Quick Facts


Type: Unitary Marxist–Leninist one-party socialist republic

President: Miguel Díaz-Canel

Prime Minister: Manuel Marrero Cruz


Roman Catholic






Cuban peso

$10.00 ≈ 240₱


Northern Caribbean

Bordered by the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and The Atlantic Ocean


Medianoche (sandwich)

Ropa Vieja (shredded beef)



Wet and dry seasons


Beer ≈ 480₱

Loaf of bread ≈ 175₱

Read More About Cuba

Not-So-Quick Facts

Present Day Snapshot

Following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Cuba entered what is called the “Special Period”. Food was rationed during this period and it led to famine in the country. This led to widespread protests, which the Communist Party stamped out. Despite attempts to the contrary, in the early 2000’s it was decided that Castro’s socialism would be permanent in Cuba. In 2008 rule of the country was formally handed over from Fidel Castro to his brother, Raul. In 2012, under Obama, the US partially relaxed its embargo on Cuba and soon tourism returned. In 2021 Miguel Díaz-Canel became head of the Communist Party and remained president, meaning for the first time in decades the country is not led by a Castro.

War: Cuba is not currently involved in any wars.

Follow Laws

Identification: You are required by law to carry a photo ID with you at all times and can be arrested if you are stopped without one.

Drugs: All drugs and drug use is illegal.

Alcohol: The legal drinking age is 16. There are no laws against drinking on the street.

LGBTQ: Same-sex marriage, though it had previously been voted into law, is currently not legal. However, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is illegal.

Stay Safe

Due to a zero-tolerance stance on all crime, there is virtually none in the country and any that does occur will be punished to the extreme. Safety concerns in Cuba revolve more around standards of roads and buildings and the higher than normal possibility of accidents due to outdated infrastructure.

Historical Snapshot

Founding: The Republic of Cuba was formed in 1868.

Origins: The first evidence of human life on the island dates to around 2000 BC. Columbus arrived in 1492 and pushed the native Guanajatabey people west, but the first Spanish settlement was not created until 1511. The area that was to become Havana was founded in 1514. Throughout the 17th and 18th Centuries, Cuba’s main industry was sugar and tobacco – for which it used slaves. The first uprising for independence from Spain was in 1826. It was not until the end of the Spanish-American War in 1898 that Spain withdrew. And not until 1902 that the country gained full independence.

Recent History: The early 20th Century was defined by US involvement in Cuba. In 1940 free elections were held which elected Batista, and in 1958 the Cuban people had the eight-highest wages in the world. However, civil liberties were curtailed, the wage gap was massive, and public executions of anyone against Batista and his party counted in the tens of thousands. After several attempts to overthrow the government, Fidel Castro took power in 1959. Castro made unions illegal, took control of all radio and TV, and began a system of neighborhood watch. The U.S. attempted to overthrow Castro’s regime in 1961 with The Bay of Pigs invasion. The rest of the decade was defined by U.S. and U.S.S.R. involvement in the country – including conflict over nuclear missiles.

Clothing Rules

There are not clothing laws in Cuba. As with anywhere, it is best not to wear your bikini when you are away from the beach. And, dress respectfully if you enter any churches.

Speak Spanish

Hello: Hola /ola/

Please: Por favor /por fuvor/

Thank you: Gracias /gurahseeus/

Can I have a beer please: Una cerveza por favor /oonu serveysu por fuvor/

Where is the train station?: Donde esta la estacion de trenes /donday esta la estaseeun de traynays/

tall apartment building along the side of a street with electrical wires in Havana, Cuba - The Country Jumper
Ropa Vieja
Ropa Vieja
girl in red shirt sitting on brown horse in cuban mountains - horse back riding in Cuba

Facts According to a Local

General Rules of Etiquette
Gender Relations
Rude or Offensive Things
Religious Customs

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My Time in Cuba


I passed through Cienfuegos for a few days.


I spent a few weeks in Havana, studied Spanish and practiced Salsa.


I spent a few days in Trinidad and went horseback riding in the mountains.


I spent several days staying near the beaches of Varadero

The Streets of Havana Cuba
Cuban taxi
Mango Daiquiri
Mango Daiquiri

Additional Resources



  • Tony the Traveller –Cuba



The Streets of Havana Cuba
Large ornate building in Havana, The Bacardi Factory
Large Che image in revelation square in Havana
Plaza de la Revolución

Before Your Trip to Cuba


Starring: Anthony Bourdain


TV Show

Anthony Bourdain always does an exceptional job of portraying a country. He is honest, unflinching, and so much more than a food show. His Cuba episode is a part of the No Reservations series

Starring: Jon Alpert



This impressively unbiased film – made over several decades by one American and his camera, provides a wonderfully clear overview of recent Cuban history, as seen through the eyes of the families who lived it. Plus, an intimate portrait of Fidel.


By: Graham Greene


Goodreads Stars: 3.94/5

A classic Greene novel is a thriller. Published in the 50’s it tells the tory of a vacuum-cleaner salesman turned spy.

Starring: Jon Alpert



This impressively unbiased film – made over several decades by one American and his camera, provides a wonderfully clear overview of recent Cuban history, as seen through the eyes of the families who lived it. Plus, an intimate portrait of Fidel.

By: Jon Lee Anderson


Goodreads Stars: 4.06/5

One cannot understand Cuba today without understanding Cuba then. The history of the country has defined it endlessly. And this man is deeply entrenched in that history. 

Things to do in Cuba


Varadero Cuba


Needless to say Cuba has a lot of beaches – being an island and all. I didn’t get a chance to visit all of them. But these beaches, along the stretch that is Varadero – have topped my list of North American beaches. They are stunning.

Horseback Riding

girl in red shirt sitting on brown horse in cuban mountains - horse back riding in Cuba


The countryside around the small city of Trinidad is stunning. While it can be reached by foot, getting there on horseback is even better. There’s an option to swim and taste coffee in the mountains. You can read more about my experience here


Salsa dancing in Cuba

Salsa Clubs

Get a little filthy with a Cuban man (or woman). I took classes at the Spanish language school I studied at and our teacher took us out to a salsa club one evening. The amazing thing is that because everyone was there to dance, no one was being sleazy – it was just fun and beautiful sweaty dancing. 


Women walking through the street in Havana


Get lost. Wander. Look up. The architecture of the city is crumbling, but stunning. Take your camera, or don’t. And definitely don’t miss golden hour, when Havana is just a perfect glowing orange. Imagine it in all of its heyday splendor. 

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