Its the largest island country in the Caribbean sea.It has 109,884 km2
In 1492, ChristopherColumbus landed on andclaimed the island nowoccupied by Cuba, for theKingdom of Spain. Cubaremained a territory of Spainuntil the Spanish–AmericanWar ended in 1898, andgained formal independencefrom the U.S. in 1902.Between 1953 and 1959 theCuban Revolution occurred,removing the dictatorship ofFulgencio Batista. A newsocialist government led byFidel Castro was later set up.
The Cuban state adheresto socialist principles inorganizing its largelystate-controlled plannedeconomy. Most of themeans of production areowned and run by thegovernment and most ofthe labor force isemployed by the state.
Cuba relied heavily on trade withthe Soviet Union. From the late1980s, Soviet subsidies for Cubangoods started to dry up. Beforethe collapse of the Soviet Union,Cuba depended on Moscow forsubstantial aid and shelteredmarkets for its exports. Theremoval of these subsidies (forexample the oil) sent the Cubaneconomy into a rapid depressionknown in Cuba as the SpecialPeriod. In 1992 the United Statestightened the trade embargo,hoping to see democratization ofthe sort that took place in EasternEurope.
Any firm wishing to hire aCuban must pay the Cubangovernment, which in turnwill pay the employee inCuban pesos. Cubanscannot change jobs withoutgovernment permission. In 2010, Cubans wereThe average wage at the allowed to build their ownend of 2005 was 334 houses. According to Raulregular pesos per month Castro, they will be able to improve their houses with($16.70 per month) and the this new permission, butaverage pension was $9 the government will notper month. endorse these new houses or improvements.
The University of Havanawas founded in 1728 andthere are a number ofother well-establishedcolleges and universities.In 1957, just beforeCastro came to power, theliteracy rate was fourth inthe region at almost 80%according to the UnitedNations, higher than inSpain.
Castro created an entirely state-operated system and bannedprivate institutions. School attendance is compulsory from agessix to the end of basic secondary education (normally at age 15),and all students, regardless of age or gender, wear schooluniforms with the color denoting grade level. Primary educationlasts for six years, secondary education is divided into basic andpre-university education.
Higher education is provided by universities, higher institutes, higherpedagogical institutes, and higher polytechnic institutes. Education hasa strong political and ideological emphasis, and students progressing tohigher education are expected to have a commitment to the goals ofCuba.Cuba has provided state subsidized education to a limitednumber of foreign nationals at the Latin American School of Medicine.
Cuban culture is influenced by its melting pot of cultures, primarilythose of Spain and Africa. Sport is Cubas national passion. Due tohistorical associations with the United States, many Cubansparticipate in sports which are popular in North America, rather thansports traditionally promoted in other Spanish-speaking nations.Baseball is by far the most popular; other sports and hobbiesinclude basketball, volleyball, cricket, and athletics. Cuba is adominant force in amateur boxing, consistently achieving highmedal tallies in major international competitions.
MUSICCuban music is very rich and is the most commonly knownexpression of culture. The central form of this music is Son,which has been the basis of many other musical styles likesalsa, rumba and mambo and an upbeat derivation of therumba, the cha-cha-cha.
COOKINGCuban cuisine is a fusion of Spanish and Caribbean cuisines.Cuban recipes share spices and techniques with Spanish cooking,with some Caribbean influence in spice and flavor.The typical mealcould consist of plantains, black beans and rice, ropa vieja(shredded beef), Cuban bread, pork with onions, and tropical fruits.Black beans and rice, referred to as Platillo Moros y Cristianos (ormoros for short), and plantains are staples of the Cuban diet.
Historically, Cuba has ranked high in numbers ofmedical personnel and has made significantcontributions to health world since the 19thcentury.Today, Cuba has universal health careand although shortages of medical suppliespersist, there is no shortage of medicalpersonnel.Primary care is available throughoutthe island and infant and maternal mortality ratescompare favorably with those developednations.
Challenges include low pay of doctors (only $15 a month), poorfacilities, poor provision of equipment, and frequent absence ofessential drugs. Cuba has the highest doctor-to-population ratio inthe world and has sent thousands of doctors to more than 40countries around the world.
The quality of public health care offered to citizens isregarded as the "greatest triumph" of Cubas socialistsystem.