What Are The Major Natural Resources Of Cuba?

Cuban tobacco plantation, the country's second-largest export crop.
Cuban tobacco plantation, the country's second-largest export crop.

Cuba is a sovereign country found in the northern Caribbean region. It is an island country comprised of the main island of Cuba and a series of other smaller islands. The country occupies a total area of approximately 42,800 square miles. From above, the country’s main island appears to be in the shape of a crocodile, hence its Spanish name "El cocodrilo." The island of Cuba is the largest island by land area in the Caribbean region. The Caribbean country is governed through a socialist system of governance. The Cuban government owns and operates most of the companies and resources in the country. Cuba has plenty of natural resources such as nickel, cobalt, petroleum, arable land, forests, incredible landscapes, and rich biodiversity.

Natural Resources of Cuba


Cuba has nickel as its leading natural resource. The mineral is a useful component in making coins, rechargeable batteries, plumbing fixtures, and production of stainless steel among other products. Due to its anti-corrosive properties, nickel is used in making most alloys, and it is the top foreign income earner in Cuba. The nation is among the ten highest producers of nickel in the world. The nickel deposits exist in large quantities in the island country of Cuba. The mines are mainly found in the northeastern part of the country. Cuba produces an average of 50,000 tons of nickel annually. The Caribbean nation exports its nickel to China, Venezuela, Canada, Netherlands, and Italy. The nickel mining industry in Cuba is important because it provides jobs to many citizens of Cuba.


Cuba has cobalt as one of its natural resources. The island country is among top producers of cobalt in the world. It is estimated that Cuba has the third largest cobalt deposits on earth. In 2017, the country produced 4,200 metric tons of cobalt. Cobalt is experiencing a sharp increase in demand particularly in the electric car industry. The mineral is a key component in making lithium-ion batteries used in electric cars. The mineral is also used in making parts of aircraft engines. Cuba’s cobalt is exported to Canada and other European countries. Cobalt exports contribute to the national income and provide jobs to Cubans.

Oil and Natural Gas

Cuba has offshore oil and natural gas reserves in the northern part of the country. The oil is an important source of energy in the country. As of 2013, the country had an estimated 124 million barrels of oil in the reserves. Researchers claim that more unexplored oil deposits exist in the country. Cuba has three oil fields which produce about 80,000 barrels of oil daily. The oil produced in Cuba meets half of the oil demand in the country. The Caribbean country has partnered with international companies from Australia, China, Brazil, Norway, India, Venezuela, and Canada in exploring its vast oil reserves. Besides providing energy to Cuba, the oil industry employs many Cuban nationals and generates income for the country. The natural gas extracted in Cuba is used to power machines in the nickel and cobalt industries. Natural gas is a good source of energy as it is clean and safe to use. Cuba’s natural gas production is estimated at 305 million gallons every year.

Arable Land

Cuba has a large size of arable land, and it is estimated that 33% of land in Cuba is used for farming. The country experiences tropical climate which supports agricultural activities in Cuba. Since the mid-20th century, all land was owned by the government. Therefore, the government managed all agricultural ventures in Cuba. In the past decade, the constitution was amended to allow for private ownership of land. Cuba practices large-scale farming and applies modern farming techniques on most of its land. Sugarcane has been Cuba’s main cash crop since the start of the 18th century. It is grown in the expansive low plains in the country. Tobacco is the country’s second largest export crop. Cuban sugar and tobacco are exported to Europe, South America, and Asia. The crops are also used in the country’s manufacturing sector. Other crops commonly grown in the country are bananas, citrus fruits, corn, vegetables, potatoes, rice, and cotton. The country also has a big livestock sector where animals like cattle, poultry, and pigs are reared. Close to 15% of the Cuban workforce is engaged in the agricultural sector. The industry contributes 10% of the country’s national income.


Cuba was once covered with forest, but currently, only 16% of the land is covered with forests. Cuba has an active forestry industry supported by the country’s natural forests. The forests have old hardwood trees such as pines, mahogany, ebony, and ciders. The forests are a source of beauty to the island nation of Cuba. Additionally, the trees are used to supply timber to furniture shops, construction sites and paper factories in Cuba.

Incredible Landscapes and Biodiversity

The islands of Cuba have beautiful and diverse landscapes. The terrain is comprised of rugged jungles, mountain ranges, low plains, forests, grasslands, coastal areas, and arid areas. These varied landscapes have different ecosystems. As a result, Cuba is home to some of the most diverse plants and animals. The country host rare animal species like the bee-humming bird which is the world’s tiniest bird. Cuba also has some unique plants. The stunning landscapes and diverse wildlife bring numerous tourists to Cuba. Tourism is a major industry in Cuba that receives more than 2 million visitors annually. Therefore, the country’s beautiful landscapes bring income to the nation through tourism.

Impact of Cuba’s Natural Resources

Cuba heavily depends on its natural resources to run its economy. Different government agencies exist to manage the country’s natural resources. The income earned from these resources is redistributed to the citizens through subsidies and other government services. Mineral resources from Cuba such as nickel and cobalt suffer price fluctuations in the international market. As a result, economic performance in Cuba is largely determined by the international price of its export goods. The country’s economy suffered significantly after the United States stopped trading with Cuba in the mid-20th century. Before the ban on trade, the United States had been a major trade partner with Cuba where Cuba sold most of its export items.


More in Economics