General Information of Cuba
The Cuban archipelago is formed by the Cuban island, the Island of
Youth (Isla de la Juventud) (formerly the Island of Pines) and about 4 195 quays
and little islands. The Cuban island is long and narrow, and it looks like a
big alligator as you can see in the map that is shown on this page. It is located
in the Caribbean Sea (Mar Caribe). Its borders on the Gulf of Mexico (Golfo
de Mexico) in the northwest; in the north on the Florida Straits and
the Old Bahamian Channel which isolates it from the United States and Bahamas
respectively; in the east on Wind Passage (Paso de los Vientos) which isolates
it from Jamaica; and in the west on the Yucatan Strait (Estrecho de Yucatan)
which isolates it from Mexico.
Language: The official language of the Republic of Cuba is
Spanish. Nevertheless, as a consequence of the high cultural level of Cuban
people more of its inhabitants speak English and Italian.
Administrative division: 14 provinces and a special municipality.
Climate: Cuba is a
tropical country, with an average of 330 sunny days per year.
The medium year temperature is 25,5 °C.
The cool month: January with 21 °C
The warm months: July and August with 32°C. Annual sun radiation: 80 kilocal
Average temperature of coastal waters: 25 °C in winter, 28
°C in summer
Average relative humidity: 78 %
Average annual rain: 1 515 mm.
Months with least rainfall: December and August .
Flora and Fauna: The Cuban flora has more than 8 000 species
of plants, among them we can find ornamental, medicinal, foodstuff and productive
plants, that serve as an important tourist attraction. The Cuban subtropical
fauna is characterized by the non-existence of ferocious and dangerous animals,
like snakes and poisonus insects as in other countries. It has a great biodiversity
with about 900 kinds of fish, 4 000 kinds of mollusk, 300 species of birds and
1 000 types of insects. Among the more outstanding animals mention must be made
of : the "tomeguin del pinar", a type of bird; the "manjuari",
a mammal native of Cuba which lives in the rivers; the "almiqui" which
is a real live fossil; and the crocodile (cocodrilo). Besides, it is possible
to find some rare animals like the "zunzuncito", also known as the
bird humming which is the smallest bird in the world (5 cm); the bat butterfly
(mariposa bruja); the iguana; the "polimitas" snail (native of Cuba)
and the little frog "cubensis", also the smallest in the world. The
most beautiful birds are the "tocororo", the flamingo (flamenco) and
the parrot (cotorra).
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The National Flag
Cuban flag was hoist for the first time in 1850 in the city of Cardenas by an
insurgent cuban group against the spanish crown. Its equilateral red triangle
represents the unity of all cubans, achieved by the spilling of the blood of
the Cuban people in there fights for freedom. The five point solitary star located
in the center of the red triangle represents the independent and sovereign character
of Cuba. The three blue stripes represent the three departments into which
the island was divided: Western, Central and Eastern. The blue color also represents
our blue sky. The white stripes represent the pureness and virtues of the Cuban
At the outset
of the War of Independence, on the 10th of Octuber 1868, Carlos Manuel de Céspedes
ordered the designing of another flag, which is the figure located next to the
National Emblem in the conference hall of the Cuban Parlament.
The coat of arms
is a symbol of the nation, which describes in its integrity the cuban
country any where in the world. The geographic and political
importance of Cuba is represented by a key which is placed transversely between
the islands of Cape Sable in Florida and Cape Catoche in Yucatan at the
entry of the Gulf of Mexico, The raising sun represents the young upcoming
republic. The inferior left quarter has the same meaning of the flag stripes.
The inferior right quarter shows a typical cuban countryside, with the
royal palm as a symbol of the strong character of the cuban people, because
this tree stands even after the passage of the most furious storms. As
a support of the scutcheon, there is a bundle of eleven twigs which represent
the unity of the cuban people in their freedom fights, The scutcheon is crowned
by a frigid cap, which has in its center the lone star as a sample of the independent
and sovereign character of the Cuban island. Its red color represents the spilt
blood of the Cuban people in order to obtain their freedom. The scutcheon is
bordered on its right side, by an evergreen oak branch, representing strength,
and on its left side, by a laurel branch, representing victory.
The National Bird
is a climbing bird, endemic to Cuba, with beautiful showy colors. Its plumage
reproduces the colors of the Cuban national flag : blue, red and white. With
a native name: "Guatini", the tocororo lives in forests throughout
the whole country, especially in the mountainous areas. It was chosen as the
Cuban national bird because of two main reasons, the symbolism of its beautiful
and spritely plumage and for its resistance to captivity, which represent the
Cuban people´s strive for independence.
The National Tree
The Royal Palm (Palma Real)
(Roystonea Regia. O.F. Cook) is known by all of the Cuban people as the queen
of our countryside, because of the majesty of its structure, its peculiar height,
its strength and because it is the most numerous of the Cuban trees. There is
not a Cuban landscape without the Royal Palm, in spite of it not being a native
cuban tree. It reaches a height between forty and fifty feet, and is topped
by a very beautiful tuft of pinnatisec of leaves, Because of its elegance,
the palm has inspired a lot of poets, musicians and painters. It is a central
part of the cuban landscape stamped on the Cuban national scutcheon.
The National Flower
The Butterfly (La Mariposa) (Hedychium Coronarium
Koenig), takes its name from the beautiful lepidopteron insects due to its petals
resembling them. It is the Cuban national flower. It is a white flower, beautiful
and odorous, indigenous to Cuba. It grows in moist places like the shore
of rivers and lakes, but it can also be cultivated in the courtyard or gardens
of the Cuban houses. Its white color, also present in two stripes of the national
ensign, is associated with peace and the pureness of the ideals of independence.
The butterfly is also a symbol of the delicacy, gracefulness and slenderness
of Cuban women, and it was used as a symbol of insurrection during the
The National Anthem
The words and music of
the national anthem were composed by the remarkable cuban patriot Pedro
Figueredo Cisneros (Perucho), who in 1867 composed the music, and in October
20 of 1868 wrote the words, when the soldiers of the Liberation Army seized
the City of Bayamo. This date is now recognized as one of the most important
acts in Cuban history, and because of that, this day was selected as the Cuban
Cultural Day. The Anthem was known at the begining as the Bayamesa. Of deep
patriotic content, this anthem, forged in the struggle, has been an inseparable
companion of all Cubans in our fight for freedom and national sovereignity.
Bayamo rush to the battle
our homeland watches you proudly
don't be afraid of a glorious death
because to die for the homeland is to live
To live with
chains is to live
with dishonour and ignominy
listen to the sound of the clarion
Rush to combat braves!
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The Cuban people is the synthesis of several races and cultures,
formed basically for the Spanish people who colonized the country and the Africans
who were brought as slaves. These two races constiitute the Cuban nationality,
which has American and Caribbean characteristics. The Cuban people have
a very special charm which is impossible to resist. They are happy, loquacious, and possess a great sense of humor, essentially friendly, characterized
by solidarity and helpful to all the persons, but especially to persons who
visit their country.
The music and dance are an inseparable part of the Cuban life. Friends
to joking, they laugh in an explosive and hearty manner. Passionate about their
ideas and convictions, they like to debate. They are one of the most hospitable
people in the world. The Cubans like to talk with their visitors, because
of that the doors of their house are always open to receive them. The Cuban
people have made the word "Welcome" (Bienvenido) something more than a
simple way of greeting to those visiting for the first time, for them it is
an extravagant show of gratitude. This word has been inscribed in the vocabulary
of each Cuban person with thousands of different daily meanings, which state explicitly, at each moment, with a spontaneous
hospitality and friendliness, their true feelings, which creates a very warm
climate on the Island.
This rich mixture of Indian, Spanish and African,
which for years has populated Cuba, has created a Cuban identity with American
and Caribbean characteristics, which are uniquely Cuban.
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WHY PRIVATE HOUSES (Casas Particulares) ?
Since the Cuban Government
iniciated the legalization of renting private houses and apartments, this has
gained extraordinary acceptance with tourists who undertake independent travels
to our country. This type of accomodation is known as "Casas Particulares"
and represents the best option for those travelers who wish to be in close contact
with Cuban culture or simply prefer the privacy of a home, than to be restricted
to large comercial hotels.
What advantages do the private houses offer?
· Notably cheaper prices compared to those of the hotels, generally in
the range of 25 to 50 dollars per room (depending on the comfort and location
of the house), which can be shared among various guests.
· Direct contact with Cuban culture and Cuban way of life.
· Total privacy.
· The Private Houses permit the guests to entertain Cuban visitors.
· Many Private houses offer breakfast, lunch, dinner and laundry services
for a reasonable price.
· Cuban families are extremely friendly and hospitable and are always
disposed to speak with their guests, offering them useful information about
places of interest, private restaurants, famous discos, excursions and other
To Show Private Houses for Rent in Cuba
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In Cuba we use:
--Euro (in Varadero or in turistic sides close to the beach)
In some places it s possible to use Credit Car.
"Peso Convertible or C.U.C."
is the most used currency in Cuba. It must be changed in CADECA (Exchange House) or in banks. In fact tourists only will use this type of money to pay around 98% of products and
services that they will receive in Cuba, the other 2% is explained in the Section "Cuban Peso"
The purpose of "Peso Convertible"
is to eliminate the use of american dollar.
All the exchangeable currencies have in Cuba 8 % of exchange fees. For this reason 100 euros are aproximatelly 110-115 pesos convertibles. American dollar has moreover 10 % of penalty. For this reason the dollar has aproximately a discount of 19.5% in reference to CUC (peso convertible); 100 dollars are aproximately 80.5 pesos convertibles.
Some occasions travelers confuse Pesos Convertibles and Cuban Pesos and can be cheated.
We will show you photos of all the circulating bills and coins. In the case of the bills is very easy to know it because Pesos Convertibles (CUC) has written "Pesos Convertibles".
Convertible Bills :
Convertible coins :
Cuban Peso :
One Peso Convertible
is equal to 24 Cuban Peso
(since June 2005). There are different emissions of bills. We will show you only the newest emission that is the most used in the country. The cuban peso only can by used to pay some services as the buses for public transportation (guaguas), some public phones; to buy some products in the agricultural market as fruits, vegetables, rice, beans, etc., or to buy juice, sweets or
pizzas in private cafeterias.
Cubans Bills :
Credit Card :
Is not possible to use american credit cards. Visa and Mastercard are accepted but not from American banks.
Automatic Cash :
In the automatic cash you will receive pesos convertibles.
Where do you can change or extract money ?
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- It shall be possible to export an amount of up to 23 (twenty three) unit of rolled cigars, in individual units, without producing any relevant purchase document.
- If you exceed that amount, you will be obliged to claim the official purchace receipt and a copy of it at the shop, and hand a copy in at the Customs Office at the exit point where you´ll be leaving with the cigars, wich must be contained in the original cases with all the official seals, including the new holographic seal. Any failure to abide by the basic requirement of a legal purchase, the product will be seized by Cuban´s customs Office.
ART ITEMS (PAINTINGS, ENGRAVINGS, HANDCRAFT, ITEMS, ETC) NOT BEING PATRIMONIAL OBJECTS.
- Such items can only be exported under express authorization issued by the National Registry of Cultural Goods. The value of the items can exceed the authorized amount of one thousands (1000.00) CUC..
MUSEUM- VALUABLES AND NATIONAL HERITAGE OBJECTS OR ITEMS.
- It shall only be possible to re-export museum-valuable items or objects previously imported and to this purpose it shall be required to produce the Declaration that Customs certified while being introduced into the country.
CURRENCY AND OTHER VALUABLES.
It shall only be permited to export convertible currency and other valuables exceding and amount of five thousands (5000.00) US Dollars it.
- The amount had been previously imported. To this purpose it shall be necessary to produce the Declaration of Value filled and certified on entering the country.
- The amount was lawfully acquired in the country, whic shall be proven through presentation of the relevant bank document.
BOOKS AND PUBLICATIONS.
It is not authorized to export books and other publications with editions dated more than 50 years back, nor the ones marked as belonging to "Ediciones R" or bearing stamps of libraries or other organizations.
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After almost three months of navigating through oceans and seas,
on October 27, 1492, Christopher Colombus arrived at the Cuban coast. Eighteen
years later, in 1510, Diego Velazquez began the conquest of the Cuban territory.
Starting from this date, the first villages were founded : Baracoa (1512), Bayamo
(1513), Trinidad (1514), Santi Spiritus (1514), Santiago de Cuba (1515), La
Habana (1515) y Camaguey (1515).
Since the Spanish conquerors were seated in Cuba, they subjected
the aboriginal people to slavery. So because of that, this population was extinguished
in a few decades. In order to supply this manual labor, Spain began to import
thousands of blacks from Africa, to work as slaves on the sugar plantations.
In this way that mixture of the elements which created the Cuban native people
was introduced. With time there emerged a great sense of patriotism and independentism
among these Cuban natives, very attached to Cuba, their native land, and were
not disposed to occupy a secondary place behind the metropolitan merchants and
rulers that obligated them to negotiate only with Spain. A national feeling
was rising in this way, that found its maxim an expression in the XIX century
with the begining of the War of Independence (Guerra de Independencia).
In the middle of the XVIII Century, an unexpected occurence
greatly affected, the economic, political and social environment of Cuba:
the occupation of Havana by the English in 1762. For a period of eleven months
more than one thousand ships entered the Havana port, establishing a wide trade
with the Thirteen northamerican colonies. At the same time the English introduced
more than ten thousands slaves to propel the development of the sugar cane industry.
Havana was recovered in 1763, exchanged for the peninsula of Florida, discovered
and conquered by Spain in the XVI century.
In front of
this facts, the process of the formation the Cuban nationality was accelerated
and the idea of the liberation became stronger with time. On October 10, 1868,
the fight for national independence began. The landowner and bayames lawyer
Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, set his own sugar cane factory known as "La Demajagua"
on fire, announced the independence of Cuba and gave freedom to his slaves.
In this way the First Cuban War of Indepence began (the Ten Years War), and
continued for ten years until 1878. In this war many patriots like Carlos
Manuel de Cespedes, Antonio Maceo, Maximo Gomez, Ignacio Agramonte, Calixto
Garcia and others stood out .
In 1878 a truce of the hostilities was announced, and from this
truce emerged the most important figure in the Cuban War of Independence, José Marti (1853-1895),
who founded the Cuban Revolutionary Party. On February 24, 1895, the war
resumed, a nd was spearheaded by Jose Marti, who was killed in battle three months
later. On May 19, 1895. Maximo Gomez and Antonio Maceo continued the fight and
extended the war from the east side of the country to all Cuba. Spain could
do nothing to halt the advance of the Cuban troops. The United States, which
saw the imminence of the Cuban victory, and which had desired for many years
the possession of Cuba, declared war against Spain, and used as a pretext, the
dark fact of the explosion of the North American battleship "Maine", anchored
in the Havana Bay, to intervene in the war.
The war finished with the signing of the peace treaty (the
Treaty of Paris, of December 10, 1898) between Spain and the United States,
and as consequence of this North America took absolute control of Cuba, Puerto
Rico and Philipines. On May 20, 1902, a formal independence controled by a cuban
oligarchy dependent on Washington was conceded to Cuba, after three years of
United States rule, which converted the country into United States neo-colony.
Since that, many corrupt governments and North American interventions took place,
which completed the mission to deliver the country´s riches to external
En la lucha contra estos gobiernos corruptos se destacaron los mártires Julio Antonio Mella, Rubén Martínez Villena y Antonio Guiteras
On March 10, 1952, the general Fulgencio Batista, dealt the state
a blow and established one of the most repressive dictatorial goverments in
Cuban history. On July 26, 1953, a group of young people with Fidel Castro at
his head, attacked the Moncada Fortress "Cuartel Moncada", in Santiago
of Cuba (at the east side of the country), the second largest Cuban military
fortress with the objetive of arming the people and beginning a general insurrection.
The attack finished with a military defeat, but it highlighted the figure of
Fidel Castro as a leader of the future revolution. Fidel represented himself
by using the now popular defense "History will absolve me" "La
Historia me absolverá"..Fidel Castro and the other survivors
of the attack were given jail sentences at the Model Prison on the Island
of Pines (today Island of Youth). A strong an popular campaign secured amnesty
for the prisoners, who went into exile to Mexico in 1955.
In Mexico, Fidel Castro, organized his companions who took part in
the attack of the Moncada Fortress and other revolutionaries that joined them,
and among these were the Argentinian Ernesto "Che" Guevara. They left the Mexican
port of Tuxpan for Cuba on board the yacht Granma and disembarked on December
2, 1956 by the Coloradas Beach, to the south of the eastern region. They restarted
the armed fight, this time as guerillas in the Sierra Maestra Mountains. At
the same time a secret war campaign (La Clandestinidad) was organized in all
of the country.
En este período insurreccional, además de Fidel, se destacaron otras figuras ya fallecidas, como fueron Camilo Cienfuegos, el Ché, Frank País y otras que aún perduran, como son Raúl Castro y Juan Almeida, entre otros muchos.
On January 1,
1959, the dictator Fulgencio Batista was finally defeated by the revolutionary
army troops, commanded by Fidel Castro, so that he left Cuba. It was the
triumph of the Cuban Revolution. The revolutionary government started a socialist
program to establish a national development in all the country. At the same
time it inspired a deep social development program that makes Cuba one of the
countries of higher levels of social justice in the Third World. It could be
highlighted in this program the great achievements in public health, by which
Cuba aspire to be a world leader; in education, free at all levels and obligatory
until high school; in sports and in culture, which are accessible to all Cubans
and proclaimed by our artists all over the world.
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HAVANA CITY (CIUDAD DE LA HABANA), PINAR
DEL RIO, MATANZAS, VILLA
CLARA, CIENFUEGOS, SANCTI SPIRITUS, CAMAGUEY y SANTIAGO DE CUBA
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Holidays (Feriados) :
January : Liberation Day (Dia de la Liberación).
1st. of May: Labor Day (Día del Trabajo)
26th. of July: Day of National Rebellion (Día de la Rebeldía Nacional)
together with the 25 and 27 of July.
10th. of October: Anniversary of the Inauguration of the Wars of Independence
(Guerras de Independencia) in 1868.
25th. of December: Christmas Day (Navidad).
(not holidays) (no son días Feriados) :
28th. of January: José Martí´s Birthday, National Heroe of the Republic
of Cuba, in 1853.
24th. of February: Anniversary of the Recommencement of the War of
Independence, in 1895.
8th. of March: International Women´s Day (Día Internacional de
13th. of March: Anniversary of the Attack of the Presidential Palace
of La Habana, by a group of young de revolucionaries who intended to serve
justice to the tyrant Fulgencio Batista, in 1957.
19th. of April: Anniversary of the Defeat of the Invasory Mercenaries
in the Bay of Pigs (Bahía de Cochinos), in 1961
30th. of July: Day of the Martyrs of the Revolution.
8th. of October: Anniversary of the Death of Comandante Ernesto Che
Guevara, in 1967.
28th. of October: Anniversary of the Death of Comandante Camilo Cienfuegos,
27th. of November: Commemoration of the Shooting of the 8 Medicine
Students, by the colonial Spanish Goverment, in 1871.
7th. of December: Anniversary of the Death in Combat of General Antonio
Maceo in 1896, an important figur in the Wars of Independence against Spanish
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In its origen Cuban Cuisine
is also the result of a confluence of factors: Spanish and African. Although
in previous epochs it included elements of the Asian Cuisine with the Chinese
inmigration at the end of the 19th century.
The Spanish introduced rice,
limes, oranges, cattle and horses, with which this supplemented their daily
The African slave contributed
to the daily diet by bringing foods typical to his native land, such as yam
(ñame), and the original Cuban crops such as cassava (yuca), okra (quimbombó),
corn (maíz) were contributed by the indigenous inhabitants.Subsequently all these elements
combined to give birth to what we now call the Cuban creole cuisine. As early
as the 19th century the typical creole cuisine began to differenciate itself
from the Spanish, even acquiring its own characteristics like certain combinations
exemplified in rice and chicken, rice and beans (also called "moros con
cristianos" or "arroz moro"), oriental congrí (rice with
red beans), which constitutes one of the most typical dishes of the Cuban Cuisine.
The national dish is called "ajiaco criollo", a combination of ground
provisions and diverse types of meats cooked together which vary because of
seasoning and the diversity of the ingredients which are employed in its confection.
The most common are - cassava, arum, sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes, green and
ripe bananas, corn and pieces of dried and salted meats.
The most typical cuban dishes are, in addition to "ajiaco" and the
combinations of rice with different ingredients, fried or stewed pork, "tostones"
(also called "chatinos"): slices of green bananas crushed and fried,
"chicharrones de cerdo" ( fried pork skin) and ground beef ( popularly
known as "picadillo a la habanera"in Cuba).
In Cuba there is an ample network of restaurants, many of which specialize in
Cuban Cuisine, but also in international ones: French, Italian, Chinese, Arabian,
Spanish among others.
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Cuba is the sugar island.
And from the sugar the alcohol is extracted and from this spirits are produced.
The spiritous liquor, subjected to an aging process and subsequently distillation,
gives origen to a rum of exquisit quality, chemically pure - Cuban rum; so famous
in the world as its tobacco.
In the 19th century the rum industry achieved its greatest development. Distilleries
were constructed in Cárdenas, Santiago de Cuba, Cienfuegos and La Habana. Subsequently
varios brands came into being: "Campeón", "Obispo", "San Carlos", "Jiquí, "Bocoy",
"Albuerne", "Bacardí "Castillo" and "Havana Club". The last one was founded
in Cárdenas (Matanzas) in 1878.
The brand "Havana Club" is the most popular Cuban rum in the world, but other
brands have also managed to penetrate the difficult and sometimes exclusive
market of drinks; among these it is worth mentioning "Caney", "Legendario",
"Matusalén", "Varadero", "Bucanero", "Caribbean Club" and "Edmundo Dantés" with
25 years of preservation.
Cuban rum can be consumed alone (strike) or with ice (on the rocks). In this
case the most ideal rums are the golden ones (with five years of preservation)
or the aged ones (seven years).
White rum or "carta blanca" (with three yares of preservation) are
prefered for cocktails together with "carta plata"
Cuba has an ample variety of cocktails, many of which have gone around the world
and are served in any bar of the orb.
Among the many famous cuban cocktails are:
Cuba Libre: maybe the most internationally famous: white rum, cola, a bit of lime juice,
ice and a slice of lime.
Mojito: a refreshing
blend of rum, lime juice,sugar, soda, ice and mint (yerba buena).
Daiquirí: rum, sugar, lime juice and crushed ice.
to daiquirí, but with aged rum and cocoa cream.
Havana Special: white rum, "marrasquino", lime and pineapple juices, ice.
Piña Colada: another of the most internationally famous, coconut cream, pineapple
juice, white rum on ice, all blended.
Cubanito: lime juice, salt, english sauce, hot sauce, ice and white rum.
Isla de Pinos: sugar, grapefruit, red vermouth, ice and white rum..
Manhattan: angostura, red vermouth, ice and gold rum.
High Ball: white rum, ice and soda or ginger.
Presidente: red curacao, vermouth Amat or Chamberry, white rum, one sour cherry
and orange peel.
rum, coconut water and ice.
Cuba Bella: mint cream, "granadina", lime suice, ice, white rum and y
aged rum .
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