Cuba - About the Country

Cuba is one of the largest islands in the world, 1,250 km long and 191 km wide, with an area of 114,000 km². It is about the size of England, dominates the Caribbean landscape and is home to 11 million people. It belongs to the Greater Antilles.

Since the worldwide fall of Communism around 1990, the Cuban government has taken great efforts to develop its tourism industry. More than 22,000 hotel rooms have been added since 1990, today the island has more than 2 million visitors each year. In 1996 tourism has become the most important economic activity, surpassing, after centuries, the production of sugar canes. A slow tendency toward ecotourism started around 2000, with the presence of a few hotels even inland. In 2005 most tourists were from the United States of America (51% of total arrivals) and western Europe (about 18%).

However, Cuba still has a communist government, it is one of the few socialist countries following the Marxist–Leninist ideology. The Constitution of 1992 is "guided by the ideas of José Martí and the political and social ideas of Marx, Engels and Lenin". But in 2008, the European Union (EU) and Cuba agreed to resume full relations and cooperation activities. 2009 United States President Barack Obama stated that "the United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba". The prohibition on travel and remittances by Cuban-Americans from the United States to Cuba. 2014 "The Cuban Thaw" began the process of restoring international relations between the U.S.A. and Cuba.

The climate of Cuba is tropical, the annual rainfall varies for different parts of the island from less than 800 mm to over 2,200 mm. Most of the rain falls from November to April in the wet season.

The island is rather flat, with most of the surface being lower than 100 m. But there are four mountainous areas.

  1. Sierra Maestra in the southeast is the major mountain range with the highest peak of Cuba, Pico Turquino (1974 m asl).
  2. The Baracos Highlands are located in the northeast.
  3. The Santa Clara Hills (max. 200 m asl) and the Escambray Mountains (max. 700 m asl) are located in the central part of the island.
  4. The Havana and Matanzas Highlands are located in the north-central near Havana.

Despite its abundant karst and caves, the speleological research in Cuba is rather small. This is obviously because the country is rather poor and the people do not have much time to spend for hobbies. But since the 1990s extraordinary caves were discovered by foreign cavers. International expeditions to Cuba are always popular, especially among British cavers. The result is a continuous exploration of Cuban caves, and still a lot of virgin soil.