Region: Caribbean

Capital: Havana

Population: 11,047,251 (July 2014 est.)

Surface area: 110,860 sq km

Currency: Cuban peso (CUP) and Convertible peso (CUC)

GDP per capita: Purchasing power parity US $9,900 (2010 CIA est.)

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, marked initially by neglect, became increasingly repressive, provoking an independence movement and occasional rebellions that were harshly suppressed. It was US intervention during the Spanish-American War in 1898 that finally overthrew Spanish rule. The subsequent Treaty of Paris established Cuban independence, which was granted in 1902 after a three-year transition period. 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 is now slowly recovering from a severe economic downturn in 1990, following the withdrawal of former Soviet subsidies, worth $4 billion to $6 billion annually.

Economy – Overview:
The government continues to balance the need for loosening its socialist economic system against a desire for firm political control. The government in April 2011 held the first Cuban Communist Party Congress in almost 13 years, during which leaders approved a plan for wide-ranging economic changes. Since then, the Cuban government has slowly and incrementally implemented limited economic reforms, including allowing Cubans to buy electronic appliances and cell phones, stay in hotels, and buy and sell used cars. The Cuban government also opened up some retail services to “self-employment,” leading to the rise of so-called “cuentapropistas” or entrepreneurs. Recent moves include permitting the private ownership and sale of real estate and new vehicles, allowing private farmers to sell agricultural goods directly to hotels, and expanding categories of self-employment. Despite these reforms, the average Cuban’s standard of living remains at a lower level than before the collapse of the Soviet Union and the resulting downturn of the 1990s. Since late 2000, Venezuela has been providing oil on preferential terms, and it currently supplies over 100,000 barrels per day of petroleum products. Cuba has been paying for the oil, in part, with the services of Cuban personnel in Venezuela, including some 30,000 medical professionals. (CIA 2014)

Major Export Commodities: petroleum, food, machinery and equipment, chemicals

Remittances: Not available

Human Development Index 2013 ranking: 59 out of 186 countries (UNDP 2013)

Official Development Assistance and Major Development Partners: Net ODA US $87,850,000 (OECD 2012) Major development partners: Spain, E.U. United States, Canada, Global Fund (OECD 2010).

Total External Debt: US $23.44 billion (31 December 2012 CIA est.)

Life Expectancy At Birth: 78.22 years (CIA 2014)

Environmental Indicators:
Endangered Species (as a % of all species): 18.1
Forested Area (percentage of land area): 26.1
CO2 Emissions (tonnes per capita): 2.8
(UNDP 2013)

United Nations membership date: 24 October 1945

New York Mission:
Permanent Mission of Cuba to the United Nations
315 Lexington Avenue
New York, N.Y.10016 USA
Telephone: (212)-689-7215, -7216, -7217
Fax: (212) 779-1697, (212) 689-9073

CIA World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency.
World Development Indicators. World Bank
Development, Recipient Aid Charts. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Human Development Report 2013. United Nations Development Programme.

Updated January 2015