|Background: Fidel CASTRO led a rebel army to victory in 1959;
his iron rule has held the country together since. Cuba's communist
revolution, with Soviet support, was exported throughout Latin America and
Africa during the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. The country is now slowly
recovering from a severe economic recession in 1990, following the
withdrawal of former Soviet subsidies, worth $4 billion to $6 billion
annually. Havana portrays its difficulties as the result of the US embargo
in place since 1961. Illicit migration to the US - using homemade rafts,
alien smugglers, or falsified visas - is a continuing problem. Some 3,000
Cubans took to the Straits of Florida in 2000; the US Coast Guard
interdicted only about 35% of these.
Government type: Communist state
Currency: 1 Cuban peso (Cu$) = 100 centavos
Geography of Cuba
Location: Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic
Ocean, south of Florida
People of Cuba
Cuba is a multiracial society with a population of mainly Spanish and African origins. The largest organized religion is the Roman Catholic Church. Afro-Cuban religions, a blend of native African religions and Roman Catholicism, are widely practiced in Cuba. Officially, Cuba has been an atheist state for most of the Castro era. In 1962, the government of Fidel Castro seized and shut down more than 400 Catholic schools, claiming that they spread dangerous beliefs among the people. However, in 1991 the Communist Party lifted its prohibition against religious believers seeking membership and a year later the constitution was amended to characterize the state as secular instead of atheist.
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. Some 3,000 Cubans took to the Straits of Florida in 2000 and the US Coast Guard interdicted about 35% of these migrants. Cubans also use non-maritime routes to enter the US; some 2,400 Cubans arrived overland via the southwest border and direct flights to Miami.
Population: 11,346,670 (July 2005 est.)
SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State
Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Cuba > Map Economy History