Latin America is home to many island nations, one of which is Cuba. Although the country has been known to make headlines in the past for its unique socialist politics and bustling vacationing scene, there is a lot that is not known about the island nation. Below, we have listed some of the most interesting Cuba facts!
There are huge cities in Cuba
The country is heavily urbanized with a significant portion of its population residing in its cities. Havana is the largest city in the Caribbean nation, with a population of over 2.2 million residents. The city is also recognized as the capital city of Cuba. The second largest city in the country based on population is Santiago de Cuba which has a population of around 433,000 people. Other major cities in the country include Camaguey, Holguin, Santa Clara, and Guantanamo each having a population of at least 200,000 people.
El Caiman or El Cocodrilo is a nickname for Cuba
The country is also known as El Cocodrilo or El Caiman which translates to “The Crocodile” and “The Alligator” respectively. The reason behind these unusual nicknames is due to the appearance of the island when viewed from above. From an aerial view, Cuba appears like a large alligator.
Fidel Castro was the world’s longest serving non-royal leader
The history of Cuba is intertwined with that of the country’s longest-serving ruler, Fidel Castro. Loved and hated in equal measure, the controversial leader is recognized as the world’s longest-serving non-royal leader since the start of the 20th Century after ruling Cuba for 47 years. For most of his tenure as president, Fidel Castro was at loggerheads with the United States government. However, few people know that the American government once celebrated the Cuban leader as a hero after deposing the dictatorial regime of Fulgencio Batista. Another interesting fact about Fidel Castro was his facial hair. The leader spotted a long beard which, according to him, was a symbol of the victory of his revolution.
Cuba has a world-class healthcare system
Cuba is known for its healthcare system which is among the best in the world. Fidel Castro’s regime was responsible for the transformation of the country’s healthcare system after the 1959 Revolution. For starters, the country has one of the highest doctor-patient ratios in the world and has more than 70,000 certified health practitioners. The country is remembered for being the first in the world to end mother-infant HIV transmission in 2015. The world-class healthcare system is free for all Cuban citizens. The life expectancy in the country stands at 78 years which is among the highest in the Americas.
Cuba has had a frosty relationship with the United States for the most part of the 20th Century. Barrack Obama became the first sitting American President to visit Cuba in 2016 since 1928 when President Calvin Coolidge visited the Caribbean nation. The relationship between the two countries was once rosy but deteriorated after the Cuban Revolution of 1959. The United States was concerned with the communist ties Cuba had at a time when the Cold War was still raging. Washington was not comfortable having an ally of the Soviet Union so close to its borders and would use unconventional means to topple the Castro-led government. Diplomatic ties between the two nations were severed as a result and Cuba outlawed its citizens from owning US Dollars.
Cuba has the highest population In the Caribbean
Data from the 2012 Census showed that the population of Cuba stood at 11.1 million, the highest population of any country in the Caribbean. The population density is also relatively high, standing at 264 persons per square mile. The most dominant racial group is white which accounts for about 64% of the total population while Asians are the minority group, accounting for less than 1% of the total population.
Cuba has one of the highest literacy levels in the world
Literacy levels in the country at the turn of the 20th Century stood at between 36% and 42%. However, the literacy levels in Cuba currently stand at 100%, among the highest in the world. The Cuban government is responsible for financing the education system of the country, with education being allocated high priority when the national budget is drafted and is allocated 10% of the GDP. One of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the continent is the University of Havana which was established in the early 18th Century. Primary education in the country starts at the age of 6 years and ends at around 16 years, and it is mandatory for all children to receive a basic education.
Cuba is famous for vintage cars
Cuba is famous around the world for having well-maintained vintage vehicles on its streets. Some models are over 50 years in age but are still running. The high number of old cars in the country is as a result of the frosty relations between Cuba and the United States which made importation of new vehicles impossible. The presence of the vintage cars makes a stroll down the streets of Havana or any major city in Cuba seem like stepping into a time capsule. Most of the cars are handed down from parents.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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