The country is officially known as the Republic of Cuba and consists of the island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos. The territory used to be inhabited by the Taíno people up until the Spanish arrived in 1492. In the 15th century, it was a colony of Spain until the Spanish American War of 1898, when Cuba was occupied by the United States, and then gained its independence in 1902.
In 1940 Cuba attempted to strengthen its democratic system, but all the political radicalization and social strife created a coup and a dictatorship under Fulgencio Batista in 1952. Open corruption and oppression under Batista's rule led to his eventual removal from leadership in January 1959. Afterward communist rule under the leadership of Fidel Castro was established. Since 1965, the state has been governed by the Communist Party of Cuba.
The country was a point of dispute during the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States, and a nuclear war nearly broke out during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Cuba is one of the few Marxist–Leninist socialist states, where the role of the Communist Party is enshrined deep within the constitution.
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Many have accused the Cuban government of numerous human rights abuses. Under Castro, Cuba was involved in a broad range of military and humanitarian activities in many countries. Culturally, Cuba is considered part of Latin America. It is a country with people, culture, and customs from diverse origins, including the indigenous peoples, the long period of Spanish colonialism, and the introduction of African slaves.
Cuba is a sovereign state and a founding member of the United Nations and many other organizations just like it. It’s currently one of the world's only planned economies, and it is dominated by the tourism industry and exports such as skilled labor, sugar, tobacco, and coffee. According to the Human Development Index, Cuba is ranked the eighth highest in North America, though 72nd in the world. It also ranks highly in utilities like health care and education. It is the only country in the world to meet the conditions of sustainable development that were set up by the WWF.
The Republic of Cuba is one of the last remaining socialist countries following the Marxist–Leninist ideology. The Constitution of 1976, which defined Cuba as a socialist republic, was replaced by the Constitution of 1992, which is influenced by the ideas of José Martí and the political and social ideas of Marx and many others.
The constitution describes the Communist Party of Cuba as the \"leading force of society and of the state.” The First Secretary of the Communist Party is also President of the Council of State (President of Cuba) and President of the Council of Ministers (sometimes referred to as the Prime Minister of Cuba).
Members of both councils are elected by the National Assembly of People's Power. The President of Cuba, who is also elected by the Assembly, serves for five years with no limit to the number of terms that they can stay in office. The People's Supreme Court serves as Cuba's highest judicial branch of government. It is also the court of last resort for all appeals against the decisions of provincial courts.
Cuba's national legislature, the National Assembly of People's Power, is the supreme origin of power; 609 members serve five-year terms. The assembly meets twice a year; between sessions legislative power is held by the 31-member Council of Ministers. Candidates for the Assembly are approved by public referendum.
All Cuban citizens over 16 who have not been convicted of a crime can vote. Article 131 of the Constitution states that voting shall be "through free, equal and secret vote". Article 136 states: "In order for deputies or delegates to be considered elected they must get more than half the number of valid votes cast in the electoral districts". No political party is permitted to nominate candidates or a campaign on the island, including the Communist Party.
The Communist Party of Cuba has held six party congress meetings since 1975. In 2011, the party stated that there were 800,000 members, and representatives generally constitute at least half of the Councils of State and the National Assembly. The remaining positions are filled by candidates that are not without a party affiliation. Other political parties' campaign and raise finances internationally, while activity within Cuba by opposition groups is minimal.
Cuba is considered an authoritarian regime. In February 2013, Cuban president Raúl Castro announced he would resign in 2018, ending his five-year term, and that he hopes to implement permanent term limits for future Cuban Presidents, including age limits. The country is subdivided into 15 provinces and one special municipality which is the Isla de la Juventud. These were formerly part of six larger provinces: Pinar del Río, Habana, Matanzas, Las Villas, Camagüey, and Oriente. These subdivisions are like the Spanish military provinces during the Cuban Wars of Independence when the most troublesome areas were subdivided. The provinces are divided into municipalities.
Cuba is home to multiple ethnic groups. Intermarriage and mixed heritage between diverse groups are widespread and very common, dating from the age of colonialism. The general ancestry of Cuba is a mix of European, African, and indigenous. Immigration and emigration have played a prominent part in Cuba's demographics. Between the 18th and early 20th century, large waves of Canarian, Catalan, Andalusian, Galician, and other Spanish people immigrated to Cuba. Between 1899 to 1930, close to a million Spanish people entered the country, though many would eventually return to Spain.
Other prominent immigrant groups included the French, the Portuguese, the Italians, the Russians, the Dutch, the Greeks, the British, and the Irish, as well as a small number of descendants of United States citizens who arrived in Cuba in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Much of the country’s culture is influenced by its melting pot of cultures, primarily those of Spain and Africa. Most Cubans are Christian, mostly Catholic, and the official language of the country is Spanish, though the dialects vary from region to region.
Cuba claims to follow socialist principles in organizing its economy. Most of the means of production are owned and run by the government and most of the labor force is employed by the state. Recent years have seen a trend toward more private sector employment. Any firm that hires a Cuban must pay the Cuban government, which in turn pays the employee in Cuban pesos. Cuba has a dual currency system where they use their own currency, the Cuban Peso, and the US dollar.
Every Cuban household is entitled to a monthly supply of food and other staples, which are provided at a small cost. Before Castro's revolution, Cuba was one of the most advanced and successful countries in Latin America. Cuba's capital, Havana, was a very dynamic and wealthy city.
The country's economy in the early part of the century, fueled by the sale of sugar to the United States, had grown wealthy. Cuba ranked number five in the hemisphere in per capita income, third in life expectancy, second in per capita ownership of automobiles and telephones, and first in the number of television sets per inhabitant. Cuba's literacy rate, 76%, was the fourth highest in Latin America. Cuba also ranked eleventh in the world in the number of doctors per capita. Several private clinics and hospitals provided services for the poor.
Cuba's income distribution compared favorably with that of other Latin American societies. However, income inequality was profound between both the city and countryside, especially between whites and blacks. Cubans lived in abysmal poverty in the countryside. According to PBS, a thriving middle class held the promise of prosperity and social mobility.
After the Cuban revolution and before the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba depended on Moscow for substantial aid and sheltered markets for its exports. The loss of these subsidies sent the Cuban economy into a rapid depression known in Cuba as the Special Period. Cuba took limited free market-oriented measures to alleviate severe shortages of food, consumer goods, and services.
These steps included allowing some self-employment in certain retail and light manufacturing sectors, the legalization of the use of the United States dollar in business, and the encouragement of tourism. The United States embargo against Cuba was instituted in response to the nationalization of U.S.-citizen-held property and was maintained at the premise of perceived human rights violations. It is widely viewed that the embargo hurt the Cuban economy.
Cuba's natural resources include sugar, tobacco, fish, citrus fruits, coffee, beans, rice, potatoes, and livestock. While tourism was restricted to some parts of Cuba so that the tourists could not integrate with Cuban society the rapid growth of tourism during the Special Period had widespread social and economic repercussions in Cuba and led to speculation about the emergence of a two-tier economy.
Cuba has tripled its market share of Caribbean tourism in the last decade; as a result of significant investment in tourism infrastructure, this growth rate is predicted to continue. The medical tourism sector caters to thousands of European, Latin American, Canadian, and American consumers every year.
The culture of Cuba is very diverse thanks to the influences of European, African, and indigenous cultures. The music of the country is very rich and is the most known expression of Cuban culture. The popular music of Cuba comes in many different styles and has been enjoyed all around the world.
Cuban classical music, which includes music with strong African and European influences and features symphonic works as well as music for soloists, has also been praised internationally. The cuisine is a fusion of both the Spanish and the Caribbean. Cuban recipes share spices and techniques with Spanish cooking with some Caribbean influence in flavor.
The typical meal could consist of plantains, black beans and rice, shredded beef, Cuban bread, pork with onions, and tropical fruits. Black beans and rice and plantains are staples of the Cuban diet. Dance holds an extremely high position in Cuban culture. Popular dance is seen as an essential part of life, and concert dance is supported by the government and includes internationally renowned companies.
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