View Text Low Bandwidth Version
Download Publication
Page last updated on June 25, 2015
view 1 photo of
  • 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. Subsequently, the 1901 Platt Amendment to the Cuban constitution authorized the US to intervene 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 authoritarian 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 of its difficulties. Illicit migration to the US - using homemade rafts, alien smugglers, air flights, or via the US's southern border - is a continuing problem. In FY 2014, the US Coast Guard interdicted 2,111 Cuban nationals at sea, the highest number since FY 2008. Also in FY 2014, 24,289 Cuban migrants presented themselves at various land border ports of entry throughout the US. In December 2014, President OBAMA instructed the Secretary of State to initiate discussions with Cuba on the re-establishment of diplomatic relations, which were severed in January 1961. Over the past decade, there has been growing communication with the Cuban government to address national interests.
  • 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
    Central America and the Caribbean
    total: 110,860 sq km
    land: 109,820 sq km
    water: 1,040 sq km
    slightly smaller than Pennsylvania
    total: 28.5 km
    border countries: US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay 28.5 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
    agricultural land: 60.3%
    arable land 33.8%; permanent crops 3.6%; permanent pasture 22.9%
    forest: 27.3%
    other: 12.4% (2011 est.)
    8,703 sq km (2003)
    38.12 cu km (2011)
    total: 4.42 cu km/yr (22%/14%/65%)
    per capita: 392.6 cu m/yr (2010)
    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 and Society :: CUBA

  • noun: Cuban(s)
    adjective: Cuban
    white 64.1%, mestizo 26.6%, black 9.3% (2012 est.)
    Spanish (official)
    nominally Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant, Jehovah's Witnesses, Jewish, Santeria
    note: prior to CASTRO assuming power
    11,047,251 (July 2014 est.)
    0-14 years: 16.3% (male 923,602/female 873,156)
    15-24 years: 13.6% (male 770,515/female 732,056)
    25-54 years: 47.1% (male 2,618,089/female 2,581,895)
    55-64 years: 10.4% (male 551,637/female 602,658)
    65 years and over: 12.6% (male 625,330/female 768,313) (2014 est.)
    population pyramid:
    total dependency ratio: 41.9%
    youth dependency ratio: 22.6%
    elderly dependency ratio: 19.3%
    potential support ratio: 5.2% (2014 est.)
    total: 39.9 years
    male: 39.1 years
    female: 40.8 years (2014 est.)
    -0.14% (2014 est.)
    9.9 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)
    7.64 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)
    -3.64 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)
    urban population: 77% of total population (2014)
    rate of urbanization: 0.07% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
    HAVANA (capital) 2.146 million (2014)
    at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
    0-14 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
    15-24 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
    25-54 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
    55-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 0.82 male(s)/female
    total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2014 est.)
    80 deaths/100,000 live births (2013 est.)
    total: 4.7 deaths/1,000 live births
    male: 5.04 deaths/1,000 live births
    female: 4.33 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)
    total population: 78.22 years
    male: 75.92 years
    female: 80.65 years (2014 est.)
    1.46 children born/woman (2014 est.)
    74.3% (2010/11)
    8.8% of GDP (2013)
    6.72 physicians/1,000 population (2010)
    5.3 beds/1,000 population (2012)
    urban: 96.3% of population
    rural: 87.3% of population
    total: 94% of population
    urban: 3.7% of population
    rural: 12.7% of population
    total: 6% of population (2012 est.)
    urban: 94% of population
    rural: 88.2% of population
    total: 92.6% of population
    urban: 6% of population
    rural: 11.8% of population
    total: 7.4% of population (2012 est.)
    0.23% (2013 est.)
    15,600 (2013 est.)
    200 (2013 est.)
    degree of risk: intermediate
    food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A
    vectorborne diseases: dengue fever (2013)
    27.2% (2014)
    3.4% (2000)
    12.8% of GDP (2010)
    definition: age 15 and over can read and write
    total population: 99.8%
    male: 99.9%
    female: 99.8% (2015 est.)
    total: 14 years
    male: 13 years
    female: 14 years (2013)
    total: 3.1%
    male: 2.8%
    female: 3.5% (2008 est.)
    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 second Sunday in March; ends first Sunday in November; note - Cuba has been known to alter the schedule of DST on short notice in an attempt to conserve electricity for lighting
    15 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia) and 1 special municipality* (municipio especial); Artemisa, Camaguey, Ciego de Avila, Cienfuegos, Granma, Guantanamo, Holguin, Isla de la Juventud*, La Habana, Las Tunas, Matanzas, Mayabeque, 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 (Liberation Day), 1 January (1959)
    several previous; latest adopted by referendum 15 February 1976, effective 24 February 1976; amended 1978, 1992, 2002 (2010)
    civil law system based on Spanish civil code
    has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
    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 Miguel DIAZ-CANEL Bermudez (since 24 February 2013); note - the president is both 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 Miguel DIAZ-CANEL Bermudez (since 24 February 2013)
    cabinet: Council of Ministers proposed by the president of the Council of State, appointed by the National Assembly or the 28-member Council of State, and 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 five-year term; election last held on 24 February 2013 (next to be held in 2018)
    election results: Gen. Raul CASTRO Ruz reelected president; percent of legislative vote - 100%; Miguel DIAZ-CANEL Bermudez elected vice president; percent of legislative vote - 100%
    description: unicameral National Assembly of People's Power or Asemblea Nacional del Poder Popular (614 seats; members directly elected by absolute majority in a modified two-round vote; members serve 5-year terms); note - the National Candidature Commission submits a slate of approved candidates who must obtain 50-percent of valid votes to be elected; if not, a byelection may be held or the seat remains vacant
    elections: last held on 3 February 2013 (next to be held in 2018)
    election results: Cuba's Communist Party is the only legal party, and officially sanctioned candidates run unopposed
    highest court(s): People's Supreme Court (consists of court president, vice president, 41 professional justices, and NA lay judges; organized into the "Whole," State Council, and criminal, civil, administrative, labor, crimes against the state, and military courts)
    judge selection and term of office: professional judges elected by the National Assembly to serve 2.5-year terms; lay judges nominated by workplace collectives and neighborhood associations and elected by municipal or provincial assemblies; lay judges appointed for 5-year terms and serve up to 30 days per year
    subordinate courts: People's Provincial Courts; People's Regional Courts; People's Courts
    Cuban Communist Party or PCC [Raul CASTRO Ruz, first secretary]
    Damas de Blanco
    National Association of Small Farmers
    Patriotic Union of Cuba
    The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation
    other: political dissidents and bloggers
    ACP, ALBA, AOSIS, CELAC, FAO, G-77, IAEA, ICAO, ICC (national committees), 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, Petrocaribe, PIF (partner), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
    none; note - the Cuban Interests Section of the Embassy of Switzerland is headed by Jose R. CABANAS Rodriguez (since October 2012); address: Cuban Interests Section, Swiss Embassy, 2630 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009; telephone: [1] (202) 797-8518; FAX: [1] (202) 797-0606
    none; note - the United States Interests Section of the Embassy of Switzerland is headed by Jeffrey DELAURENTIS(since August 2014); address: USINT, Swiss Embassy, Calzada between L and M Streets, Vedado, Havana; telephone: [53] (7) 839-4100; FAX: [53] (7) 839-4247; 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; the blue bands refer to the three old divisions of the island: central, occidental, and oriental; the white bands describe the purity of the independence ideal; the triangle symbolizes liberty, equality, and fraternity, while the red color stands for the blood shed in the independence struggle; the white star, called La Estrella Solitaria (the Lone Star) lights the way to freedom and was taken from the flag of Texas
    note: design similar to the Puerto Rican flag, with the colors of the bands and triangle reversed
    royal palm; national colors: red, white, blue
    name: "La Bayamesa" (The Bayamo Song)
    lyrics/music: Pedro FIGUEREDO
    note: adopted 1940; Pedro FIGUEREDO first performed "La Bayamesa" in 1868 during the Ten Years War against the Spanish; a leading figure in the uprising, FIGUEREDO was captured in 1870 and executed by a firing squad; just prior to the fusillade he is reputed to have shouted, "Morir por la Patria es vivir" (To die for the country is to live), a line from the anthem
  • Economy :: CUBA

  • The government continues to balance the need for loosening its socialist economic system against a desire for firm political control. The government in April 2011 held the first Cuban Communist Party Congress in almost 13 years, during which leaders approved a plan for wide-ranging economic changes. Since then, the Cuban government has slowly and incrementally implemented limited economic reforms, including allowing Cubans to buy electronic appliances and cell phones, stay in hotels, and buy and sell used cars. As the Cuban government has cut state sector jobs as part of the reform process, it has opened up some retail services to "self-employment," leading to the rise of so-called "cuentapropistas" or entrepreneurs. Approximately 476,000 Cuban workers are currently registered as self-employed. Recent moves include permitting the private ownership and sale of real estate and new vehicles, allowing private farmers to sell agricultural goods directly to hotels, allowing the creation of non-agricultural cooperatives, adopting a new foreign investment law, and launching a “Special Development Zone” around the Mariel port. Despite these reforms, the average Cuban's standard of living remains at a lower level than before the collapse of the Soviet Union and the resulting downturn of the 1990s. Since late 2000, Venezuela has been providing oil on preferential terms, and it supplied nearly 160,000 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. However, in 2013 Venezuela’s economic woes forced an estimated 24% reduction in oil exports to Cuba. This downward trend continued in 2014.
    $128.5 billion (2014 est.)
    $126.9 billion (2013 est.)
    $123.5 billion (2012 est.)
    note: data are in 2012 US dollars
    $77.15 billion
    note: data are in Cuban Pesos at CUP 1 = US$ Official Exchange Rate (2013 est.)
    1.3% (2014 est.)
    2.7% (2013 est.)
    3% (2012 est.)
    $10,200 (2010 est.)
    $10,000 (2009 est.)
    $10,000 (2008 est.)
    note: data are in 2010 US dollars
    country comparison to the world: 132
    21.3% of GDP (2014 est.)
    12.8% of GDP (2013 est.)
    13.7% of GDP (2012 est.)
    household consumption: 52.9%
    government consumption: 24.9%
    investment in fixed capital: 14.3%
    investment in inventories: 0%
    exports of goods and services: 28%
    imports of goods and services: -20%
    (2013 est.)
    agriculture: 3.8%
    industry: 14.3%
    services: 81.9% (2013 est.)
    sugar, tobacco, citrus, coffee, rice, potatoes, beans; livestock
    petroleum, nickel, cobalt, pharmaceuticals, tobacco, construction, steel, cement, agricultural machinery, sugar
    4.6% (2014 est.)
    5.092 million
    note: state sector 72.3%, non-state sector 27.7% (2014 est.)
    agriculture: 18%
    industry: 9.9%
    services: 68.8% (2013 est.)
    3.6% (2014 est.)
    3.3% (2013 est.)
    note: these are official rates; unofficial estimates are about double the official figures
    lowest 10%: NA%
    highest 10%: NA%
    revenues: $1.879 billion
    expenditures: $1.994 billion (2013 est.)
    2.4% of GDP (2013 est.)
    -0.1% of GDP (2013 est.)
    40.6% of GDP (2014 est.)
    37.5% of GDP (2013 est.)
    calendar year
    5.3% (2014 est.)
    6% (2013 est.)
    $924.8 million (31 December 2014 est.)
    $13.72 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
    $24.63 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
    $24.08 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    $1 billion (2014 est.)
    $1 billion (2013 est.)
    $5.62 billion (2014 est.)
    $5.566 billion (2013 est.)
    petroleum, nickel, medical products, sugar, tobacco, fish, citrus, coffee
    Canada 16%, China 15.2%, Venezuela 14.2%, Spain 7.5%, Netherlands 5.6% (2013)
    $14.7 billion (2014 est.)
    $14.77 billion (2013 est.)
    petroleum, food, machinery and equipment, chemicals
    Venezuela 37.4%, China 12.3%, Spain 9.4%, Brazil 4.7%, Canada 4.1% (2013)
    $10.4 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
    $10.1 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
    $25.23 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
    $24.65 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
    $4.138 billion (2006 est.)
    Cuban pesos (CUP) per US dollar -
    22.57 (2014 est.)
    1 (2013 est.)
    1 (2012 est.)
    0.98 (2011 est.)
    0.93 (2010 est.)
  • Energy :: CUBA

  • 19.14 billion kWh (2013 est.)
    16.2 billion kWh (2013 est.)
    0 kWh (2013 est.)
    0 kWh (2013 est.)
    6.055 million kW (2013 est.)
    99.3% of total installed capacity (2013 est.)
    0% of total installed capacity (2013 est.)
    0.7% of total installed capacity (2013 est.)
    0.1% of total installed capacity (2013 est.)
    50,500 bbl/day (2013 est.)
    74,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)
    160,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)
    124 million bbl (1 January 2014 est.)
    106,300 bbl/day (2012 est.)
    148,800 bbl/day (2012 est.)
    11,320 bbl/day (12 est.)
    66,350 bbl/day (2010 est.)
    1.066 billion cu m (2013 est.)
    925.6 million cu m (2013 est.)
    0 cu m (2013)
    0 cu m (2013)
    70.79 billion cu m (1 January 2014 est.)
    25.99 million Mt (2012 est.)
  • Communications :: CUBA

  • 1.217 million (2012)
    1.682 million (2012)
    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; national fiber-optic system under development; 95% of switches digitized by end of 2006; mobile-cellular telephone service is expensive and must be paid in convertible pesos; cell phones in Cuba number around 2 million; state communications started service of email to cell phones through accounts; Cuban Government has opened Internet cafes around the island, which are expensive and offer slow-speed connections
    domestic: fixed-line density remains low at 10 per 100 inhabitants; mobile-cellular service expanding but remains only about 10 per 100 persons
    international: country code - 53; the ALBA-1 fiber-optic submarine cable links Cuba, Jamaica, and Venezuela; fiber-optic cable laid to but not linked to US network; satellite earth station - 1 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region) (2010)
    government owns and controls all broadcast media with private ownership of electronic media prohibited; government operates 4 national TV networks and many local TV stations; government operates 6 national radio networks, an international station, and many local radio stations; Radio-TV Marti is beamed from the US (2007)
    AM 169, FM 55, shortwave 1 (1998)
    58 (1997)
    3,244 (2012)
    1.606 million
    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" (2009)
  • Transportation :: CUBA

  • 133 (2013)
    total: 64
    over 3,047 m: 7
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 10
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 16
    914 to 1,523 m: 4
    under 914 m: 27 (2013)
    total: 69
    914 to 1,523 m: 11
    under 914 m:
    58 (2013)
    gas 41 km; oil 230 km (2013)
    total: 8,203 km
    standard gauge: 8,134 km 1.435-m gauge (124 km electrified)
    narrow gauge: 69 km 1.000-m gauge
    note: 48 km of standard gauge track is not for public use (2011)
    total: 60,858 km
    paved: 29,820 km (includes 639 km of expressways)
    unpaved: 31,038 km (2001)
    240 km (almost all navigable inland waterways are near the mouths of rivers) (2011)
    total: 3
    by type: cargo 1, passenger 1, refrigerated cargo 1
    registered in other countries: 5 (Curacao 1, Panama 2, unknown 2) (2010)
    major seaport(s): Antilla, Cienfuegos, Guantanamo, Havana, Matanzas, Mariel, Nuevitas Bay, Santiago de Cuba
  • Military :: CUBA

  • Revolutionary Armed Forces (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias, FAR): Revolutionary Army (Ejercito Revolucionario, 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 Forces (Defensas Anti-Aereas y Fuerza Aerea Revolucionaria, DAAFAR); Youth Labor Army (Ejercito Juvenil del Trabajo, EJT) (2013)
    17-28 years of age for compulsory military service; 2-year service obligation; both sexes subject to military service (2012)
    males age 16-49: 2,998,201
    females age 16-49: 2,919,107 (2010 est.)
    males age 16-49: 2,446,131
    females age 16-49: 2,375,590 (2010 est.)
    male: 72,823
    female: 69,108 (2010 est.)
    the collapse of the Soviet Union deprived the Cuban military of its major economic and logistic support and had a significant impact on the state of Cuban equipment; the army remains well trained and professional in nature; the lack of replacement parts for its existing equipment has increasingly affected operational capabilities (2013)
  • 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 a source country for adults and children subjected to sex trafficking, and possibly forced labor; child prostitution and child sex tourism reportedly occurs in Cuba, while some Cubans are forced into prostitution abroad; allegations have been made of Cubans being subjected to forced labor at Cuban work missions abroad; the scope of trafficking within Cuba is difficult to gauge due to a dearth of independent reporting, but the Cuban government provided information on human trafficking for the first time in 2013
    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; the government has not established a legal framework criminalizing all forms of human trafficking but intends to amend its criminal code to comply with the 2000 UN TIP Protocol, which it acceded to in 2013; the government provided assistance to vulnerable women and children in 2013 but did not offer services specifically for trafficking victims; some prosecutions and convictions for sex trafficking occurred, but none for forced labor were registered (2014)
    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)