Cuba is a country stuck in time, as a result of nearly five-decade-long blockade and embargo placed by United States. Despite my research before heading to Cuba, travel around the country surprised me every day in many different ways. It seems to be a third world country, however it has so much to offer to anyone regardless of what their interests might be. There are so many different , traditions and cultural aspects to learn about. During my latest trip around Cuba, I learned range of interesting facts that can help you understand better this unpredictable country. And undoubtedly, there’s so much more in Cuba than rum and old cars.
1. The official name of Cuba is the Republic of Cuba.
2. Cuba has over 200 bays and 250 beaches, so you can’t get enough of sun and sand.
3. Cubans called their island el Cocodrilo, which in Spanish means crocodile. The reason for this is that from the air, the island’s shape resembles a crocodile.
4. Cubans don’t serve food in courses. Traditional Cuban food is serve at the table at the same time.
5. The game of dominoes is the national game of Cuba.
6. Cuba is reach in cultural and traditional heritages, that have found the place on the UNESCO World Heritage List with nine sites, seven of them are cultural and two are natural sites.
7. Education is mandatory for children from the ages of 6 to 16.
8. Cuba is known to have one of the highest literacy rates in the world, with over 99 in every 100 people being able to read and write.
9. Cuba has one of the best health care systems in the World.
10. It is also one of the world leaders in the field of training medical personnel. The Latin America Medical School located in Havana is the largest medical school in the World.
11. There are two currencies in Cuba: CUC (Cuban Convertible Pesos) and CUP (Cuban National Pesos). The most likely currency use by tourists in Cuba is CUC (Cuban Convertible Peso). For exchange purpose the CUC is pegged 1:1 to the US dollar. The second one is CUP (Cuban National Pesos), which is not common among tourists.
12. Cuban food is influenced by Spanish, Aboriginal, African and Caribbean cuisine. It is based on rice, beans and tostones (smashed and fried pieces of green plantain). The typical dishes are moros y cristianos (black beans and rice), creole ajiaco (soup consists smoked meat and native vegetables), ropa vieja (shredded beef).
13. Cuba is the only country that Americans need government permission to visit.
14. The world’s smallest bird known as the bee hummingbird and one of the oldest fish called manjuari, also known as the Cuban gar, are spices not found anywhere in the World, only in Cuba.
15. Cuba is one of two countries (second is North Korea) where Coca-Cola is forbidden to sell.
16. Until 2008 Cubans couldn’t buy their own computers.
17. The average Cuban salary equates to only about $29,60 per month. After the calculation, we can work out that the average hourly salary is about 18,5 cents per hour.
18. Internet access in Cuba is still restricted and controlled by the government. Only doctors, academics, engineers or government officials have Internet connection at work. It is not possible to have Internet access at your home in Cuba.
19. The reality is that most of Cuban people don’t own cars. Usually, they use horse-carriage or bicycle taxi to move around the town and bus or free ride to get to other city.
20. Almost half of the food that Cubans consume comes from the bodega. The government store where Cubans get their food almost for free. Government provides a ration system and lines form early morning hours.
21. Every tobacco plantation is committed to sell 90% of the harvest leaves to the government for prearranged rate. The rest 10%, it is allowed to be sold on their own price.
22. Since 1997 , Cuban are allow to rent rooms in their houses for tourists to earn extra money. They are called Casas Particulares and they are the most common accommodation in Cuba.
23. Education and medical care are provided free by the government in Cuba.
24. Property, goods and service taxes are equal zero.
25. Cuban monthly bills for electricity, gas or phone are mostly subsidized by government. The total amount per month is about $2, which is none of us thought possible.