Tag: Cuba

Check commit4fitness for Cuba in 2002.

Information about Cuba

Information about Cuba

Feel the Cuban warmth and rhythm of atmospheric Havana and the relaxed atmosphere of the countless exotic beaches that surround the island. In the soul of the Cubans there is not only the lively salsa music and fast-paced dance, but also the joy of life itself.

On this page you will find practical information and facts about Cuba.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION ABOUT TRAVELING IN CUBA

Climate and best travel time
Cuba has a tropical climate and can be visited all year round. The annual average temperature varies from 20 to 28 degrees. The best time to visit the country is between November and April, when the weather is mostly dry and the risk of hurricanes is lowest. Between April and November it is rainy season and hurricane season in Cuba, but that should not deter anyone from traveling to the country. It does not rain constantly and even if the temperatures are high it does not feel uncomfortable because the island is narrow and it constantly flows in cooling air currents from the sea. Visit thedresswizard.com for best time to travel to Cuba.

Our recommendations on when it is best to travel to Cuba are based on how the climate has been last year. The weather in Cuba can be very variable and unpredictable and therefore our recommendations should only be seen as an indication.

Accommodation
We recommend that you try to stay in a “Casa Particular” on your travels – it is accommodation in private rooms in a private home or with an ordinary family. It is often the cheapest but also the best way to experience Cuba.

Money
There are two currencies in the country, Cuban pesos (Cup) and pesos convertibles (CUC). These are pesos convertibles that you get paid out when you as a tourist exchange currency at the bank. Cuban pesos are the local currency that Cubans receive in salary.
We recommend that you bring euros to Cuba in cash. It is the cheapest currency to exchange for pesos convertibles.
Visa cards are accepted at banks and exchange offices (Casas de Cambio) as well as at state-owned hotels. However, please note that a change fee is often charged on your Visa card. In addition, it is not possible to withdraw money at all banks with foreign cards and it can be difficult to find ATMs. Passports must be shown when you want to withdraw money with your Visa card.

Visa
conditions NOTE! The visa rules can be changed at short notice, so We recommend that you check the current conditions at the country’s embassy. The following information may change.

We are approved by the Cuban state to issue visas for Swedish travelers to Cuba. If you book a package trip with us, a 30-day tourist visa (Tarjeta del Turista) is included. The visa is issued only in connection with a booking of at least two nights, which is a requirement of the Cuban state.
Passports must be valid for at least three months after the end of the trip. You must always have your “Tarjeta del Turista” with you during your stay in Cuba. Contact us for more information about visas.

Sickness insurance
As of May 1, 2010, the Cuban authorities have introduced a requirement for valid travel health insurance for entry into Cuba. Proof of valid travel health insurance in English or insurance certificate issued by an insurance company must be presented upon entry. Travelers who do not have travel insurance on arrival in Cuba must purchase insurance at the airport, port or marina.

Also pay special attention to the fact that not all insurance companies have been approved by the Cuban authorities.

European belongs to the companies approved by the Cuban authorities in accordance with the documentation requirements, and is on the Cuban embassy’s lists of approved travel insurance companies. European also issues documentation in English to all travelers traveling to Cuba.

Transportation
It is relatively expensive for foreigners to travel around Cuba.

Bus Bus
companies that focus on tourists work well. Video entertainment and air conditioning raise the price. You can choose between the Viazul and Astro buses. The astro buses are of a slightly lower standard. It is highly recommended that tickets be purchased a few days in advance or to arrive at the ticket office very early before departure. The buses stop for meals and it is not necessary to bring your own food.

Train
Trains are generally cheaper and slower than buses. Train tickets are purchased at the train station in the “LADIS” hatch and paid for in cash. Lighter dishes can be bought, but bring some food yourself as the trains can sometimes be many hours late. The tracks run from east to west and from north to south. The trains can recommend for long journeys, especially at night because the seats are large and comfortable – and there is plenty of legroom.

Car
There can be great benefits to renting a car. Your own car not only saves you time on transport, but you also have total freedom to reach places that cannot be reached by local transport. One-way rental is possible for an additional fee. Visa cards can be used at the Servi-Cupet petrol stations in all major cities. The road network in Cuba is well developed, but in many places the maintenance is poor. Except on motorways, it is not possible to maintain a speed of more than 60-70 km / h due to many holes in the asphalt. Always bring a spare wheel in the boot! Please note that on the motorways, in contrast to in Sweden, all means of transport are allowed, including bicycles and horse-drawn carriages.

We recommend that you bring a map or download maps that you can use offline.

Taxi
The worse the condition – the cheaper, is the basic rule of taxis. Alternatively, you can travel with the private “black” taxis without taximeters and without signs. Here you have to bargain on the price. If you are four people who are going on a longer trip, it often pays to share a “black” taxi instead of taking the bus.

Flights
It can be very time-saving to fly domestically, but book well in advance and expect overbookings and delays.

Tip
In most countries, tips are part of the salaries of employees in the service industry. Therefore, it is good practice (and sometimes directly necessary) to give tips to, for example, cleaning staff, waiters, guides, drivers, etc. depending on the country you are visiting. Therefore, we recommend that you familiarize yourself with how much is normally given in tips and to whom before you embark on your journey. Find information on tips in Lonely Planet’s guidebooks.

Wages in Cuba are generally low and it is therefore a really good idea to always leave tips. Just giving a little coin to someone who shows the way can be a great joy. In addition to tips, it is a good idea to bring some gifts for those you visit. This can be pencils and crayons, clothes, sweets and not least soap.

FACTS

CAPITAL: HAVANA

LANGUAGE: SPANISH

CLIMATE: TROPICAL

CURRENCY: CUBAN PESOS AND CONVERTIBLE PESOS

RELIGION: CATHOLICISM

INFORMATION CUBA

Cuba’s soul
Cuba is poor and worn but at the same time magnificently rich and prosperous. Cubans are curious and hospitable and despite the moderate lifestyle, Cubans exude an infectious zest for life. To really enjoy Cuba’s warm soul, you have to live in the country’s different and very relaxing pace and pace. Once the pace has been found, salsa, rum and cigar are the next step into the happy Cuban lifestyle.

Nightlife and pride
In Cuba, life is lived on the streets with the old charming Spanish colonial-style buildings. The streets are full of life, unless Fidel Castro’s speeches are broadcast, baseball is played in the stadium, or the daily episode of a South American television series (telenovela) is broadcast, music is heard from every street corner, dominoes are played in the shade of trees, cigars are smoked the benches and there is a lively discussion about Cuba before and after the revolution. Most Cubans notice a certain pride in the revolution, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and the other comrades. But many Cubans are also very curious about the world outside the island.

Scenic pearl
Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean. But the island is affordable whether you cycle, drive or take the train around the island. Everywhere, the dark red earth is seen as a sign of the lush Caribbean nature. Sugarcane plantations and banana plantations, orchid oases and not least some of the world’s best beaches make Cuba an interesting and beautiful experience.

Information about Cuba

Cuba Business

Cuba Business

According to countryaah, Cuba has been a socialist country with a plan-driven economy since 1961. The country has also been affected by US economic sanctions (often referred to as embargo or blockade). The country received generous subsidies from the Soviet Union, which paid well for Cuban sugar, including oil supplies. With the fall of the Soviet Union, Cuba was hit by very serious financial problems and a dramatic fall in living standards, a crisis known as the “special period”.

Cuba today has left much of the crisis behind. The country has gained new business avenues and trading partners. The authorities have implemented limited reforms, but these have not produced expected growth. The sanctions, combined with an ongoing crisis with Cuba’s closest ally Venezuela, have created a complicated and uncertain situation for the Cuban economy.

  • According to abbreviationfinder, CU is the 2 letter abbreviation for the country of Cuba.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Cuba

Business and commerce

All three quarters of Cuba’s economy is service-based, while industry accounts for 21 percent of GDP, agriculture accounts for just 4 percent. Health services and tourism are the major sources of currency and are more important than the once dominant sugar industry. Other export industries include tobacco and beverages, mining (nickel and cobalt), agricultural products (including citrus fruits), and biotechnology (medicine). For a period, the export of Venezuelan oil was also a significant source of income.

The state controls strategic parts of the economy. It sets wages, prices and controls trading. Cuba has for years been struggling with low productivity and achieving its growth goals. The country depends on importing most of the food it consumes, and wages for government employees are rarely sufficient (real wages are well below the 1989 level). The opening for tourism, remittances from emigrated Cubans and private businesses has given parts of the population a more comfortable financial situation, but has created economic differences. Cuba is ranked much higher on the United Nations Human Development Index (HDI) than the economy would suggest, which is probably due to a lot of welfare schemes.

Since the 1990s, the authorities have sought to spread the trade in several countries, but the US sanctions and penalties make this difficult – among other things, a billion dollars have been given to an international bank that had relations with Cuba. In 2016, the most important trading partners were China, Venezuela, Spain, Canada, Brazil and Mexico. Under Raúl Castro, Cuba has renegotiated its foreign debt and left 90 percent of Russia’s major debt, with roots in the Soviet era. During Barack Obama, some of the sanctions against Cuba were eased, but Trump administration has subsequently tightened these again.

The economic crisis in Venezuela is causing major problems for Cuba. From 2016 to 2017, Venezuela went from receiving 42.9 percent of Cuba’s exports to 27.7 percent.

Agriculture and fishing

Agriculture employs 18 percent of Cubans, but accounts for only 4 percent of GDP. Cuba has never managed to become self-sufficient in agricultural products and is largely dependent on imports.

When Fidel Castro fell ill and his brother Raúl Castro became the country’s top leader in 2008, the authorities began giving farmers the right to use land that is broken. The trial has so far yielded limited results. Coffee is grown on the mountain slopes of the southeastern provinces, and to a lesser extent in the middle parts, but production is marginal compared to the time before the revolution. Otherwise, citrus fruits are produced for internal consumption and export (especially oranges and grapefruit).

The grasslands in the middle and eastern parts of the country formed the basis for an extensive cattle industry. The industry weakened in the years following the revolution and further in the 1990s.

Fishing

Fishing has provided the basis for a significant export industry, and is still of importance. The annual catches in the 1980s were about 200,000 tonnes, but in the period 2010-2013 was around a tenth of this. Cubas exports shellfish to a certain extent.

Tobacco

Tobacco is an important export item, it is exported especially in the form of the famous Cuban cigars. The Vuelta Abajo area west of Havana is referred to as the world’s best area for tobacco production.

Sugar industry

Sugar production reached 8.5 million tonnes in 1970, accounting for 75 percent of the country’s exports in 1988. In 2017, total production was less than two million tonnes.

Mining

Nickel, which is used to make stainless steel, is the most important metal. Cuba has managed to increase production during the crisis years, despite the fact that the United States introduced punitive measures against a Canadian firm that has been heavily in recovery (Sherritt). Nickel is one of the country’s most important export goods, and Cuba has the world’s third largest deposits. There are also significant deposits of iron ore, cobalt and manganese.

Most of the mineral resources are found in the mountainous regions of the southeast.

Oil and gas

Petroleum is mined off the north coast and around Ciego de Ávila. Cuba aimed to increase its own oil production from the 1980s and especially after the fall of the Soviet Union.

The production now covers a considerable part of the country’s consumption, but the oil is strongly sulfate-containing, which limits its applications. The country depends on imports, especially from Venezuela.

Other industry

Except for the factories that processed agricultural products such as sugar and tobacco, Cuba had little industry before 1959. After the revolution, a number of industrial plants, often on a large scale, were built with financial and technical support from the Soviet Union and the other countries in the Eastern bloc.

Production fell dramatically during the 1990s, when oil, spare parts and wages, among others, were lost. In 2017, industrial production remained at 68 percent of the 1989 level.

Much of the industrial production is aimed at building and construction activities.

Cuba established a medical industry in the mid-1980s. The biopharmaceutical industry has gradually become a significant export industry, exporting to 40 different countries.

There is also a certain food industry that produces canned foods and various beverages, mostly for the internal market, but Cuban space is exported to many countries.

Tourism

Cuba has long regarded tourism as not ideologically compatible with socialism. Since 1987, the sector has grown gradually. In 2018, the country received 4.7 million visitors, a number that includes Cuban emigrants visiting the homeland. It is an important source of jobs and the authorities aim to be a “locomotive” for the rest of the economy.

Exports of (health) personnel

The most important source of currency is the export of qualified personnel, mainly health workers.

50,000 Cuban doctors and health workers work abroad at any time through government agencies, and are present in 67 countries. The root of the project is Cuban “internationalism” where, under Fidel Castro, auxiliary workers were sent to much of the world. In recent years, the state has increasingly paid for these services.

As of 2000, Cuba has agreed with Venezuela to switch health services to oil. Cuban authorities have agreements on the export of health services with Brazil, with around 10,000 doctors and health workers in this country. The crisis in Venezuela and political changes in Brazil create uncertainty about this business and how lucrative it will be in the future.

Infrastructure

The transport network is well developed, but is characterized by many years of economic crisis. Cuba got railways as early as 1837, before it came to Spain, ie the colonial power that controlled Cuba. Today there is a well-developed state-run railway network of just under 5000 km, but it is characterized by poor maintenance. Cuba has signed an agreement with Russia to modernize the railway.

The road network has a length of around 13,000 km with a fixed tire, and a motorway crosses the island from Pinar del Río in the northwest via Havana to Santiago de Cuba in the southeast. The main port cities are Havana, Cienfuegos, Santiago de Cuba, Nuevitas and Matanzas.

A major investment under Raúl Castro (2008-) has been the construction of a free trade zone with a port in Mariel, built with Brazilian investments. The country’s strategic location in the Gulf of Mexico, opportunities for receiving so-called Postpanamax ships, created, along with the relief of the Barack Obama embargo, expectations that this could be the beginning of a Cuban trade and industrial adventure. However, the embargo persists and has been tightened under Donald Trump, and so far there is little activity at the new port.

History

During the colonial period, Cuba was a commodity-producing economy characterized by monoculture and slave labor. Tobacco became an important export commodity and one had a short-lived coffee boom, but sugar was to become the dominant product.

The indigenous people of Cuba were almost exterminated during the colonization in the first half of the 16th century, and the plantation system the Spaniards established, based on the labor force of African slaves. From the second half of the 18th century, the country’s economy accelerated. The trade monopoly and dependence on Spain was weakened by the British occupation of Havana (1762-1763), which brought businessmen from North America into Cuba, as well as economic reforms under Spain’s King Charles 3. In Haiti, the revolution (1781-1804) led to a collapse in coffee and sugar production, and capital instead drifted towards neighboring Cuba. There was a dramatic increase in slave imports from Africa; by 1825, the black population was in the majority.

Although Cuba was a Spanish colony until as late as 1898, North American economic interests were heavily inland until the late 1800s. Cuba was occupied by the United States (1898-1902) and then turned into a protectorate under its neighboring country, but even after the status of protectorate ceased in 1934, economic dependence remained great.

Cuba was considered one of the richer countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Cuba was the world’s largest sugar producer in the 1920s, and received significant labor immigration from Spain, among others. However, the contrast between modern Havana and poverty and the distress that characterized most of the country was great. The monoculture made it very vulnerable to fluctuations in sugar prices. Seasonal work created a demand for labor during the harvest, but unemployment was high most of the year.

The post-revolution economy

Fidel Castro’s revolution of 1959 led to a reshaping of the country’s economy, including land reform and extensive nationalization. The revolution was declared socialist in 1961.

The 1960s were marked by tumultuous and ever-changing attempts to develop. The socialism model still allowed private small businesses. Towards the end of the decade, the authorities tried a series of ultra-radical experiments that included the nationalization of the latest small businesses, and that a number of goods and services were made free of charge.

In 1972, Cuba joined the Soviet- dominated trade cooperation Comecon, and largely followed Soviet economic management principles, which were more pragmatic than the many followed in the previous radical experiments. Market relations and material incentives were accepted to a limited extent, especially in the period 1980-1986 where one had privately owned farmer’s markets where prices were determined by supply and demand.

The economic dependence on the Soviet Union was high. Although Cuba had made an investment law (1982), the start for new industries such as medicine (1986), and opened to tourism (1987), increased dependence and towards the end of the decade, 85 percent of foreign trade with Comecon countries. When the Soviet Union collapsed, the authorities implemented painful reforms such as legalizing previously banned US dollars. New sources of income were added, such as money transfers from emigrated Cubans, and the authorities invited investors to build tourist facilities. They also opened to private small businesses in certain selected industries, but this process stagnated and was partially reversed in the 2000s.

It was not until around 2010 that Cuba to a greater extent opened up to private companies owned by Cuban nationals, and then within a group of pre-specified categories of businesses. Around 70 percent of the workforce still works for the public sector, and the private sector must be regarded as complementary. Today, however, the private sector is recognized by the authorities as a “natural” part of a socialist economy, while in the 1990s it was viewed more as a foreign element or a necessary and perhaps transient crisis response.