|FlowerMariposa [White butterfly jasmine] with an exquisite scent.|
|BirdTrogon (tocororo in Spanish), an endemic species whose plumage is the same colors as the Cuban flag (red, blue and white).|
|TreePalma Real [Royal palm], seen on the national shield and a familiar element of the Cuban landscape.|
|January 1||Liberation Day. Anniversary of the Triumph of the Revolution.|
|Date varies||Good Friday.|
|May 1||International Workers’ Day.|
|July 25, 26 and 27||Festivities for the Day of National Rebellion.|
|October 10||Anniversary of the beginning of the Independence Wars.|
|December 31||New Year’s Eve.|
Cuba is a socialist country wherein all the major industries are owed by the people and administered by their democratically elected government. The two pillars of the Cuban economy are tourism and mining. Other major industries are tobacco, coffee, rum, agriculture, citrus fruit, as well as pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and healthcare delivery. Cuba has the world’s largest nickel deposits (some 34 per cent of global reserves). It also mines copper, cobalt and magnesium.
Education is provided free of charge at all levels and is compulsory through the ninth grade. In 1961 the country eradicated illiteracy through the National Literacy Campaign. Specialized polytechnic institutes, universities and other higher education centers exist in all the provinces.
Cuba’s primary health care system is considered unique in Latin America. Medical services are provided free of charge to all Cubans. It is organized around an extensive network of medical centers (442 polyclinics and 281 hospitals), as well as other specialized centers. Cuba is among six countries in the world that produce interferon. Its vaccines against meningitis B and C and hepatitis B are unique in the world. These achievements are possible thanks to the existence of 211 scientific research and production institutes. Life expectancy is 76.2 years for men and 80.4 years for women.
Country, followed by infant deaths per 1000 live births in first five years of life
|Canada 5||Cuba 6||United States 7||Chile 9|
|Costa Rica 10||Brazil 14||Argentina 14||Venezuela 15|
|México 16||El Salvador 16||Colombia 18||Panama 19|
|Paraguay 22||Ecuador 23||Honduras 23||Nicaragua 24|
|Dominican Rep. 27||Guatemala 32||Boliva 41||Haiti 76|
Cuba has produced major international figures in literature and fine arts, film, ballet, modern dance and theatre. The country is also renowned for its original rhythms such as the danzón, son, bolero, mambo, cha cha chá and more. Cuba’s prestigious cultural events attract international celebrities in dance, music, theatre and other arts. Among these events are the Casa de las Américas literary contest, the Havana International Ballet Festival, the Festival of New Latin American Cinema and the International Jazz Festival.
Every year, Cuba hosts numerous international sports events. A world sports power, the country is known for baseball, boxing and volleyball, and boasts stars in track and field, fencing, judo, Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling, chess and weightlifting. Cuba’s national sport is baseball!
The country’s Constitution guarantees total freedom of religion. The most commonly practiced religion is Santería, a unique Afrocuban belief system. Santería is a mix of the West African religion of Yoruba and Catholicism. Slaves from Africa adopted this form of saint worship so they could continue practicing their faith under a guise that placated their Catholic slave masters. Roman Catholics, Protestants, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Jews are also represented.
Cuban cuisine is influenced by Spanish, African, indigenous and other cultures. The national dish is ajiaco, a stew of assorted root vegetables cooked with pork, poultry or beef. Other typical dishes are lechón asado (roast pork), fried green plantains (tachinos, chatinos or tostones), black beans, congrí (rice with red beans), moros y cristianos (rice with black beans), picadillo a la habanera (ground beef in tomato sauce), roast chicken and tamales among others. The Cuban sweet tooth ensures that each meal includes dessert. Learn more about Cuban cuisine.
The quality of Cuban rum is recognized internationally and comes in four distillations: refined, white, gold and aged. Gold and aged rums are better for drinking straight, while white rum (carta blanca or carta plata) is best for cocktails. Several of the world’s most famous rum cocktails are Cuban, and are served in most bars around the globe. Drinks include the Cuba libre, the mojito, the daiquiri, the Cubanito and the saoco. Learn more about Cuban rum.