An Overview of Cuba
Cuba is the largest Island Nation in the Caribbean located just 90 miles off the cost of the US. It spans 44,000 square miles just a bit smaller than Pennsylvania. The Geography includes farmland, mountains, Colonial Villages, white Sand beaches and many urban cities. Cuba measures 770 miles wide and It has 3,570 miles of coastline and the longest river “Rio Cauto” with 213 miles in length. Cuba is comprised of 15 provinces and one municipality known as the “Island of Youth”. Most notable areas include Pinar del Rio focused on the Tobacco Farming. Santiago de Cuba which is the country’s second largest city, Colonial Trinidad a quaint town designated by UNESCO as a world heritage site and Old Havana with the picturesque streets and buildings. Cuba is diverse with 11.2 million people. The culture is rich in European, North American and African influences.
In 2006 Cuba met the World Wildlife Fund criteria for sustainable development which makes it one of the greenest nations due to its low environmental impact. Cuba has six UNESCO Biosphere Reserves in Cuba and nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organizations’ Institute for Statistics. The literacy rate is an amazing 99.8 percent and This is the 2nd highest literacy rate in the world.
Cuba invests over 10% of the government central budget on education making it free for all levels including materials such as uniforms and books. There are 47 Universities in Cuba with over 100,000 students enrolled.
Cuba’s story is one full of perseverance. The island was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492 and soon became a territory of Spain. In 1898, the U.S. claimed Cuba during the Spanish-American War. However, in 1902, Cuba gained its independence. The Cuban Revolution occurred between 1953 and 1959, which removed Fulgencio Batista and installed a government run by Fidel Castro, who declared Cuba a socialist state in 1961. Castro remained in power until falling ill in 2008, at which time he relinquished control of Cuba to his brother, Raul Castro.
Cuban government follows a socialist economic model. With the state controlling most resources the majority of citizens are employed by the government. Recently there has been a highly noticeable emergence of a private employment sector. With new legislation recently introduced private ownership of homes and cars is now possible. In addition as of 2006, the private sector employed 22 percent of the citizens, which is 14 percent more than in 1981. Cuba’s main industries are food production and industrial products with the main exports being sugar, citrus, nickel, tobacco products and rum.
The semi-subtropical climate is divided into two seasons: The wet season is between (May-October) and the dry season between the months of (November- April).
The average temperatures are from 77-80 Degrees Fahrenheit. Compared to many countries, Cuba experiences very little variation during the year. During July and August it can be hot and very humid. Cuba has an advanced disaster preparedness system and civil defense network for evacuations.
Spanish is the official language of Cuba. Like for many countries Cuban-Spanish does contains variations and sometimes it is difficult for some Spanish speakers to understand every word spoken, In larger cities and tourist areas, English is commonly spoken by most cubans. Knowledge of Spanish is not required for our Xperiences but we encourage you to learn some simple words and phrases to maximize your Xperiences with the Cuban people.
More than half of all Cubans consider themselves Catholic. Santeria does plays a large role in the nation’s self-identity as it was brought over to Cuba by Africans and the most common form of Santeria combines Catholicism with Yoruba beliefs.
Other religions practiced in Cuba, though small include Protestantism, Judaism, and Jehovah’s Witnesses. There are many beautiful churches and synagogues scattered throughout Havana.
Cuba has a population of over 11 million residents. It is a multi-ethnic melting pot with a population of 65 percent white, 24 percent mixed-race, 10 percent black and one percent Chinese.