Cuban cigars are thought to be the most famous in the world. The best cigars from Cuba are also the most expensive. They are referred to as “The Forbidden Fruit” due to their distinctive flavor and aroma and the fact that they are not permitted in the U.S. The most skilled cigar rollers make their home in Cuba and are highly respected within local society.
Aside from their high quality, what makes Cuban cigars so famous to U.S. consumers is that they are contraband. Since 1962, they have been included in the U.S. trade embargo with Cuba. They cannot be legally purchased or imported by U.S. residents on the market, no matter where the resident is located. U.S. cigar lovers have been known to travel to Canada or Mexico to enjoy these smokes and sometimes try to smuggle them back into the country.
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 77.7 years
male: 75.46 years
female: 80.08 years (2011 est.)
Cuba’s health system is unique in the world. Built on a strong foundation in primary care, Cuba provides comprehensive health care to all residents of the island. Given extremely limited resources Cuba has amassed an impressive set of accomplishments in public health.
The US tried to invade Cuba multiple times from Florida. In 1848, they gave up and offered Spain $100 million dollars for Cuba, but the offer was rejected.
Fidel Castro, in full Fidel Castro Ruz (born Aug. 13, 1926, near Birán, Cuba), political leader of Cuba (from 1959) who transformed his country into the first communist state in the Western Hemisphere. Castro became a symbol of communist revolution in Latin America. He held the title of premier until 1976 and then began a long tenure as president of the Council of State and the Council of Ministers, handing over provisional power in July 2006 because of health problems and formally relinquishing the presidency in February 2008.
As the largest source of employment, the government sector accounts for more than 80 percent of all jobs. The government has eased some rules on private employment in an effort to reshape the economy and improve efficiency, but many details are obscure. The private sector has long been shackled with heavy regulations and tight state control. Open-market policies are not in place to spur dynamic growth in trade and investment.
Type: Totalitarian communist state; current government assumed power by force on January 1, 1959.
Independence: May 20, 1902.
Political party: Cuban Communist Party (PCC); only one party allowed.
Administrative subdivisions: 16 provinces, including the city of Havana, and one special municipality (Isle of Youth).
The need for labor on the sugar and tobacco plantations and in raising livestock, which had been the area's first major industry, resulted in the growth of African slavery. Lasting only ten months before Spain resumed control, Britain's rule was of short duration. However, in this brief period North Americans had become buyers of Cuban goods, a factor that would contribute greatly to the wellbeing of the island population.
In the next 60 years, trade increased, as did immigration from Europe and other areas of Latin America. The introduction of the steam-powered sugar mill in 1819 hastened the expansion of the sugar industry. While the demand for African slaves grew, Spain signed a treaty with Britain agreeing to prohibit the slave trade after 1820. The number entering the area did decrease, but the treaty was largely ignored. Over the next three decades, there were several slave revolts, but all proved unsuccessful.
Arawak (or Taino) Indians inhabiting Cuba when Columbus landed on the island in 1492 died from diseases brought by sailors and settlers. By 1511, Spaniards under Diego Velásquez had established settlements. Havana's superb harbor made it a common transit point to and from Spain.
In the early 1800s, Cuba's sugarcane industry boomed, requiring massive numbers of black slaves. A simmering independence movement turned into open warfare from 1867 to 1878. Slavery was abolished in 1886. In 1895, the poet José Marti led the struggle that finally ended Spanish rule, thanks largely to U.S. intervention in 1898 after the sinking of the battleship Maine in Havana harbor.
An 1899 treaty made Cuba an independent republic under U.S. protection. The U.S. occupation, which ended in 1902, suppressed yellow fever and brought large American investments. The 1901 Platt Amendment allowed the U.S. to intervene in Cuba's affairs, which it did four times from 1906 to 1920. Cuba terminated the amendment in 1934.
In 1933, a group of army officers, including army sergeant Fulgencio Batista, overthrew President Gerardo Machado. Batista became president in 1940, running a corrupt police state.
In 1956, Fidel Castro Ruz launched a revolution from his camp in the Sierra Maestra mountains. Castro's brother Raul and Ernesto (Ché) Guevara, an Argentine physician, were his top lieutenants. Many anti-Batista landowners supported the rebels. The U.S. ended military aid to Cuba in 1958, and on New Year's Day 1959, Batista fled into exile and Castro took over the government.
Where is Cuba?
It is neighbored by US and Bahamas to the north, Mexico to the west, the Cayman Islands and Jamaica to the south, and Haiti and the Dominican Republic to the southeast. The Republic of Cuba consists of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud and many other archipelagos. Cuba is the largest island in Caribbean.
Famed as one of the islands Christopher Columbus discovered, Cuba remained a Spanish colony for almost 400 years. Although an island, Cuba does have one 29km-long land border with the US, which has a naval base at Guantanamo Bay. It is the largest island in the Caribbean region, with a surface area of almost 110,000 sq km, while its population of 11 million makes it the most populous nation in the region also. The nation's capital, Havana, is the largest in the region too, with 2.2 million citizens.