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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 was severe and exploitative and occasional rebellions 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 1,498 individuals attempting to cross the Straits of Florida in 2004.

Geography

Location:

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

Map references:

Central America and the Caribbean

Area:

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

Area - comparative:

slightly smaller than Pennsylvania

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 thus remains part of Cuba

Coastline:

3,735 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

Climate:

tropical; moderated by trade winds; dry season (November to April); rainy season (May to October)

Terrain:

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: 33.05%
other: 59.35% (2001)
permanent crops: 7.6%

Irrigated land:

870 sq km (1998 est.)

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

Environment - international agreements:

party to: Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation

Geography - note:

largest country in Caribbean and westernmost island of the Greater Antilles

People

Population:

11,346,670 (July 2005 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 19.6% (male 1,139,644/female 1,079,412)
15-64 years: 70.1% (male 3,977,110/female 3,975,818)
65 years and over: 10.4% (male 540,720/female 633,966) (2005 est.)

Median age:

total: 35.36 years
male: 34.73 years
female: 35.98 years (2005 est.)

Population growth rate:

0.33% (2005 est.)

Birth rate:

12.03 births/1,000 population (2005 est.)

Death rate:

7.19 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.)

Net migration rate:

-1.58 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 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 (2005 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 6.33 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.5 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.)
male: 7.11 deaths/1,000 live births

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 77.23 years
male: 74.94 years
female: 79.65 years (2005 est.)

Total fertility rate:

1.66 children born/woman (2005 est.)

Nationality:

noun: Cuban(s)
adjective: Cuban

Ethnic groups:

mulatto 51%, white 37%, black 11%, Chinese 1%

Religions:

nominally 85% Roman Catholic prior to CASTRO assuming power; Protestants, Jehovah's Witnesses, Jews, and Santeria are also represented

Languages:

Spanish

Literacy:

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
female: 96.9% (2003 est.)
male: 97.2%
total population: 97%

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 overland via the southwest border

Government

Country name:

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

Government type:

Communist state

Capital:

Havana

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

Independence:

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)

Constitution:

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

Suffrage:

16 years of age; universal

Source: CIA World Factbook