Skip to Content


« Back to Glossary Index

**Historical Background**:
– Cuba’s settlement dates back around 6,000 years.
– Arawakan-speaking Taino people arrived in Cuba about 1,700 years ago.
– The Spanish colonization began in 1492 with Columbus claiming Cuba for Spain.
– The Cuban Revolution led by the 26th of July Movement overthrew the Batista government in 1959.
– Fidel Castro established communist rule in Cuba post-revolution.

**Socioeconomic and Demographic Indicators**:
– Cuba historically excelled in literacy, infant mortality, and life expectancy.
– The country has a universal healthcare system.
– Challenges include poverty, low doctor salaries, and inadequate medical facilities.
– A 2023 study estimated 88% of the population living in extreme poverty.
– Cuban society has a diverse heritage with Spanish, African, and Taíno influences.

**Independence Movements and Impact of Wars**:
– Various independence movements occurred, including Carlos Manuel de Céspedes declaring Cuba’s independence in 1868.
– The impact of the Seven Years War and the Haitian Revolution influenced Cuba’s commerce and slave trade.
– The British captured Havana in 1762, leading to societal transformations.
– Estimates suggest 325,000 Africans were imported to Cuba as slaves between 1790-1820.
– Cuba remained loyal to Spain during the Latin American rebellions in the 1820s.

**Political Evolution and Governance**:
– The Republic of Cuba gained independence from the U.S. in 1902.
– Various political figures like Fulgencio Batista and Ramon Grau San Martin played significant roles.
– Major social reforms occurred under Batista’s government post-1940.
– Batista’s military coup in 1952 led to increased poverty and disparities.
– Fidel Castro’s forces took over in 1959, leading to a shift towards communism and strained relations with the U.S.

**International Relations and Military Involvement**:
– The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 heightened Cold War tensions.
– Cuba’s military involvements in Africa, supporting MPLA in Angola and Ethiopia, are notable.
– Economic challenges and international sanctions, especially during the Special Period post-Soviet collapse, impacted Cuba.
– Cuban support for insurgencies in countries like Grenada, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua was part of their foreign policy.
– Cuba’s contentious relationship with the U.S., including sanctions and conflicts, has been a significant aspect of its international relations.

Cuba (Wikipedia)

Cuba, officially the Republic of Cuba, is an island country, comprising the island of Cuba, Isla de la Juventud, archipelagos, 4,195 islands and cays surrounding the main island. Cuba is located where the northern Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and Atlantic Ocean meet. Cuba is located east of the Yucatán Peninsula (Mexico), south of both the American state of Florida and the Bahamas, west of Hispaniola (Haiti/Dominican Republic), and north of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Havana is the largest city and capital; other major cities include Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey. The official area of the Republic of Cuba is 109,884 km2 (42,426 sq mi) (without the territorial waters) but a total of 350,730 km2 (135,420 sq mi) including the exclusive economic zone. Cuba is the second-most populous country in the Caribbean after Haiti, with over 11 million inhabitants.

Republic of Cuba
República de Cuba (Spanish)
Motto: ¡Patria o Muerte, Venceremos!
("Homeland or Death, We Shall Overcome!")
Anthem: La Bayamesa
("The Bayamo Song")
Cuba shown in dark green
Cuba shown in dark green
and largest city
23°8′N 82°23′W / 23.133°N 82.383°W / 23.133; -82.383
Official languagesSpanish
Other spoken languagesHaitian Creole
Ethnic groups
GovernmentUnitary Marxist–Leninist one-party semi-presidential socialist republic
Miguel Díaz-Canel
Salvador Valdés Mesa
Manuel Marrero Cruz
Esteban Lazo Hernández
LegislatureNational Assembly of People's Power
from Spain and the United States
11 March 1812
10 October 1868
24 February 1895
• Recognized (Handed over to the United States from Spain)
10 December 1898
• Republic declared (Independence from United States)
20 May 1902
26 July 1953 – 1 January 1959
10 April 2019
• Total
110,860 km2 (42,800 sq mi) (104th)
• Water (%)
• 2023 estimate
Neutral decrease 10,985,974 (85th)
• 2022 census
Neutral decrease 11,089,511 (84th)
• Density
100/km2 (259.0/sq mi) (80th)
GDP (PPP)2015 estimate
• Total
$254.865 billion
• Per capita
GDP (nominal)2022 estimate
• Total
Increase $147.194 billion (60th)
• Per capita
Increase $13,128 (64th)
Gini (2000)38.0
HDI (2022)Increase 0.764
high (85th)
CurrencyCuban peso (CUP)
Time zoneUTC−5 (CST)
• Summer (DST)
Driving sideright
Calling code+53
ISO 3166 codeCU

The territory that is now Cuba was inhabited as early as the 4th millennium BC, with the Guanahatabey and Taíno peoples inhabiting the area at the time of Spanish colonization in the 15th century. It was then a colony of Spain, and slavery was abolished in 1886, remaining a colony until the Spanish–American War of 1898, when Cuba was occupied by the United States and gained independence in 1902. In 1940, Cuba implemented a new constitution, but mounting political unrest culminated in the 1952 Cuban coup d'état and the subsequent dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. The Batista government was overthrown in January 1959 by the 26th of July Movement during the Cuban Revolution. That revolution established communist rule under the leadership of Fidel Castro. The country was a point of contention during the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States, and nuclear war nearly broke out during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Cuba faced severe economic downturn in the 1990s, known as the Special Period. In 2008, Fidel Castro retired after 49 years; Raúl Castro was elected his successor. Raúl Castro retired as president in 2018 and Miguel Díaz-Canel was elected president by the National Assembly following parliamentary elections. Raúl Castro retired as First Secretary of the Communist Party in 2021 and Díaz-Canel was elected.

Cuba is one of a few extant Marxist–Leninist one-party socialist states, in which the role of the vanguard Communist Party is enshrined in the Constitution. Cuba has an authoritarian regime where political opposition is not permitted. Censorship is extensive and independent journalism is repressed; Reporters Without Borders has characterized Cuba as one of the worst countries for press freedom. Culturally, Cuba is considered part of Latin America. It is a multiethnic country whose people, culture and customs derive from diverse origins, including the Taíno Ciboney peoples, the long period of Spanish colonialism, the introduction of enslaved Africans and a close relationship with the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Cuba is a founding member of the United Nations, G77, Non-Aligned Movement, Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States, ALBA, and Organization of American States. It has one of the world's few planned economies, and its economy is dominated by tourism and the exports of skilled labor, sugar, tobacco, and coffee. Cuba has historically—before and during communist rule—performed better than other countries in the region on several socioeconomic indicators, such as literacy, infant mortality and life expectancy. Cuba has a universal health care system which provides free medical treatment to all Cuban citizens, although challenges include low salaries for doctors, poor facilities, poor provision of equipment, and the frequent absence of essential drugs. A 2023 study by the Cuban Observatory of Human Rights (OCDH), estimated 88% of the population is living in extreme poverty. The traditional diet is of international concern due to micronutrient deficiencies and lack of diversity. As highlighted by the World Food Programme (WFP) of the United Nations, rationed food meets only a fraction of daily nutritional needs for many Cubans, leading to health issues.

« Back to Glossary Index