Map Cuba
Maps copyright Hammond World Atlas Corp.

Flag of Cuba


Background: 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 southwest border - is a continuing problem. The US Coast Guard intercepted 982 individuals attempting to cross the Straits of Florida in fiscal year 2009.
Location: Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, 150 km south of Key West, Florida
Area land: 109,820 sq km
Area water: 1,040 sq km
Coastline: 3,735 km
Country name conventional long form: Republic of Cuba
Country name conventional short form: Cuba
Country name former: Republic of Cuba
Population: 11,087,330 (July 2011 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 17.3% (male 984,607/female 931,167); 15-64 years: 71.1% (male 3,947,047/female 3,932,128); 65 years and over: 11.7% (male 583,757/female 708,624) (2011 est.);
Population growth rate: -0.104% (2011 est.)
Birth rate: 9.99 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Death rate: 7.47 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
Net migration rate: -3.56 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 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: 0.83 male(s)/female; total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2011 est.);
Infant mortality rate: total: 4.9 deaths/1,000 live births; male: 5.27 deaths/1,000 live births; female: 4.52 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.);
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 77.7 years; male: 75.46 years; female: 80.08 years (2011 est.);
Total fertility rate: 1.44 children born/woman (2011 est.);
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.1% (2009 est.);
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 7,100 (2009 est.);
HIV/AIDS - deaths: fewer than 100 (2009 est.);
Nationality: noun: Cuban(s); adjective: Cuban;
Ethnic groups: white 65.1%, mulatto and mestizo 24.8%, black 10.1% (2002 census);
Religions: nominally 85% Roman Catholic prior to CASTRO assuming power; Protestants, Jehovah's Witnesses, Jews, and Santeria are also represented;
Languages: Spanish (official);
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write; total population: 99.8%; male: 99.8%; female: 99.8% (2002 census);
GDP (purchasing power parity): $114.1 billion (2010 est.); $112.4 billion (2009 est.); $110.8 billion (2008 est.);

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate): $57.49 billion (2010 est.);
GDP - real growth rate: 1.5% (2010 est.); 1.4% (2009 est.); 4.1% (2008 est.);
GDP - per capita (PPP): $9,900 (2010 est.); $9,800 (2009 est.); $9,700 (2008 est.);
note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 4.2%; industry: 22.7%; services: 72.9% (2010 est.);
Population below poverty line: NA%;
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA%; highest 10%: NA%;
Labor force: 5.164 million;
note: state sector 78%, non-state sector 22% (2010 est.)

Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 20%; industry: 19.4%; services: 60.6% (2005);
Unemployment rate: 2% (2010 est.); 1.7% (2009 est.);
Budget: revenues: $46.51 billion; expenditures: $48.89 billion (2010 est.);
Industries: sugar, petroleum, tobacco, construction, nickel, steel, cement, agricultural machinery, pharmaceuticals;
Industrial production growth rate: 0.8% (2010 est.);
Electricity - production: 16.89 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - consumption: 13.93 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2008 est.);
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2008 est.);

Statistics: CIA World Factbook.


Granma Internacional

(Communist Party weekly), Havana

Cuba in the News

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Displaying 17 to 20 of 39 items.

Beyond the Son and Sand

Cuba, Human-Rights Watchdog?

If you think irony’s dead, you’ve never heard of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. The commission wrapped up its annual six-week meeting in Geneva this week. Among the more disquieting developments, it rejected resolutions to criticize Cuba’s crackdown on opposition voices, to condemn Russia’s record in Chechnya, and to scrutinize the behavior of the governments of Zimbabwe and Sudan,’ writes The Vancouver Sun.

Behind Cuba's Crackdown

Nick Miroff reports that Fidel Castro's attempt to crush dissent has backfired and alienated many of his old friends.

Czechs Take a Stand

'The persecution of political opponents of the Cuban dictatorship has elicited an unusually unified protest in the Czech Republic,' Erik Tabery writes in Prague's weekly Respekt.