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The native Amerindian population of Cuba began to decline after the European discovery of the island by Christopher COLUMBUS in 1492 and following its development as a Spanish colony during the next several centuries. Large numbers of African slaves were imported to work the coffee and sugar plantations, and Havana became the launching point for the annual treasure fleets bound for Spain from Mexico and Peru. Spanish rule eventually provoked an independence movement and occasional rebellions that were harshly suppressed. US intervention during the Spanish-American War in 1898 assisted the Cubans in overthrowing Spanish rule. The Treaty of Paris established Cuban independence from the US in 1902 after which the island experienced a string of governments mostly dominated by the military and corrupt politicians. Fidel CASTRO led a rebel army to victory in 1959; his iron rule held the subsequent regime together for nearly five decades. He stepped down as president in February 2008 in favor of his younger brother Raul CASTRO. Cuba's Communist revolution, with Soviet support, was exported throughout Latin America and Africa during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. The country faced a severe economic downturn in 1990 following the withdrawal of former Soviet subsidies worth $4 billion to $6 billion annually. Cuba at times portrays the US embargo, in place since 1961, as the source if its difficulties. Illicit migration to the US - using homemade rafts, alien smugglers, air flights, or via the southwest border - is a continuing problem. The US Coast Guard intercepted some 1,000 individuals attempting to cross the Straits of Florida in fiscal year 2011.


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Government

Country name
Conventional long form Republic of Cuba
Conventional short form Cuba
Local long form Republica de Cuba
Local short form Cuba

Government type
Communist state

Capital
Name Havana
Geographic coordinates 23 07 N, 82 21 W
Time difference
UTC-5 (same time as Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Daylight saving time
+1hr, begins third Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October; note - Cuba has been known to alter the schedule of DST on short notice in an attempt to conserve electricity for lighting

Administrative divisions
15 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia) and 1 special municipality* (municipio especial); Artemisa, Camaguey, Ciego de Avila, Cienfuegos, Granma, Guantanamo, Holguin, Isla de la Juventud*, La Habana, Las Tunas, Matanzas, Mayabeque, Pinar del Rio, Sancti Spiritus, Santiago de Cuba, Villa Clara

Independence
20 May 1902 (from Spain 10 December 1898; administered by the US from 1898 to 1902); not acknowledged by the Cuban Government as a day of independence

National holiday
Triumph of the Revolution, 1 January (1959)

Constitution
24 February 1976; amended July 1992 and June 2002

Legal system
Civil law system based on Spanish civil code

International law organization participation
Has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt

Suffrage
16 years of age; universal

Executive branch
Chief of state
President of the Council of State and President of the Council of Ministers Gen. Raul CASTRO Ruz (president since 24 February 2008); First Vice President of the Council of State and First Vice President of the Council of Ministers Jose Ramon MACHADO Ventura (since 24 February 2008); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
Head of government
President of the Council of State and President of the Council of Ministers Gen. Raul CASTRO Ruz (president since 24 February 2008); First Vice President of the Council of State and First Vice President of the Council of Ministers Jose Ramon MACHADO Ventura (since 24 February 2008)
Cabinet
Council of Ministers proposed by the president of the Council of State and appointed by the National Assembly or the 31-member Council of State, elected by the assembly to act on its behalf when it is not in session
Elections
President and vice presidents elected by the National Assembly for a five-year term; election last held on 24 February 2008 (next to be held in 2013)
Election results
Gen. Raul CASTRO Ruz elected president; percent of legislative vote - 100%; Jose Ramon MACHADO Ventura elected vice president; percent of legislative vote - 100%

Legislative branch
Unicameral National Assembly of People's Power or Asemblea Nacional del Poder Popular (number of seats in the National Assembly is based on population; 614 seats; members elected directly from slates approved by special candidacy commissions to serve five-year terms)
Elections
Last held on 20 January 2008 (next to be held in January 2013)
Election results
Cuba's Communist Party is the only legal party, and officially sanctioned candidates run unopposed

Judicial branch
People's Supreme Court or Tribunal Supremo Popular (president, vice presidents, and other judges are elected by the National Assembly)

Political parties and leaders
Cuban Communist Party or PCC [Fidel CASTRO Ruz, first secretary]

Political pressure groups and leaders
Human Rights Watch; National Association of Small Farmers

International organization participation
ACP, AOSIS, CELAC, FAO, G-77, IAEA, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IFAD, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAES, LAIA, NAM, OAS (excluded from formal participation since 1962), OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, Petrocaribe, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the us
None; note - Cuba has an Interests Section in the Swiss Embassy, headed by Principal Officer Jorge BOLANOS Suarez; address: Cuban Interests Section, Swiss Embassy, 2630 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009; telephone: [1] (202) 797-8518; FAX: [1] (202) 797-8521

Diplomatic representation from the us
None; note - the US has an Interests Section in the Swiss Embassy, headed by Chief of Mission Jonathan D. FARRAR; address: USINT, Swiss Embassy, Calzada between L and M Streets, Vedado, Havana; telephone: [53] (7) 833-3551 through 3559 (operator assistance required); FAX: [53] (7) 833-1653; protecting power in Cuba is Switzerland

Flag description
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; the blue bands refer to the three old divisions of the island: central, occidental, and oriental; the white bands describe the purity of the independence ideal; the triangle symbolizes liberty, equality, and fraternity, while the red color stands for the blood shed in the independence struggle; the white star, called La Estrella Solitaria (the Lone Star) lights the way to freedom and was taken from the flag of Texas
Note
Design similar to the Puerto Rican flag, with the colors of the bands and triangle reversed

National anthem
Name
"La Bayamesa" (The Bayamo Song)
Lyrics/music Pedro FIGUEREDO
Note
Adopted 1940; Pedro FIGUEREDO first performed "La Bayamesa" in 1868 during the Ten Years War against the Spanish; a leading figure in the uprising, FIGUEREDO was captured in 1870 and executed by a firing squad; just prior to the fusillade he is reputed to have shouted, "Morir por la Patria es vivir" (To die for the country is to live), a line from the anthem


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  Cuba (Havana):


  GPS points from Cuba (Havana)

Finca Rio Hondito Provincia De Sancti Spiritus

Dolores Provincia De Villa Clara

Flora Quesada Provincia De Camaguey

Paso De La Cadena Provincia De Pinar Del Rio

Sopapo Provincia Mayabeque

Maria Teresa Provincia De Cienfuegos

Arroyo Cuchillo Provincia Granma

Augusto Cesar Sandino Provincia Mayabeque




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