El Capitolio peeks through a gap in the winding streets of Havana. Flickr

TODAY CUBA / Cuba is the Caribbean island nation under communist rule. It has sugar-white beaches and is dotted with tobacco fields, which play a part in the production of the country’s legendary cigars. The capital, Havana (La Habana), is lined with pastel houses, 1950s era cars and Spanish-colonial architecture in the 16th-century core, Old Havana (Habana Vieja).

Colorful colonial buildings in Habana Vieja. Photo: Roberto Machado Noa / Getty Images

Culturally, Cuba is considered part of Latin America. It is a multiethnic country whose people, culture and customs derive from diverse origins, including the aboriginal Taíno and Ciboney peoples, the long period of Spanish colonialism, the introduction of African slaves, and a close relationship with the Soviet Union in the Cold War.

The malecón is a popular spot for fishing Photo Sarah Morgan / Getty Images

Salsa music plays in the dance clubs and cabaret shows are performed at the famed Tropicana.

  • Cuba is the largest island in the area with 11 million inhabitants.
  • Cuba has been living under a communist dictatorship for 58 years
  • Cuba went from the third developed country of the Americas (beating countries like Spain, France, Belgium in indicators) to a third world country with a destroyed economy and agriculture.
  • Cuba is a “food deficient country” that has to import 80% of the food it consumes and that lives with rationing for over 50 years.
  • Cuba has an “apartheid” medical and tourist system (tourist part now relaxed) with separate facilities for tourist (and the elite) and the Cuban people.
  • Cuba has a “two currency” system with one the CUP for the Cuban people’s daily transactions which is “non convertible” (can’t be exchanged for other currencies) and the CUC (convertible). 1 CUC is worth 25 CUP at current exchange rates.
  • Average monthly pensions is Cuba are (in US dollar) $10 – $12 and average salary is about $25.
  • Rationed goods are cheap but last only 10 days to feed people and lots of other goods have to be bought at high prices (relative compared to income) with CUP or at exorbitant prices in CUC. This results in widespread food problems.
  • 62% of Cubans depend on remittances (money sent from abroad) to make ends meet.
  • Education and health in Cuba, once praised, have declined now facing crumbling infrastructure, teacher shortages and a lack of medical personnel and equipment in the Cuban system.
  • The Cuban people are friendly and like foreigners.
  • It has beautiful beaches, mountains and recreational places.
  • It possess beautiful colonial buildings and forts to visit.
  • People like to party more than work. The youth is very outgoing and gather at nights in parks.
  • Crime has gone up but still relative safe.
  • Internet is really bad, expensive, and less than 20% have access to it.
  • Public transportation is also bad.
  • Don’t expect people to be punctual or talk about politics.
  • Cubans love to make jokes, play dominoes and drink coffee.

Compiled from answers on Quora.com