It was originally inhabited by the Guanajatabey, Ciboney and Taíno people. The island was called Caobana by the natives. Christopher Columbus landed there in 1492 and the island was later colonized by the Spanish. In 1868 Cuba’s people rebelled against Spain and started the Ten Years’ War, but independence was not gained until 1902 following the Spanish-American War.
Newly independent Cuba was wrought with conflict and governed by the United States for a number of years until 1908. José Miguel Gómez became the first President of Cuba. Political hostilities continued and a new constitution was drafted in 1940. The Communist Party was outlawed, but another revolution occurred in 1959, lead by Fidel Castro and his family. The Castro’s gained power, instituted the communist state and remains in power today.
The Country is located in the Caribbean between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. It is approximately 150 kilometers (93 miles) south of Key West, Florida. Like other islands in the Caribbean, the climate is considered tropical and temperatures are moderated by the trade winds. For the most part, the land is flat plains with mountains in the southeast.
People and Society
The people of Cuba are known as Cubans and the official language of the country is Spanish. The majority of the population is white (65.1%), the remaining population consists of mulatto and mesitizo (24.8%) and black (10.1%). Three-fourths of the population is considered to be urban with 2.116 million living in the capital city of Havana. Average life expectancy for Cubans is seventy-eight years.
Literacy and education expenditures are high in Cuba. The literacy rate is 99.8% for Cubans age fifteen and older. Cuba is second in the world for education, spending 12.9% of their gross domestic product (GDP) on education annually. The average unemployment rate in Cuba is only 3.1%. Despite this, Cubans continually illegally emigrate to the United States.
The Republic of Cuba’s government is communist and the capital city is Havana. Cuba’s leader is selected in a national election held every five years, but because of the communist state there is only one political party – the Cuban Community Party. Current Chief of State and Head of Government is Raul Castro, who was reelected in 2013. He has been President of Cuba since 2008.
Communism is strongly associated with socialist economic practices and this is true for Cuba. The Cuban government, in recent years, has been attempting various small economic reforms, including expanding self-employment opportunities. Cuba’s major exports include petroleum, fish, nickel, sugar, tobacco, citrus and coffee. The country’s GDP is $121 billion.