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Cuba Country Guide

Explore Cuba in North America

Cuba with the capital city Havana is located in North America (Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean). It covers some 110,861 square kilometres (slightly smaller than Pennsylvania) with 11,423,000 citizens.

Map of the area of  in

The topography includes mostly flat to rolling plains, with rugged hills and mountains in the southeast. The average density of population is approximately 103 per km². The notable climate conditions in Cuba can be described as tropical with moderated by trade winds, dry season (November to April), rainy season (May to October). Possible natural disasters include the east coast being subject to hurricanes from August to November (in general, the country averages about one hurricane every other year) or droughts are common.

To reach someone in Cuba dial +53 prior to a number. There are 1,168,000 installed telephones. And there are 443,000 registered mobile phones. The cellular networks commonly support frequencies of 900 Mhz. Websites registered in this country end with the top level domain ".cu". If you want to bring electric equipment on your trip (e.g. laptop power supply), note the local power outlet of 110/220V - 60Hz.

About the flag and history of Cuba

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.

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 at times portrays the US embargo, in place since 1961, as the source if its difficulties. Illicit migration to the US - using homemade rafts, alien smugglers, air flights, or via the US''s southwest border - is a continuing problem. The US Coast Guard interdicted 1,275 Cuban nationals attempting to cross the Straits of Florida in 2012.

Geography Quick-Facts

Summary Continent: North America
Neighbours: United States
Capital: Havana
Size 110,860 square kilometers (km² or sqkm) or 42,803 square miles (mi² or sqmi)
slightly smaller than Pennsylvania
Population 11,423,000
Currency Name: Peso, Currency Code: CUP
Country Top Level Domain (cTLD) .cu
Telephone Country Prefix +53
Mobile Phone Connections 443,000
Landline Phone Connections 1,168,000

Country Position in World Rankings

Information about single country attributes and how these compare against the rest of the world. The information below is compiled with data from 2013. As such, it may differ a bit to the Information above in the text (which is from 2010).


Value name Value World Rank
Area 110,860 (sq km) 106

People and Society

Value name Value World Rank
Population 11,061,886 77
Population growth rate -0.13 (%) 208
Birth rate 9.92 (births/1,000 population) 196
Death rate 7.58 (deaths/1,000 population) 113
Net migration rate -3.61 (migrant(s)/1,000 population) 185
Maternal mortality rate 73.00 (deaths/100,000 live births) 85
Infant mortality rate 4.76 (deaths/1,000 live births) 183
Life expectancy at birth 78.05 (years) 59
Total fertility rate 1.46 (children born/woman) 196
Health expenditures 10.60 (% of GDP) 24
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate 0.10 (%) 123
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS 7,100 111
HIV/AIDS - deaths 100 127
Obesity - adult prevalence rate 21.50 (%) 85
Children under the age of 5 years underweight 3.40 (%) 105
Education expenditures 12.90 (% of GDP) 2
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 3.1 (%) 139


Value name Value World Rank
GDP (purchasing power parity) 121,000,000,000 68
GDP - real growth rate 3.10 (%) 104
GDP - per capita (PPP) 10,200 117
Labor force 5,050,000 75
Unemployment rate 3.80 (%) 29
Investment (gross fixed) 10.00 (% of GDP) 148
Taxes and other revenues 65.0 (% of GDP) 5
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) -3.70 (% of GDP) 125
Public debt 35.10 (% of GDP) 102
Inflation rate (consumer prices) 5.50 (%) 153
Stock of narrow money 11,430,000,000 75
Stock of broad money 36,290,000,000 74
Industrial production growth rate 0.80 (%) 135
Current account balance 1,000,000,000 42
Exports 5,600,000,000 109
Imports 13,680,000,000 90
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold 4,693,000,000 95
Debt - external 22,160,000,000 78
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad 4,138,000,000 65


Value name Value World Rank
Electricity - production 17,800,000,000 (kWh) 77
Electricity - consumption 16,380,000,000 (kWh) 74
Electricity - installed generating capacity 5914000 (kW) 69
Electricity - from fossil fuels 99.3 (% of total installed capacity) 56
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 0.6 (% of total installed capacity) 144
Electricity - from other renewable sources 0.1 (% of total installed capacity) 95
Crude oil - production 53,000 (bbl/day) 58
Crude oil - exports 83,000 (bbl/day) 41
Crude oil - imports 165,000 (bbl/day) 40
Crude oil - proved reserves 181500000 (bbl) 64
Refined petroleum products - production 104,200 (bbl/day) 74
Refined petroleum products - consumption 150,200 (bbl/day) 67
Refined petroleum products - imports 73,000 (bbl/day) 56
Natural gas - production 1,030,000,000 (cu m) 64
Natural gas - consumption 1,030,000,000 (cu m) 90
Natural gas - proved reserves 70,790,000,000 (cu m) 61
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 34,460,000 (Mt) 75


Value name Value World Rank
Telephones - main lines in use 1,193,000 70
Telephones - mobile cellular 1,315,000 149
Internet hosts 3,244 154
Internet users 1,606,000 79


Value name Value World Rank
Airports 136 42
Railways 8,193 (km) 25
Roadways 60,858 (km) 72
Waterways 240 (km) 95
Merchant marine 3 135


Value name Value World Rank
Military expenditures 3.20 (% of GDP) 37

Data based on CIA facts book 2010 & 2013, wikipedia, national statistical offices and their census releases

List of current world heritage sites

Name Since
Alejandro de Humboldt National Park
Complex geology and varied topography have given rise to a diversity of ecosystems and species unmatched in the insular Caribbean and created one of the most biologically diverse tropical island sites on earth. Many of the underlying rocks are toxic ...
Archaeological Landscape of the First Coffee Plantations in the South-East of Cuba
The remains of the 19th-century coffee plantations in the foothills of the Sierra Maestra are unique evidence of a pioneer form of agriculture in a difficult terrain. They throw considerable light on the economic, social, and technological history of ...
Desembarco del Granma National Park
Desembarco del Granma National Park, with its uplifted marine terraces and associated ongoing development of karst topography and features, represents a globally significant example of geomorphologic and physiographic features and ongoing geological ...
Historic Centre of Camagüey
One of the first seven villages founded by the Spaniards in Cuba, Camagüey played a prominent role as the urban centre of an inland territory dedicated to cattle breeding and the sugar industry. Settled in its current location in 1528, the town deve ...
Old Havana and its Fortification System
Havana was founded in 1519 by the Spanish. By the 17th century, it had become one of the Caribbean's main centres for ship-building. Although it is today a sprawling metropolis of 2 million inhabitants, its old centre retains an interesting mix of Ba ...
San Pedro de la Roca Castle, Santiago de Cuba
Commercial and political rivalries in the Caribbean region in the 17th century resulted in the construction of this massive series of fortifications on a rocky promontory, built to protect the important port of Santiago. This intricate complex of for ...
Trinidad and the Valley de los Ingenios
Founded in the early 16th century in honour of the Holy Trinity, the city was a bridgehead for the conquest of the American continent. Its 18th- and 19th-century buildings, such as the Palacio Brunet and the Palacio Cantero, were built in its days of ...
Urban Historic Centre of Cienfuegos
The colonial town of Cienfuegos was founded in 1819 in the Spanish territory but was initially settled by immigrants of French origin. It became a trading place for sugar cane, tobacco and coffee. Situated on the Caribbean coast of southern-central C ...
Viñales Valley
The Viñales valley is encircled by mountains and its landscape is interspersed with dramatic rocky outcrops. Traditional techniques are still in use for agricultural production, particularly of tobacco. The quality of this cultural landscape is enha ...