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The Country

  • Official name: Republic of Cuba.
  • Motto: Patria o muerte, Venceremos (Fatherland or death, we shall overcome)
  • Capital: Havana.
  • Surface area: 110,922 km².
  • President: Miguel Diaz Canel (since 2019).

The Economy

  • GDP: US$ 72.3 billion (2013).
  • GDP per capita: US$ 6,300 (2013).
  • Growth rate: +3% in 2013, +3.1% in 2012; +1.3% in 2014.
  • Unemployment rate: 4.3% (2013).
  • Share of sectors in GDP: agriculture 3.8%, industry 22.3%, services 73.9%.

Quick History of Cuba

  • 7000-3500 BC. The first known humans on Cuba, the Ciboneys and Guanahacabibes nomadic hunter-gatherers and fishers, settle in caves in western Cuba.
  • 1250: Tainos, descendents of the Arawaks of South America, settle in Cuba
  • 1492 : Discovered by Christopher Columbus, followed by colonization.
  • 1774 / 1840 : Prosperous period of the White Gold, massive arrival of slaves from Africa. Construction of sumptuous palaces.
  • 1892 : Creation of the Cuban Revolutionary Party by José Marti, poet and actor of the Cubans’ revered independence.
  • 1898 / 1902 : Withdrawal of the Spaniards, the United States take possession of Cuba for 4 years.
  • 1902 : Election of the first president: Estrada Palma, independence of the island, under the watchful eye of the Americans.
  • 1940 : Election of General Batista.
  • 1953 : On July 26th, failure of the attack on the Moncada by Fidel and his guerrillas, the revolution is on the march.
  • 1958 : Castro founds the rebel army in the Sierra Maestra. Capture of Santa Clara by Che Guevara. Flight of Batista.1959 : Capture of Santiago by Fidel Castro, January 1st (national holiday and carnival) Fidel Castro in power.
  • 1960: The United States declares the trade embargo on Cuba, still in force today.

Population

  • Population: 11,271,819 (2014).
  • Density: 102.4 inhabitants/km² (2014).
  • Natural increase: 0% (2014).
  • Life expectancy: 78 years (2014).
  • Literacy rate: 99.8% (2014).
  • Human Development Index (UN ranking): 0.815 (44th out of 187 countries in 2014).
  • Composition: 51% Métis, 37% white, 11% black, 1% Chinese.

Cubans are a mixture of Europeans (mostly colonizers of Spanish origin), Indians (native population, the taïnos, siboneyes and guanahatabeyes) and black Africans (who came during the era of slavery from Angola or Senegal).

Each range of crossbreeding has its own name:

  • “India”: mix between a Black and an Indian.
  • ” Mulato ” : mix between a white and a black.

In the 17th century, a wave of French immigration from Haiti invaded the eastern coasts (Santiago and Guantanamo) and some of them migrated to the Sierra Maestra to introduce the culture of coffee.

Until the beginning of the 19th century, the migrants prospered and became rich landowners.

At the end of the 19th century, competition from Brazilian coffee, the War of Independence and the abolition of slavery marked the end of French migration to Cuba.

Food and beverages

Cuba is not a gastronomic destination, however, you can taste popular dishes such as “Moros y cristianos”, red beans and rice which are the basis of all “criolla” meals accompanied by fried bananas and meat (chicken or pork).

You have 2 catering options: the “paladores” (a restaurant in the homes of the inhabitants normally at a fixed and rather copious price) and the state restaurants.

You can also taste lobster, served fried or on the barbecue, a real treat! As well as crocodile in the region of Guama, crab and the “cochinito” (pig very appreciated by the Cubans).

For the desserts, you have to take advantage of tropical fruits: mango, plantain banana, guava, papaya, pineapple, etc.

Cubans like sodas, however you have several kinds of typical drinks such as :

Guarapo: juice extracted from the sugar cane, usually served with ice cubes and lemon zest, very refreshing!

Beer: as it is very hot in Cuba, beer is a good solution to quench your thirst.

There are several brewers all over the country, but the best known brands are : Bucanero, Mayabe, Cristal and Cacique.

Rum: it is an institution in Cuba, we can say that it is the national drink.

The Havana Club brand is the most consumed, but there are also Bacardi, Caney, Santiago among others.

The color is very important for a rum that can be white, golden or amber.

It is with white rum that certain cocktails are offered such as Mojito (lemon, ice cubes, sugar, mint and sparkling water), Daiquiri (grapefruit, maraschino, lemon and ice cubes) or Cuba Libre.

Religion and syncretism

Due to the country’s political regime, religion was not a priority for the state, so for many years Cubans had freedom of belief without having a defined institution.

At the end of the 1980’s Fidel Castro authorized the return of the Catholic Church to Cuban soil and some believers returned to the pews of the churches.

There are also Protestant temples, Adventist and Evangelist churches.

Black Africans brought the “SANTERIA”: a very particular syncretism that mixes Catholicism, African ritual and animist practices.

Some Cubans of African origin participate in santeria to maintain their cultural identity and the recognition of their roots.

Music

Like its population, Cuban music is very diverse.

It is omnipresent and is part of a Cuban’s life.

Rumba” is divided into three styles: Columbia, Guaguanco and Yambu.

The first style is for men, the second for couples and the third for seduction.

The orchestra that plays Rumba is called “the sound” that is to say, three singers + percussion + string instruments.

The sound became a very popular style of music in the 20’s and 30’s and continued with performers like Compay Segundo or Los Van Van.

It is also at the origin of “Salsa”, a dance that is omnipresent in Cuban life, as well as the traditional Cha-Cha, Mambos and Boleros.

The orchestras (charangas) are numerous and play whenever an opportunity arises.

Currently, young people tend to appreciate reggaeton, a mix between reggae, rap and electronic music.

In Cuba they have renamed it cubaton.

Famous characters

  • Fidel CASTRO: leader of the Cuban guerrilla, charismatic figure of the revolution.
  • Che GUEVARA : emblematic figure of the revolutionary movement, assassinated in Bolivia in 1967.
  • Fulgencio BATISTA : unscrupulous military dictator. He ruled Cuba twice by seizing power.
  • C. Manuel CESPEDES: actor of the first war of independence against the Spanish in 1868.
  • Camilo CIENFUEGOS: revolutionary who fought alongside Che and the Castro brothers.
  • José MARTI: writer, poet and idol of the Cubans. Actor of the wars of independence, he died in combat in 1895.
  • Celia CRUZ: World famous singer and icon of Cuban Salsa. Exiled in the United States, she died in 2003.
  • Compay SEGUNDO : Artist born in Siboney, author of the famous Chan-Chan and leader of the film Buena Vista Social Club.

Cuban geography lesson

Where is Cuba?
Cuba is an archipelago of the Antilles located in the Caribbean, south of the United States and east of Mexico.

What are the mountain ranges of Cuba?

Cordillera de Guaniguanico (made up of Sierra de los Órganos and Sierra del Rosario) in the west of Cuba


the Sierra del Escambray in the center of Cuba


Sierra del Cristal in the Province of Holguin


the Sierra Maestra in southeast Cuba

Where is Cuba in relation to France?
Cuba is located approximately 7540 kilometers southwest of France.

What is the surface area of Cuba?
The surface area of Cuba is 109 884 km.

Cuba: South America or Central America?
Cuba is located in the Caribbean, which is generally attached to North America with Canada, the United States and Mexico.

In which sea is Cuba located?
Cuba is located between the North Atlantic and the Caribbean Sea.

Where is Havana located?
Havana is located in the west of Cuba, on the northern coast of the island, in the province of Ciudad de La Habana.

The Cuban flag: origin, history & meaning

The flag of the Republic of Cuba was officially adopted at the beginning of the 20th century.
But it already existed before.

It is today the official flag of Cuba, but it is not the only emblematic flag of the island! Intrigued?

We tell you everything about the Cuban flags!
Description and meaning of the flag of cuba
The Cuban flag is one of the many rectangular tricolored flags, blue, white and red.

It is composed of:
-5 parallel blue and white stripes of equal height that follow one another, starting with the blue.
The 3 blue stripes represent the 3 regions of Cuba at the time of its creation (the West, the East and the Belly) and the two white stripes symbolize purity.

A red equilateral triangle on the side of the flagpole (where the flag is hung) with a white 5-pointed star centered in the triangle.
The red of the triangle represents the blood shed during the struggle for independence.
The equilateral nature of the triangle illustrates that freedom, equality and fraternity are of equal importance.
The white star is the “Estrella Solitaria” (the Lone Star) that lights the way to freedom

Did you know?
The Cuban flag and the Puerto Rican flag are very similar.
They differ in 3 aspects: -their proportions are different.
The ratio between the height and length of the Cuban flag is 1 to 2.
The ratio of the Puerto Rican flag, on the other hand, is 2 to 3.

The blue of the Puerto Rican flag is since 1995 a sky blue, unlike the blue of the Cuban flag. the blue color elements on the Cuban flag are red on the Cuban flag and vice versa.

History of the Cuban flag

Cuban independence was proclaimed in 1898.
Four years later, on May 20, 1902, the Cuban flag was adopted by the government.
The Cuban flag, however, had been designed years earlier.
It was in 1849 that a Cuban exile couple, Miguel and Emilia Tolon, designed the flag for Narciso Lopez, a Venezuelan entrepreneur.

Narciso made two attempts to liberate Cuba from the Spanish colonists, with the help of American southerners.

In his first attempt, he succeeded in taking Cardenas and raising the Cuban flag.
However, without the support of the local population, the revolt failed.
The “Narciso flag” was not officially adopted until many years later

The flag of the M26-7

Although it is not the official flag of Cuba, you will see the flag of the M26-7 flying over many Cuban monuments.
This is the flag that Castro’s guerrillas waved during the Cuban revolution.
The flag of the M26-7 is red and black, the colors of anarchist-syndicalist and libertarian communism.
On this background is written in white “M 26-7” for “Moncada, the 26th of July”.
This inscription refers to the (failed) attack carried out by the Castro brothers, Abel Santamaria and 118 young volunteers against the Cuartel Moncada on July 26, 1953.
You can still see the bullet marks left by the Castro offensive on the Cuartel Moncado.

The Jolly Roger

The black flag with a skull and crossbones appeared for the first time in Cuban waters and more specifically off the coast of Santiago de Cuba on the ship of Emmanuel Wynn, a French pirate, sailing on the “Adventure”.
In addition to the traditional skull and crossbones, Emmanuel Wynn’s flag included an hourglass, a symbol of vanity that reminds us that life is only dust.

Now Your Turn

Now I would like to know, do you have any question ?

Or maybe do you have some information to add ?

Either way, let me know in the comments below

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