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Cuba Travel Guide Travel Information

 

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Overview of Cuba

Cuba Travel Guide

Cuba is a unique exotic destination that has a mix of Caribbean charm, post-World war era, communism and Spanish colonialism.

 

Cuba packs the elegant past of the 1950s (represented primarily by the old cars on the streets, but also by the often seen old household objects), has the exotic warmth of the Caribbean Islands, boasts the typical Latin-American atmosphere and of course, communism - which has contributed to the conservation of so many values that many of us in the West have lost due to capitalism…

 

A beautiful country that you must visit as soon as possible. Many consider that Cuba remained so interesting and unique do to its political isolation.

 

 

Cuba Travel Factsheet

State, geography 

Official name:

República de Cuba (Republic of Cuba)

Government type:

Single-part socialist communist republic

Location:

Caribbean Sea

Area/surface:

110.861 km² or 42,803 sq mi

Geography overview:

Mountainous island country covered with rainforests, agricultural lands.

Demographics, population

Official language(s):

Spanish

Locally used languages:

-

Other widely spoken languages:

-

Nationalities, ethnic groups, races:

65,05 % European (Spanish, others); 10,08 % African (Igbo, other); 23,84 % Mulatto and Mestizo

Population:

11,45 million

Population density:

102/km² or 264/sq mi

Capital city & population:

La Habana (Havanna/Havana) (central area: 2.400.000, urban area: 2.700.000, metropolitan area: 3.700.000)

Largest city & population:

La Habana (Havanna/Havana) (central area: 2.400.000, urban area: 2.700.000, metropolitan area: 3.700.000)

Other large cities & population:

Camagüey (central area: 301.500)

Santiago de Cuba (central area: 423.400)

Holguín (central area: 269.618)

Santa Clara (central area: 210.000)

Cienfuegos (central area: 140.000)

Manzanillo (central area: 132.800)

Pinar del Río (central area: 139.300)

Religion(s):

60 % Roman Catholic; 5 % Protestant; 35 % mostly atheist and some very few belonging to other religions, such as Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Baha'i religions.

Economy

Currency:

1 Cuban peso (CUP) = 100 centavo

Symbol/sign: $ or $MN

Foreign currencies widely used:

United States Dollar (USD)

(although Cuba is relatively isolated, one can pay for goods directly with US dollars)

GDP (nominal):

55,19 billion USD

GDP per capita (nominal):

4.819 USD

Other data

Time zone:

UTC/GMT -5 h

Country telephone calling code:

+53

Internet TLD(s):

.cu

Electric power system:

Voltage & frequency: 110-127 V/60 Hz

...................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Plugs/sockets/outlets: A, B, C

Driving system:

Right-hand drive

 

Cuba Interactive Map

 


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Places to Visit & Things to Do in Cuba

Havana/Havanna/La Habana

The population of this city is 2,4 million in the central area and has over 3,7 in the whole urban area. This makes Havana or "La Habana", as the Cubans call it, the most populous Caribbean city.

 

Havana is a unique and well conserved typical Caribbean city with very strong Spanish colonial heritage. There is nothing like Havana!

Due to its relative political isolation, Havana still reflects its past. Perhaps the most characteristic are the "yank tanks"... Vintage American cars from the 1950s, '40s. Due to the embargo on Cuba, the country could not import enough new vehicles and the very few available for the population aren't at all affordable. Therefore many are still running in "like new" condition.

The "yank tanks" are not always US-built cars, some are form the UK, others are Soviet cars. Among these you will even find models from the 1930s. Photographers adore these cars. Plymouth, Oldsmobile and old Ford models roam the streets of Havana. They are usually painted in vivid colours, which makes their beautiful old shapes come more out into evidence.

It’s worth taking a good camera (not just a compact one, but a DSLR) to immortalize the moments. Because, when Cuba opens up to the World, all these will be lost.

 

To name a few of he most important attractions: the Real Fuerza Fortress, the El Morro Fortress, the San Carlos de la Cabaña Fortress are 3 major fortifications; the Museo de la Revolución, which is in a 1920-built old spectacularly beautiful building which was decorated by Tiffany & Co. from New York (it used to be the Presidential Palace until 1959); the El Capitolio (which is the biggest old building that comes out into evidence from between the modern concrete house blocks of the city); the Great Threatre of Havana;

Varadero

Popular beach destination. Many people from Europe and North America arrive to Varadero to spend a beach vacation.

The place is also called Playa Azul, meaning Blue Beach. The water is clear light blue and the sand is light in colour. A beautiful place indeed... This is a long thin stretch of land filled with hotels, entertainment facilities, marinas, discos, shops, restaurants...

Varadero is Cuba's second most well known location, right after the capital.

Despite its fame and its international airport, Varadero only has about 20.000 inhabitants.

Varadero means "dry dock" and its history dates back to 1555, when it was first mentioned in documents. It was an important port, today much less, rather an immense tourist resort. Even though we might tend to imagine it as a populous city.

You can have popular beach activities in Varadero and some hotels aren't far away from western standards when it comes to comfort level. The prices are cheaper than in Western Europe, of course.

Surprisingly the tiny Varadero receives over half a million visitors per year!

You might even fly in directly, there is an airport nearby.

Trinidad

Scenic beautiful little city of approximately 73.000, located in central Cuba. Has beautiful colonial quarters, old churches, colourful houses, cobbled roads.

Photographers will adore taking walks in Trinidad.


Transportation

By Air

A number of airlines have flights to Havana/Havanna, which is the best gateway to the country. There are several flights to Havana from Canada, the USA, Mexico, Spain, the UK, Germany and other countries.

Some other cities also have their own airport. Among them Varadero, a top beach destination.

By Land

Only within the country, because Cuba is an island country. You can rent, even buy a vehicle. Some buy motorcycles and then abandon them or sell them after they travel around. Please not that most of the vehicles and roads are in very poor condition.

The Carretera Central is Cuba's main road, a highway that crosses the country from east to west. The length is 1.250 km (777 mi).

To western standards this is just a road, would be comparable to main roads in Hungary, Holland or secondary roads in the US and Germany. This is a very old road dating back to 1927, so this is understandable.

The best way to reach various points of Cuba by car it to drive on the Carretera Central.

On Water

Not a popular way and not recommended either, due to the relative political isolation of the country there are few opportunities for those wanting to reach Cuba by ship/boat. For your safety and comfort, we’d recommend you to fly.


Best Time for Visiting Cuba

Cuba is an all year round destination. This means that the temperature is the same, quite the whole year and the precipitation and weather clearness doesn't vary that much either. However, tropical storms, even hurricanes and a little more rain and clouds occur during certain periods. Especially in the autumn and winter.

May through September is the best time. But the very best is June – August, then you get the best sunshine, but also most tourists and highest prices.


Risks & Precautions in Cuba

Important: We present you some of the most common risks and precautions for you to take in this country, however our list does not cover the whole typology and details of these problems that might occur.

Diseases

Waterborne diseases are very frequent. Make sure to consume only closed bottle water, eventually juices.

Be extremely careful when buying food. Some shops, restaurants and especially street merchants have poor hygienic conditions.

Theft, Assault

Theft, assault occurs often. Make sure you don’t walk alone in the exciting, poor and dangerous neighbourhoods.

Storms, Hurricanes

Hurricanes might occur, especially in the June – November interval.


Interesting Things to Know About Cuba

Cuba is the country where the famous drinks company Bacardi was established by Facundo Bacardí in 1862 in the city of Santiago de Cuba.

   

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