In 1959 Fidel Castro used guerilla warfare to successfully overthrow Cuban leader Batista and was sworn in as Prime Minister of Cuba, remaining so until his presidency in 1976. As prime minister, his government established covert military and strong economic relations with the Soviet Union, which led to the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The Island of Cuba is today considered one of main Caribbean attractions. Known as a world famous tourist spot, Cuba attracts around two million visitors per year. The tropical island extends 750 miles and is a beautiful mix of mountain ranges and plains. There are over 200 bays and 289 sun drenched beaches to explore.
The country has mostly colonial architecture, together with favorable climate and a rich cultural history to attract tourists from all over the world. Flourishing health tourism business generates around 30 million dollars a year for the economy alone. Cuba is considered an easy country to travel in for foreigners.
The main ports are located in the provinces of Cienfuegos, Havana, Manzanillo, Mariel, Matanzas, Nuevitas and Santiago de Cuba. Cuba is the seventeenth largest island in the world by land area, with the total land area of 110,860 kilometers square. In addition, Cuba is the most populated country in the whole of the Caribbean with 11 million inhabitants.
Economy and life
During his reign Fidel Castro implemented far-reaching reforms by nationalizing factories and plantations in an attempt to diminish United States economic dominance over the island. American companies felt the negative effects of the reforms through loss of business, which caused friction between the two countries. Modern Cuba has also socialist principles and state controlled economy.
The government of Fidel Castro has opened around 10,000 new schools which increased literacy of the population to 98 percent. Cubans enjoy a universal health care system, which has decreased infant mortality to 1.1 percent. Capital city of Havana represents both modern and old fashioned spirit. Negative effects of the same government are clearly visible in the disappearance of civil liberties. Labor unions lost the right to strike, all independent or vital newspapers are shut down and some religious institutions have been harassed. Though executions and imprisonments or forced emigration Castro removed almost all the opposition to his rule.
The major means of production are controlled by the government and accordingly most of the labor force is employed by the state. In the recent years national economy opened more towards international economy, strengthening the private sector. The national currency is the Cuban Peso. The main industries in Cuba are the petroleum, tobacco, nickel, cement, steel, agricultural machinery, pharmaceuticals and the sugar industries. Agricultural products are among the most profitable exports, with tobacco, citrus, rice, potatoes, beans, livestock and sugar. The president of the Council of State currently is the First Vice President, Raul Castro.