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Country information: Cuba





AT A GLANCE

Area

110 860 square kilometres

Population

11.45 million (July 2009)

Capital city

Havana (2.2 million inhabitants 2002)

Official language

Spanish

GDP per capita (PPP)

US$ 9 500 (2008)

Population growth

0.23 per cent per annum (2009)

Life expectancy

77,5 years (men: 75,2 years, women: 79,9 years) (2009)

Infant mortality

5,8 per 1 000 live births (2009)

Rate of illiteracy

0,2 (2003)

 


DESTINATION CUBA

Tourism

Tourism is playing an increasingly important role for Cuba and is actively encouraged by the government. In the 1990s tourism has become the main source of urgently needed hard currencies. Apart from a downturn in 2001 and 2002 due to the events of 2001/9/11, it has grown steadily, from 1995 with around 0.75 million tourists to 1.9 million in 2003. According to UNWTO in the year 2004 approximately 2 million guests came into the country and paid 1,5 billion Euro.


 

Commercial sexual exploitation of children in tourism

Expanding tourism, together with other factors, has led to a growth of the leisure infrastructure. In connection with this, there has also been a growth of prostitution and cases of trafficking in humans, promoted by the difficult economic situation of the country since 1990. Every day, new children are driven into prostitution, in order to earn something to contribute to the survival of their family. Many street children are abducted and subsequently become victims of commercial sexual exploitation. In their desperation, some fall for promises of well-paid jobs in the towns and cities. In recent years, the number of children in the towns and cities that are being sexually exploited has increased markedly. The press reports of cases in which foreign tourists have particularly asked for children below the age of 14.

 

Prostitution is illegal in Cuba. Clients can be fined or imprisoned for between two and five years. Prostitutes and pimps face prison sentences of up to eight years.

 

Cuba ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on August 21, 1991, and has undertaken to protect children against all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.


 

HIV / Aids

With the spread of prostitution, there are also fears of an increase in the frequency of HIV and AIDS. According to estimates by UNAIDS and the World Health Organization, at the end of 2007, there were 6.200 people in Cuba infected with HIV, including 1.800 women. How many children were infected, could not be estimated. In the same year, less than 100 Cubans died following infection with HIV.


 

Local Contacts

 

 

UNICEF - Cuba country office

Calle 1ra B  Nro. 15802

esquina a 158

Reparto Náutico

Playa, C. Habana, Cuba

Phone: +537 208 6094

Fax: +537 208 6288

Email: havana@unicef.org

Website: http://www.unicef.org

Main contact person(s): Arsenio García (agarcia@unicef.org)

 


CIVILIZATION AND CULTURE

State and society

Cuba is a Socialist Republic. Head of state and of government is the Chairman of the State Council, who presides over a Council of Ministers. There is a People's Congress, and the only party permitted is the Communist Party of Cuba. State, economy and society are centrally controlled. Human rights violations remain a problem in Cuba. Cubans continue to lack civil rights and basic freedoms.

           

About half the Cuban population are mulattoes and metis, a third are White, usually of Spanish origin, 10 per cent are Black. Many people do not profess any religion, some 40 per cent are Christians.

 

Before 1990 standards of education and health care in Cuba were relatively high. In general, there was a minimum of nine years compulsory schooling. The literacy rate is 96 per cent. As a result of the economic crisis, however, this standard can no longer be maintained.

 

Cuba is seen regionally as a leader in the areas of environmental protection and renewable energy, although due to low holdings of foreign reserves, many plans in these areas have not been realized.


 

Economy

The Cuban economy has suffered for decades under the trade embargo imposed by the USA. Agriculture plays a major role in the economy, with a predominance of sugar cane farming. Correspondingly, sugar refining is also an important industry. In addition there are textiles and petrochemicals industries, as well as steel works. Cuba is one of the leading countries in biotechnological research and production.

With the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, Cuba lost most of its export markets and, in particular, the economic support of the Soviet Bloc. With this development, the country was cast into a profound crisis, from which the Cuban economy is only slowly recovering. The restructuring, in particular the promotion of tourism and foreign investments is intended to strengthen the economy of the country. The social and economic situation of large parts of the population has not yet been affected by any upswing, and remains precarious.


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