TOP-50 interesting facts about Cuba and Cubans
Cuba is an island nation in Latin America that shares many similarities with its neighbouring countries. But at the same time, it’s a unique country, with its own customs, history and culture. In this article, we’ve collected 50 fascinating facts about this country and its people, which will help to create a first impression and interesting planning your holiday in Cuba.
The 50 most interesting facts about Cubans and Cuba
Here’s a journey through the history, traditions and sights of this fascinating country.
Facts of History
1. The first aboriginal Indians came to the island in 500 BC from South America.
2. Europeans discovered Cuba in 1492, when the ships of Columbus approached the island. Already in 1511 the first Spanish settlement was founded on the island.
3. The Spanish brought many African slaves to the island, and to this day Africans and descendants of mixed marriages constitute the main population of Cuba.
4. The Spanish colonies were frequently attacked by pirates. The pirates were dominated by the French, the English and the Dutch. This was how the Europeans tried to take the rich American colonies away from the pioneers.
5. In 1762 Cuba came under British rule. But already in 1763, Spain regained the island, giving the British in exchange for Florida.
6. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Cuba gained formal independence. But in fact, for half a century it became an American colony.
7. After the victory of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, the country breaks off its political relations with the United States and openly supports the USSR in its confrontation with the world powers.
8. From that time until now, the republic has been under US sanctions, which have sometimes been weakened but never completely lifted.
9. It is said that the leader of the revolution and later the permanent leader of Cuba, Fidel Castro, began to grow a beard because he could not buy a razor because of the American blockade.
10. In 1962, a dispute between the US and the USSR over Cuba nearly caused a nuclear war. These events are known worldwide as the Cuban Missile Crisis.
11. The country now remains a one-party republic, with the Communist Party in power.
12. Cuba today is not the poorest country in the region, but many goods are still sold on ration cards and benefits. There is also a black market.
13. Havana, the capital of Cuba, is the country’s largest city and its cultural, political and economic centre. Almost 2.5 million people live there.
14. The country is one of the few in the world that still has free medicine and secondary education.
15. Because of that, it has a very high literacy rate – 99.8% of the population and one of the best healthcare systems. It has the highest percentage of doctors per capita.
16. Schoolchildren in Cuba wear the same uniform, but it varies from year to year. Up to grade 6 children have grape-coloured uniforms, from 7 to 9 they wear beige, and from 10 to 12 they wear navy blue.
17. Tourism is one of the leading and most dynamically developing spheres of the country’s economy. Each year, 1.6 million tourists come here to rest.
18. Coca-Cola is officially banned in Cuba. Only North Korea has the same ban.
19. All cows on the island are owned by the state, and there is almost a cult of the animal among the locals. The killing of a cow is punished more severely than the killing of a human being.
20. Cuba has many revolutionary monuments, which the inhabitants of the island of Liberty are very proud of and often show to tourists. The Che Guevara Mausoleum and the José Martí Monument have a special place among them.
21. The Capitol Building, the former parliament building, is considered one of the most interesting architectural monuments in the country. Its shape is reminiscent of the famous American Capitol.
22. Havana’s calling card is the ancient Cathedral named after St. Christopher.
23. Writer Ernest Hemingway lived and worked on the island for a long time. Here is his home-museum, where he wrote his famous story «The Old Man and the Sea».
24. Another famous person that Cubans, if not proud of, like to brag about is gangster Al Capone. He used to have a summer residence in Varadero, which now houses a popular restaurant.
25. Popular attractions are also old Spanish fortresses, which can be found in several cities of the republic. Among them, La Fuerza Fortress in Havana stands out.
26. One of the most unusual monuments in the country is the John Lennon sculpture. It is known for the fact that a policeman is always on duty near it so that Cubans don’t steal glasses from the monument.
Character and customs of Cubans
27. The Cuban mentality is expressed by one word: mañana, which means tomorrow. They take their time and put things off until tomorrow.
28. Cubans are very friendly and hospitable people. It’s all right to get acquainted in the street and invite people over.
29. When they meet, Cubans like to hug, kiss and pat each other on the back. Even people you do not know well do it.
30. Cubans don’t lock their doors even though a lot of people live below the poverty line and theft is not uncommon.
31. In spite of their hot southern blood, Cubans don’t like to settle their disputes by fighting. They prefer to have a rowdy argument and then go dancing to make up.
32. There is a lot of dancing and singing on the island. Here you can find people dancing and playing guitars on every street and on every corner.
33. The most popular dances on the island are salsa and rumba, but the symbol of Cuba is considered a Danson. This dance was created here in the late 19th century.
34. Another popular Cuban dance was the Conga Line. This dance has its origins in the carnival tradition, where people line up in a chain and imitate the clumsy movements of slaves.
35. Cubans have an interesting tradition of celebrating New Year’s Eve. They celebrate the New Year by striking the eleven o’clock. Clocks, too, need to rest, the Cubans explain.
36. Also on New Year’s Eve Cubans fill their dishes with clean water and in the morning they throw it out onto the street. So that the coming year will be clean and happy.
37. Cubans are considered to have free morals. The men shower women with compliments and don’t consider their behaviour obtrusive. But for all the outwardly liberal behaviour, topless tanning is forbidden and lovers of nudism can expect a hefty fine.
38. Compliments from Cubans can sometimes seem strange. For instance, telling a woman she has put on weight is praise enough. After all, to get well means to live comfortably.
39. Cubans usually criticise their government and its decisions. But if a foreigner starts saying that, he or she risks getting into a scandal – something not befitting an official, unacceptable for a tourist.
40. Most Cubans consider themselves Catholics, but their beliefs are still influenced by African religion. That’s why Santeria, a mixture of African and Christian traditions, is so widespread in Cuba.
41. Tourists should be aware that it is forbidden to take photos of the police, military and airport staff on Liberty Island. Violators can simply be arrested.
42. Cuban cuisine has been influenced by Spanish and African traditions, with local specialities taken into account. Here, for example, fried banana stew or crocodile meat are popular.
43. One of the Cubans’ favourite dishes is Ahiaco soup, which is made from poultry, potatoes and corn with various spices.
44. Cuba is situated in the tropics and is famous for its hot climate. The only recorded snowfall occurred on 12 March 1857.
45. Cuba is a predominantly flat island with its highest peak, Turquino Peak, rising to 1972 metres above sea level.
46. There are many karst caves in the island’s mountains. The largest cave is the Santo Tomas Cave, which is about 25 kilometres long.
47. The most common plant on the island is sugarcane. Natural forests now occupy only a small part of the island and are protected by the state.
48. The snow-white Mariposa line is considered the country’s symbol. Cuban women love to braid its flowers into their hair. During the revolution, they used the Mariposa to send secret messages to the rebels.
49. Cuba is famous for its white sand beaches. It is a great place for diving and other marine activities. Almost all the beaches are surrounded by coral reefs.
50. The island is home to the most aggressive crocodile on the planet, the Cuban. And islanders joke that if you squint your eyes and look at a map of Cuba, it’ll turn into a crocodile.
Friends! If you know more interesting facts about Cubans and Cuba, please share them in the comments. The country is full of amazing stories, culture and traditions and many would love to learn more. We would be very grateful!