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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, marked initially by neglect, became increasingly repressive, provoking an independence movement and occasional rebellions that 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. The US Coast Guard intercepted 2,712 individuals attempting to cross the Straits of Florida in fiscal year 2005.


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


total: 110,860 sq km
land: 110,860 sq km
water: 0 sq km

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 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: 27.63%
permanent crops: 6.54%
other: 65.83% (2005)

Irrigated land:

8,700 sq km (2003)

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

Geography - note:

largest country in Caribbean and westernmost island of the Greater Antilles


11,382,820 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 19.1% (male 1,117,677/female 1,058,512)
15-64 years: 70.3% (male 4,001,161/female 3,999,303)
65 years and over: 10.6% (male 554,148/female 652,019) (2006 est.)

Median age:

total: 35.9 years
male: 35.2 years
female: 36.5 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

0.31% (2006 est.)

Birth rate:

11.89 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate:

7.22 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate:

-1.57 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 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: 0.85 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 6.22 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 6.99 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.41 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 77.41 years
male: 75.11 years
female: 79.85 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate:

1.66 children born/woman (2006 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

less than 0.1% (2003 est.)

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
total population: 97%
male: 97.2%
female: 96.9% (2003 est.)

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; Cubans also use non-maritime routes to enter the US including direct flights to Miami and over-land via the southwest border

Country name:

conventional long form: Republic of Cuba
conventional short form: Cuba
local long form: Republica de Cuba
local short form: 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
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
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
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%

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 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)

Economy - overview:

The government continues to balance the need for economic loosening against a desire for firm political control. It has rolled back limited reforms undertaken in the 1990s to increase enterprise efficiency and alleviate serious shortages of food, consumer goods, and services. The average Cuban's standard of living remains at a lower level than before the downturn of the 1990s, which was caused by the loss of Soviet aid and domestic inefficiencies. The government in 2005 strengthened its controls over dollars coming into the economy from tourism, remittances, and trade. External financing has helped growth in the mining, oil, construction, and tourism sectors.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$37.24 billion (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

5.5% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$3,300 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 5.5%
industry: 26.1%
services: 68.4% (2005 est.)

Labor force:

4.6 million
note: state sector 78%, non-state sector 22% (2005 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 21.2%
industry: 14.4%
services: 64.4% (2004)

Unemployment rate:

1.9% (2005 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

4.2% (2005 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):

9.8% of GDP (2005 est.)


revenues: $22.11 billion
expenditures: $23.65 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (2005 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:

3.5% (2005 est.)

Electricity - production:

15.65 billion kWh (2004)

Electricity - consumption:

13.27 billion kWh (2004)

Oil - production:

72,000 bbl/day (2005 est.)

Oil - consumption:

205,000 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Oil - proved reserves:

532 million bbl (1 January 2002)

Natural gas - production:

704 million cu m (2004)

Natural gas - consumption:

704 million cu m (2004)

Natural gas - proved reserves:

70.79 billion cu m (1 January 2002)

Current account balance:

-$748 million (2005 est.)


$2.388 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Exports - commodities:

sugar, nickel, tobacco, fish, medical products, citrus, coffee

Exports - partners:

Netherlands 22.8%, Canada 20.6%, China 7.7%, Russia 7.5%, Spain 6.4%, Venezuela 4.4% (2004)


$6.916 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Imports - commodities:

petroleum, food, machinery and equipment, chemicals

Imports - partners:

Spain 14.7%, Venezuela 13.5%, US 11%, China 8.8%, Canada 6.4%, Italy 6.2%, Mexico 4.9% (2004)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$2.518 billion (2005 est.)

Debt - external:

$13.1 billion (convertible currency); another $15-20 billion owed to Russia (2005 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:

$68.2 million (1997 est.)

Currency (code):

Cuban peso (CUP) and Convertible peso (CUC)

Fiscal year:

calendar year

Telephones - main lines in use:

768,200 (2004)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

75,800 (2004)

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; wireless service is expensive and remains restricted to foreigners and regime elites, many Cubans procure wireless service illegally with the help of foreigners
domestic: national fiber-optic system under development; 85% of switches digitized by end of 2004; telephone line density remains low, at 10 per 100 inhabitants; domestic 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)

Television broadcast stations:

58 (1997)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

1,918 (2005)

Internet users:

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" (2005)


170 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 78
over 3,047 m: 7
2,438 to 3,047 m: 9
1,524 to 2,437 m: 18
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 37 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 92
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 29
under 914 m: 62 (2005)


gas 49 km; oil 230 km (2004)


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 (2004)


total: 60,858 km
paved: 29,820 km (including 638 km of expressway)
unpaved: 31,038 km (1999)


240 km (2005)

Merchant marine:

total: 11 ships (1000 GRT or over) 33,932 GRT/48,791 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 2, cargo 2, chemical tanker 1, passenger 1, petroleum tanker 3, refrigerated cargo 2
foreign-owned: 1 (Spain 1)
registered in other countries: 17 (The Bahamas 1, Cyprus 3, Netherlands Antilles 1, Panama 8, Spain 1, unknown 3) (2005)

Ports and terminals:

Cienfuegos, Havana, Matanzas

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 - note:

Moscow, for decades the key military supporter and supplier of Cuba, cut off almost all military aid by 1993

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 US and European-bound drugs; established the death penalty for certain drug-related crimes in 1999