Cuba

Introduction

There are few more fascinating destinations in the Caribbean than its largest and most populous island, Cuba, located between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, 150 km south of Key West. Florida. This last remaining vestige of state socialism was once the last stronghold of Spanish power in the region. With its history and great choice of natural attractions Cuba has much to offer. But most visitors agree that Cuba is a country so individual and extraordinary, that to be truly understood and appreciated it has to be experienced in person.

History

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.

Culture

Cuba has an easy-going, multi-racial population whose greatest enthusiasm is reserved for music. It is the home of the modern rumba, actually of African origin, the mambo, the cha-cha-cha and the salsa. Cuban jazz is also excellent. Wherever you go on the island, music will go with you.

Map

Cuba Map

To See

Cuba has so much more to offer those who venture away from its beaches to the towns and cities and their Spanish colonial architecture and grand plazas, where classic automobiles labour along streets and country roads, and the hip-swaying sounds of salsa music fill the night air. Together with cigar smoke and rum cocktails, baseball, and everywhere visual references of the 1959 revolution, these picture-postcard portraits of Cuba tell a more complete tale of the largest island in the Caribbean. Cuba’s rich artistic heritage ranges from pre-Columbian cultures to the splendours of Spanish colonialism and the internationally acclaimed art of today. It is also a place of great natural beauty, with three magnificent mountain ranges and fertile plains where sugar cane and tobacco grow. And it has some of the best beaches in the world.

Useful information

Airports: Jose Marti International Airport (Havana).

Area: 110,860 sq km.

Business: Cubans tend to be warm and hospitable, and business is conducted more informally than in other countries.

Capital: Havana.

Climate: Tropical; moderated by trade winds; dry season (November to April); rainy season (May to October).

Clothing: The standard Cuban Dress Code is casual, cotton and linen clothing is ideal. Note that topless sunbathing is not allowed in Cuba, only on the private hotel beaches are exceptions tolerated for the tourists.

Currency: Cuban peso (CUP), Cuba has two official currencies: the Cuban convertible peso (CUC) and the national peso (moneda nacional or MN). Transactions involving foreigners almost always take place in CUC.

Customs: Travellers to Cuba over 18 years do not need to pay customs duty on 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco; 3 bottles of alcoholic beverages; gifts to the value of US$50; and up to 10kg of medicine.

Economy: The Cuban economy has two main bases: tourism and the sugar industry. Other major sectors include: tobacco, coffee, rum, honey, cacao and citric fruits.

Electricity: Most older hotels use 110-volt power, while newer hotels use 220 volts.

Entry & Departure requirements: Please refer to the official tourist office website link below or contact us. In lieu of a visa, a Tourist Card ("Tarjeta del Turista"), is needed for a single-entry holiday trip of up to 30 days, provided land arrangements are pre-booked and paid.

Health: Around 95 % of hotels have a doctor on the premises for the provision of primary health care to patients. In addition, there are eight international clinics that offer specialized treatment in Pinar del Río, Varadero, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Cayo Coco, Santa Lucía, Guardalavaca and Santiago de Cuba. It is advisable for all tourists traveling to Cuba to do so with health insurance.

Holidays: New Year’s Day (01-02JAN), Labour day (01MAY), Independence Day (20MAY), Moncada Anniversary (25JUL) Moncada Barracks Attack Day (26JUL), National Revolution Day (27JUL), Anniversary of the War of Independence (10OCT), Christmas (25DEC).

Language: Spanish (official).

Political status: Communist state.

Population: 11,087,330.

Religion: Catholicism is the most widespread religion. Afro-Cuban religions is also very popular.

Security: Cuba is considered free from any threat of global terrorism, but has an increasing crime rate. Visitors are warned that theft from baggage during handling is common, and valuables should not be packed in suitcases. Be wary of pickpockets and bag snatchers in major tourist sites and on buses or trains.

Shopping: For tourists the most important items to get are Cuban cigars, Cuban rum, Cuban coffee, music CD’s and some paintings or craftwork. Cuba is no shopping paradise; the assortment in the Cuban shops is limited.

Taxes & Service charges: Tipping in convertible pesos is very welcomed as salaries in the service industry are small. A 10% tip is appreciated in restaurants and by taxi drivers. Small amounts are appreciated by all service staff. There is a departure tax to be paid in Cuban convertible pesos at the airport.

Telecommunications: The international dialling code for Cuba is 53, dial the prefix to obtain an exterior line from the caller's country and dial after the international code, dial the code for the province you want to call.

Time: Standard Time Zone: GMT – 5 hrs. Cuba Time does operate Daylight-Saving Time.

Transportation: Transport is cheap and convivial. Cuba is the only place on earth where hitchhiking is regulated by the state – in the nicest possible way. Each town has a hitch-hiking point manned by an official in yellow trousers who supervises the hitchers, registers their destinations and loads them on to any state or private car that happens to be heading in the right direction.

MORE INFORMATION: http://www.cubatravel.cu

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