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About Cuba

Where is Cuba

The Largest Island in the Caribbean

Cuba is located at the entrance to the gulf of Mexico. Its nearest neighbors are Haiti to the east, the Yucatan Peninsula (Mexico) to the west, Florida (United States) to the north and Jamaica to the south.

Cuba is 1200 km (745 miles) long and covers 110,922 km² or 42,828 miles². It has more than 280 beaches, unspoiled keys, grottoes, caves, mountains, forests, savannas and swamps.

cuba_satellite_map
Location Square Miles
Italy 116,303
Florida 53,937
Cuba 42,828
Indiana 35,870
Maine 30,865
New Brunswick 28,354
Ireland 27,136
Jamaica 4,411

Population

Cuba’s population of 11 million consists of descendants of Spaniards, Africans and Asians.

Capital

City of Havana, with almost 3 million inhabitants.

Language

Spanish is the official language. However, some English is spoken at almost all hotels and tourist destinations.

Electric Power

The electric current in general use is 110 volts, 60Hz. Some hotel facilities also have 220 volts. It’s best to inquire about the specific properties you’ll be staying at prior to departure. Better yet, bring a converter if you can’t live without your electric razor or blow dryer.

Climate

Cuba has a moderate subtropical climate and is just below the Tropic of Cancer. Being long and narrow, on an East-West axis, it is cooled by trade winds and sea breezes.

Seasons

There are only two clearly defined seasons in Cuba: the dry season, from November through April, and the rainy season, from May through October.

Temperature

Averages Temperature (°C)
Months Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jly Aug Spt Oct Nov Dec
Sea 24 24 25 26 30 30 30 30 26 25 24 24
Air 22 22 24 25 26 27 27 27 27 26 25 23
Averages Temperature (°F)
Sea 75 75 77 79 86 86 86 86 79 77 75 75
Air 72 72 75 77 79 80 80 80 80 79 77 73

Customs Regulations

For the most current customs information and a list of accepted/prohibited items, visit Cuban Customs (English) or Aduana Cubana (Español). Besides personal items, medicines, books & articles for teaching purposes, in general the traveler can import articles for non-commercial purposes, with specific limits on the # of items in each category, after which he/she must pay the applicable import duties. Cuban residents pay the duty in national currency, and all residents in other countries pay the import levy in Cuban Convertible Pesos. Here is an additional list of items that may be prohibited or restricted for entry to Cuba by the Institute of Veterinary Medicine.

Immigration

For Canadians, you must have a passport valid for at least 1 week beyond your scheduled return date. For other nationalities, the requirement can be up to 6 months beyond entry. We suggest you check with the nearest Cuban Embassy, Consulate or Interests Section for the latest information. Evidence of return passage is a required prior to entry. If you have a one-way ticket, you will have to purchase a return ticket before entering Cuba. You’re also required to have a visa or tourist card unless you’re from a country with a visa waiving agreement Cuba, or were born in Cuba. Tourist visas are generally provided with flights, but may also be purchased from the Cuban Consulate (or Cuban Interests Section) nearest you, or directly from Cuban Immigration for $25 CUC upon arrival. Tourist visas are valid for 30 days, extendable for another 30 days locally in Cuba with Immigration (with purchase of stamps and evidence of outgoing passage). The same tourist visa is valid for 90 days for Canadian citizens, extendable for another 90 days locally in Cuba with Immigration (with purchase of stamps and evidence of outgoing passage). Business or journalist visas should be requested in advance from the Cuban Consulate (or Cuban Interests Section) nearest you. Travelers born in Cuba must travel to Cuba on a Cuban passport, regardless of any other nationality or citizenship obtained after birth. We urge all travelers to consult with the nearest Cuban Embassy, consulate or Interests Sections for clarification regarding immigration regulations.

Departure Tax

Cuban departure taxes are included in all international flight tickets and are no longer payable locally by travelers.

Currency Info

The national monetary unit is the Cuban peso. Non-residents use the convertible peso/tourist dollar (CUC) with $1.00 CUC = $1.00 USD for inter-Cuban banking transactions. Virtually all goods available to non-residents are marked in CUC. More Info

Gratuities and Tips

More Info

Purchases in Cuba

Prices are listed in CUC (convertible pesos/tourist dollars) at tourist facilities and other establishments. MasterCard, Visa, CABAL and BFI, are honored in Cuba. It’s best to check with your credit card company before departure. Please view details of the latest information on Cuban currency.

Political-Administrative

For political and administrative purposes, Cuba is divided into 15 provinces and a special municipality. From West to East, the provinces are Pinar del Rio, Artemisa, Mayabeque, Havana (Capital City), Matanzas, Villa Clara, Cienfuegos, Sancti Spiritus, Ciego de Avila, Camaguey, Las Tunas, Holguin, Granma, Santiago de Cuba and Guantanamo. The special Municipality of the Isle of Youth lies south of Artemisa Province.

cuba_map

Flora & Fauna

Mountain Ranges

There are three large mountain ranges: the Sierra de los Organos, in the West; the Sierra del Escambray, in the middle of the country; and the Sierra Maestra, in the southern part of eastern Cuba, with the highest point in the country being Turquino Peak, 1,974 m (6476 ft) above sea level. It’s longest river is El Cauto, stretching for 250 km (155 miles).

Wildlife

There are no animals or plants harmful to man. There are approximately 900 fish species, most of them edible; 300 birds, thousands of mollusks and insects and the smallest animal species in the world: the sapito (Sminthillus limbatus) and the bee hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae). There are more than 8,000 plant species, half of them endemic. Cuba’s sea flora and fauna rank among the most beautiful and best preserved in the world.

National Flower: The white mariposa or butterfly jasmine.

National Tree: The royal palm.

National Bird: The Tocororo or Cuban Trogan (Priotelus temnurus).

mariposa
palma_real
tocororo

Health

Healthcare services are free in Cuba for Cuban nationals with one of the most comprehensive primary health care programs in the world and the lowest infant mortality rate in Latin America.

Economy

Tourism has just recently replaced sugar cane as Cuba’s leading money earner. Other important industries include cigars, nickel, rum, coffee and more recently, pharmaceutical and biotechnological production.

State and Government

The highest body of government in the Republic of Cuba is the National Assembly of the People’s Power or Parliament, represented by the Council of State. It consists of provincial, municipal and local bodies. The Council of Ministers is the executive arm of the Council of State.

Education

Education is free at all levels and compulsory until secondary schooling. Illiteracy was eradicated in 1961 and the people are generally highly trained.

Culture

Cuba is rich in artistic expressions and creative people, and has contributed to world culture by way of outstanding writers, thinkers, dancers, musicians, painters, poets and singers. The Cuban cultural infrastructure consists of theaters, museums, art galleries and movie theaters where national and international art of all kinds are shown. Cuba hosts many major international events, such as the Ballet Festival, the biennial art exhibitions, folk music festivals, the New Latin American Film Festival, etc.

Sports

Cuban sports since 1959 have been marked by excellent Olympic results, an outstanding standing in the world of athletics, mass participation and free practice. Baseball is the de facto national sport.

Religion

Cuba allows freedom of religion. Catholicism and Afro-Cuban rituals are the most prominent religions, although there are other tendencies and sects.