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Overview

Cuba - Overview


Area: 110,860 km2
Population: 11,382,820 (July 2006 est.)
Language: Spanish
Religion: Nominally 85% Roman Catholic prior to Castro assuming power; Protestants, Jehovah's Witnesses, Jews, Muslims, and SanterĂ­a are also represented
Electricity: 110V/60Hz or 220V/60Hz (North American, European, or Italian plug)
Calling Code: +53
Internet TLD: .cu
Time Zone: UTC -5

Cuba is the largest Caribbean island, between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. It lies 145 km (90 miles) south of Key West, Florida, between the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas, to the west of Haiti, and northwest of Jamaica.

Before the 1959 Revolution, Cuba was a popular tourist destination for United States citizens. Since the Revolution, Cuba has been subjected to a trade and travel embargo by the United States. While travel between the two neighbors is restricted, it is still possible, though illegal for US citizens.

After 1959, Cuban tourism was mostly for Cubans only, and the facilities were not renewed until the 1990s, when Cuba lost financial backing from the defunct Soviet Union and opened its doors to foreign tourism. Now, many Europeans, Canadians, and even U.S. visitors come to the island. In the typical tourist regions like Varadero and Holguin, a lot of modern 3-star to 5-star hotels are available, while in less popular tourist regions, visitors are still able to rent rooms in many Cuban homes (called casas particulares).

Due to several long-standing factors (e.g. bureaucratic ineffectiveness, the U.S. embargo, lack of resources, and the loss of Soviet subsidies), much of the country's infrastructure is in need of repair. In major tourist destinations, there will generally be few problems with either power or water, although such outages may occur. Outages have been common in Cuba, except in tourist facilities that have a generator. 2006 was designated the Year of the Energetic Revolution in Cuba, and many small generators have been installed in an attempt to avoid blackouts. Many tourist accommodations offer 220V as well as 110V power sources.


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