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Cuba (the Republic of Cuba) includes the island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud and minor archipelagos in the north Caribbean Sea adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico. It is due south of Florida and the Bahamas.
Amerindians lived in Cuba since 5000 BC. When Columbus landed in 1492 Taíno Arawaks dominated but were almost wiped out by disease. Its economy was based on serving Spain until 1762 when the island captured by the British. It was returned to Spain in exchange for Florida.
After nearby Haiti rebelled in 1791 larger sugar farms began to be established worked by slaves. The first Cuban rebellion was in 1868, ending in 1878 with slavery finally abolished in 1886. It remained a colony of Spain until the Spanish–American War of 1898 when it became a protectorate of the USA from 1902.
Mounting political unrest culminated in the rise of Fidel Castro who took control in 1959, supported by the Soviet Union. In 1961 the USA tried to overthrow the communists but the so-called Bay of Pigs Invasion failed and Cuba became a flash point in the Cold War during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.
Suffering sanctions it survived with Soviet Union aid until 1991. Venezuela provided aid ilater in the 1990s but, since 2008, Cuba has improved its relations with the USA. The planned economy is dominated by export of sugar, tobacco, coffee and labour.
Cuba is an archipelago of islands in the Caribbean Sea at the confluence with the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.
Cuba is the main island, surrounded by smaller groups; the Colorados Archipelago on the northwest; the Sabana-Camagüey Archipelago on the north-central; the Jardines de la Reina on the south-central; and the Canarreos Archipelago on the southwest.
The main island consists mostly of flat and rolling plains apart from the Sierra Maestra mountains in the southeast, whose highest point is Pico Turquino at 1,974m.
Cuba has a long history of oil production. Output is dominated by heavy oil from fields of the North Cuba basin along the northwest coast, especially at Varadero. Output has grown from these poorly productive reservoirs with their complex structures, especially since foreign companies were re-introduced in the mid-1990s and more modern extraction techniques were implemented.
However, exploration elsewhere has been disappointing. There has been some drilling offshore in shallow waters. Deep water drilling near the US border has so far been unsuccessful and no production is forecast by Globalshift.
Cuba uses a little gas where it is locally produced and is looking to develop a more widespread gas infrastructure.
Map and National Flag
Plaza de la Catedral
Land area (sq kms)
Oil prod (000s b/d)
Gas prod (bcm/yr)
Oil cons (000s b/d)
Gas cons (bcm/yr)
Cuba is one of the world's 4 remaining one-party socialist states officially espousing communism (along with China, Laos and Vietnam). The role of the Communist Party is enshrined in the Constitution.
The First Secretary of the Party is President of the Council of State and President of the 31-member Council of Ministers. Members of the councils are elected by the 609-member National Assembly of People's Power who are in turn approved by public referendum. The President is elected by the Assembly.
The Cuba Oil Union (CUPET) is the NOC owned and operated by the government. It was created when all oil assets in the country were nationalised in 1960 (without compensation). The company is involved in extraction of petroleum, refining and distribution. It also operates a chain of filling stations with Cimex.
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