Cuba

Region: Caribbean

Capital: Havana

Population: 11,253,700  (UNDP 2011)

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.)

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, 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. President Raul CASTRO said such changes were needed to update the economic model to ensure the survival of socialism. The government has expanded opportunities for self employment and has introduced limited reforms, some initially implemented in the 1990s, to increase enterprise efficiency and alleviate serious shortages of food, consumer goods, services, and housing. 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 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.

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

Remittances: Not available

Human Development Index 2011 ranking: 51 out of 187 countries.

Official Development Assistance and Major Development Partners: Net ODA U.S. $129 million.  Major development partners: Spain, E.U. United States, Canada, Global Fund (OECD 2010).

Total External Debt: US $21.02 billion (December 2011 CIA est.)

Life Expectancy At Birth: 79.1 years (UNDP 2011)

Environmental Indicators:

                                         Endangered Species (as a % of all species): 18

                                         Forested Area (percentage of land area): 26.3

                                         CO2 Emissions (tonnes per capita): 2.8

(Data Source: UNDP 2011)

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.10016USA

Telephone: 212-689-7215, 7216, 7217
Fax: 212-779-1697, Email: cuba@un.int, cuba_onu@cubanmission.com

Sources:

CIA World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. www.cia.gov

World Development Indicators. World Bank www.worldbank.org

Development, Recipient Aid Charts. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. www.oecd.org

Human Development Report 2011.United Nations Development Programme. www.undp.org

Updated July 2012