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Geography of Cuba

Learn Information about the Caribbean Nation of Cuba

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Cuba Flag

The Cuba flag has five equal horizontal bands of blue (top, center, and bottom) alternating with white; a red equilateral triangle based on the hoist side bears a white, five-pointed star in the center.

Source: CIA World Factbook, 2007
Updated September 22, 2011

Population: 11,087,330 (July 2011 estimate)
Capital: Havana
Area: 42,803 square miles (110,860 sq km)
Coastline: 2,321 miles (3,735 km)
Highest Point: Pico Turquino at 6,578 feet (2,005 m)

Cuba, officially called the Republic of Cuba, is an island nation located in the Caribbean Sea to the south of the United States' state of Florida. Its area consists of the main island of Cuba as well as the Isla de la Juventud and several smaller nearby islands. Havana is the capital and largest city in Cuba and the country has a population of 11,087,330 (July 2011 estimate). This makes it the largest country by population in the Caribbean and its area of 42,803 square miles (110,860 sq km) makes it the largest by area.

History of Cuba

The first Europeans to arrive on the island of Cuba were Spanish settlers who quickly established colonies whose primary focus was cattle raising and the farming of sugarcane and tobacco. By the mid-1800s the colony began pushing for independence from Spain and in 1895 Jose Marti began Cuba's last push for independence, causing conflict within the colony (U.S. Department of State). In 1898, the U.S. ship USS Maine sunk in Havana Harbor and as a result, it entered the conflict. In December 1898 Spain gave control of Cuba to the U.S. On May 20, 1902, the U.S. gave Cuba its independence but maintained its right under the Platt Amendment to intervene in Cuban affairs to keep stability in the new country (U.S. Department of State).

The Platt Amendment was repealed in 1934 and a Treaty of Relations was established which kept a U.S. lease on Guantanamo Bay as a U.S. naval base. Following its independence, Cuba was mainly ruled by authoritarian military people. In 1953 Fidel Castro led an attack on the Moncada army barracks and was jailed.

Shortly after however he jailed, Castro was released and exiled to Mexico where he organized the 26th of July Movement to overthrow Cuba's leader, Fulgencio Batista. On January 1, 1959 Batista fled Cuba and a revolution where over 3,000 people were executed took place in the country from 1959 to 1962. Hundreds of thousands of Cubans also fled the country during this time.

On April 16, 1961 Castro named Cuba a socialist state and as such he maintained close relationships with the Soviet Union until the U.S.S.R. broke apart in 1991. Because of Cuba's socialist policies and its adoption of a one-party communist system, relations between Cuba and the U.S. also quickly fell apart at this time. In 1960 the U.S. imposed a trade embargo on Cuba and on January 3, 1961 all diplomatic relationships between the town countries ceased. Tensions between the two countries were then heighted in 1962 with the Cuban Missile Crisis.

By the late 1970s however, the U.S. formed limited diplomatic ties with Cuba. In the 1980s, Cuba aided several Communist revolutions around the world in places such as Angola. In the 1990s, Cuba suffered a severe economic crisis after foreign aid from the Soviet Union ended with the collapse of the U.S.S.R. in 1991 and its foreign trade amounts rapidly decreased. In 1996 the U.S. tightened the trade embargo with Cuba, further hurting its economy.

In 2008, after 49 years in power, Fidel Castro announced his retirement and Raul Castro became the 21st president of Cuba on February 24, 2008.

Government of Cuba

Today Cuba is still governed as a Communist state and its executive branch of government is made up of a chief of state and a head of government - both of whom are the country's president. Cuba's legislative branch consists of a unicameral National Assembly of People's Power, while its judicial branch is made up of the People's Supreme Court. Cuba is divided into 15 provinces for local administration.

Economics and Land Use in Cuba

Cuba's government has recently become freer of government controls and as such there have been reforms aimed at increasing its efficiency and reducing food shortages. In addition, in March 2011, the government announced that 500,000 state jobs would be eliminated for more self-employment opportunities (CIA World Factbook). The main industries in Cuba are sugar, petroleum, tobacco, construction, nickel, steel, cement, agricultural machinery and pharmaceuticals (CIA World Factbook). Agriculture also plays a role in Cuba's economy and the main products are sugar, tobacco, citrus, coffee, rice, potatoes, beans and livestock (CIA World Factbook).

Geography and Climate of Cuba

Cuba is located in the Caribbean about 150 km south of Key West, Florida (map). It is a very large island with a varied topography that consists of flat to rolling plains and hilly to rugged mountain areas in its southeast. The highest point in Cuba is Pico Turquino at 6,578 feet (2,005 m).

The climate of Cuba is tropical but it is moderated throughout the year by the trade winds. In addition, Cuba has a dry season from November to April and a rainy season from May to October. Havana, the capital and largest city in Cuba, has an average January low temperature of 65.5˚F (18.6˚C) and an average August high of 90˚F (32˚C).

To learn more about Cuba, visit the Geography and Map section on Cuba on this website.

References

Central Intelligence Agency. (23 August 2011). CIA - The World Factbook - Cuba. Retrieved from: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/cu.html

Infoplease.com. (n.d.). Cuba: History, Geography, Government, and Culture- Infoplease.com. Retrieved from: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107443.html

United States Department of State. (28 April 2011). Cuba. Retrieved from: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2886.htm

Wikipedia.org. (28 August 2011). Cuba - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuba

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