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Cuba

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Map of Cuba in the Caribbean Sea

Cuba is a country in the Caribbean Sea. The country is made up of one big island and many smaller islands. It is near the United States, Mexico, Haiti, Jamaica and the Bahamas. People from Cuba are called Cubans, and they speak Spanish. Cuba has a warm climate, but has many hurricanes every year. The capital city of Cuba is Havana. In Spanish, the capital is called "La Habana".

Culture[edit | edit source]

Cuba is famous for many types of music, especially dance music such as the Salsa and Mambo. Because Cubans come from Spain, Africa, South America and North America, Cuban music is special and different.

History[edit | edit source]

Early history[edit | edit source]

Before Cuba was conquered by the Spaniards,three tribes lived on the island were the Taínos, the Ciboneys, and the Guanajatabeyes. The Taínos were the largest and most common of the three tribes. They farmed crops such as beans, corn, squash, and yams. The Taínos also slept in hammocks which the Spaniards would introduce to the rest of the world. Then, in 1492, Christopher Columbus arrived in Cuba on his first trip to the Americas. Three years later he claimed the islands for the Spanish. The Spanish began to rule Cuba afterwards. The Spanish brought thousands of slaves from Africa to Cuba to work for them. Most of the native Cubans died because of the new diseases brought by the Spanish and Africans. The Spanish also treated the native Cubans very cruelly and massacred many of them.

The Spanish ruled for many years. Cuba became the most important producer of sugar. In the 19th century, Cubans rebelled against the Spanish rulers, but failed until 1898, when the United States went to war with the Spanish and defeated them. Cuba became American for four years afterwards, before it became an independent republic in 1902. Even though Cuba was independent, the Americans still controlled the island by a law called the Platt Amendment. In 1933 the Cubans stopped the Platt Amendment, but the Americans still had a big say in Cuban politics. Americans owned most of Cuba’s businesses. The Americans supported the leader Fulgencio Batista, who was seen by many Cubans as corrupt.

Cuban Revolution[edit | edit source]

In 1959, Fidel Castro led a revolution against Fulgencio Batista. Castro took power of Cuba with Che Guevara from Argentina, his brother Raul, and others who fought against Batista. Castro made many changes to Cuba and ended American ownership of Cuban businesses. This made Castro unpopular in America and the United States banned all contact with Cuba. Many Cubans also went to America because of this. In 1961 the Americans helped some of these Cubans to attack Cuba and remove Castro, but they failed. Castro then asked the Soviet Union to help defend them from the Americans, which they did. The Soviet Union put nuclear weapons in Cuba and aimed them at America. American President Kennedy demanded that they be removed or a new war would begin. This was known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Soviet Union then removed the missiles.

Cuba became a communist led country like the Soviet Union after this. The Soviet Union bought most of Cuba’s sugar for expensive prices. Cuba spent this money on health, education and the army. This made Cuba’s schools and hospitals some of the best in the world, and the army fought in Africa to support black Africans against the white South African army. Cuba also supported groups in South America fighting against the dictators of those countries.

However, the Cuban government began to control most of life in Cuba under the communist system. Disagreeing with the Cuban government and Fidel Castro in public was not allowed. Some Cubans did not like this and tried to leave Cuba. Most Cubans who left went to America. Some Cubans who did not like the government and stayed were put in jail. Many groups from around the world protested against Cuba because of this, and demanded that Fidel Castro give up power.

In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed. This meant that Cuba, which had sold most of its products to the Soviet Union, had no money coming into the country. The Americans made the restrictions against contact with Cuba tighter. America said the restrictions on contact would continue unless Fidel Castro gave up power. Cuba became very poor in the 1990s. This became known in Cuba as “The Special Period”. Because of the disaster, Cuba changed to allow less control by the government, more discussion amongst the people, and private shops and businesses. Cuba also tried to get tourists to visit the island.

In the 2000s, tourism to Cuba began to make money for the island again. Though Fidel Castro had remained in power, he had passed all duties to his brother Raul after an illness. Fidel Castro is 80 years old and was one of the longest serving heads of state. In 2008, Raúl Castro became the official president of Cuba.

For military service, men from the age of 16 to 49 years old must go to the army.[1]

Demographics[edit | edit source]

The population of Cuba is close to 13 million. The ethnic groups of Cuba is 48% White, 30% Black, 22% Mulatto, 1% Amerindian and 1% other.

Geography[edit | edit source]

Cuba is the largest island in the West Indies. It has many resources. Only about one-fourth of the land is mountains or hills. Much of the land is gentle hills or plains which are good for farming or raising cattle. Cuba has fertile soil and a warm climate that makes it great for growing crops.

Sugar is the most important crop of Cuba, and they may get it from the sugar cane. Sugar cane is the largest cash crop growin in Cuba, and it brings in most of the money. After that, the second is Tobacco. Tobacco is made into cigars by hand. A hand-made cigar is considered by many people to be the finest in the world.[2] Other important crops are rice, coffee, and fruit. Cuba also has many minerals. Cobalt, nickel, iron, coopper, and manganese are all on the island. Salt, petroleum, and natural gas are there too.[2] The coast of Cuba has many bays and a few good harbors. Havana, which is the capital, is also a port. Other harbors have port cities. Nuevitas is a port city on the north coast. Cienfuegos, Guantánamo, and Santiago de Cubaare some of the port cities on the south coast.

Cuba has a semi-tropical climate. That means that the cool ocean winds keep it becoming hot, despite its being in the tropiocal zone. Cuba has a wet season and a dry season. The dry season is from November to April, and the wet season is from May to October. August to October is also the hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean. Because of this, most of Cuba's port cities can be flooded along the coast.[2]

Life[edit | edit source]

The people of Cuba come from three different groups. The largest group is the descendants of the Spanish settlers who came to Cuba. The smallest group is the descendants of the black African slaves who were brought in to do the work. The middle-sized group is a mix of African and Spanish. The government succeeded in seeing that the three different groups were treated the same. The communist government gives the people a basic education. All the children are required to go to school from six to twelve years old, and nearly everybody are able to read and write at least.

Reading is very popular in Cuba. Many people especially enjoy reading books or things that came from outside the country. The government does not approve of this, because it may reveal the lies that the government told the people in Cuba about how wonderful this life is.[2] The government does not want the people to read the truth in books and magazines from outside the country. The people in Cuba still know that their government is lying. However, they do not try to say so or change things because than they might even be put in jail. So most of the people do not speak about it and pretend to agree with the government. Every year, though, a few who are brave enough to ask for changes are killed or prisoned.[2]

Communism claims to make everyone equal. But this is different in Cuba. The people who are important in the government get special treatment, and better houses and food. They also go to different shops at special stores. If normal Cuban people try to shop at those stores, they may get into big trouble. Because of this, Cuban people must stand in long lines to buy everything at their own stores. They are only able to buy rationed foods or goods. Stores may run out of food or shoes before all the people have bought what they needed.[2]

In spite of all of this, Cuban people still love their country because it is their home. They also love music and sports. Cuban music is very lively. This is because a lot of it comes from African and Spanish rhythms. Baseball, basketball, and track and field events are loved by many Cuban people.[2]

Fidel Castro[edit | edit source]

Fidel Castro is the most important man in Cuba.[2] Like many dictators, he created a personality cult about himself. This means that he wants the Cuban people to worship him and think him as a god. The newspapers have pictures of him all over the country, and his speches are always printed in the newspapers and broadcast on television or radio.[2] But if people do not like Castro, they might be sent to jail. Because of this, everybody cheers for him when he comes out and speaks. Because of Castro, many times soldiers have been sent to other countries to help fight with communist rebels. Cuban soldiers have fought against non-communist groups in Angola, Ethiopia, and Nicaragua. But after the fall of communism in Europe, Russia has stopped paying for these soldiers, and almost all of them came home.[2]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "CIA - The World Factbook -- Cuba". cia.gov. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/cu.html. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 Buskey, Theresa. Alan Christopherson, M.S.. ed (in English). History and Geography. LIFEPAC. 804 N. 2nd Ave. E., Rock Rapids: Alpha Omega Publications, Inc. pp. 11. ISBN 978-1-58095-158-6.
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