Key Facts Cuba

by Meyer Sosland
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Capital: Havana Population: 11.3 million (July 2007 est.)

Religions: Nominally 85% Roman Catholic prior to Fidel Castro assuming power in 1959; Protestants, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jews, and Santeria are also represented.

Location: Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, 150 kilometers south of Key West, Florida

Government: Communist state; chief of state and head of government is Fidel Castro (since February 1959), but due to an ongoing health problem Castro provisionally transferred power to his brother Gen. Raul Castro on July 31, 2006 in accordance with the Cuban Constitution; Fidel Castro has not yet reclaimed control of the government. Economy: The government continues to balance the need for economic loosening against a desire for firm political control. It has rolled back limited reforms undertaken in the 1990s to increase enterprise efficiency and alleviate serious shortages of food, consumer goods and services. The average Cuban’s standard of living remains at a lower level than before the downturn of the 1990s, which was caused by the loss of Soviet aid and domestic inefficiencies. Since late 2000, Venezuela has been providing Cuba oil on preferential terms; it currently supplies about 98,000 barrels per day of petroleum products. Cuba has been paying for the oil, in part, with the services of Cuban personnel, including some 20,000 medical professionals. In 2006, high metals prices continued to boost Cuban earnings from nickel and cobalt production. Havana continued to invest in the country’s energy sector to mitigate electrical blackouts that have plagued the country since 2004.

GDP per capita: $4,100 (PPP2006 est.), Inflation: 6.2% (2006 est.); unemployment 1.9% (2006 est.)

Currency: Cuban peso and convertible peso; $1 equals 0.9231 convertible peso (2006).

Exports: $2.98 billion fob (2006 est.); sugar, nickel, tobacco, fish, medical products, citrus, coffee

Imports: $10.17 billion fob (2006 est.); petroleum, food, machinery and equipment, chemicals

Major crops/agricultural products: Sugar, tobacco, citrus, coffee, rice, potatoes, beans, livestock Agriculture: 4% of GDP and 20% of the labor force

Internet: Code .cu; 3,388 hosts and 240,000 users (2007)