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THE SPANISH LANGUAGE

Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world due to the number of speakers who claim it as their native tongue (after Mandarin Chinese). It is spoken as a first and second language amongst 450 and 500 million people. It is the third most spoken language as a first or second language after Mandarin Chinese and English combined, and is the mother tongue to 400 million people worldwide... Read more

INFORMATIONS



CUBA Country Profile

The República of Cuba, consists of th e island of Cuba (the largest and second-most populous island of the Greater Antilles), Isla de la Juventud and several adjacent small islands. The national flower is Hedychium Coronarium Koenig, most known as "mariposa" (butterfly) and the national bird is "Tocororo" or "Cuban Trogon" from the family of Trogonidae.
Cuba is the most populous nation in the Caribbean. Its people, culture and customs draw from several sources including the aboriginal Taíno and Ciboney peoples, the period of Spanish colonialism, the introduction of African slaves, and its proximity to the United States. The island has a tropical climate that is moderated by the surrounding waters; however, the warm temperatures of the Caribbean Sea and the fact that the island of Cuba sits across the access to the Gulf of Mexico make Cuba prone to frequent hurricanes. Cuba's main island, at 766 miles long (1,232.5 km), is the world's 17th largest.

Capital:
.: Havana

Area:
.: Total 110,861 km² (105th) 42,803 sq mi
.: Water (%) negligible

Independence:
.: From Spain declared October 10, 1868
.: Republic declared May 20, 1902
.: Cuban Revolution January 1, 1959
Official languages:
.: Spanish

Population:
.: 2006 estimate 11,382,820 (73rd)
.: 2002 census 11,177,743
.: Density 102/km² (97th) 264/sq mi

PROFILES CUBA

profiles - cuba The Republic of Cuba encompasses more than 3,000 islands and cays. The main island where the capital Havanna is located, is the largest island in the West Indies. Cuba is located approximately 90 miles from Key West in Florida and is situated just under the Tropic of Cancer. It is estimated that 1.5 million Cuban exiles live in Florida, and more than 1 milion in Miami. Despite the large numbers of Cubans living in the US, the US has enforced a trade embargo against Cuba since the 1950’s, and as a result, has contributed to the economic problems of the Cuban economy. The USSR subsidized Cuba until its breakup in the early nineties. Despite these difficulties, the Cuban government has emphasized the importance of a literate and healthy population. As a result of the trade embargo with the US and a lack of money to import new cars, Cuba has become a "living museum" of American Cadillacs and Chevrolets, that were made Prior to the embargo.

PEOPLE AND CULTURE

people and culture - cuba The majority of the people in Cuba are of Spanish descent. Some are descendants of African slaves and about one percent are of Chinese origin. The Cuban government has placed an emphacis on health and education, and as a result, Cuba ranks third in the world in regards to the number of physicians per capita. In 2006, Cuba had 530 doctors per 100,000 people. Private hospitals and medical insurance are illegal in Cuba. The government provides free medical care for all of Cubans citizens. About 75 percent of the Cuban population resides in urban areas. Havana, with a population of about 2.2 million, is the capital and largest city. It is nearly five times larger than the next largest city, Santiago de Cuba.

GEOGRAPHY AND ENVIRONMENT

The island of Cuba is the largest of the Caribbean islands. It is 1,250 km. long, and has about 6000 km coastline, over 280 beaches, 5 mountain ranges, and more than 500 river basins. It is located near the tip of Florida and just under the Tropic of Cancer.

Cuba’s contrasting landscapes are home to the greatest diversity of plants and animals in all of the Caribbean. Thousands of species are unique to Cuba including the Mellisuga helenae, the Bee Hummingbird, which is the worlds smallest bird, measuring just over two inches long and weighing only a couple of grams. Its wings have been estimated to beat at more than 80 beats a second and it is often mistaken for an insect due to the buzzing sound that is created when it flaps its wings. Cuba is also home to the endangered Cuban Crocodile, which lives in the region of the Zapata swamp, an area that is yet to gain the protection that it deserves. The Ciénaga de Zapata Biosphere Reserve is Cuba's largest protected area, designated as a ‘Wetland of International Importance’, mainly for the numerous aquatic birds that travel for thousands of miles to nest there.

Cyclones are common between June and November. In the last few years Cuba has been hit by several powerful cyclones that have caused extensive damage to houses and the environment. It has been estimated that some areas will take up to 15 years to recover, and only if the same areas are not hit by simular cyclones in the future. The southern coast of Cuba tends to be slightly warmer than the northern coastal region, but being a sub-tropical island, both coasts have moderate temperatures all year round. The average temperature in summer (June – August) is 25 degrees C (77F). The winter (Dec – Feb) average is a comfortable 22 degrees C (71F). The ‘wet’ season generally lasts from June to November, which is also the cyclone season.

WEATHER AND CLIMATE CUBA

weather and climate - cuba Cyclones are common between June and November. In the last few years Cuba has been hit by several powerful cyclones that have caused extensive damage to houses and the environment. It has been estimated that some areas will take up to 15 years to recover, and only if the same areas are not hit by simular cyclones in the future. The southern coast of Cuba tends to be slightly warmer than the northern coastal region, but being a sub-tropical island, both coasts have moderate temperatures all year round. The average temperature in summer (June – August) is 25 degrees C (77F). The winter (Dec – Feb) average is a comfortable 22 degrees C (71F). The ‘wet’ season generally lasts from June to November, which is also the cyclone season.

MONEY CUBA

The predominant currency in Cuba is the Cuban Peso (CUP). Many tourist attractions and hotels will accept, and even require that you pay in US dollars. Bring cash in small denominations as lots of market vendors and shops quite often don’t have change. In the remote country regions you will generally only need Pesos. US dollar travelers cheques and non-US issued credit cards are accepted, but travelers in the past have had trouble with some of the ATM’s, so when you find one that works, it is best to stock up on cash to avoid problems. As always try to leave excess cash and your passport in the hostel or hotels safe to avoid the risk of theft. Excess Pesos must be converted back to an alternative currency before your departure. It is illegal to take Cuban Pesos out of Cuba.
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