Cuba Geography and Population

Cuba – geography

Cuba consists predominantly of slightly hilly lowlands, and only on the southernmost coast there are actual mountains. At Guantánamo Bay on this coast lies a large U.S. naval base; it is Cuban territory, which since 1903 has been leased by the United States.

Population and occupation

The native Native American people perished during the Spanish colonization; the vast majority of the population is white and people of mixed African and European descent, and there are 10% blacks. Cuba is the most sparsely populated island in the Antilles, and growth has been low since the 1970’s.

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Agriculture is the main occupation with the cultivation of sugar cane as the traditional main crop. The plant was brought to the island by Columbus, but not until the 1800’s. became the dominant source of income for the plantation owners. Since then, Cuba has been one of the world’s main exporters of sugar. Soil and climate are favorable for this demanding crop, which in several provinces dominates the landscape as far as the eye can see. Since 1959, sugar production has been under state auspices; harvesting, processing and transport have been largely mechanized. A very large part of the sugar crop is exported, for many years on long-term contracts with the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Tobacco, coffee, citrus fruits, pineapple and sisal are also grown predominantly for export purposes. Until the beginning of reforms in 1993-94, almost all agricultural production was concentrated on state farms and small farms organized in cooperatives. For the domestic market, rice, maize and beans are grown, in addition to the production of cattle and poultry. For culture and traditions of Cuba, please check calculatorinc.

Industries

The industry is quite versatile with the main emphasis on processing agricultural production in sugar mills, tobacco factories, textile factories, etc. Cuba is among the world’s leading nickel producers and has very large reserves. Furthermore, there are limited occurrences of e.g. copper, cobalt and manganese. Both agriculture, industry and the transport network have suffered from the deep economic crisis of the 1990’s, and the production of both sugar and industrial goods has declined significantly.

Nature and tourism

The climate is tropical, but temperatures are moderated by the surrounding sea. The rainy season is from May to October with the most precipitation on the north coast and in the mountain areas. The Northeast Passage characterizes the area, and Cuba is sometimes haunted by violent tropical cyclones. The agricultural land is abundant and extremely fertile. Among other things. tobacco is grown under ideal conditions, and Cuban cigars maintain a leading role in the world market. Forest occupies a quarter of the area, and precious tree species such as mahogany and cedar are exported.

Cuba was in the first half of the 1900-t. a favorite tourist destination for especially Americans. The country offers a warm, sunny climate, good beaches and a beautiful, fertile landscape, but the American boycott after 1959 has greatly limited the tourist industry.

The economic reforms, which began in the early 1990’s, were supplemented in 1995 by a new investment law that opened up for foreign participation in most business sectors. The effect has been limited, due to US sanctions. Nevertheless, economic growth has been quite large, in the pharmaceutical industry, collaborating with the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline.

Cuba – religion

The first Roman Catholic diocese became grdl. 1518, and until the revolution of 1959 the population was predominantly Catholic with certain Protestant and African-American influences; in African American religions, traditional African elements are mixed with Catholic saint worship.

After the revolution, foreign priests were expelled and there have been tensions between state and church. The Church has probably been allowed, but its daily role and influence has been diminishing; in 1990 it is said approximately 40% of the population to be Catholics.

Cuba – economy

Before the Cuban Revolution of 1959, the United States had a dominant influence on the country’s economy. About 75% of foreign trade took place with the United States, and American stakeholders owned a large part of the sugar industry, the telecommunications and electricity networks as well as the entire nickel industry and all the oil refineries.

After the revolution, Fidel Castro initiated a radical restructuring of the economy following the socialist model, which means that the state (and not the market) controls production and its distribution, eg through rationing. Industry and banking were nationalized, prices set administratively, and self-sufficiency and industrialization became new keywords. At the same time, land reform should ensure a more equitable distribution of resources.

The nationalisations took place without compensation and from 1960 led to a US blockade of the country, which has since been in force with varying severity, and which was followed by a large number of Western countries and also cut off the country from support from the IMF and the World Bank. Cuba then began working closely with the Soviet Union and the other Eastern bloc countries and in 1972 became a member of COMECON.; in the late 1980’s, about 80% of foreign trade took place with COMECON partners. Until 1991, the Soviet Union significantly supported Cuba financially, through the purchase of sugar above the world market price. At the same time, Cuba could import Russian oil at fixed, low prices. It is estimated that Soviet aid accounted for about 20% of Cuba’s GDP annually.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the dissolution of COMECON in 1991, Cuba’s economy has been on the brink of collapse, with further rationing of food, petrol and electricity as a result. The reason was that the favorable economic relations with the former Eastern Bloc countries lapsed, at the same time as the terms of trade between the dominant export goods sugar and nickel and the imported oil deteriorated, and that the United States intensified its blockade of the country. However, the blockade has no formal effect on other countries’ economic relations with Cuba, and China, Canada, Spain and the Netherlands have now become Cuba’s most important trading partners. After a hurricane, however, the United States from 2001 allowed the export of e.g. food to Cuba, and in 2005 the United States was the country’s fourth most important supplier. Cuba has a large trade deficit (the ratio was almost 1: 3 in 2005),

Economic statistics are extremely deficient, but it is estimated that Cuba’s GDP more than halved during the 1990’s. Forced by the circumstances, Castro has embarked on a market-oriented economic policy reform, inspired by both the Chinese, Vietnamese and Russian reforms of the 1990’s. The reform program includes the possibility of foreign investment in the country in the form of joint ventures with existing state-owned enterprises, larger plots of land for the agricultural workers and permission to operate self-employment in certain sectors; by 2000, the proportion of public employees had fallen to 78%. It is also permitted to hold foreign currency, which can be used in special “dollar stores”, which has led to an increased use of dollars in society and promoted the black market trading that has long accompanied the insufficient supply of goods. Since 1999, economic development has been quite favorable, aided by a favorable cooperation with Venezuela, and against this background, the parallel dollar economy has again been curtailed. During these upheavals and with an increasingly inadequate production apparatus, Cuba has maintained a high priority of the public education and health services, which are among America’s best.

In 2005, Denmark’s exports to Cuba amounted to DKK 130 million. DKK, while imports were only 8 mill. kr.