GEOGRAPHICAL ENVIRONMENT
Cuba has a longitude of 1250 km and a coastline of 5746 km, along which there is more than 300 natural beaches. Plains predominate and there exists three mountainous groups: The mountain range of Guaniguanico in the west; the mountain range Escambray in the center and the Sierra Maestra in the eastern portion where Turquino Peak, the highest elevation of the country is situated. This peak rises more than 1974 meters above sea level. The Cauto River is the longest river, 370km long and the Toa is the largest, both located in the eastern region of the country.


CLIMATE
Tropical without being excessively so, refreshed by the gentle breezes of the trade winds. Two seasons can be distinguished, the rainy one (from May to October) and the dry one (from November to April). Cuba has an average of 330 days of sun per year. The outside average temperature: 25,5oC. January is the coldest month and July the warmest. The average temperature of coastal waters: 25o C in winter and 28o C in summer. The average relative humidity: 78%. The average annual precipitation is 1515 mm and the months with lesser precipitation are August and December.

FLAG
Each element of our national ensign has a special significance. The triangle, because of its shape, is a clear allusion to the famous triptych of the French Revolution, "liberty", "equality"; and "fraternity";. The single star, situated in the red triangle is representative of the unity of the Cubans gained by the blood spilt for the cause. The three blue stripes represent the three departments into which the island was divided, West, Center and East, and at the same time, because of its color, is indicative of the altruistic aspirations of the Cubans to be free. The white stripes represent the purity and the virtue of the Cuban people.

COAT OF ARMS
The coat of arms, symbol of the nation, describes as a whole our homeland in any place of the world. It represents the geographical and political importance of Cuba by means of a key that opens up the entrance of the Gulf of Mexico, transversally placed between the cape of Sable de la Florida and the Catoche of the Yucatan; the sunrising signifies the young republic that emerges, the lower section to your left is allusive to the stripes of the Cuban flag, the section adjacent to the right represents a typical Cuban landscape. Serving as support to the coat of arms is a bundle of eleven sticks which symbolizes the union of the Cubans in the fight for liberty, crowned by a Phyrigian cap, that together with the star in the center, signifies liberty, while the red color represents the blood shed to obtain this. Adorning the coat of arms, on your right, is a holm oak branch, and to your left, one of laurel that represents strength and victory.

NATIONAL FLOWER
The Butterfly Lily (Hedychium coronarium Koenig). White flower and perfumed. It was a symbol of rebellion and purity during the wars of independence.

NATIONAL BIRD
The Cuban Trogan (Priotelus lemnurus). Native specie. Its plumage reproduces the colors of the national ensign. Indigenous name: Guatiní.

NATIONAL TREE
The Royal Palm ( Roystonea regia). Its profusion and symbolism is of maximum significance to the Cubans.

LANGUAGE
The official language is Spanish.

FLORA AND FAUNA
Cuba has one of the richest island flowers in the world. More that 50% are endemic. Those that stand out are the royal palms, the coconut palms, the sugar cane and the tropical fruits, among many others. It has 900 different kinds of fish, 4000 mollusks and 300 kinds of birds. Those that attract attention are the colored trogans, flamingoes and parrots.

ECONOMY
Sugar cane and its industry is the fundamental base of the Cuban economy. Other traditional crops are tobacco, citric fruits, coffee and minor fruits.
Mining is a fundamental item, especially that of nickel, as Cuba has the biggest deposits in the world under open sky.
The pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries are developing and have become a resource of exportation.
The fish industry is also important. Cuban shellfish and crustaceans, such as lobster and prawns, enjoy great fame and international prestige.
Other important products are rum, honey and cocoa, just as are heat resistant chrome, manganese, asphaltite and marble.
Under development, tourism as well weighs heavily in the national economy.
The principal exports of Cuba are raw and refined sugar, nickel oxide, fish and seafood, citric fruits, rum and alcohol, leaf and handmade tobacco, marble, leather articles.

PUBLIC HEALTH
Cuba reckons with a health system considered to be unique in Latin America, giving full coverage to the country.
Medical services are free to all Cubans.
It has the lowest infant mortality rate in Latin America and one of the lowest in the world: 10,7 for every 1000 born live. The life expectancy rate of Cubans is 75,2 years.
The country is amongst the only six in the world that produce interferon (INF). It also produces the epidermal growth factor, a very efficient healing cream for burns; the vaccine against Hepatitis B; theantimeningococica type B vaccine (the only one in the world), and the recombinant streptoquinase, a medicine that acts against myocardial infarcts. In addition, medicines are produced against thromboembolism, weaknesses in the immunological system, hypertension, cholesterol and some forms of cancer.

EDUCATION
Education is free at all levels of instruction. There are no illiterates in Cuba. There are universities or university faculties in each province, as well as secondary teaching, specialized, polytechnic and other institutes. The school term extends from September to June.

CULTURE
During the last five centuries the Cuban culture has been able to achieve its singularity, between two strong currents that nurtured it: the African and the Spanish one.
In the XX century, it has attained its biggest splendor in manifestations such as dance with the launch of the national school of ballet, and fine art, with numerous painters famous in the main places in the world. Strengthened, the actual Cuban literature continues a tradition that has delivered its best fruits in poetry, essays and narrative, with authors such as Alejo Carpentier, Cintio Vitier, Dulce María Loynaz, Elíseo Diego, Fina García Marruz, José Lezama Lima, Nicolás Guillén and Virgilio Piñera, amongst the most notables. Music and cinema, are the two expressions where the island¢s culture has reached its biggest international popularity, by presenting a vital product of perfect aesthetic value, through the work of Amadeo Roldán, Alejandro García Caturla, Leo Brouwer, Harold Gramatges and in the voice of singer-songwriters Pablo Milanés and Silvio Rodríguez. Son, troubadours and even rock show that Cuba possesses a special gift for music. The country is the crib for rhythms such as danzón, bolero, mambo and the cha-cha. In cine, with directors such as Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, who died in April 1996, Humberto Solás, Juan Carlos Tabío, Santiago Álvarez or Manuel Octavio Gómez, amongst others, the country exhibits before the world an attractive and captivating national cinematographic industry, in existence for over 30 years.

SPORT
The National Institute of Sport, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER) steer and promote the sporting activities in the country. Cuba has become a powerful sport rival. It holds the world supremacy in boxing and baseball. In volleyball and athletics it has obtained important titles in first class competitions. The Caribbean island hosts numerous international sport events. Cuba is ranked amongst the top ten Olympic nations.

RELIGION
In Cuba there is total freedom of worship. The most extended religion is the Catholic one. There exist numerous churches all over the country where religious services are celebrated every day. The afrocuban religions enjoy great popularity and are very deeply rooted. They are a result of syncretism between pantheons of African origin and catholic saints.

 

   
 

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