Country Focus Data: Cuba
April 01, 2000
by Stormy Wylie
Population: 11.1 million, 0.4% growth rate (1999 estimates); Spanish language; 85% Roman Catholic prior to the Revolution in 1959.
Caribbean island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean; mostly flat to rolling plains, with rugged mountains and hills in the southeast; tropical climate.
Communist state. Chief of state and head of government is President Fidel Castro.
Official agricultural agencies:
Ministry of Agriculture under Alfredo Jordan Morales; Ministry of the Sugar Industry under Ulises Rosales del Toro; Ministry of the Food Industry under Alejandro Roca (as of January 2000).
Centrally planned. The state directs major economic activity and controls foreign trade, although modest levels of private enterprise among individuals and limited foreign investment have been allowed in the past 10 years. In the late 1990s, tourism surpassed sugar, the country's long-time economic mainstay, as the largest source of foreign exchange. Agriculture accounted for an estimated 7.4% of gross domestic product in 1997 and employed 20% of the labor force in 1996.
G.D.P. per capita:
U.S.$1,560 in 1998 (purchasing power parity); 1.2% growth rate (1998); 6.8% unemployment (1997). Inflation rate not available.
Cuban peso (not fully convertible). March 6, 2000 exchange rate: 21 Cuban pesos per U.S. dollar.
U.S.$1.4 billion (f.o.b., 1998), sugar, nickel, tobacco, citrus, coffee.
U.S.$3 billion (c.i.f., 1998), petroleum, food, machinery, chemicals.
Major crops/agricultural products:
Sugarcane, tobacco, citrus, coffee.
Wheat and coarse grains:
Cuba produces no wheat and fewer than 75,000 tonnes a year of coarse grains. Annual wheat imports in the past few years have averaged about 950,000 tonnes, with France as the primary supplier.
Rail, 4,807 km, all 1.435-m gauge; highways, 60,858 km, 29,820 paved; major ports are Havana, Cienfuegos, Santiago de Cuba.