Cuba - education
After the revolution of 1959, three basic goals were set for a reform of
education: 1) school education for all, 2) combating illiteracy and 3) general
adult education for the development and maintenance of acquired school skills.
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The reform work was started immediately. As early as 1959, the first school
law was passed, and in 1961, all education became state and free.
Illiteracy is now claimed to have been eradicated, with 99% (2003) completing
primary education. Characteristic of Cuban education is the so-called
polytechnic principle, which is sought to be implemented also at the primary
school level and implies that strong emphasis is placed on the connection
between the theoretical study and the productive work in society.
There is ten years of compulsory schooling (5th-15th year). The Cuban
education system consists of a 1-year preschool up to the 5th year and a 6-year
primary school (6th-12th year) with an incipient professional specialization in
the last two grade levels. The secondary educations are either general or
polytechnic and divided into two stages: a lower one (12th-15th year) and a
higher one (15th-18th year). At the higher level, the polytechnic schools have
the character of vocational schools.
OFFICIAL NAME: Cuba
CAPITAL CITY: Havana
POPULATION: 11,170,000 (Source: COUNTRYaah)
AREA: 110,860 km²
OFFICIAL LANGUAGE (S): Spanish
RELIGION: Catholics 85%, Protestants, Jehovah's Witnesses, Jews and Santeria 15%
CURRENCY CODE: CUP
ENGLISH NAME: Cuba
POPULATION COMPOSITION: mixed (mulattoes, mestizer) 51%, white 37%, black 11%, other 1%
GDP PER residents: $ 6301 (2010 est.)
LIFE EXPECTANCY: men 75 years, women 79 years (2007)
INDEX OF LIVING CONDITIONS, HDI: 0.780
INDEX OF LIVING CONDITIONS, POSITION: 59
INTERNET DOMAIN NAME: .cu
Cuba, Republic of the Caribbean, which is made up of the island of Cuba, the
largest of the Greater Antilles, as well as a large number of surrounding
islands. After the Cuban Revolution in 1959, through close cooperation with
the Soviet Union, Cuba gained the role of the Eastern Bloc's isolated outpost
in the Western Hemisphere.
After the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, contacts with the EU and the rest of
Latin America have improved, and the socialist planned economy is slowly being
reformed. As of 2014, relations with the United States are being normalized
following diplomatic isolation that has lasted largely since the 1959
Cuba - Constitution
The Socialist Constitution of 1976 was amended in 1992 so that the first
direct elections to the National Assembly could take place in 1993. The 609
members (2005) are elected in direct elections from candidate lists compiled by
special commissions. The majority of those nominated are members of Cuba's
Communist Party, PCC., Which is the only authorized party. The National Assembly
elects a State Council of 31 members to represent itself outside the two annual
meetings. The President of the Council of State is both head of state and head
of government. The executive and administrative power lies with a Council of
Ministers appointed by the National Assembly on the recommendation of the
Cuba - social conditions
Before the revolution, Cuba was characterized by great economic and social
inequalities, especially between country and city. The significant prosperity
was primarily concentrated in Havana. The post-1959 reforms were primarily
aimed at accommodating the poor rural population; in turn, conditions for the
urban middle class generally deteriorated, and many fled abroad.
One of the goals of the regime was to create a society free from poverty and
discrimination. It has succeeded in part through persistent efforts, but the
economic crisis has eroded social progress since the late 1980's, and economic
reforms have once again intensified the trend towards economic and social
inequality. There are no statistics available on income distribution in Cuba,
but poverty has become more visible since the 1990's. The health care system
lacks resources for medicine and equipment, which is in stark contrast to the
large number of doctors Cuba sends to other countries in Latin America and
Africa. Cuba has the highest number of doctors per 100,000 residents (588). In
Denmark, the number is 322.
Social legislation is among the most advanced in Latin America. The
retirement age is 55 for women and 60 for men, and the pension is 50% of the
most recent income. However, local wages are so low that they are not even
enough to meet basic needs, which is why many are trying to earn other income in
convertible currency that can be used in state-owned dollar stores.
Gender equality is guaranteed by law. There is a well-developed network of
day care institutions with free meals for the children, which means that more
women can study or work. The divorce rate is very high and many mothers are
The economic downturn, the new economic policy and the new mass tourism have
contributed to the creation of a black market that forms a fertile breeding
ground for crime. In addition, prostitution is again very widespread, especially
in the big cities. Enrichment crime and drug abuse are growing problems,
and corruption has grown since the 1980's, but is far less than in most other
Latin American countries.
Cuba - health conditions
A Cuban's average life expectancy is 75 years for men, 80 years for women
(2009), roughly the same as in Denmark. The mortality rate for children under
the age of six, which was 90 ‰ in 1960, is 12 i in 1994. The mortality rate in
the first year of life is 10 ‰.
Following Castro's rise to power, the expansion of healthcare was a high
priority. The country now has more doctors per. per capita than Denmark (5.88
per 1000 residents) and almost as many hospital beds (5.8 per 1000
residents). The health service is fully state-funded. Changes in
infrastructure with satisfactory water supply has at the same time meant a
significant improvement in the state of health.
In 1992-93, more than 50,000 Cubans developed beriberi due to a lack of B 1 vitamin
(thiamine). Probably the US trade blockade, launched approximately 30 years
earlier and intensified in 1992, a contributing factor to the beriberi epidemic.
Cuba has largely eradicated the traditional tropical diseases. The pattern of
disease and mortality is approaching that of the industrialized
countries. Mortality due to cancer and heart disease now amounts to resp. 19%
and 30% of the total number of deaths.
Cuba - military
The peacekeeping force of the armed forces is (2006) 49,000. The army has
approximately 38,000, the fleet (Marina de Guerra Revolucionaria)
approximately 3000, Air Force (Defensa Antiaérea y Fuerza Aérea) approximately 8000.
In addition 26,500 in paramilitary police. The period of service for conscripts
is two years. The immediately prepared war reserve for the army is 39,000. Older
trained personnel are part of a territorial defense militia (Milicias
de Tropas Territoriales), whose total strength is approximately 1 mio. The
equipment of the forces is a quantity of old and slightly newer equipment of
Soviet make. There are major problems in obtaining spare parts and thus in
keeping the weapons in usable condition. The number of operating units is
significantly reduced due to cannibalization.
Cuba - mass media
The circulation of the Cuban daily press is very small. In the 1990's, only
one national newspaper was published, the Communist Party's Granma (Grdl. 1965)
due to lack of currency for paper. Granma is also published as a weekly
newspaper in several languages and as an online newspaper. After 2000, the
trade magazine Trabajadores is also published several times a week.
The island, in turn, is well stocked with radio and television. Ever
since Fidel Castro established an illegal radio station in 1956, radio and later
television have been an effective propaganda and educational tool. Radio and
television are managed by the Instituto Cubano de Radio y Televisión (ICRT)
(Grdl. 1962), which reports directly to the government. There are several
national radio networks, two national television stations and a large number of
local stations, all state-owned. The strict censorship is not very effective, as
Cubans can receive the radio and television of the surrounding countries. Among
them is the banned American Radio Marti, which broadcasts from Miami.
Cuba - visual arts and architecture
Christoffer Columbus found in 1492 during his first visit to Cuba artfully
designed clay figures of women as well as statues and ceramics. The earliest
Spanish mudéjar-style colonial architecture is preserved in the Casa del
Gobierno and the ruins of the 18th-century San Francisco de Paula Monastery
The city's cathedral (1777) is the finest example in baroque
architecture; the altars from the 20th century are in neoclassicism, and in this
style were built cigar factories, sugar warehouses, public buildings and the
Tacón Theater as well as a copy of The Capitol in Washington (1929).
Cuba first exhibited an independent painting with 1920's modernism. Victor
Manuel (1897-1968) united in simple, colorful landscapes and portraits European
impressionism with Cuban sensuality. Amelia Peláez (1897-1968) introduced
surrealism into images with tropical and colonial motifs.
Also Fidelio Ponce (1895-1949), René Portocarrero (1912-85) and Carlos
Enríquez (1900-57) developed typical, often baroque Afro-Cuban themes in the
idiom of the European avant-garde.
The most important painter of the period was Wifredo Lam. Caribbean nature,
social indignation and anti-colonialist attitudes as well as Afro-Cuban
consciousness characterize the revolutionary generation. Manuel Mendive (b.
1944) and José Bedia Valdés (b. 1959) explore African religiosity and
ethnographic themes under the influence of a Western philosophical discussion.
Artists such as Ana Mendieta (1948-85) and Luis Cruz Azaceta (b. 1942)
emigrated to the United States, where they have approached a North American
Cuba - literature
In the last third of the 1700's. Cuba began to acquire a cultural
distinctiveness. After the English occupation 1762-64 and under the impression
of the more liberal currents from Spain, the first newspaper was founded in
1790, and in 1792 the first public library. The University of Havana had been
founded in 1728, but only with Félix Varela (1788-1853) and his students did it
gain a role in Cuba's own culture. He himself characterized his chair as devoted
to freedom and human rights. 1800's many academies and literary journals had
independence from Spain and cultural identity as common goals. In the years
leading up to the Spanish-American War, José Martí fought in a large number of
writings for independence, not only of Spain but also of the monster to the
north, the United States.
Cuba had in the 1800's. his costumbristas, portrayers of daily life,
such as Victoriano Betancourt (1813-77) and Cirilo Villaverde (1812-94). The
desire for independence early led the latter into the romantic movement,
with the novel Cecilia Valdés (1839, completed in exile 1882). The
most famous poet and author of the time, Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda
(1814-73), with the novel Sab (1841) focused on another of the main
issues in Cuban society: racial conflict, here thematized in the mulatto slave's
relationship to the white daughter of the lordship.
Realism in Cuba has French role models; Carlos Loveira (1882-1928) is often
highlighted for his Zola- inspired, judgmental novel Juan Criollo (1927,
Creole Juan). The social commitment continued among 1900's writers partly with
criticism of concrete conditions as with Luis Felipe Rodríguez (1888-1947), who
described the degradation of the countryside, partly with direct political
appeal to Machado's dictatorship.
The special négritude literature on Afro-Cuban culture counts many
fine works, first and foremost Alejo Carpentier's novel Ecué-Yamba-O (1933); the
folklorist Lydia Cabreras Cuentos de Cuba (1940, Tales from Cuba)
describes the magical culture of the blacks from within. Among négritude -digterne
counted Nicolás Guillén for the best. Carpentier gradually transformed himself
from a magical realism into a socialist realism, in his own style
inspired by the Baroque. José Lezama Limamoved in content along other paths in
his hermetic works, where soul life is treated in a style influenced by the
hard-to-reach and obscure Baroque-style gongorism. (See also Góngora).
With Castro's revolution, a dividing line was drawn. Many younger writers
praised the revolution; others preferred exile. Guillermo Cabrera Infante was
for a time one of the front figures of the revolution, but emigrated like
Servero Sarduy. Both were style-creating in Spanish-language literature. Among
the poets, Heberto Padilla (1932-2000) has had a remarkable role: In 1968 he
received the Writers' Association's award for his book Fuera de juego (Off-side),
but was later imprisoned for his criticism of the regime and had to go into
exile. The "Padilla case" opened the eyes of many Cuban intellectuals.
Cuba - dance
Cuba's folk dance is characterized by both Afro-Caribbean, Spanish and French
dance. Internationally, however, Cuba is best known for its national ballet. The
ballet was introduced to Cuba in 1842 by the romantic ballerina Fanny Elssler,
who was followed by various guest dancers. In 1931, the Sociedad Pro-Arte
Musical began its own ballet evenings in Havana, leading to the creation of
Ballet Alicia Alonso in 1948 and of a school in 1950. At the 1959 revolution,
the company changed its name to National Ballet of Cuba, and Fidel Castro named
prima ballerina Alicia Alonso to leader. The company's repertoire has consisted
of classics such as Giselle, but has also included Cuban works such
as Espacio y Movimiento(1966) by Alberto Alonso and Tarde en la
Siesta (1984) by Alberto Méndez.
Alicia Alonso has been Cuba's all - important ballet personality, both as an
international star and as a ballet master for the National Ballet, which she has
built into a strong company, partly following the Russian model.
Cuba's second classical company is Ballet da Camagüey; in addition, there is
the modern company Conjunto Nacional de Danza Moderna. Cuba's folk dance is
represented by the company Conjunto Folklórico Nacional. International dance
festivals are also held in Havana.
Cuba - film
The sound film in Cuba was 1930-50 dominated by the American company Columbia
Pictures' productions and local musical films. In the 1950's, the cultural
organization Nuestro Tiempo (Our Time), which became the germ of revolutionary
Cuban film culture, was founded by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea (1928-96) and the
documentary filmmaker Santiago Alvarez (1919-98), and in 1959 the Cuban Film
Institute Instituto Cubano de Arte e Industria Cinematográfica (ICAIC) was
The new Cuban film was inspired by neorealism and the French New Wave, and
one of the favorite motifs was the historical reconstruction. Examples are Lucía (1968)
on the liberation of women by Humberto Solás (1941-2008), La primera carga
al machete (1969, The first attack on the machete), which themed the War of
Independence against Spain, by Octavio Gómez (1934-88) and Gutiérrez Aleas Una
pelea cubana contra los demonios (1971, A Cuban struggle against the
demons) and the main work La última cena (1976, The Last Supper)
about slavery in the 1700's. In the 1970's, form experiments and revolutionary
ideology went hand in hand in films such as Solás' Cantata de Chile (1975,
The Song of Chile).
Since the 1980's, critical films such as Alicia en el Pueblo de Maravillas (1991,
Alice in Wonderland) by Daniel Díaz Torres (1948-2013) and Fresa y chocolate (1993, Strawberries
and Chocolate) by Gutiérrez Alea have brought to the fore the contrast
between creative freedom and censorship in Cuba. German Wim Wenders has made the
documentary Buena Vista Social Club (1999) about old Cuban musicians.
Cuba - music
Cuban music is poetically described as "the result of a love affair between
the Spanish guitar and the African drum". The African influence is especially
reflected in drum and dance traditions such as the Afro-Cuban religion santería,
where each god, orisha, has its rhythm and dance, as well as in the secular
rumba, where the three types, yambú, guaguancó and columbia, represent a wide
spectrum of rhythmic, bodily and social expressions.
A corresponding European dominance is traced in the troubadour tradition as
well as the early styles contradanza, danza habanera, which later became
habanera, and danzón, which led to the world-famous rhythm and
dance cha-cha-cha. Perhaps the strongest and at the same time most equal
European-African style is el son, the forerunner of modern salsa. The most
important names in the 1990's are Lázaro Ros (santería), Los Muñequitos de
Matanzas (rumba), Los Van Van, Orquesta Revé and NG La Banda (salsa) as well as
the troubadours Pablo Milanés, Silvio Rodríguez and Carlos Varela.
Cuba - sports
Cuba has, in relation to its size, hatched many international sports
stars. The state's conscious ideological placement of sport and the role of
sport in a Marxist society has become a model for countries in Latin America and
Africa. The Cuban boxers in particular have made a name for themselves at
international competitions and championships, but the female volleyball players
have also gained an international reputation.
After the Cuban Revolution, professional sports were banned; instead, the
elite athletes have been given the status of state amateurs. At the same time,
there is free admission to sporting events, just as the Cubans have free access
to use all sports facilities. Together, this has meant mass participation in
school and grassroots sports.