Cuba is located in Central America and is the largest island of the Greater Antilles archipelago. It is one of the last countries in the world to be ruled by a totalitarian regime. Therefore, Cuba is one of the most popular winter exotic destinations and attracts its visitors with its history, nature and culture. Only here you can see functional cars from the 50s driving on half-empty and neglected roads, enjoying a cocktail and cigar in hand on the beautiful sandy beaches and in the evenings listening to beautiful Cuban music and dancing salsa.
Basic information about Cuba
Why go to Cuba
There are two ways to visit Cuba. The first is adventurous travel with only a backpack and the second is to stay in one of the inexhaustible number of more or less luxurious hotels. Traveling with a backpack has the advantages of seeing Cuba differently, experiencing local customs, getting to know the Cubans and seeing less touristy places. But if you are traveling for luxury and comfort, use the services of hotels. Whatever you decide to travel to Cuba, this country, known for its cigars and rum, cannot bore or disappoint you.
The capital of Cuba
The capital of Cuba is Havana (La Habana) with more than 2.2 million inhabitants. The total area of Havana is 720 km2 and the banks of this city are washed by a warm Gulf Stream. Havana is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the most visited city in the Caribbean. The symbol of the city is a lighthouse with a shiny metal dome. Two fortresses used to protect the city from pirates - El Morro y San Salvador, which are located behind the lighthouse.
Flag of Cuba
The flag of Cuba, also known as “La Estrella Solitaria”, was created in 1850. The flag indicates great simplicity and is displayed in three colors (red, blue and white) in perfect harmony. It consists of three blue stripes, which represent the compartments in which the island was divided at that time; two white stripes symbolizing the power of the ideal of independence; and the red triangle, which symbolizes equality, freedom, and brotherhood; in the center of which is a lone star, with five points, as a symbol of absolute freedom among other nations.
Population of Cuba
The current population in Cuba is 11,328,214. The population density in Cuba is 106 inhabitants per km2. The average age is 42.2 years. Cuba ranks 83rd in the world in terms of population. The most numerous ethnic component consists of Mulati (51%), 37% White (especially Spaniards). The rest are blacks and Chinese.
Holidays in Cuba
The Republic of Cuba has a calendar of holidays divided throughout the year. Officially, Cuba has five official holidays and many other national holidays. During these days, most official institutions and public institutions, such as banks, will remain closed.
- January 1: Liberation Day
- May 1: Labor Day
- July 26: National Uprising Day, along with 25 and 27 of the same month
- October 10: Anniversary of the beginning of the War of Independence in 1868.
- December 25: Christmas
Sign of Cuba
The original Cuban coat of arms, also known as the La Palma Real coat of arms, was created in 1849. However, the current version is somewhat different, as some elements it contained have been removed because they may have been associated with ideologies that contradict those that were desirable at the time.
Time in Cuba
Time zone: GMT - 6, which means that the time shift to London is -5 hours during winter and summer time. However, the time does not change on the same date as in England, so for a limited time (usually two weeks in spring and two in autumn) the difference is usually only -4 hours.
Currency of Cuba
Cuba has a dual economy. The official currencies in Cuba are the Cuban Pesos (CUP) and the Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC). It is theoretically assumed that tourists can only use convertible pesos (CUC), but in practice there is nothing to prevent them from visiting Cadeca (exchange offices) and exchanging convertible pesos for Cuban Pesos with an approximate exchange rate of about 25 Pesos for a convertible peso. 1CUC =0.759004 GBP but it is always good to check the current exchange rate, for example here: https://https://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/convert/?Amount=1&From=CUC&To=GBP It is important to mention that exchanging US dollars for convertible pesos are taxed at 10%; while the change to other currencies, such as euros, pounds or Canadian dollars, is without this tax.
Although the Cuban economy works mainly with cash, credit and debit cards are accepted and you can pay with them at resorts and ATMs. The most common are Visa and Mastercard. Cards issued by US banks are not accepted in Cuba.
Tip: If you plan to experience a real Cuba, we recommend that you exchange and always have the local menu (CUP) with you. Not only will your holiday be significantly cheaper, as you can only pay in local currency in local shops. But it will also force you to visit local businesses, buy fruit in small street stalls and especially talk to the locals. Of course, to get the local currency, you will need some knowledge of Spanish, but you will definitely not experience authentic Cuba without CUPs in your wallet.
Prices in Cuba
Prices for tourists in Cuba are lower compared to Europe but also compared to other countries in South America and the Caribbean. In general, prices in tourist areas are higher, as business has grown in Cuba in recent years. However, if you try to pay in their national currency and use their local stores, prices in Cuba will be very low.
- water 0,33l bottle 0.94CUC
- Water 1.5L - 1.5CUC
- Coca-Cola / Pepsi (33cl bottle) 1.66 CUC
- Cappuccino coffee 1.77 CUC
- Imported beer (33cl bottle) 2.00 CUC
- National beer (0.5 liter) 1.50 CUC
- Havana Rum 3 years 1l - 5CUC
- Mojito 2 CUC
- Lunch for two in the a la carte restaurant (two courses and dessert) 30.00 CUC
- Meals in a cheap restaurant (daily menu) 4- 6.00 CUC
- Food at stand 1-2 CUC
- Accommodation in casa particular 20-30 CUC / room
- Accommodation in hotel 40-70CUC
Visa to Cuba
Bilateral visa application applies. To the citizens of England - for the purpose of tourism, the so-called tourist card (tarjeta del turista) is enough. If you are travelling from another country to Cuba, we recommend contacting a tourist agency or airline, which provides these cards in many countries. The tourist card is valid for 30 days of stay. For purposes other than tourism, visas are required to apply to the Embassy of Cuba. Upon entry, it is necessary to prove with a valid health insurance and a return ticket.
Extension of stay
The stay with a tourist card can be extended for another 30 days at the immigration office in Havana as well as in other capitals of the provinces of Cuba. Confirmation of accommodation must be submitted with the application.
Interesting facts about Cuba
- Cuba is the largest island of all the islands in the Caribbean.
- From the air, the island resembles a crocodile
- In 1492, Columbus arrived in Cuba and declared it Spanish territory
- Cuba remained under Spanish rule until the Spanish-American War in 1898, when the country became part of the United States.
- In 1902, however, it gained independence
- The United States had great influence over the island until 1959, when communist revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro took the lead.
- The country is now one of the four self-proclaimed communist states in the world, although Castro himself withdrew in 2008 due to health complications.
- Cuba is known for its music, musicians play everywhere on the streets of Havana
- Sugar grown from sugar cane is the main crop grown in Cuba, followed by tobacco used to make cigars by hand.
No vaccination is mandatory in Cuba. When traveling to Cuba, standard vaccinations are recommended. For longer stays, it is advisable to check with the Department of Exotic Diseases at the relevant local hospital about the possible need for vaccination against dengue fever and tropical viral infections.
There are no known serious security risks in Cuba, but there are petty thefts, especially in tourist-frequented places (crowded discos, etc.).
Cuba is a very safe place for the whole family. Children can travel to Cuba without any problems; and women can walk the streets alone with complete freedom and confidence.
Where to call in an emergency in Cuba
Emergency line: 106 Police: 106, 867 7777 Fire brigade: 105 First aid: 83+ 1185, 831 2185, 201 2811-4
Cuba Phone Code +53.
Contacts at The British Embassy in Havana:
Phone: +537 214 2200
Further contacts can be found on the website: https://www.gov.uk/world/organisations/british-embassy-havana