Full Name: Republic of Cuba
Location: Between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, 150 km south of Key West, Florida
Population: Estimated at 11,224,321 as of July 2002
Literacy: 96.2 percent of Cuban males and 95.3 percent of Cuban females ages 15 and over can read and write, while the total population literacy is 95.7 percent
Industries: 51 percent of the Cuban labor force is in services, while 25% are in industry and 24 percent in agriculture as of 1999. Cuba produces agricultural products including sugar, tobacco, citrus, coffee, rice, potatoes, beans and livestock
Politics: Fidel Castro and his army took control of Cuba in a 1959 army rebellion that deposed the regime of Fulgencio Batista. Cuba’s Communist revolution was followed by others throughout Latin America and Africa during the 1960s, 70s, and 80s
Economy: Cuba’s economy suffered a severe economic recession in 1990 after Russia withdrew economic support by the former Soviet Union that was valued at $4 billion to $6 billion per year. Recently, the country’s economy has been hit by high oil prices, a global economic downturn, damage from Hurricane Michelle in 2001, and other factors such as slow tourism, low world sugar prices and a shortage of external financing. Cuba’s leadership blames the U.S. embargo, which began in 1961, for its economic problems.
Illegal Migration Each year, thousands of Cubans attempt to leave the island illegally, trying to enter the United States on homemade rafts, using alien smugglers, by direct flights, or with falsified visas. Recently, an increased number of plane and watercraft hijackings have brought Cuban migrants to the United States illegally. About 3,000 Cubans attempted to cross the Straits of Florida in 2001 and the U.S. Coast Guard stopped about 25 percent of them. Another 2,400 Cubans arrived overland via the southwest border and flights to Miami in 2000. Under the U.S. “wet foot, dry foot” policy, Cubans who reach shore are usually allowed to remain in the United Sates.
Source: CIA World Factbook 2003