For alternate meanings see Cuba (disambiguation).
|National motto: None|
|Dictator / President||Fidel Castro|
- % water
|Ranked 106th |
- Total (2002)
October 10, 1868
May 20, 1902
|Time zone||UTC -5|
Cuba and its originally Amerindian population came under Spanish control in the 16th century. The colony's struggle for independence started in 1868 and continued during the 19th century until the United States intervened in the Spanish-American War of 1898. The US then occupied the island until recognising independence in 1902, though limited by the Platt Amendment, after which the US continued to exercise considerable control over Cuban affairs.
Fidel Castro led a rebel army to victory in 1959 against dictator Fulgencio Batista and Castro has remained in power since. Relations with the US deteriorated after Castro initiated economic reforms and sought closer ties with the Soviet Union, leading to the failed US-sponsored Bay of Pigs Invasion and the Cuban missile crisis, as well as a strict US trade embargo largely still in place today.
Cuba was subsequently involved in revolutionary wars in Africa and Latin America, while it enjoyed close economic ties with the Soviet bloc. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 however the country suffered an economic setback, but has recovered to an extent since then, though economic and political reforms have been made only haltingly.
Cuba is a republic led by a president who is elected by parliament together with the vice-president. Fidel Castro has been in power since 1959, first as prime minister and after the abolition of that office in 1976 as president. He is both head of state and head of government, as well as First Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party[?], and commander in chief of the armed forces.
The unicameral Cuban parliament is the National Assembly of People's Power or Asemblea Nacional del Poder Popular. Its 609 members are elected directly from slates approved by special candidacy commissions, and they serve five-year terms. The communist party is constitutionally recognised as Cuba's only legal political party. The party and its affiliated organisations monopolise all government positions, including judicial offices. Continuing political issues include illegal emigration, primarily to the US, and the government's attitude towards political dissidents.
Cuba is divided into 14 provinces (provincias, singular provincia) and 1 special municipality (municipio especial), marked by a *:
The elongated island of Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean and is bounded to the north by the Straits of Florida[?] and the greater North Atlantic Ocean, to the northwest by the Gulf of Mexico, to the west by the Yucatan Channel[?], to the south by the Caribbean Sea, and to the east by the Windward Passage[?]. The Republic comprises the entire island, including many outlying islands such as the Isle of Youth[?], with the exception of Guantanamo Bay, a naval base that has been leased by the United States since 1903.
The island consist mostly of flat to rolling plains, with more rugged hills and mountains primarily in the southeast and the highest point is the Pico Real del Turquino[?] at 2,005 m. The local climate is tropical, though moderated by trade winds. There is a drier season from November to April, and a rainier season from May to October. Havana is the largest city and capital, other major cities include Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey[?].
The government continues to balance the need for economic loosening against a concern for firm political control over the economy. It has undertaken limited reforms in recent years to stem excess liquidity, increase enterprise efficiency, and alleviate serious shortages of food, consumer goods, and services, but seems unlikely to implement extensive changes. A major feature of the economy is the dichotomy between relatively efficient export and tourism enclaves and inefficient domestic sectors.
The Cuban economy was hit hard in the early 1990s following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Comecon[?] economic bloc, with which it had traded predominantly. A continuing United States trade embargo has also had a detrimental effect on the economy since the early 1960s. More recent problems include high oil prices, recessions in key export markets such as sugar and nickel, damage from hurricanes, depressed tourism, and faltering world economic conditions.
Cuba is a multiracial society with a population of either mixed (mulatto) or more specific Spanish and African origins. There is also a small ethnic Chinese community. The largest organised religion is the Roman Catholic Church. Afro-Cuban or Santeria religions, a blend of native African religions and Roman Catholicism, are widely practiced in Cuba. Officially, Cuba had been an atheist state for most of the Castro era, but religious restrictions have been relaxed since 1991 and the state secularised. Smaller Protestant and Jewish minorities also exist.
|Date||English Name||Local Name||Remarks|
|January 1||Liberation Day|
|July 26||Rebellion Day|