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Cities in CUBA




In recent decades, the Cuban government has continually tried to maintain a precarious balance between the gradual abandonment of the socialist economic system and the ever-present desire to maintain firm political control over the economy.

In April 2011, during the first party congress of the Cuban Communist Party in thirteen years, the party leaders agreed on a plan for, certainly by Cuban standards, far-reaching economic (liberal) changes. That plan is still being implemented step by step, and Cubans are now allowed, for example, to buy electrical appliances and mobile phones, stay in hotels and buy and sell cars. Many government jobs have also been abolished as part of the change process, and so-called 'cuentapropistas', independent entrepreneurs, of which there are now hundreds of thousands, have been allowed.

In recent years, the Cuban regime has liberalised the economic model even further by allowing more and more private property, selling houses was allowed and farmers were allowed to sell their harvest directly to consumers and, for example, hotels. In addition, foreign companies were allowed to invest in the Cuban economy; a so-called 'Special Development Zone' was created around the port of Mariel.

Since 2016, economic growth has been tempered by problems with the supply of oil products from Venezuela, which is in serious economic trouble. Since 2000, Venezuela had been a major supplier of oil, up to 100,000 barrels a day. In turn, Cuba paid with Cuban workers, including tens of thousands of medical professionals who went to work in Venezuela.


Before the United States imposed a trade embargo in 1960, it was by far Cuba's most important trading partner. Later, that role was taken over by the Soviet Union and other socialist countries (in 1983, 87% of total trade was with these countries). The Soviet Union in particular effectively subsidised the Cuban economy by buying sugar at above world market prices, supplying oil at low prices and providing development aid. Cuba also secured Western currency by selling part of its production (sugar, nickel, tourism) on the non-socialist market. In addition, especially in the 1970s, much capital was borrowed. Because of this and the trade deficit, the debt to western countries had grown. The main export products are sugar and rum, nickel, fish, coffee, tobacco, tea, cocoa, citrus and oil products. The main imports are oil and capital goods.


The length of the railway network is 12,654 km, 60% of which is used in the sugar sector and 40% for public transport. From Pinar del Rio to Santiago there is a 1144 km long road with a branch to the capital. The total road network is 20,000 km long. Passenger traffic is growing strongly, especially in the public transport sector. Besides domestic connections, the national airline Cubana provides flights to foreign countries. The main airport is José Mart¡ near Havana, there are also three international airports in Holgu¡n, Santiago de Cuba and Varadero. The merchant fleet transports only a small proportion of its own imports and exports. The main ports are Havana, Cienfuegos, Santiago de Cuba, Guyabal and Matanzas.


Baijer,M / Cuba

Cuba : a short history
Cambridge University Press

Encarta Encyclopedie

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated June 2024
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