What you should know a bout Cuba
Republic of Cuba
Havana/2 121,871 inhabitants
11 242,628 inhabitants
102.3 inhabitants per squ. km
POPULATION GROWTH RATE:
11.2 births/1,000 inhabitants.
INFANT MORTALITY RATE:
4.3 deaths/1000 live births
Cuban Peso (CUP), Cuban Peso Convertible (CUC)
It is a Socialist Unitarian Lay State, whose governing bodies are the Council of State and Ministers, and the National Assembly of the People’s Power, which in turn have local bodies in the provinces and municipalities.
Cuba is divided into three large regions composed by 15 provinces and 168 municipalities including the special municipality of Isla de la Juventud. The provinces from west to east are: Pinar del Río, Artemisa, La Habana, Mayabeque, Matanzas, Villa Clara, Cienfuegos, Sancti Spíritus, Ciego de Avila, Camagüey, Las Tunas, Holguin, Granma, Santiago de Cuba and Guantánamo.
The Republic of Cuba is an archipelago
that borders to the north with the Florida Straits and the Nicholas and Old Bahama channels; to the east with the Windward Passage; to the south with the Caribbean Sea, and to the west with the Strait of Yucatan. It is located south of the Tropic of Cancer, on the eastern perimeter of the Gulf of Mexico. A hundred and eighty kilometers to the north lies Key West, and 21 km in the same direction is the Commonwealth of The Bahamas; on the east it is separated 77 km, by the Windward Passage, from the Hispaniola island, while in the south it is 140 km from the Cayman Islands and 210 km west is the Yucatan Peninsula.
Cuba is the largest and westernmost island of the Greater Antilles, with 104,446.08 square km of extension. Its length from east to west, from Cape San Antonio to Punta de
Maisí, is 1,250 km while its width, from north to south, varies between 31 and 210 km. The coastline on the north is 3,209 km long and in the south it is 2,537 km. Due to its narrow and elongated shape it is compared to a cayman, and because of its geographical location, at the entrance of the Gulf of Mexico, it is known as the “Key of the Gulf.”
Cuba is an archipelago formed by the Island of Cuba, the Isle of Youth and around 4,195 cays, islets and islands. With a total area of 109,886.19 square km, it has four island groups: Los Colorados, Sabana-camagüey (Jardines del Rey), and Jardines de la Reina and Canarreos; the latter being the one of greatest importance for the Island of Youth is located here (which runs second in extension after the Island of Cuba with 2,204 square km).
The relief stands out for its complexity and diversity, constituted by mountains, heights and plains that represent two thirds of the territory; about 70% have angles of slope of 3° and less. Carbonated rocks predominate in more than 60% of the territory, influenced by the action of the climate, and a topography where karst developments predominate in the relief and subsoil of the archipelago. Four percent of the territory is occupied by wetlands.
Three large mountain ranges stand out: Cordillera de Guaniguanico in the west of the country, formed by Sierra del Rosario to the east and Sierra de los Organos to the west, both divided by San Diego River. Its highest peak is Pan de Guajaibón with 699 m above sea level.
In the center of the country is the Guamuhaya Mountain Range, formed by Alturas de Trinidad (Trinidad Heights) to the northeast, Alturas de Sancti Spíritus to the southeast, and Sierra del Escambray. Pico Potrerillo is its highest elevation with a height of 931 m above sea level; at its feet is located the city of Trinidad.
The eastern zone is home to the largest mountain range in Cuba: Sierra Maestra, where the highest elevation of the island is located: Pico Real del Turquino with a height of 1,974 m above sea level, escorted by peaks Cuba with 1,872 m above sea level and Suecia with 1,734 m above sea level, which together form Sierra del Turquino. There is also located La Gran Piedra (the Great Stone), a rock weighing more than 70 thousand tons, located at 1,225 m aboves sea level, ranking as the third largest in the world.
In the eastern zone are also located Alturas de Saguabaracoa, with Sierra de Cristal, Cuchillas del Toa and others. On the Isle of Youth, the highest altitude is in Sierra de la Cañada, with 303 meters above sea level. The southern part of the Island is an area rich in lagoons and wetlands. The most important area is Ciénaga de Zapata, in the province of Matanzas.
In the hydrology of the island of Cuba, the main watershed is located at the center and throughout the territory, dividing it into two slopes, north and south. The longest rivers are: Cauto, Sagua la Grande, Zaza, Caonao and San Pedro. The Toa River (116.2 km) located in the provinces of Holguín and Guantanamo is the fastest flowing river in the country. In Cuba, rivers do not have large levels and are fed by rainfall. Most of the rivers are dammed, with the largest reservoirs being Zaza (1,020 million m3), Alacranes (352 million m3) and Cauto-el Paso (330 million m3) located in the provinces of Sancti Spíritus, Villa Clara and Granma respectively. In the Isle of Youth, the hydrographic network has a radial distribution: Las Nuevas River (28 km) and Las Casas River (14.5 km) stand out, the latter
being dammed and forming the Las Casas Dos reservoir.
It has approximately 5,746 km of very irregular coasts with varied and notable landforms such as steep cliffs, extensive low and boggy coastal areas, coral reefs that border the coastline, sea terraces, coves, deltas and round bays that provide excellent ports. There are nearly 400 beaches that constitute an important natural and economic resource on account of its considerable tourist value.
Among the bays of greatest extension are Nipe, Nuevitas and Cienfuegos. Matanzas bay is the deepest. Due to its economic importance, Havana, Mariel and Santiago de Cuba stand out. In the bay of Guantánamo there is a US Naval Base: a territory occupied since the beginning of the last century.
The predominant climate in most of Cuba is warm tropical, with a rainy season in summer. Other types of climate are reported in the higher areas of the main mountain ranges, while in the southern coastal strip of Santiago de Cuba and Guantànamo provinces there is a relatively dry tropical climate. The climate of the eastern region is warmer than that of the western region.
Due to its geographical location, Cuba is on a latitude very close to the Tropic of Cancer. Therefore, solar radiation is very high throughout the year. Due to its long and narrow shape, it is influenced by the trade winds.
From November to April, changes in weather and climate become more notable with sharp changes, associated with the passage of frontal systems, the anticyclonic influence of continental origin and centers of extratropical low pressure areas. In this season, masses of cold air coming from the north have an influence on the territory, that causes temperatures lower than usual.
On the contrary, from May to October there are only a few variations in weather, with a more or less marked influence of the anticyclone of the North Atlantic. The most important changes are linked to the presence of easterly waves and tropical cyclones.
Average annual temperature: 24.6 ° C (76.6 ° F) Average summer temperature: 25 ° C (77 ° F) Average winter temperature: 22 ° C (71.6 ° F) Relative humidity: 80% Seasons: there are two well-defined seasons, the dry season from November to April, and the rainy season from May to October. The average rainfall on the island is 1,370 mm
Standard time: UTC/GMT -5 hours Daylight Saving Time: +1 hour Compensation of current time usage: UTC/GMT -4 hours Daylight saving time starts at local official time - In the early hours of Saturday March 25 to Sunday March 26, 2018 It finishes in the local official time-in the early hours of Saturday October 28 to Sunday October 29, 2018
About 37% of the Cuban population is white, of Spanish origin and to a lesser extent French, Italian, Arabic/lebanese, North American and Russian. Approximately 11% of the population is black, descended from the different African ethnic groups brought to the island as slaves and from subsequent immigration from Jamaica and Haiti. It is considered that 52% of the
population is mixed race. Popular wisdom states that there is something African in the blood of every Cuban. On the other hand, the descendants of Chinese immigrants make up 0.1% of the population. The influence of the aboriginal population is scarcely perceptible, although in the most intricate of the eastern region there are communities that come directly from the first inhabitants of Cuba.
FLORA AND FAUNA
Cuba has more than 6,700 species of plants, of which 3,180 are endemic and 950 are in danger of extinction. A large variety of timber and fruit trees populate the forests among which the ceiba and jagüey stand out. It is known that the island has thousands of floral species, of which several hundreds are orchids. More than 30 types of palms stand out in the Cuban landscape, including the royal palm and the cork palm, the latter considered a living fossil.
The fauna has more than 354 species of birds, of which 29 are endemic. Large numbers of amphibians and reptiles inhabit the territory, such as the second smallest “banana frog” in the world and 46 species of lizards.
Cuba has 14 species of snakes, being the “majá” the largest and most common. Spotted alligators (moteados) are endemic to the lowlands and marshes, as well as the yellow and black crocodiles that inhabit mainly the Ciénaga de Zapata and other estuaries of the country. More than 900 species of fish, crustaceans, cephalopods and corals inhabit the waters of Cuba, among them is the Cuban gar (Atractosteus tristoechus), considered a living fossil.
In Cuba, there are few endemic mammals such as the hutias and the almiquìes (Solenodon Cubanus), believed to be extinct until 2012, wild pigs and deer, as well as 27 species of bats. Some species
of marine mammals occasionally populate national waters, including dolphins and manatees that are in danger of extinction.
The island is considered a paradise for insects, among which more than 200 species of butterflies are identified, and at least 28 of them are endemic: the Cuban greta stands out, as well as cicadas, mosquitoes and beetles. In Cuba, there are some of the smallest animals in the world such as the butterfly bat, the zunzuncito or “fly bird,” the salamanquita gecko and the dwarf scorpion.
NATIONAL SYMBOLS FLAG
Known as “the Flag of the Solitary Star,” it was first hoisted in the city of Cárdenas on May 19, 1850, and 19 years later it was adopted as a national banner on April 11, 1869 at the “Guáimaro Assembly.” It combines the blue, red and white colors: the three blue stripes symbolize the departments in which Cuba was divided into; the two white stripes represent the purity and virtue of the Cubans; the red equilateral triangle symbolizes the ideals of freedom, equality, fraternity and bloodshed for independence. The solitary star is a sign of absolute freedom.
COAT OF ARMS
It has an ogival brim shape and is divided into three fields; the top one represents Cuba as the “Key of the Gulf” and the rising sun, the symbol of the emergence of a new nation; the lower left one represents the departments into which Cuba was divided; and the royal palm at the lower right is a symbol of nobility and firmness. The coat of arms is supported on a beam of eleven rods, linked by a red cross ribbon that means the union, crowned by a frigio cap, a symbol of rebellion. The coat of arms is flanked by a branch of holm oak on the right and a laurel one on the left, representing the fortitude and the victory.
Its author was Perucho Figueredo. On October 20, 1868, when forces from the Liberating Army took Bayamo, Figueredo wrote, while sitting on his horse’s saddle, the lyrics of the combat anthem that was sung for the first time on that occasion.
NATIONAL ATTRIBUTES NATIONAL FLOWER
The white garland-lily (Hedychium coronarium), a species of jasmine endemic to Cuba, with white flowers and an exquisite aroma. It was used by women to carry hidden messages during the wars for the independence of the island. It is a symbol of the delicacy, grace and slenderness of the Cuban woman.
The Cuban trogon or tocororo (Priotelus temnurus) belongs to the Quetzal family; its plumage reproduces the colors of the Cuban flag. It is endemic to Cuba and does not endure captivity.
The Royal Palm Tree is characterized by its slenderness, majesty and strength. It is the most abundant tree in Cuba.
SOCIETY, CUSTOMS AND IDIOSYNCRASY
The character of its people is remarkable: friendly, solidaristic, vivacious and hospitable. They are the result of the synthesis of Spanish and African culture, under other influences. Cubans are passionate people and are united to their country by a deep love. They are proud to be who they are, value the family and honor their
elders, as well as educate their children with justice and love. Enterprising by nature, they always notice a curious and funny note in the worst situations. Seductive and sensual, they carry the Caribbean spirit in their blood.
In Cuba, the education system is secular and free. Illiteracy was eradicated in 1961 with the Literacy Campaign. At present, study is compulsory until the ninth grade. The national education system begins in children’s daycare centers, continues in elementary schools, basic secondary schools, high school institutes, technological institutes and in more than twenty university centers.
The National Health Care System is completely free and follows the model of community medicine, rounded out by community clinics and clinical surgical hospitals in all provinces of the country, as well as specialized teaching affiliate hospitals and medical institutes. Health indicators are comparable to those of developed countries and life expectancy at birth is among the highest in the world. For travelers there is a network of international clinics and pharmacies. Medical services are one of the most important lines of the Cuban economy. Due to their quality and high demand, they have made the island one of the main destinations for health tourism in the world.
The excellent performance in the sports world is demonstrated by the large number of titles accumulated by Cuban athletes inside and outside the island, in regional, Pan American games, world championships and Olympics.
The national sport is “la pelota” (baseball) that has a complex and dynamic national series, besides junior and children competitions at national level. Other disciplines such as boxing, volleyball, athletics, Greco-roman wrestling and judo are also remarkable and have given great laurels to Cuba.
According to the Constitution of the Republic, the state is defined as secular, although in the country the Catholic religion and the Afro-cuban religion predominate in their different rules and variants. Other practices and beliefs such as Spiritism in the East of the country, Syncretic Cults and more recently the Evangelical Churches and Jehovah’s Witnesses are also noteworthy. The “Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre” (Virgin of Charity from El Cobre), the Patron saint of Cuba, is honored and worshiped by Cubans wherever they may be, like the Marian invocation or its syncretic variant like Ochún.
Cuban cuisine is the result of an amalgam of Aboriginal products and African and Spanish components, to which elements of Asian and Arabic cuisine are added in a lesser extent. The typical cuisine varies according to the region of the country, as well as their names and flavors. The basic elements that compose it are rice and beans, meats and fish, and the essential sweets, coffees, drinks and tobaccos that dress the table. Some typical dishes are: arroz moro (rice and red beans), arroz con pollo (rice and chicken), congrí oriental (rice and black beans), ajiaco criollo, roasted or “ahogado” pig, picadillo a la habanera (Havana mince) and tostones or chatinos (fried plantains), as well as drinks and infusions among which the oriental prú and the aliñao are outstanding.
SITES REGISTERED BY UNESCO IN THE LIST OF HUMANITY HERITAGE SITES
1982 Old Havana and its System of Fortresses, Havana 1988 Trinidad and the Valle de los Ingenios (The Valley of the Mills), Sancti Spíritus 1997 Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca, Santiago de Cuba 2000 Archaeological Landscape of the First Coffee Plantations in Southeastern Cuba, Santiago de Cuba 2005 Historical Center of Cienfuegos, Cienfuegos 2008 Historical Center of Camagüey, Camagüey
1999 Cultural Landscape in Valle de Viñales, Pinar del Río 1999 Granma National Park “Desembarco del Granma” 2001 Alejandro de Humboldt National Park, Holguín and Guantánamo
2016 La Rumba (a chanting and dancing genre) 2018 El Punto Cubano
MASTERPIECE OF THE ORAL AND INTANGIBLE HERITAGE OF HUMANITY
2003 La Tumba Francesa (a chanting and dancing genre), Santiago de Cuba
BIOSPHERE RESERVES RECOGNIZED BY THE UNESCO MAB PROGRAM
1985 Sierra del Rosario, Pinar del Río and Artemisa 1987 Guanahacabibes Peninsula National Park, Pinar del Río 1987 Baconao, Santiago de Cuba and Guantánamo 1987 Cuchillas del Toa (located in Alejandro de Humboldt National Park), Holguín and Guantánamo 2000 Ciénaga de Zapata National Park, Matanzas 2000 Buenavista (located in Caguanes National Park), Villa Clara, Sancti Spíritus and Ciego de Ávila
THE FIRST SEVEN VILLAGES
Founded by the Adelantado Don Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar in the sixteenth century. They celebrate in this decade its half millennium of existence. According to the order of foundation are the following:
Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Baracoa, August 15, 1511 • San Salvador de Bayamo, November 5, 1513 Santísima Trinidad, January 1514 Santa María del Puerto del Príncipe, February 2, 1514 • Sancti Spíritus, June 4, 1514 • Santiago de Cuba, July 25, 1515 • San Cristobal de La Habana, November 16, 1519. Declared Marvel City in 2015, and Iberoamerican Capital of Cocktails in 2018, Havana is preparing to celebrate her middle millennium of existence.
PLAYA PUNTA EL HOLANDES Península de Guahanacabives
VISTA DE LA BAHÍA DE LA HABANA One of the largest and safest bays in America and the World
TOCORORO, THE NATIONAL BIRD An endemic bird of Cuba, it does not endure life in captivity FLAG Known as the Bandera de la Estrella Solitaria “Flag of the Lonely Star”
MARIPOSA, THE NATIONAL FLOWER A jasmine species endemic to the Island
VIRGEN DE LA CARIDAD DE EL COBRE, PATRON SAINT OF CUBA Known in popular slang as Cachita
BOXING Sport of great popular roots in Cuba
VALLE DE LOS INGENIOS Officially called San Luis Valley. True heritage source of the ancient city of Trinidad