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 eventually provoked an independence movement and occasional rebellions were harshly suppressed. US intervention during the Spanish-American War in 1898 assisted the Cubans in overthrowing Spanish rule. The Treaty of Paris established Cuban independence from Spain in 1898 and, following three-and-a-half years of subsequent US military rule, Cuba became an independent republic in 1902 after which the island experienced a string of governments mostly dominated by the military and corrupt politicians. Fidel CASTRO led a rebel army to victory in 1959; his authoritarian rule held the subsequent regime together for nearly five decades. He stepped down as president in February 2008 in favor of his younger brother Raul CASTRO. Cuba's communist revolution, with Soviet support, was exported throughout Latin America and Africa during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Miguel DIAZ-CANEL Bermudez, hand-picked by Raul CASTRO to succeed him, was approved as president by the National Assembly and took office on 19 April 2018. The country faced a severe economic downturn in 1990 following the withdrawal of former Soviet subsidies worth $4-6 billion annually. Cuba traditionally and consistently portrays the US embargo, in place since 1961, as the source of its difficulties. As a result of efforts begun in December 2014 to re-establish diplomatic relations with the Cuban Government, which were severed in January 1961, the US and Cuba reopened embassies in their respective countries in July 2015. The embargo remains in place, and the relationship between the US and Cuba remains tense. Illicit migration of Cuban nationals to the US via maritime and overland routes has been a longstanding challenge. On 12 January 2017, the US and Cuba signed a Joint Statement ending the so-called "wet-foot, dry-foot" policy – by which Cuban nationals who reached US soil were permitted to stay. Illicit Cuban migration by sea has since dropped significantly, but land border crossings continue. In FY 2018, the US Coast Guard interdicted 312 Cuban nationals at sea. Also in FY 2018, 7,249 Cuban migrants presented themselves at various land border ports of entry throughout the US.



Central America and the Caribbean
21.30° N, 80. 0° W
Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, 150 km south of Key West, Florida


110,860 sq km
109,820 sq km
1,040 sq km

land boundaries

28.5 km


3,735 km


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


mostly flat to rolling plains, with rugged hills and mountains in the southeast


108 m
lowest point
Caribbean Sea
0 m
highest point
Pico Turquino
1,974 m

natural resources

  • cobalt
  • nickel
  • iron ore
  • chromium
  • copper
  • salt
  • timber
  • silica
  • petroleum
  • arable land

land use

arable land
33.8 %
permanent crops
3.6 %
permanent pasture
22.9 %
27.3 %
12.4 %

population distribution

large population clusters found throughout the country, the more significant ones being in the larger towns and cities, particularly the capital of Havana



  • 11,059,062
  • 83
    global rank


  • Cuban(s)
  • Cuban

ethnic groups

64.1 %
mulatto or mixed
26.6 %
9.3 %


  • Spanish


59.2 %
17.4 %
other .4%
23 %

birth rate

  • 10.4
    per 1,000 population
  • 188
    global rank

death rate

  • 9.1
    per 1,000 population
  • 58
    global rank

urban population

77.2 %

major urban areas

  • Havana
    pop. 2,140,000

life expectancy

  • 79.2
    total population
  • 59
    global rank

adult obesity rate

  • 24.6%
    percent of adults
  • 56
    global rank


country name


  • Republic of Cuba
    long form
  • Cuba
    short form


  • Republica de Cuba
    long form
  • Cuba
    short form

government type

communist state


23.7 N, 82.21 W


national holidays

  • Triumph of the Revolution
    1 January

legal system

civil law system based on Spanish civil code

age of suffrage


flag description

five equal horizontal bands of blue (top, center, and bottom) alternating with white; a red equilateral triangle based on the hoist side bears a white, five-pointed star in the center; the blue bands refer to the three old divisions of the island: central, occidental, and oriental; the white bands describe the purity of the independence ideal; the triangle symbolizes liberty, equality, and fraternity, while the red color stands for the blood shed in the independence struggle; the white star, called La Estrella Solitaria (the Lone Star) lights the way to freedom and was taken from the flag of Texas

national colors

  • red
  • white
  • blue

national anthem

"La Bayamesa" (The Bayamo Song)



The government continues to balance the need for loosening its socialist economic system against a desire for firm political control. In April 2011, the government held the first Cuban Communist Party Congress in almost 13 years, during which leaders approved a plan for wide-ranging economic changes. Since then, the government has slowly and incrementally implemented limited economic reforms, including allowing Cubans to buy electronic appliances and cell phones, stay in hotels, and buy and sell used cars. The government has cut state sector jobs as part of the reform process, and it has opened up some retail services to "self-employment," leading to the rise of so-called "cuentapropistas" or entrepreneurs. More than 500,000 Cuban workers are currently registered as self-employed. The Cuban regime has updated its economic model to include permitting the private ownership and sale of real estate and new vehicles, allowing private farmers to sell agricultural goods directly to hotels, allowing the creation of non-agricultural cooperatives, adopting a new foreign investment law, and launching a "Special Development Zone" around the Mariel port. Since 2016, Cuba has attributed slowed economic growth in part to problems with petroleum product deliveries from Venezuela. Since late 2000, Venezuela provided petroleum products to Cuba on preferential terms, supplying at times nearly 100,000 barrels per day. Cuba paid for the oil, in part, with the services of Cuban personnel in Venezuela, including some 30,000 medical professionals.


137,000,000,000 USD

agriculture products

  • sugar
  • tobacco
  • citrus
  • coffee
  • rice
  • potatoes
  • beans
  • livestock


  • 54,520,000,000
    revenue (USD)
  • 64,640,000,000
    expenditures (USD)



    fixed lines

  • 1,444,480
    total subscriptions
  • 67
    global rank

    mobile cellular

  • 5,373,316
    total subscriptions
  • 119
    global rank

broadcast media

Government owns and controls all broadcast media: five national TV channels (Cubavision, Tele Rebelde, Multivision, Educational Channel 1 and 2,) 2 international channels (Cubavision Internacional and Caribe,) 16 regional TV stations, 6 national radio networks and multiple regional stations; the Cuban government beams over the Radio-TV Marti signal; although private ownership of electronic media is prohibited, several online independent news sites exist; those that are not openly critical of the government are often tolerated; the others are blocked by the government; there are no independent TV channels, but several outlets have created strong audiovisual content (El Toque, for example); a community of young Youtubers is also growing, mostly with channels about sports, technology and fashion; Christian denominations are creating original video content to distribute via social media (2019)


country code


  • 6,353,020
  • 57.15
    % of population
  • 76
    global rank


electricity access



air transport

    national system

  • 4
    registered air carriers
  • 1,294,458
    annual passenger traffic


  • 133
  • 64


8,367 km
total length


60,000 km
total length


240 km
total length



expenditures here

service age