Geographic and Governmental Profile of Cuba

Background
The native Amerindian population of Cuba began to decline after the European discovery of the island by Christopher COLUMBUS in 1492 and following its development as a Spanish colony during the next several centuries. Large numbers of African slaves were imported to work the coffee and sugar plantations, and Havana became the launching point for the annual treasure fleets bound for Spain from Mexico and Peru. Spanish rule eventually provoked an independence movement and occasional rebellions that were harshly suppressed. US intervention during the Spanish-American War in 1898 assisted the Cubans in overthrowing Spanish rule. The Treaty of Paris established Cuban independence from the US in 1902 after which the island experienced a string of governments mostly dominated by the military and corrupt politicians. Fidel CASTRO led a rebel army to victory in 1959; his iron rule held the subsequent regime together for nearly five decades. He stepped down as president in February 2008 in favor of his younger brother Raul CASTRO. Cuba's Communist revolution, with Soviet support, was exported throughout Latin America and Africa during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. The country faced a severe economic downturn in 1990 following the withdrawal of former Soviet subsidies worth $4 billion to $6 billion annually. Cuba at times portrays the US embargo, in place since 1961, as the source if its difficulties. Illicit migration to the US - using homemade rafts, alien smugglers, air flights, or via the southwest border - is a continuing problem. The US Coast Guard intercepted some 1,000 individuals attempting to cross the Straits of Florida in fiscal year 2011.
Location
Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, 150 km south of Key West, Florida
Geographic coordinates
21 30 N, 80 00 W
Continent / Subcontinent
Central America and the Caribbean
Area
total:
110,860 sq km
rank:
106
land:
109,820 sq km
water:
1,040 sq km
Area - comparative
slightly smaller than Pennsylvania
Land boundaries
total:
29 km
border countries:
US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay 29 km
Guantanamo Naval Base is leased by the US and remains part of Cuba
Coastline
3,735 km
Maritime claims
territorial sea:
12 nm
contiguous zone:
24 nm
exclusive economic zone:
200 nm
Climate
tropical; moderated by trade winds; dry season (November to April); rainy season (May to October)
Terrain
mostly flat to rolling plains, with rugged hills and mountains in the southeast
Elevation extremes
lowest point:
Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point:
Pico Turquino 2,005 m
Natural resources
cobalt, nickel, iron ore, chromium, copper, salt, timber, silica, petroleum, arable land
Land use
arable land:
27.63%
permanent crops:
6.54%
other:
65.83% (2005)
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Irrigated land
8,700 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
38.1 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
total:
8.2 cu km/yr (19%/12%/69%)
per capita:
728 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards
the east coast is subject to hurricanes from August to November (in general, the country averages about one hurricane every other year); droughts are common
Environment - current issues
air and water pollution; biodiversity loss; deforestation
Environment - international agreements
party to:
Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified:
Marine Life Conservation
Geography - note
largest country in Caribbean and westernmost island of the Greater Antilles
Country name
conventional long form:
Republic of Cuba
conventional short form:
Cuba
local long form:
Republica de Cuba
local short form:
Cuba
Government type
Communist state
Capital
name:
Havana
geographic coordinates:
23 07 N, 82 21 W
time difference:
UTC-5 (same time as Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time:
+1hr, begins third Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October; note - Cuba has been known to alter the schedule of DST on short notice in an attempt to conserve electricity for lighting
Administrative divisions
15 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia) and 1 special municipality* (municipio especial); Artemisa, Camaguey, Ciego de Avila, Cienfuegos, Granma, Guantanamo, Holguin, Isla de la Juventud*, La Habana, Las Tunas, Matanzas, Mayabeque, Pinar del Rio, Sancti Spiritus, Santiago de Cuba, Villa Clara
Independence
20 May 1902 (from Spain 10 December 1898; administered by the US from 1898 to 1902); not acknowledged by the Cuban Government as a day of independence
National holiday
Triumph of the Revolution, 1 January (1959)
Constitution
24 February 1976; amended July 1992 and June 2002
Legal system
civil law system based on Spanish civil code
International law organization participation
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
Suffrage
16 years of age; universal
Executive branch
chief of state:
President of the Council of State and President of the Council of Ministers Gen. Raul CASTRO Ruz (president since 24 February 2008); First Vice President of the Council of State and First Vice President of the Council of Ministers Jose Ramon MACHADO Ventura (since 24 February 2008); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government:
President of the Council of State and President of the Council of Ministers Gen. Raul CASTRO Ruz (president since 24 February 2008); First Vice President of the Council of State and First Vice President of the Council of Ministers Jose Ramon MACHADO Ventura (since 24 February 2008)
cabinet:
Council of Ministers proposed by the president of the Council of State and appointed by the National Assembly or the 31-member Council of State, elected by the assembly to act on its behalf when it is not in session
elections:
president and vice presidents elected by the National Assembly for a five-year term; election last held on 24 February 2008 (next to be held in 2013)
election results:
Gen. Raul CASTRO Ruz elected president; percent of legislative vote - 100%; Jose Ramon MACHADO Ventura elected vice president; percent of legislative vote - 100%
Legislative branch
unicameral National Assembly of People's Power or Asemblea Nacional del Poder Popular (number of seats in the National Assembly is based on population; 614 seats; members elected directly from slates approved by special candidacy commissions to serve five-year terms)
elections:
last held on 20 January 2008 (next to be held in January 2013)
election results:
Cuba's Communist Party is the only legal party, and officially sanctioned candidates run unopposed
Judicial branch
People's Supreme Court or Tribunal Supremo Popular (president, vice presidents, and other judges are elected by the National Assembly)
Political parties and leaders
Cuban Communist Party or PCC [Fidel CASTRO Ruz, first secretary]
Political pressure groups and leaders
Human Rights Watch; National Association of Small Farmers
International organization participation
ACP, AOSIS, CELAC, FAO, G-77, IAEA, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IFAD, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAES, LAIA, NAM, OAS (excluded from formal participation since 1962), OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, Petrocaribe, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US
none; note - Cuba has an Interests Section in the Swiss Embassy, headed by Principal Officer Jorge BOLANOS Suarez; address: Cuban Interests Section, Swiss Embassy, 2630 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009; telephone: [1] (202) 797-8518; FAX: [1] (202) 797-8521
Diplomatic representation from the US
none; note - the US has an Interests Section in the Swiss Embassy, headed by Chief of Mission Jonathan D. FARRAR; address: USINT, Swiss Embassy, Calzada between L and M Streets, Vedado, Havana; telephone: [53] (7) 833-3551 through 3559 (operator assistance required); FAX: [53] (7) 833-1653; protecting power in Cuba is Switzerland
Flag description
five equal horizontal bands of blue (top, center, and bottom) alternating with white; a red equilateral triangle based on the hoist side bears a white, five-pointed star in the center; the blue bands refer to the three old divisions of the island: central, occidental, and oriental; the white bands describe the purity of the independence ideal; the triangle symbolizes liberty, equality, and fraternity, while the red color stands for the blood shed in the independence struggle; the white star, called La Estrella Solitaria (the Lone Star) lights the way to freedom and was taken from the flag of Texas
design similar to the Puerto Rican flag, with the colors of the bands and triangle reversed
National anthem
name:
"La Bayamesa" (The Bayamo Song)
lyrics/music:
Pedro FIGUEREDO
adopted 1940; Pedro FIGUEREDO first performed "La Bayamesa" in 1868 during the Ten Years War against the Spanish; a leading figure in the uprising, FIGUEREDO was captured in 1870 and executed by a firing squad; just prior to the fusillade he is reputed to have shouted, "Morir por la Patria es vivir" (To die for the country is to live), a line from the anthem
Data source 1: All Above textual data, maps and flags were extracted from The World Factbook which was prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency and made available on the following link: The World Factbook. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsered or affiliated, in any way, by the US Central Intelligence Agency
Data source 2: Plots and Charts are constructed using the world bank public data catalog which can be viewed by visiting the following link: World Bank Data Catalog. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsored or affiliated, in any way, by the worldbank

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