CUBAN Facts & Figures

Size: 42,426 square miles

Population: 11,241,894

Capital: Havana

Currency: Cuban Peso

Weather / Climate:

Cuba's climate is tropical and moderated by trade winds. The dry season lasts from November to April and the rainy season from May to October.

Cubais an archipelago of islands located in the Caribbean Sea, with the geographic coordinates 21°3N, 80°00W. Cuba is the principal island, which is surrounded by four main groups of islands. These are the Colorados, the Sabana-Camagüey, the Jardines de la Reina and the Canarreos. The main island of Cuba constitutes most of the nation's land area or 105,006 km2 (40,543 sq mi) and is the seventeenth-largest island in the world by land area. The second largest island in Cuba is the Isla de la Juventud (Isle of Youth) in the southwest, with an area of 3,056 km2 (1,180 sq mi). Cuba has a total land area of 110,860 km2 (42,800 sq mi).

The main island consists mostly of flat to rolling plains. At the southeastern end is the Sierra Maestra, a range of steep mountains whose highest point is the Pico Real del Turquino at 1,975 metres (6,480 ft). The local climate is tropical, though moderated by trade winds. In general (with local variations), there is a drier season from November to April, and a rainier season from May to October. The average temperature is 23.1 °C (73.6 °F) in January and 27 °C (80.6 °F) in July. Cuba lies in the path of hurricanes, and these destructive storms are most common in September and October. Havana is the largest city and capital; other major cities include Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey. Better known smaller towns include Baracoa which was the first Spanish settlement on Cuba, Trinidad, a UNESCO world heritage site, and Bayamo.

Taken from wikipedia

CUBAN languages

The official language of Cuba is Spanish and the vast majority of Cubans speak it. Spanish as spoken in Cuba is known as Cuban Spanish and is a form of Caribbean Spanish. Lucumi, a dialect of the West African language Yoruba, is also used as a liturgical language by practitioners of Santería,[157] and so only as a second language.[158] Haitian Creole is the second largest language in Cuba, and is spoken by Haitian immigrants and their descendants.[159] Other languages spoken by immigrants include Catalan and Corsican.[160]

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuba

CUBAN culture

 

CUBAN people

Cubans or Cuban people (Spanish: Cubanos) are the inhabitants or citizens of Cuba. Cuba is a multi-ethnic nation, home to people of different ethnic and national backgrounds. As a result, some Americans do not treat their nationality as an ethnicity but as a citizenship with various ethnicities comprising the "Cuban people." Aside from the indigenous Native American population, nearly all Cubans or their ancestors immigrated within the past five centuries.

Despite its multi-ethnic composition, the culture held in common by most Cubans is referred to as mainstream Cuban culture, a Western culture largely derived from the traditions of Western European migrants, beginning with the early Spanish settlers, along with other Europeans arriving later such as the Portuguese and French with African culture which has also been very influential.

The largest urban populations of Cubans in Cuba (2010) are to be found in Havana ( 2,135,498), Santiago de Cuba ( 425,851), Camagüey (305,845), Holguín (277,050), Guantanamo ( 207,857), and Santa Clara ( 205,812). According to Cuba's Oficina Nacional de Estadisticas ONE 2002 Census, the population was 11,177,743,[9] including:

  • 5,597,233 men and
  • 5,580,510 women.

The racial make-up was 7,271,926 whites, 1,126,894 blacks and 2,778,923 mulattoes.[10] The Chinese population in Cuba is descended mostly from indentured laborers who arrived in the 19th century to build railroads and work in mines. After the Industrial Revolution, many of these laborers stayed in Cuba because they could not afford return passage to China.

Taken from wikipedia

CUBAN food

Cuban cuisineis a fusion of Spanish, African and Caribbean cuisines. Cuban recipes share spices and techniques with Spanish and African cooking, with some Caribbean influence in spice and flavor. This results in a unique, interesting and flavorful blend of the several different cultural influences. A small but noteworthy Chinese influence can also be accounted for, mainly in the Havana area. During colonial times, Cuba was an important port for trade, and many Spaniards who lived there brought their culinary traditions along with them.[1]

As a result of the colonization of Cuba by Spain, one of the main influences on the cuisine is from Spain. Along with Spain, other culinary influences include Africa, from the Africans that were brought to Cuba as slaves, and Dutch, from the French colonists that came to Cuba from Haiti.[1] Another important factor is that Cuba itself is an island, making seafood something that greatly influences Cuban cuisine. Another contributing factor to Cuban cuisine is the fact that Cuba is in a tropical climate. The tropical climate produces fruits and root vegetables that are used in Cuban dishes and meals.[2]

A typical meal would consist of rice and beans, cooked together or apart. When cooked together the recipe is called either "Congri" (red beans and rice) or "Moros" or "Moros y Cristianos" (black beans and rice). If cooked separately it is called "Arroz con/y Frijoles" (rice with/and beans).[3][4] A main course (mainly pork or beef), some sort of vianda(not to be confused with the Frenchviandewhich stands for "meat", this term encompasses several types of tubers, such as yuca, malanga, and potato, as well as plantains, unripe bananas and even corn), a salad (usually simply composed of tomato, lettuce and avocado, though cucumber, carrots, cabbage and radish are not uncommon). Curiously, typical criollo meals largely ignore fruit, except ripe plantains, which are usually consumed together with the rice and beans. Tropical fruit could be served, however, depending on each family's preferences. Usually, all dishes are brought together to the table at once, except maybe for desserts.

Rice and beans are a culinary element found throughout Cuba, although it varies by region. In the eastern part of the island, "arroz congri oriental" is the predominant rice and bean dish. White rice and red kidney beans are cooked together with a sofrito and then baked in the oven. The same procedure is used for the above mentioned Congri (also known by the terms Arroz Moro and Moros y Cristianos - literally "Moors and Christians") which instead uses black beans. Although the process of preparing the black bean soup contains basics (onion, garlic, bay leaf, salt) each region has their tradition of preparing it.

Meat, when available on ration book is usually served in light sauces. The most popular sauce, used to accompany not onlyroasted pork, but also the viandas, is Mojo or Mojito (not to be confused with the Mojito cocktail), made with oil, garlic, onion, spices such as oregano and bitter orange or lime juice. The origin of Cuban mojo comes from the mojo sauces of the Canary Islands. Cuban mojo is made with different ingredients, but the same idea and technique is used from the Canary Islands. Of course with so many Canary Islander immigrants in Cuba, the Canary Islander influence was strong. Ropa vieja is shredded beef dish (usually flank) simmered in tomato-based criollo sauce until it falls apart. ropa vieja is the Spanish name meaning "old clothes", in which the dish gets its name from the shredded meat resembling "old clothes". Ropa vieja is also from the Canary Islands, as is many of the origins of Cuban food. Boliche is a beef roast, stuffed with chorizo sausage and hard boiled eggs.

Equally popular are tamales, although not exactly similar to its Mexican counterpart. Made with corn flour, shortening and pieces of pork meat, tamales are wrapped in corn leaves and tied, boiled in salted water and served in a number of different ways. Tamales en cazuela is almost the same recipe, although it does not require the lengthy process of packing the tamales in the corn leaves before cooking, but rather is directly cooked in the pot. Tamales as well as Black Bean soup, are among the few indigenous foods that have remained part of the modern Cuban cuisine.

Stews and soups are common. These are usually consumed along with white rice or gofio (a type of corn flour, also from the Canary Islands), or eaten alone. Corn stew, corn soup (guiso), caldosa (a soup made with a variety of tubers and meats), are popular dishes as well. Also common when available are the popular white bean Spanish stews, such as Caldo Gallego (Galician Stew), Fabada Asturiana (Asturian Stew) and Cocido de Garbanzos (Chickpea Stew).

Taken from wikipedia

Places to go in CUBA

 

Doing business in CUBA

The Cuban state adheres to socialist principles in organizing its largely state-controlled planned economy. Most of the means of production are owned and run by the government and most of the labor force is employed by the state. Recent years have seen a trend towards more private sector employment. By 2006, public sector employment was 78% and private sector 22%, compared to 91.8% to 8.2% in 1981.[100] Capital investment is restricted and requires approval by the government. The Cuban government sets most prices and rations goods. Any firm wishing to hire a Cuban must pay the Cuban government, which in turn will pay the employee in Cuban pesos.[101] Cubans cannot change jobs without government permission.[51] The average wage at the end of 2005 was 334 regular pesos per month ($16.70 per month) and the average pension was $9 per month.[102]

Cubarelied heavily on trade with the Soviet Union. From the late 1980s, Soviet subsidies for Cuban goods started to dry up. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba depended on Moscow for substantial aid and sheltered markets for its exports. The removal of these subsidies (for example the oil [103] [104] ) sent the Cuban economy into a rapid depression known in Cuba as the Special Period. In 1992 the United States tightened the trade embargo, hoping to see democratisation of the sort that took place in Eastern Europe.

Like some other Communist and post-Communist states following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba took limited free market-oriented measures to alleviate severe shortages of food, consumer goods, and services. These steps included allowing some self-employment in certain retail and light manufacturing sectors, the legalization of the use of the US dollar in business, and the encouragement of tourism. Cuba has developed a unique urban farm system (the organopónicos) to compensate for the end of food imports from the Soviet Union. In recent years, Cuba has rolled back some of the market oriented measures undertaken in the 1990s. In 2004 Cuban officials publicly backed the Euro as a "global counter-balance to the US dollar", and eliminated U.S. currency from circulation in its stores and businesses.

Tourism was initially restricted to enclave resorts where tourists would be segregated from Cuban society, referred to as "enclave tourism" and "tourism apartheid".[105] Contacts between foreign visitors and ordinary Cubans were de facto illegal until 1997.[106] In 1996 tourism surpassed the sugar industry as the largest source of hard currency for Cuba. Cuba has tripled its market share of Caribbean tourism in the last decade; as a result of significant investment in tourism infrastructure, this growth rate is predicted to continue.[107] 1.9 million tourists visited Cuba in 2003, predominantly from Canada and the European Union, generating revenue of $2.1 billion.[108] The rapid growth of tourism during the Special Period had widespread social and economic repercussions in Cuba, and led to speculation about the emergence of a two-tier economy.[109] The Medical tourism sector caters to thousands of European, Latin American, Canadian, and American consumers every year.

The communist agricultural production system was ridiculed by Raúl Castro in 2008.[110] Cuba now imports up to 80% of food used for rations.[110] Before 1959, Cuba boasted as many cattle as people.

For some time, Cuba has been experiencing a housing shortage because of the state's failure to keep pace with increasing demand.[111] The government instituted food rationing policies in 1962, which were exacerbated following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the tightening of the U.S. embargo. Studies have shown that, as late as 2001, the average Cuban's standard of living was lower than before the downturn of the post-Soviet period. Paramount issues have been state salaries failing to meet personal needs under the state rationing system, chronically plagued with shortages. The variety and quantity of available rationed goods declined.

Under Venezuela's Mission Barrio Adentro, Hugo Chávez has supplied Cuba with up to 80,000 barrels (13,000 m3) of oil per day in exchange for 30,000 doctors and teachers.

In 2005 Cuba had exports of $2.4 billion, ranking 114 of 226 world countries, and imports of $6.9 billion, ranking 87 of 226 countries.[112] Its major export partners are China 27.5%, Canada 26.9%, Netherlands 11.1%, Spain 4.7% (2007).[6] Cuba's major exports are sugar, nickel, tobacco, fish, medical products, citrus, and coffee;[6] imports include food, fuel, clothing, and machinery. Cuba presently holds debt in an amount estimated to be $13 billion,[113] approximately 38% of GDP.[114] According to the Heritage Foundation, Cuba is dependent on credit accounts that rotate from country to country.[115] Cuba's prior 35% supply of the world's export market for sugar has declined to 10% due to a variety of factors, including a global sugar commodity price drop that made Cuba less competitive on world markets.[116] At one time, Cuba was the world's most important sugar producer and exporter. As a result of diversification, underinvestment, and natural disasters, Cuba's sugar production has seen a drastic decline. In 2002 more than half of Cuba's sugar mills were shut down. Cuba holds 6.4% of the global market for nickel,[117] which constitutes about 25% of total Cuban exports.[118] A 2005 US Geological Survey report estimates that the North Cuba Basin could contain 4.6 billion barrels of oil and 9.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.[119]

In 2010[update], Cubans were allowed to build their own houses. According to Raul Castro, they will be able to improve their houses with this new permission, but the government will not endorse these new houses or improvements.[120]

On August 2, 2011, The New York Times reported Cuba as reaffirming their intent to legalize "buying and selling" of private property before the year ends. According to experts, the private sale of property could "transform Cuba more than any of the economic reforms announced by President Raúl Castro’s government".[121] It will cut more than one million state jobs including party bureaucrats which resist the changes.[122]

Taken from wikipedia

CUBA: useful links

www.cuba.com/

www.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/country_profiles/1203299.stm

therealcuba.com/

www.cubana.cu

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