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Information about Cuba

State and Government
The supreme organ of power is the People's Power National Assembly, which has constitutional and legislatives authority. It is elected by free, direct and secret vote. It holds two ordinary sessions and meets extraordinarily when requested by more than 50 percent of deputies.

The People's Power National Assembly appoints the Council of State, which is the organ that represents it between sessions, has a collegiate nature and, for national and international purposes, is the maximum representative of the State. The president of the Council of State is the president of the Republic.

The State's executive function is performed through the Council of Ministers, which is the maximum executive and administrative organ, and makes up the Government of the Republic. Its members are appointed by the People's Power National Assembly at the proposal of the Council of State.

The People's Supreme Court and the other tribunals exercise the judicial function. The tribunals make up a system of state organs that are structured with functional independence from any other and are hierarchically subordinated to the People's Power National Assembly and to the Council of State.

Political geographical division
The political geographical division of Cuba in 1959 was almost exactly the same as the one established by the Spanish metropolis in 1878. The country was divided into 6 provinces and 126 municipalities. This division was not suitable for the socioeconomic and political changes made by the revolutionary process.

As of 1976, it was necessary to appropriately divide the country according with the needs of planning, administration and the control of economic, political and social activities.

Cuba is currently divided into 14 provinces and 169 municipalities, one of them with special characteristics and status. Form west to east the provinces are named as follows Pinar del Río, La Habana, Ciudad de La Habana, Matanzas, Villa Clara, Cienfuegos, Sancti Spíritus, Ciego de Avila, Camagüey, Las Tunas, Holguín, Granma, Santiago de Cuba and Guantánamo. The special municipality known as the Isle of Youth is located on the south coast of the Havana Provinces.

The criteria for the creation of the new limits between provinces consisted of the similarity in the characteristics of fundamental indicators, like extension, population and economic conditions.

Main Cities
The City of Havana, capital of the Republic of Cuba, it has almost 3 million inhabitants and covers and area of 739 km2. This city is located on the north coast of the western region of Cuba, facing the Florida Straight.

There are other important cities considering their economic development and density of population, as it is the case of:

Santiago de Cuba, Holguín, Camagüey, Cienfuegos, Matanzas, Pinar del Río, Ciego de Avila, Bayamo y Guantánamo.

The total population of Cuba accounts for more than 11 million people, in a peculiar mixture of Spaniards, Africans and Asians.

Due to the extermination of the aborigine race because of the difficult conditions of labor to which they submitted, Spanish land owners introduced hundreds of Africans and Chinese to perform the most difficult works of the Sugar Industry. Afterwards, Europeans from Germany and France and people from other regions of the Caribbean, like Haiti and Jamaica also came to Cuba.

The mixture of these different races and cultures gave birth to the Cuban population.

Moderate subtropical. The Cuban territory grazes the Tropic of Cancer, and due to its long and narrow configuration, on an east-west axis, it receives the refreshing action of the trade winds and the sea breezes. During the short winter, it is cooled by masses of cold air from the North; those cold fronts do not last long. The day and night temperatures differ less in the coastal regions than inland. The eastern part of the country has a warmer climate than the western part.

Average temperature 24,6º C (76,3º F) Summer average 25º C (77º F) Winter average 22º C (71,6º F)

There are two, clearly defined: the dry season, from November through April; and the rainy season, from May through October. The average annual precipitation is 1 375 mm.

There are three outstanding large mountain ranges. In the West, the Sierra de los Órganos; in the central part, the Sierra del Escambray; and in the southern region of eastern Cuba, the Sierra Maestra, where the highest point of the country is located, the Pico Real del Turquino, 1 974 meters above the sea level. Its longest river is the Cauto, with a length of 250 kilometers.

Cuba was discovered by Christopher Columbus, on October 27, 1492. The conquest and colonization caused the extermination of the aboriginal inhabitants, due to which they imported black people from Africa to enslave them. The resulting mixture defined Cuba's population and culture. On October 10, 1868, the Cuban people began their struggle for independence from Spain, whose colonial rule lasted 4 centuries. United States intervened in the warlike conflict and established a pseudorepublic in 1902 until the 1st. of January of 1959, when the Revolution commanded by Fidel Castro triumphed, bringing essential transformations for the life of the country.

The tourism is the main line. Other important industries are the sugar cane, tobacco, nickel, rum, coffee, and since a few years ago, the pharmaceutic and biotechnological lines.

Education is free and obligatory until the ninth grade. In 1961, illiteracy was eradicated and today the population has a high instruction level. Cuba's national system of education comprehends from day care centers for working mothers' children to universities disseminated throughout the whole country.

A country prodigal in artistic and creative manifestations. It has made contributions to international culture with important names of writers, thinkers, dancers, musicians, painters, poets and singers. Cuban craftwork is interesting, with outstanding works in leather, vegetable fibers, wood, stone, metal and sea products. Cuba's cultural infrastructure consists of theaters, museums, art galleries and cinemas, where not only samples of the national wealth of all times are shown, but also of world art. It is the seat of important international events such as the Ballet Festival, the biennial of visual arts, popular music festivals and the Festival of the New Latin American Cinema, among others.

Cuba's health system is said to have one of the world's most complete programs of primary attention, the lowest of infantile mortality rate in Latin América and free services for all the people.

Excellent olympic results, a highlighted place in world sports and the massive and free practice in the country make Cuba proud and are counted among the achievements of the people in the past 40 years.

Lay country with freedom of cults. Catholic and Afro-Cuban religions prevail, although other tendencies also exist.

Payment Forms
In tourist facilities and other service units, prices are set in Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC). In Varadero, Cayo Largo del Sur, Jardines del Rey (Coco and Guillermo Keys), Santa Lucía and Covarrubias Beaches, and Holguín province (tourist resorts on northern coastline), you can also pay in euros. Credit cards – except those issued by US banks or their branches in other countries – are accepted. Among those accepted are MasterCard, Visa International and CABAL. Cuban convertible pesos and coins equivalent to 50, 25, 10, 5 and 1 cents have unlimited legal course in the national territory. Cuban convertible pesos can be changed upon departure at bank offices at international airports and ports in Cuba. Traveler's checks, including those issued by US banks, are accepted.

Official Commemorations
Although they are not holidays, they are also considered important dates: January 28: Anniversary of the birth of José Martí, Cuba's National Hero, in 1853. February 24: Anniversary of the beginning of the War of Independence, in 1895. March 8: International Woman's Day. March 13: Anniversary of the attack to the Presidential Palace of Havana, by a group of revolutionary youths that sought to execute the tyrant Fulgencio Batista, in 1957. April 19: Anniversary of the defeat of the mercenary attack at the Bay of Pigs, in 1961. July 30: Day of the Martyrs of the Revolution. October 8: Anniversary of the death of Major Ernesto Ché Guevara, in 1967. October 28: Anniversary of Major Camilo Cienfuegos’ death, in 1959. November 27: Commemoration of the execution of eight students of Medicine, by the Spanish colonial government, in 1871. December 7: Anniversary of Antonio Maceo's death in combat in 1896, an outstanding figure in Cuba’s War of Independence against the Spanish colonial rule.

Migratory Regulations
Visitors should possess an effective passport or a trip document stating their name and the corresponding visa or Tourist Card, excepting those countries that Cuba maintains Free Visa agreements with. Tourist Cards can be requested at the Cuban consular representations. Also, in travel agencies and airlines. They are of two types: for individual tourists or tourists that travel in groups. The businessmen, journalists at work and natural of Cuba, non-residents or with another nationality, should get a visa.

Sanitary Regulations
There are only restrictive sanitary regulations for visitors coming from countries where yellow fever and endemic cholera exist or have been declared infection areas by the World Health Organization. In such cases, an International Vaccination Certificate is demanded. Products of animal and vegetable origin have entry restrictions. Animals may be imported, previous presentation of the corresponding certificate.

The electric appliances endowed with round spikes should be brought with an adapter of plane spikes that are the type used for the plugs existent in the country. Electric current of general use is 110 V / 60 Hz, although in the recently constructed hotels it is 220 V / 60 Hz.

Geographic Ubication
Cuba, the biggest island in the Caribbean, is located at the entrance to the Gulf of México. Cuba's nearest neighbors are: to the East, Haití (77 kilometers), to the West, the Yucatan Peninsula (210 kilometers), to the North, Florida Peninsula (180 kilometers) and to the South, Jamaica (140 kilometers). The Bahamas are very near, toward the Northwest of the eastern end of Cuba. Formed by around 4 195 smaller keys, cays and islets, it covers a surface of 110 922 square kilometers and1 200 kilometers of extension, on a mostly karstic and flat territory. Its nature, diverse and prodigal, shows wide variety of plants, animals and more than 280 beaches, virgin islands, grottos, caves, mountains, forests, savannas and marshes.

The national currency is the Cuban Peso, which is equivalent to 100 centavos (cents). Notes can be of 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 pesos. Coins can be of 1, 5 and 20 centavos, and there are others of 1 and 3 pesos. At the Bureaus of Exchange (CADECA) created to sell - buy Cuban Convertible Pesos, the exchange rate can vary now between $20.00 and $25.00 Cuban pesos to the Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC). The exchange rate to the American dollar is fixed $ 1.00 CUC - $ 0.80 USD

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