Cuba

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PAGE LAST UPDATED ON NOVEMBER 10, 2011
Flag of Cuba
(CONTAINS DESCRIPTION)
Location of Cuba
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Map of Cuba
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Photos of Cuba
 
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OF CUBA
 

Introduction

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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 1,000 individuals attempting to cross the Straits of Florida in fiscal year 2011.
 
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Geography

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Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, 150 km south of Key West, Florida
 
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21 30 N, 80 00 W
 
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total: 110,860 sq km
country comparison to the world: 106
land: 109,820 sq km
water: 1,040 sq km
 
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slightly smaller than Pennsylvania
 
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total: 29 km
border countries: US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay 29 km
note: Guantanamo Naval Base is leased by the US and remains part of Cuba
 
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3,735 km
 
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territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
 
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tropical; moderated by trade winds; dry season (November to April); rainy season (May to October)
 
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mostly flat to rolling plains, with rugged hills and mountains in the southeast
 
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lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Pico Turquino 2,005 m
 
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cobalt, nickel, iron ore, chromium, copper, salt, timber, silica, petroleum, arable land
 
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arable land: 27.63%
permanent crops: 6.54%
other: 65.83% (2005)
 
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8,700 sq km (2008)
 
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38.1 cu km (2000)
 
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total: 8.2 cu km/yr (19%/12%/69%)
per capita: 728 cu m/yr (2000)
 
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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
 
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air and water pollution; biodiversity loss; deforestation
 
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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
 
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largest country in Caribbean and westernmost island of the Greater Antilles
 
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People and Society

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noun: Cuban(s)
adjective: Cuban
 
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white 65.1%, mulatto and mestizo 24.8%, black 10.1% (2002 census)
 
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Spanish (official)
 
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nominally Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant, Jehovah's Witnesses, Jewish, Santeria
note: prior to CASTRO assuming power
 
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11,087,330 (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 74
 
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0-14 years: 17.3% (male 984,607/female 931,167)
15-64 years: 71.1% (male 3,947,047/female 3,932,128)
65 years and over: 11.7% (male 583,757/female 708,624) (2011 est.)
 
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total: 38.4 years
male: 37.6 years
female: 39.2 years (2011 est.)
 
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-0.104% (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 206
 
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9.99 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 193
 
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7.47 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 117
 
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-3.56 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 184
 
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urban population: 75% of total population (2010)
rate of urbanization: 0% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
 
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HAVANA (capital) 2.14 million (2009)
 
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at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
 
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53 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)
country comparison to the world: 96
 
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total: 4.9 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 185
male: 5.27 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.52 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)
 
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total population: 77.7 years
country comparison to the world: 58
male: 75.46 years
female: 80.08 years (2011 est.)
 
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1.44 children born/woman (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 194
 
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11.8% of GDP (2009)
country comparison to the world: 13
 
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6.399 physicians/1,000 population (2007)
country comparison to the world: 2
 
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5.9 beds/1,000 population (2009)
country comparison to the world: 26
 
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improved:
urban: 96% of population
rural: 89% of population
total: 94% of population
unimproved:
urban: 4% of population
rural: 11% of population
total: 6% of population (2008)
 
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improved:
urban: 94% of population
rural: 81% of population
total: 91% of population
unimproved:
urban: 6% of population
rural: 19% of population
total: 9% of population (2008)
 
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0.1% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 120
 
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7,100 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 111
 
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fewer than 100 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 142
 
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degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever (2009)
 
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11.8% (2002)
country comparison to the world: 50
 
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3.9% (2000)
country comparison to the world: 95
 
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13.6% of GDP (2008)
country comparison to the world: 2
 
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definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.8%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.8% (2002 census)
 
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total: 18 years
male: 16 years
female: 19 years (2009)
 
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total: 3.1%
country comparison to the world: 127
male: 2.8%
female: 3.5% (2008)
 
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illicit emigration is a continuing problem; Cubans attempt to depart the island and enter the US using homemade rafts, alien smugglers, direct flights, or falsified visas; Cubans also use non-maritime routes to enter the US including direct flights to Miami and over-land via the southwest border
 
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Government

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conventional long form: Republic of Cuba
conventional short form: Cuba
local long form: Republica de Cuba
local short form: Cuba
 
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Communist state
 
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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
 
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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
 
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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
 
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Triumph of the Revolution, 1 January (1959)
 
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24 February 1976; amended July 1992 and June 2002
 
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civil law system based on Spanish civil code
 
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has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
 
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16 years of age; universal
 
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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
(For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
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%
 
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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
 
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People's Supreme Court or Tribunal Supremo Popular (president, vice presidents, and other judges are elected by the National Assembly)
 
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Cuban Communist Party or PCC [Fidel CASTRO Ruz, first secretary]
 
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Human Rights Watch; National Association of Small Farmers
 
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ACP, AOSIS, 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, RG, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
 
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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
 
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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
 
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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
note: design similar to the Puerto Rican flag, with the colors of the bands and triangle reversed
 
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name: "La Bayamesa" (The Bayamo Song)
lyrics/music: Pedro FIGUEREDO
note: 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 in front of 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
 
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Economy

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The government continues to balance the need for economic loosening against a desire for firm political control. The government announced it would eliminate 500,000 state jobs by March 2011 and has expanded opportunities for self-employment. President Raul CASTRO said such changes were needed to update the economic model to ensure the survival of socialism. The government has introduced limited reforms, some initially implemented in the 1990s, to increase enterprise efficiency and alleviate serious shortages of food, consumer goods, and services. 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 about 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.
 
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$114.1 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 65
$112.4 billion (2009 est.)
$110.8 billion (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
 
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$57.49 billion (2010 est.)
 
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1.5% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 161
1.4% (2009 est.)
4.1% (2008 est.)
 
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$9,900 (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 110
$9,800 (2009 est.)
$9,700 (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
 
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agriculture: 4%
industry: 20.9%
services: 74.2% (2010 est.)
 
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5.147 million
country comparison to the world: 71
note: state sector 78%, non-state sector 22% (2010 est.)
 
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agriculture: 20%
industry: 19.4%
services: 60.6% (2005)
 
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1.6% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 9
1.7% (2009 est.)
 
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NA%
 
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lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
 
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10.3% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 184
 
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revenues: $46.14 billion
expenditures: $48.61 billion (2010 est.)
 
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80.3% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 2
 
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-4.3% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 133
 
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34.2% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 82
34.7% of GDP (2009 est.)
 
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2.9% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 101
1.4% (2009 est.)
 
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NA%
 
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NA%
 
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$11.63 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 70
$11.74 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$35.98 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 70
$35.61 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$NA
 
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sugar, tobacco, citrus, coffee, rice, potatoes, beans; livestock
 
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sugar, petroleum, tobacco, construction, nickel, steel, cement, agricultural machinery, pharmaceuticals
 
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-2.7% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 156
 
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16.99 billion kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 75
 
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14.2 billion kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 78
 
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0 kWh (2009 est.)
 
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0 kWh (2009 est.)
 
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53,690 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 62
 
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176,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 60
 
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6,882 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 100
 
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109,500 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 63
 
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124 million bbl (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 67
 
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1.16 billion cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 62
 
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1.16 billion cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 87
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 82
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 178
 
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70.79 billion cu m (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 58
 
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$201.4 million (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 59
$538.9 million (2009 est.)
 
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$3.816 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 118
$2.879 billion (2009 est.)
 
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sugar, nickel, tobacco, fish, medical products, citrus, coffee
 
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China 25.5%, Canada 23.3%, Venezuela 10%, Spain 5.6% (2010)
 
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$10.41 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 90
$8.91 billion (2009 est.)
 
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petroleum, food, machinery and equipment, chemicals
 
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Venezuela 35.2%, China 11.7%, Spain 8.5%, Brazil 4.6%, Canada 4.2%, US 4.1% (2010)
 
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$4.847 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 85
$4.647 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$19.75 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 76
$19.42 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$NA (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$4.138 billion (2006 est.)
country comparison to the world: 62
 
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Cuban pesos (CUP) per US dollar -
0.9259 (2010)
0.9259 (2009)
0.9259 (2008)
0.9259 (2007)
0.9231 (2006)
 
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Communications

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1.164 million (2010)
country comparison to the world: 72
 
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1.003 million (2010)
country comparison to the world: 152
 
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general assessment: greater investment beginning in 1994 and the establishment of a new Ministry of Information Technology and Communications in 2000 has resulted in improvements in the system; national fiber-optic system under development; 95% of switches digitized by end of 2006; mobile-cellular telephone service is expensive and must be paid in convertible pesos, which effectively limits subscribership
domestic: fixed-line density remains low at less than 10 per 100 inhabitants; mobile-cellular service expanding but remains less than 5 per 100 persons
international: country code - 53; fiber-optic cable laid to but not linked to US network; satellite earth station - 1 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region) (2009)
 
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government owns and controls all broadcast media with private ownership of electronic media prohibited; government operates 4 national TV networks and many local TV stations; government operates 6 national radio networks, an international station, and many local radio stations; Radio-TV Marti is beamed from the US (2007)
 
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.cu
 
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3,025 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 145
 
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1.606 million
country comparison to the world: 79
note: private citizens are prohibited from buying computers or accessing the Internet without special authorization; foreigners may access the Internet in large hotels but are subject to firewalls; some Cubans buy illegal passwords on the black market or take advantage of public outlets to access limited email and the government-controlled "intranet" (2009)
 
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Transportation

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136 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 42
 
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total: 65
over 3,047 m: 7
2,438 to 3,047 m: 9
1,524 to 2,437 m: 17
914 to 1,523 m: 5
under 914 m: 27 (2010)
 
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total: 71
914 to 1,523 m: 13
under 914 m: 58 (2010)
 
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gas 41 km; oil 230 km (2010)
 
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total: 8,598 km
country comparison to the world: 25
standard gauge: 8,322 km 1.435-m gauge (124 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 276 km 1.000-m gauge
note: 4,533 km of the track is used by sugar plantations; 4,257 km is standard gauge; 276 km is narrow gauge (2009)
 
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total: 60,858 km
country comparison to the world: 73
paved: 29,820 km (includes 638 km of expressway)
unpaved: 31,038 km (2001)
 
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240 km (almost all navigable inland waterways are near the mouths of rivers) (2010)
country comparison to the world: 95
 
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total: 5
country comparison to the world: 130
by type: cargo 2, passenger 1, refrigerated cargo 2
registered in other countries: 6 (Cyprus 1, former Netherlands Antilles 1, Panama 4) (2010)
 
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Antilla, Cienfuegos, Guantanamo, Havana, Matanzas, Mariel, Nuevitas Bay, Santiago de Cuba, Tanamo
 
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Military

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Revolutionary Armed Forces (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias, FAR): Revolutionary Army (Ejercito Revolucionario, ER, includes Territorial Militia Troops (Milicia de Tropas de Territoriales, MTT)); Revolutionary Navy (Marina de Guerra Revolucionaria, MGR, includes Marine Corps); Revolutionary Air and Air Defense Forces (DAAFAR), Youth Labor Army (Ejercito Juvenil del Trabajo, EJT) (2011)
 
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17-28 years of age for compulsory military service; 2-year service obligation; both sexes subject to military service (2006)
 
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males age 16-49: 2,998,201
females age 16-49: 2,919,107 (2010 est.)
 
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males age 16-49: 2,446,131
females age 16-49: 2,375,590 (2010 est.)
 
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male: 72,823
female: 69,108 (2010 est.)
 
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3.8% of GDP (2006 est.)
country comparison to the world: 30
 
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the collapse of the Soviet Union deprived the Cuban military of its major economic and logistic support and had a significant impact on the state of Cuban equipment; the army remains well trained and professional in nature; while the lack of replacement parts for its existing equipment has increasingly affected operational capabilities, Cuba remains able to offer considerable resistance to any regional power (2010)
 
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Transnational Issues

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US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay is leased to US and only mutual agreement or US abandonment of the facility can terminate the lease
 
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current situation: Cuba is a source country for adults and some children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; prostitution of children reportedly occurs in Cuba as prostitution is not criminalized for anyone above 16 years old; the scope of trafficking within Cuba is particularly difficult to gauge due to the closed nature of the government and sparse non-governmental or independent reporting
tier rating: Tier 3 - Cuba does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; the government did not publicize information about government measures to address human trafficking through prosecution, protection, or prevention efforts during the reporting period (2011)
 
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territorial waters and air space serve as transshipment zone for US- and European-bound drugs; established the death penalty for certain drug-related crimes in 1999 (2008)
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