25 Interesting Facts about Cuba

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Last updated: January 24, 2019

Want to know more about Cuba? Here are 25 Interesting Facts about Cuba that you probably didn’t know before reading this!

To make this even more fun, I want to challenge you as well. How many of these Cuban facts did you know before reading this? Share your result in the comment section!

1. The first public Wi-Fi hotspots opened in 2015

Before this, the access to Wi-Fi was limited to selected people only, mostly government officials, doctors, and approved journalists. The internet is still not free, and not all websites can be visited via the Wi-Fi hotspots. 

However, you can access most websites and apps. The Wi-Fi cards costs between 2-5 CUC (2-5 USD) depending on how many hours you want to use.

2. Most restaurants are owned by the government

There are also privately owned restaurants, called Paladares. However, these are quite rare, and most of the restaurants are owned and operated by the government.

Paladares are often much better in terms of service and food quality though, so it’s highly recommended to visit these when the opportunity is given.

3. There are two currencies in Cuba

Cuba operates a dual economy with two different currencies. One for the locals (CUP), and one currency for tourists (CUC). The CUC is also known as convertible pesos and has a fixed rate of 1:1 US dollars. 

READ MORE:  25 Things you should know before you travel to Cuba

The bills on the left side of the picture below are cuban pesos (CUP) and the bills to the right are Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC). 

cuban pesos

4. Education and Medical care are free for Cuban citizens

Cuba is known for having one of the best health care in the world, and it’s free for citizens. Education is also free, and for everyone aged between 6-15, it’s mandatory to attend school. 

5. Until 2008, Cubans were not allowed to own cell phones

The same goes for computers. Since this law changed, many cubans have gotten either a cell phone or laptop. Especially since the Wi-Fi hotspots came in 2015. 

Whenever you see people in parks sitting with their phones, you know that there’s a Wi-Fi hotspot. 

Facts about Cuba

Photo: Ludovic Farine / Shutterstock.com

6. South Korean soap operas are very popular in Cuba

Probably one of the most random facts about Cuba. Soap operas from South Korea are very popular here. 

7. Coca Cola is officially not sold in Cuba

Only two countries in the world are known for banning Coca Cola, and that’s Cuba and North Korea. However, don’t worry, you can still get your beloved coke on vacation here.

Coca Cola is available in some hotel stores, and are also being sold under the table at some places. It costs considerably more than the local version though, called Tukola. 

8. Until 2011, there was an import ban on cars in Cuba

Cuba’s cars are world famous, and it’s a popular tourist attraction to go for a ride in these old American cars. Many of them are from the ’50s before the import ban, and because of the import ban, Cubans couldn’t get spare parts to their cars. 

This forced them to solve the problems in other ways, for example, putting an engine from another brand into another car or inserting a real sofa as the backseat of the car. 

 

Cuban facts

9. Cuba has 70,000 qualified doctors. The whole of Africa has only 50,000

So, you already know that the country is well-known for their excellent health care. But did you know that they also have the highest doctor to patient ratio in the world? With more than 70.000 qualified doctors, the government also send doctors abroad. 

READ MORE:  5 Places on Cuba that you shouldn't miss to visit

In fact, it is estimated that the Cuban doctors abroad bring back 8 billion dollars worth of money, which makes the exports of doctors more valuable than the whole tourism industry. 

10. Home to 9 Unesco Heritage Sites

Of these, Old Havana is probably the most famous Unesco Heritage Site in Cuba, but there are 8 others to explore, whereof 2 are natural sites. Trinidad, Viñales and Cienfuegos are other popular Unesco World Heritage Sites here. 

Havana

11. The average Cuban earns roughly $20 USD per month in salary

Although things are slowly developing and becoming more modern, the average Cuban still earns roughly 20 USD per month – that’s less than 1 dollar a day. 

12. Every Cuban household has a ration book

With only 20 USD a month it’s obvious that the money won’t be enough to buy food (if you know the Cuban prices). However, every household has a ration book.

Products that the government has determined necessary are subsidized to nominal costs. 

Ration Book

Photo: Marco Crupi / Shutterstock.com

13. The government owns and control all broadcast media, including TV and Radio.

The freedom of the press is non-existent since all media is owned and highly controlled by the government. This includes TV, Radio, Newspapers etc. Before the revolution, there were almost 50 newspapers published on a daily basis. 

14. The public transportation is only for the locals

Public transportation is very cheap compared to tourists buses and taxis. However, the local buses aren’t meant for tourists. Don’t worry though, if you know Spanish, you will be fine and can use the local buses as well. 

For other tourists, it’s recommended to go with Viazul buses or the Taxi Colectivos. 

15. Cuban cigars are known as the finest cigars in the world

While smoking is bad for your health, Cuban cigars still have a special place in many people’s heart. They are known for being the finest cigars in the world.

90% of the Cuban cigars are sold to the government, the rests can be sold privately by the tobacco owners. 

Cuban cigars

Photo: Shutterstock

5 x Fun Facts about Cuba

  • It has only snowed once in Cuba, this was in March 1857
  • Government vehicles are legally required to pick up any hitchhikers
  • Cuba offered to pay a US$270 million Soviet-era debt to the Czech Republic entirely in rum
  • There are people named “Usnavi” after the US Navy.
  • Ballerinas are very popular here and can potentially earn more than doctors
Cuba facts

Photo: Shutterstock

5 x Cuba Facts for Kids

  • The smallest bird in the world lives here – The bee hummingbird
  • Baseball is Cuba’s most popular sport
  • The Cuban Trogon (Tocororo) is the country’s national animal
  • Cuba is the most populated country in the Caribbean
  • It consists of more than 400 islands and cays
The Tocororo, the national bird of Cuba

Photo: Shutterstock

Bonus – Random facts about Cuba

  • Both men and women in Cuba are required to serve two years of compulsory military service between 17 and 28 years of age
  • The game of dominoes is extremely popular in Cuba
  • Before the arrival of the Spanish, Cuba was inhabited by three distinct tribes of American Indian people. The Taíno (an Arawak people), the Guanajatabey, and the Ciboney people
  • The Cuban revolution started in 1953 and was led by Fidel Castro
READ MORE:  25 Things you should know before you travel to Cuba

General Facts about Cuba

Below are some general info such as total population, land area, biggest lake, highest mountain and other general facts about Cuba that might be interesting to know.

  • Total Population: 11,221,060
  • Capital: Havana
  • Life expectancy: 79.7 Years
  • Highest Mountain: Pico Turquino (1974 meters)
  • Land area: 109,884 km2 (42,426 square miles)
  • Largest Lake: Laguna de Leche
  • National Day: 10 October (Independence day)
  • Government: Unitary Marxist–Leninist one-party socialist republic
  • First Secretary of the Communist party: Raúl Castro
  • President: Miguel Díaz-Canel
  • Currency: Cuban Pesos (CUP) and Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC)
  • Official language: Spanish
  • Religion: 60% Christians, 22% non-religious, 17% Folk religion, 1% others
  • Member of Nato: No
  • National song: “La Bayamesa
  • Time zone(GMT−5)
  • Country Number/Prefix: +53
  • Country Code: CU

The Biggest Cities in Cuba

If you’re looking for facts about Cuba, it might also be interesting to know which are the biggest cities. Here’s a list of the top 10 biggest Cuban cities ranked after population.

HavanaSantiago de Cuba
CienfuegosSanta Clara
VaraderoCamaguey
TrinidadViñales
BaracoaHolguin

Flag of Cuba

The Cuban flag is distinct with its red triangle and star in the middle plus the blue and white stripes. 

cuba flag

Map of Cuba

Below you can see the country’s territory marked in yellow. 

Cuba Map

Photo: Shutterstock

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How many of these Cuba Facts did you know beforehand? Share your result in the comment section below!

January 22nd, 2019|

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Swedish Nomad

Hello! I’m Alex Waltner — A Swedish Travel Blogger & Photographer.

My vision with this blog is to inspire people to travel more and better by sharing useful travel guides and tips from my adventures around the world.

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