capital expenditures of NA (2004 est.)
Agriculture - products:
sugar, tobacco, citrus, coffee, rice, potatoes, beans; livestock
sugar, petroleum, tobacco, construction, nickel, steel, cement, agricultural machinery, pharmaceuticals
Industrial production growth rate:
2.4% (2004 est.)
Electricity - production:
14.38 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 93.9%
hydro: 0.6%
other: 5.4% (2001)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
13.38 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
50,000 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - consumption:
163,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
NA (2001)
Oil - imports:
NA (2001)
Oil - proved reserves:
532 million bbl (1 January 2002)
Natural gas - production:
600 million cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
600 million cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
42.62 billion cu m (1 January 2002)
Current account balance:
$-273 million (2004 est.)
$1.467 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Exports - commodities:
sugar, nickel, tobacco, fish, medical products, citrus, coffee
Exports - partners:
Netherlands 21.8%, Canada 16.2%, Russia 10.7%, Spain 8.7%, China 7.3% (2003)
$4.531 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Imports - commodities:
petroleum, food, machinery and equipment, chemicals
Imports - partners:
Spain 16.6%, Venezuela 12.5%, Italy 8.6%, US 8.5%, China 7.7%, Canada 5.4%, Mexico 5.3%, France 4.9% (2003)
Reserves of foreign exchange & gold:
$582 million (2004 est.)
Debt - external:
$12.52 billion (convertible currency); another $15 billion -$20 billion owed to Russia (2004 est.)
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 27 pesos per US dollar by the Government of Cuba (2002)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Cuba
Telephones - main lines in use:
574,400 (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
17,900 (2002)
Telephone system:
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; cellular service, initially restricted, was opened to public access in 2003
domestic: national fiber-optic system scheduled to be completed by end of 2003; 85% of switches digitized by end of 2002 with entire system by end 2003; telephone line density remains low; cellular service expanding
international: country code - 53; fiber-optic cable laid to but not linked to US network; 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 hosts:
1,529 (2003)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
5 (2001)
Internet users:
120,000 (2001)
Transportation Cuba
total: 4,226 km
standard gauge: 4,226 km 1.435-m gauge (140 km electrified)
note: an additional 7,742 km of track is used by sugar plantations; about 65% of this track is standard gauge; the rest is narrow gauge (2003)
total: 60,858 km
paved: 29,820 km (including 638 km of expressway)
unpaved: 31,038 km (1999 est.)
240 km (2004)
gas 49 km; oil 230 km (2003)
Ports and harbors:
Cienfuegos, Havana, Manzanillo, Mariel, Matanzas, Nuevitas, Santiago de Cuba
Merchant marine:
total: 13 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 54,818 GRT/81,850 DWT
registered in other countries: 35 (2003 est.)
by type: bulk 3, cargo 4, liquefied gas 1, petroleum tanker 3, refrigerated cargo 2
170 (2003 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 79
over 3,047 m: 7
2,438 to 3,047 m: 9
1,524 to 2,437 m: 20
914 to 1,523 m: 6
under 914 m: 37 (2003 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 91
914 to 1,523 m: 29
under 914 m: 62 (2003 est.)
Military Cuba
Military branches:
Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR): Revolutionary Army (ER), Revolutionary Navy (MGR), Air and Air Defense Force (DAAFAR), Territorial Militia Troops (MTT), Youth Labor Army (EJT)
Military manpower - military age:
17 years of age (2004 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 3,134,622
note: both sexes are liable for military service (2004 est.)
females age 15-49: 3,075,534
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 1,929,370
females age 15-49: 1,888,498 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 83,992
females: 91,901 (2004 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$572.3 million (2003)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
1.8% (2003)
Military - note:
Moscow, for decades the key military supporter and supplier of Cuba, cut off almost all military aid by 1993
Transnational Issues Cuba
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 and heroin bound for the US and Europe; established the death penalty for certain drug-related crimes in 1999

This page was last updated on 30 November, 2004