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Cuba (kyo͞oˈbə, Span. ko͞oˈbä), officially Republic of Cuba, republic (2020 est. pop. 11,326,616), 42,804 sq mi (110,860 sq km), consisting of the island of Cuba and numerous adjacent islands, in the Caribbean Sea. Havana is the capital and largest city.

Land and People

Cuba is the largest and westernmost of the islands of the West Indies and lies strategically at the entrance to the Gulf of Mexico, with the western section only 90 mi (145 km) S of Key West, Fla. The south coast is washed by the Caribbean Sea, the north coast by the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, and in the east the Windward Passage separates Cuba from Haiti. The shores are often marshy and are fringed by coral reefs and cays. There are many fine seaports—Havana (the chief import point), Cienfuegos, Matanzas, Cárdenas, Nuevitas, Santiago de Cuba, and Guantánamo (a U.S. naval base since 1903). Of the many rivers, only the Cauto is important. The climate is semitropical and generally uniform, and like most other Caribbean nations Cuba is subject to hurricanes.

Cuba has three mountain regions: the wild and rugged Sierra Maestra in the east, rising to 6,560 ft (2,000 m) in the Pico Turquino; a lower range, the scenic Sierra de los Órganos, in the west; and the Sierra de Trinidad, a picturesque mass of hills amid the plains and rolling country of central Cuba, a region of vast sugar plantations. The rest of the island is level or rolling.

The origins of the population include Spanish (over 35%), African (over 10%), and mixed Spanish-African (over 50%). Spanish is spoken and Roman Catholicism, the dominant religion, is tolerated by the Marxist government. Santería, an African-derived faith, is also practiced, and there are a growing number of Protestant evangelical churches. The principal institutions of higher learning are the Univ. of Havana (founded 1728), in Havana; Universidad de Oriente, in Santiago de Cuba; and Central Universidad de las Villas, in Santa Clara.


Cuba's topography and climate are suitable for various crops, but sugarcane has been dominant since the early 19th cent. It remains the most prevalent crop, but in 2002 the government reduced the acreage devoted to sugarcane by 60%; prior to the cutbacks, it had been grown on about two thirds of all cropland. The abandoned cane fields were converted mainly to vegetable farms or cattle ranches. Nearly half the nation's sugar mills were also closed. Sugar and its derivatives are, nonetheless, still the most important exports. Other important exports include nickel, cigars, fish and shellfish, medical products, citrus fruits, and coffee. An excellent tobacco is grown, especially in the Vuelta Abajo region of Pinar del Río, and citrus, coffee, rice, corn, sweet potatoes, and beans are important crops.

Large-scale fishing operations have been encouraged in recent decades, and that industry is now one of the largest in Latin America; Cuban fishing fleets operate from Greenland to Argentina. Livestock raising has also been highly developed.

Manufacturing is centered chiefly in the processing of agricultural products. Sugar-milling has long been the largest industry, and Cuba is also known for its tobacco products. There is a oil-refining industry as well. Some consumer goods are manufactured, as well as construction materials, steel, agricultural machinery, and pharmaceuticals.

Although Cuba's nickel deposits are among the largest in the world, extraction is difficult because of the presence of other metals in the nickel ore. Nonetheless. nickel is the country's second most valuable export item (after sugar). Large amounts of copper, chromium, and cobalt are also mined, as well as lesser quantities of salt, lead, zinc, gold, silver, and petroleum. There are immense iron reserves, but problems of extraction and purification are even greater than with nickel, and iron production is still slight.

Cuba has upgraded its tourist facilities since 1990, and visitors from Canada, Europe, and elsewhere have revitalized the industry. Tourism is now the economic sector that provides the largest source of foreign income for the country, but the value of remittances of cash and goods from Cubans abroad is even greater. Venezuela, China, Canada, Spain, and the United States are the country's largest trading partners.

The Cuban economy has suffered severely from the collapse in 1990 of the Soviet bloc, upon whose trade Cuba was dependent; from the continuing effects of the U.S. trade boycott; and from internal structural economic problems. The economy recovered somewhat beginning in the mid-1990s, due to better economic planning, limited private enterprise, and an increase in productivity. The Venezuelan government, which developed close relations with the island, sold petroleum to Cuba at subsidized prices and provided other aid, and Cuba reciprocated by sending medical professionals and other personnel to Venezuela. By the mid-2010s, however, economic problems in Venezuela had drastically reduced sales of subsidized petroluem, and Cuba was again suffering from weak economic growth.


Cuba is a one-party Communist state; the Cuban Communist party (PCC) is the only legal political party. The country is governed under the constitution of 2019. The president, who is elected by the National Assembly, is head of state, and may serve two five-year terms. The prime minister, who is nominated by the president and approved by the National Assembly, is head of government. Legislative authority resides in the National Assembly of People's Power. The 605 assembly seats are filled by direct election from selected candidate lists; members serve for five-year terms. Administratively, Cuba is divided into 15 provinces and the special municipality of the Isle of Youth.


Pre-Independence History

The island was inhabited by several different indigenous groups when it was visited in 1492 by Christopher Columbus. The Spanish conquest began in 1511 under the leadership of Diego de Velázquez, who founded Baracoa and other major settlements. Cuba served as the staging area for Spanish explorations of the Americas. As an assembly point for treasure fleets, it offered a target for French and British buccaneers, who attacked the island's cities incessantly.

The native population was quickly destroyed under Spanish rule, and was soon replaced as laborers by African slaves, who contributed much to the cultural evolution of the island. The European population was continuously replenished by immigration, chiefly from Spain but also from other Latin American countries. Despite pirate attacks and the trade restrictions of Spanish mercantilist policies, Cuba, the Pearl of the Antilles, prospered.

In the imperial wars of the 18th cent. other nations coveted the Spanish possession, and in 1762 a British force under George Pocock and the earl of Albemarle captured and briefly held Havana. Cuba was returned to Spain by the Treaty of Paris in 1763 and remained Spanish even as most of Spain's possessions became (early 19th cent.) independent republics. The slave trade expanded rapidly, reaching its peak in 1817. Sporadic uprisings were brutally suppressed by the Spaniards.

Desires for Cuban independence increased when representation at the Spanish Cortes, granted in 1810, was withdrawn, yet neither internal discontent nor filibustering expeditions (1848–51) led by Narciso López, achieved results. The desire of U.S. Southerners to acquire the island as a slave state also failed (see Ostend Manifesto). Cuban discontent grew and finally erupted (1868) in the Ten Years War, a long revolt that ended (1878) in a truce, with Spain promising reforms and greater autonomy. Spain failed to carry out most of the reforms, although slavery was abolished (1886) as promised.

Revolutionary leaders, many in exile in the United States, planned another revolt, and in 1895 a second war of independence was launched with the brilliant writer José Martí as its leader. There was strong sentiment in the United States in favor of the rebels, which after the sinking of the Maine in Havana harbor led the United States to declare war on Spain (see Spanish-American War). The Spanish forces capitulated, and a treaty, signed in 1898, established Cuba as an independent republic, although U.S. military occupation of the island continued until 1902. The U.S. regime, notably under Leonard Wood, helped rebuild the war-torn country, and the conquest of yellow fever by Walter Reed, Carlos J. Finlay, and others was a heroic achievement.

The New Nation

Cuba was launched as an independent republic in 1902 with Estrada Palma as its first president, although the Platt Amendment (see Platt, Orville Hitchcock), reluctantly accepted by the Cubans, kept the island under U.S. protection and gave the United States the right to intervene in Cuban affairs. U.S. investment in Cuban enterprises increased, and plantations, refineries, railroads, and factories passed to American (and thus absentee) ownership. This economic dependence led to charges of “Yankee imperialism,” strengthened when a revolt headed by José Miguel Gómez led to a new U.S. military occupation (1906–9). William Howard Taft and Charles Magoon acted as provisional governors. After supervising the elections, the U.S. forces withdrew, only to return in 1912 to assist putting down black protests against discrimination.

Sugar production increased, and in World War I the near-destruction of Europe's beet-sugar industry raised sugar prices to the point where Cuba enjoyed its “dance of the millions.” The boom was followed by collapse, however, and wild fluctuations in prices brought repeated hardship. Politically, the country suffered fraudulent elections and increasingly corrupt administrations. Gerardo Machado as president (1925–33) instituted vigorous measures, forwarding mining, agriculture, and public works, then abandoned his great projects in favor of suppressing opponents.

Machado was overthrown in 1933, and from then until 1959 Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar, a former army sergeant, dominated the political scene, either directly as president or indirectly as army chief of staff. With Franklin Delano Roosevelt's administration a new era in U.S. relations with Cuba began: Sumner Welles was sent as ambassador, the Platt Amendment was abandoned in 1934, the sugar quota was revised, and tariff rulings were changed to favor Cuba. Economic problems continued, however, complicated by the difficulties associated with U.S. ownership of many of the sugar mills and the continuing need for diversification.

In Mar., 1952, shortly before scheduled presidential elections, Batista seized power through a military coup. Cuban liberals soon reacted, but a revolt in 1953 by Fidel Castro was abortive. In 1956, however, Castro landed in E Cuba and took to the Sierra Maestra, where, aided by Ernesto “Che” Guevara, he reformed his ranks and waged a much-publicized guerrilla war. The United States withdrew military aid to Batista in 1958, and Batista finally fled on Jan. 1, 1959.

The Castro Regime

Castro, supported by young professionals, students, urban workers, and some farmers, was soon in control of the nation. Despite its popular support, the revolutionary government proceeded with a severe program of political purges and suppressed all remaining public opposition. The new government soon initiated a sweeping reorganization patterned after the countries of the Soviet bloc. Among its successful policy goals have been the provision of adequate medical care and education to the majority of the population. Less successful have been its attempts to diversify agricultural production and achieve a self-sufficient economy.

The expropriation of U.S. landholdings, banks, and industrial concerns led to the breaking (Jan., 1961) of diplomatic relations by the U.S. government. That same year Castro declared his allegiance with the Eastern bloc. Opposition to Cuba's Communist alignment was strong in the United States, which responded with a trade embargo and sponsorship of the Bay of Pigs Invasion. The quick collapse of the latter was especially humiliating to the United States because of its direct involvement.

Cuba's significance in the cold war was further dramatized the following year when the USSR began to buttress Cuba's military power and to build missile bases on the islands. President Kennedy demanded (Oct., 1962) the dismantling of the missiles and ordered the U.S. navy to blockade Cuba to prevent further importation of offensive weapons. After a period of great world tension, Soviet Premier Khrushchev agreed to withdraw the missiles (see Cuban Missile Crisis).

Cuba's relations with other Latin American countries deteriorated quickly during this period because of its explicit intention of spreading the revolution to those countries by guerrilla warfare. In Feb., 1962, the Organization of American States (OAS) formally excluded Cuba from its council, and by Sept., 1964, all Latin American nations except Mexico had broken diplomatic and economic ties with Cuba. After the death (1967) of Guevara while engaged in guerrilla activity in Bolivia, Cuban attempts to encourage revolution in other countries diminished somewhat, and by the early 1970s several nations resumed diplomatic relations with Cuba.

In the late 1960s and 70s Cuba's government policies went through a significant reformulation, including an increased leadership role among less developed nations and a reorganization of its domestic political and economic systems. From 1961 to the late 1980s Cuba was heavily dependent on economic and military aid from the Soviet Union. Cuban support of Soviet foreign policy (notably its invasion of Afghanistan in 1979) caused difficulties in its chosen role as a leader of less developed countries. Cuba also sent large numbers of troops to Angola, where they supported the Soviet-armed government forces in the civil war.

Contemporary Cuba

In the late 1980s Cuban-Soviet relations became distanced as the Soviets moved toward more liberal policy positions. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Cuba lost its primary source of aid, and with the collapse of the whole Soviet bloc, Cuba largely lost its main sources of hard currency and oil and its principal markets for sugar. Castro apparently remained in firm control of the country. Most of those who had initially opposed him had fled the island (between Dec., 1965, and Apr., 1973, a Cuban government–controlled airlift carried more than 250,000 people between Havana and Miami, Fla.). Despite Cuba's severe economic problems, Castro enjoyed some popularity for his social programs. However, Cuba's decision to allow further emigration in 1980 resulted in an exodus of over 125,000 people from Mariel, Cuba, to Florida before it was halted, indicating a significant level of popular discontent.

The economic problems caused by the collapse of Soviet aid, the continuing dependence on sugar, and a long-lasting U.S. embargo led the regime to reverse some of its socialist policies. In 1992 and 1993, the government allowed the use of U.S. dollars (until 2004), authorized the transformation of many state farms into semiautonomous cooperatives, and legalized individual private enterprise on a limited basis. In 1994 all farmers were allowed to sell some produce on the open market, and a convertible peso with a stronger exchange rate was introduced alongside the national currency. During the same year, there was a new flood of boat refugees; it stopped only after a U.S.-Cuban agreement was reached. The accord called for Cuba to halt the exodus and for the United States to legally admit at least 20,000 Cubans per year.

U.S.-Cuba tensions increased in 1996 after Cuba shot down two civilian planes operated by Miami-based Cuban exiles. The U.S. economic embargo, which previously had to be renewed yearly, was made permanent, and Americans were allowed to sue foreign companies that profited from confiscated property in Cuba. These measures angered many of America's major trading partners, including Canada, Mexico, and the European Union (the UN General Assembly has voted annually for the embargo's end since 1992).

Following a visit by Pope John Paul II to Cuba in 1998, the United States eased restrictions on food and medicine sales to Cuba, and on the sending of money to relatives by Cuban-Americans. U.S. legislation in 2000 exempted food and medicine from the embargo but prohibited U.S. financing of any Cuban purchases. Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter visited the country in 2002. During his visit he criticized both the Cuban government and U.S. policy toward the island. President George W. Bush tightened certain aspects of the embargo, mainly affecting Cuban Americans; the regulations took effect in 2004. The same year the government began reasserting control over areas of the economy that had been liberalized in the 1990s; among the changes was a ban on transactions involving the dollar and other foreign currencies, which were required to be converted to special Cuban pesos. In 2005 two hurricanes, Dennis in July and Wilma in October, caused extensive damage in Cuba.

Fidel Castro temporarily stepped aside as Cuban president beginning in Aug., 2006, due to illness; Raúl Castro, his brother and the vice president, became interim president. Fidel retired as president in Feb., 2008, and his brother was elected to succeed him. Fidel remained head of the Communist party, however, until 2011, and continued to be influential until his death in 2016. Under Raúl Castro, the government eased its control over the economy somewhat; among the most significant moves were those designed to decentralize decision-making in agriculture and facilitate the increased production of food by private cooperatives and family farms and those intended to increase worker productivity by removing wage limits.

In Aug.–Sept., 2008, many parts of Cuba suffered devastating damage to housing and crops when Hurricanes Gustav and Ike battered the island. A third hurricane, Paloma, caused additional significant damage in November. In Mar., 2009, there was a major government shakeup that led to the removal of the foreign minister and cabinet secretary, who subsequently resigned all their party and government posts. The restructuring also increased the role of current and former military officers in the government. Also in March and April, U.S. embargo restrictions imposed by Presidents Bush and Clinton were reversed by the U.S. Congress and President Obama. In June, after all American nations except the United States had restored diplomatic relations with Cuba, the OAS ended its 47-year suspension of Cuba, but the Cuban government said it would not rejoin the OAS.

By late 2009, the Cuban economy was suffering significantly as a result of the costs of the 2008 hurricanes, the 2008–9 world financial crisis and recession, and a drop in export and tourism revenues combined with an increase in import prices. In Sept., 2010, the government announced plans to reduce the number of persons on its payroll by up to 1 million (roughly one fifth of the official workforce), with 500,000 to be laid off by Apr., 2011. In order to enable those workers to find jobs in the small private sector, it reduced restrictions on private enterprises (and legalized small businesses in 2016), but it ultimately moved more slowly to reduce its payroll. The government also it said it would significantly reduce economic subsidies, and subsequently announced other reform plans, including authorizing (2012) the establishment of nonagricultural cooperatives and a plan (2013) for sweeping changes in food production and distribution by 2015. By 2012, more than 1 million were employed privately, and by 2013 nearly 600,000 jobs had been cut from the state payroll. Nonetheless, the pace of reform generally was slow and centralized planning and state monopolies continued to dominate the economy due to hard-line resistance and bureaucratic inertia; difficulties associated with agricultural reforms contributed to slow growth or losses in food production and increases in food prices (though the latter also was the result of reduced subsidies). In Aug., 2016, Cuba reaffirmed its modest reform plans in new guidelines but no longer called for reducing the role of the state in food distribution and pricing. In mid-2018 the country placed restrictions on the ownership of private businesses, but those restrictions were later eased.

In Dec., 2014, in conjunction with a prisoner swap, the United States and Cuba agreed to restore diplomatic relations, which was accomplished in July, 2015. U.S. President Obama also eased some travel and trade restrictions over subsequent months, called for Congress to end the U.S. embargo, and visited the island in Mar., 2016. E Guantánamo prov. suffered significant damage from a hurricane in Oct, 2016, and another hurricane caused extensive flooding and damage along the N central coast in Sept., 2017. Hurricane damage, a months-long cutoff of subsidized oil from Venezuela, and low commodity prices hurt the economy in 2016–17. Some but not all of the eased U.S. travel restrictions put in place under U.S. President Obama were reversed by President Trump in 2017, and he subsequently imposed additional restrictions.

In Apr., 2018, Raül Castro retired as president and was succeeded by Vice President Miguel Díaz-Canel. A new constitution approved in Feb., 2019, separated the post of president from the Council of State, and created the post of prime minister to head the separate Council of Ministers. It also recognized some private and cooperative ownership while preserving the dominance of the Communist party. In 2019 a loss of aid from Venezuela (as a result of the crisis there) and the effects of various measures imposed by the Trump administration as well as a continuing reliance on food imports forced the government to ration staples and impose price controls. In December, Manuel Marrero Cruz, the tourism minister, was named prime minister. The government abolished the convertible peso at the end of 2020, ending the dual currency system, and introduced a number of other economic reforms.


See W. F. Johnson, The History of Cuba (4 vol., 1920); E. Abel, The Missile Crisis (1966); R. R. Fagen, The Transformation of Political Culture in Cuba (1969); B. Silverman, comp., Man and Socialism in Cuba (1971); R. E. Bonachea and N. P. Valdés, ed., Cuba in Revolution (1972); J. I. Dominguez, Cuba: Order and Revolution (1978); C. Brundenius, Revolutionary Cuba, the Challenge of a Revolutionary Society (1984); J. Suchlicki, Cuba: From Columbus to Castro (2d ed. 1986); P. S. Falk, Cuban Foreign Policy (1986); L. A. Perez, Cuba: Between Reform and Revolution (1988); J. Stubbs, Cuba: The Test of Time (1989).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Republica de Cuba).

The Republic of Cuba is situated on the island of Cuba (104,000 sq km), the Isla de Pinos (2,200 sq km), and more than 1,600 small islands in the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea. The total area is 110,900 sq km, and the population is 8.8 million (1973, estimate). The capital is Havana. For administrative purposes the country is divided into six provinces. (See Table 1.)

Cuba is a socialist state and a republic. The Fundamental Law of Feb. 8, 1959, with the amendments passed in 1960, is the operative constitution.

The head of state is the president, who is appointed by the revolutionary government—the Council of Ministers. He exercises executive power jointly with the Council of Ministers, and he approves and promulgates laws passed by it. The council holds the central position in Cuba’s governmental system. Under the leadership of the prime minister, the Council of Ministers exercises legislative power. It has the right to declare war, approve international treaties, appoint diplomatic representatives, determine the size of the armed forces, make amendments to the Fundamental Law, and pass constitutional laws. The prime minister is the supreme commander in chief. In addition, the Council of Ministers regulates state agencies’ observation of and state administration of existing legislation.

The National Coordinating Committee, which is appointed by the president, heads the system of local bodies of authority. To ensure public order in the outlying regions and to implement socialist transformations, committees for defense of the revolution have been established.

The highest body of the judicial system is the Supreme Court, which consists of nine judges elected by the Council of Ministers upon the president’s recommendation. Each province has a provincial court (audiencia), courts of the first instance, municipal courts, and other courts, all of which are elected by the Supreme Court.

Coasts. The shoreline of the island of Cuba is 5,746 km long. On the island’s northern coast flat, eroded-tectonic shores prevail, and on the southeastern coast, faulted, straight shores. Deltaic and biogenic (coral and mangrove) shores are found on the southern coast and on the Isla de Pinos. There are numerous deep gulfs—”pouches” with the splendid bays of Cabañas, Mariel, Havana, Matanzas, Nuevitas, and Nipe in the north and Cienfuegos, Santiago de Cuba, and Guantánamo in the south.

Terrain. Cuba’s terrain is, for the most part, flat. Maritime accumulative, abrasion-accumulative, and, in places, bench-type plains occupy the peripheral parts of the island of Cuba (the Guanahacabibes and Zapata peninsulas), the southern part of the Isla de Pinos, and the adjacent archipelagoes. Characteristic of the interior regions of the country are deltaic (fluvial-maritime) and erosion-accumulation (fluvial) plains, many of which form the foothills of the central uplands. There are also extensive outwash plains, which developed on outcroppings of bedrock. Uplands and mountains occupy about one-third of Cuba’s territory. In the west there is a series of horst massifs (from 400 to 600 m) that make up the Cordillera de Guaniguanico. Numerous residual uplands no higher than 400 m (the Havana-Matanzas, Bejucal-Madruga, Santa Clara, and Noroeste de las Villas uplands) run along the main axis of the island. Rising in the center of the island of Cuba is the deeply indented Sierra de Trinidad, with elevations as high as 1,156 m—Pico San Juan. In the east residual uplands prevail (the Sierra de Cubitas, the Sierra de Najasa, and the Maniabon Upland).

The highest mountains occupy the extreme southeastern part of the country. Stretching along the southern coast is the heavily dissected Sierra Maestra, with a maximum elevation of 1,974 m (Pico Turquino, the highest point in Cuba). Located to the east is a group of vaulted-block massifs (the Sierra de Nipe, 995 m; the Sierra del Cristal, 1,231 m; the Cuchillas de Moa, 1,139 m; the Cuchillas de Toa, 1,011 m; and the Sierra del Purial, 1,181 m). Because of the widespread distribution of carbonate rocks on Cuba, karst has developed everywhere. Characteristic of the mountains of western and southeastern Cuba are tower-shaped and dome-shaped karst mogotes. The coastal plains have many sinkholes, and there are numerous caves and sinkhole fields in the uplands.


Geological structure and mineral resources. Cuba is a meganticlinorium that is part of the Antilles-Caribbean region of the folded geosynclinal zone of the Cordilleras. The alpine structure of the island of Cuba is divided into two structural stages: the lower, or geosynclinal stage (Upper Jurassic through Middle Eocene), and the upper, or orogenic stage, whose rocks date from the Oligocene through the contemporary epoch. Within the lower stage there are three distinctive zones. The northern one is a miogeosynclinal zone that was formed primarily by very thick (up to 5,000 m) shallow-water carbonates; the southern is a eugeosynclinal zone filled with volcanic sedimentary layers of basic composition (4,000–5,000 m). Between them is the central zone, in which deep-water siliceous carbonate rocks prevail (300–500 m thick). Intensive folded deformations, accompanied by overthrust sheets and large, emerging massifs of ultrabasic rocks, gabbro, and granodiorites twice encompassed this complex of deposits (during the Upper Cretaceous and Middle Eocene epochs). The location of the rocks of the upper structural stage, which developed chiefly from carbonate-terrigenic formations and which are broken by a series of vertical fractures, is sharply at variance with the older deposits. By filling in the depressions and grabens, the rocks of the upper stage have increased the complexity of the anticlinoria, which originated earlier. The deposits of Cuba’s principal minerals were formed at the same time as the rocks of the lower structural stage. Among these deposits are copper ores (Pinar del Río and Oriente provinces), manganese ores (Oriente), and chromites (Camagüey). During the Anthropogenic period deposits of nickel-bearing ores and kaolins (the Isla de Pinos) were formed in the rocks of the lower stage.


Geologiia i poleznye iskopaemye Kuby (collection of articles). Moscow, 1967.
Geologia de Cuba. Havana, 1964.
Climate. Cuba has a tropical, trade-wind climate with a sharply defined rainy season (May-October). The average January temperature is 22.5°C, and the average August temperature, 27.8°C. The minimum temperature is 5°C, and the maximum reaches 40°C. On the plains the annual average precipitation varies from 1,000 to 1,200 mm; in the mountains it may be as
Table 1. Administrative divisions
ProvinceArea (sq km)Population (1970)Administrative center
1Including the Isla de Pinos (population, 30,100)
Pinar del Río ......................11,100542,400Pinar del Río
Havana ......................9,3002,335,3001Havana
Matanzas ......................12,300501,300Matanzas
Las Villas ......................18,3001,362,200Santa Clara
Camagüey ......................25,100813,200Camagüey
Oriente ......................34,8002,999,000Santiago de Cuba
much as 2,200 mm. During the rainy season there are two maximum rainfalls. The June maximum corresponds to the period of the zenithal rains. The October one is associated with the passing of a tropical front, on whose edge destructive hurricanes originate. For the most part, hurricanes hit the western regions of Cuba. The dry season, which lasts from November through April, is most clearly manifested in the plains of the south (for example, the Cauto Basin).
Rivers and lakes. Most of Cuba’s rivers are short and do not carry much water. The largest river, the Cauto (370 km long), originates in the Sierra Maestra. The rivers are fed primarily by rain. Fluctuations in their levels correspond to the cycle of precipitation. Most of the flow (80 percent) occurs in autumn. Many of the rivers have rapids. In the karst regions there are intermittent and subterranean rivers.
Soils and flora. Prior to the period of colonization, forests covered more than 50 percent of Cuba’s territory. Today forests occupy only about 10 percent of the territory—primarily the mountainous and swampy regions. On the moist red and reddish cinnamonic soils of the plains and the lower slopes there are tropical forests with numerous deciduous and evergreen species, including royal palms and uva grass. In the drier, rockier soils of the west (the province of Pinar del Río) and the east (the Nipe-Baracoa Massif) and on the Isla de Pinos there are considerable tracts of pine forests. Certain regions (the Cauto Basin) have grassy savanna vegetation. Characteristic of the southeastern coastal regions and certain other areas are prickly, small-leaved shrubs with an admixture of cactus and Agave.
As they settled the plains, the colonists cut down most of the forests. Nonetheless, certain trees, including the royal palm, were not touched. Thus, the contemporary landscape of the Cuban plains is reminiscent of a palm savanna. The royal palm is depicted on the country’s coat of arms. Mangroves are characteristic of the low-lying coastal areas. More than 50 percent of Cuba’s flora is endemic.
Fauna. Cuba has only a small number of vertebrates but a considerable number of endemic animals. Of the mammals, the most characteristic are the Cuban gaptoothed hutia (now almost extinct) and the rodent hutia. There are many bats (23 species). Many of the 300 species of birds observed on the islands stay there only for the winter. Among the local species are hummingbirds, Ara (a genus of macaws), and small vultures. Lizards, turtles, crocodiles, small boa constrictors, and other nonpoisonous snakes are found in Cuba. The most typical insects are termites and fireflies (Phyrophorus noctiloeus). Land and hermit crabs are the most common crustaceans.
Natural regions. Characterized by a mosaic geological structure and terrain and by the greatest manifestation of tropical karst on Cuban territory, the western region has major subterranean water resources. Its natural landscapes have been almost completely transformed by farms and cities. The central region includes the Sierra de Trinidad, which is surrounded by plains and uplands. There is a dense network of rivers. Many swamps are found in the region. In the mountains, particularly the canyons, the forests have been preserved, but on the plains there are plantations specializing in various agricultural crops. The central eastern region is the flattest part of the country. The forests have been almost completely cut down and replaced by sugarcane plantations. In the uplands there are pastures.
The southeastern region is mountainous, with heavily dissected terrain and rivers that carry a relatively large amount of water. Located in the mountains are sections of tropical forests. On the mountain slopes there are sugarcane and coffee plantations, as well as pastures. Characteristic of the southern region (Isla de Pinos) are small, residual uplands on a peneplain surface. In the south karst and swamps are widely encountered. There is no surface flow in this region. Most of the forests have been cut down, and extensive areas are occupied by citrus plantations or pastures.


More than 95 percent of the population are Cubans. Emigrants from Asia—the Chinese, who live primarily in suburban areas, and the Japanese, who are concentrated on the Isla de Pinos—also live in Cuba. Settlers from Haiti reside in the eastern regions of the island of Cuba. In Oriente Province the indigenous Indian population has intermingled with the Cubans but has also preserved a few specific elements of its own culture. The official language is Spanish. Among Cuba’s believers Catholics prevail, but there are also some Protestants and adherents of various other Christian sects. In addition, certain vestiges of African beliefs have survived (chiefly syncretic Afro-Christian cults). The official calendar is the Gregorian.

The pattern of steady population growth may be seen in data for the first half of the 20th century: 2,049,000 in 1907; 2,889,000 in 1919; 3,962,300 in 1931; 4,778,600 in 1943; and 5,829,000 in 1953. Population growth occurred as a result of natural increase and immigration. Since the victory of the revolution the population has risen from 6,692,700 (1959) to 8,553,400 (1970). The natural growth rate is 2.6 percent per year. Characteristic of the Cuban population is a high proportion of children and young people. (As of 1970, more than 40 percent of the population was under age 16.) Of the economically active population of 2,737,000, 33 percent are engaged in agriculture. By the beginning of 1970, 1,895,000 persons were employed in the state sector, including 28.6 percent in agriculture, 22 percent in industry, 8 percent in construction, 8.2 percent in transportation, and 33.2 percent in the service industries.

About 78 percent of the population lives in Havana, Las Villas, and Oriente provinces. The population is most dense (251 inhabitants per sq km) in Havana Province, where more than one-fourth of all the inhabitants of Cuba are concentrated.

As of 1970, 60.5 percent of the population was urban, and the largest cities were Havana (1,755,000), Santiago de Cuba (276,000), Camagüey (197,000), Santa Clara (131,500), Holguín (131,500), and Guantánamo (130,100).

Prior to the end of the 15th century. According to information furnished by contemporary Cuban archaeology, the territory of Cuba was settled before 4000 B.C. by “nonpottery” groups of Indian tribes: the Ciboney, Guayabo Blanco, and Cayo Redondo. Hunters and fishermen, they gathered various mollusks, grasses, and other plants. During the seventh through the ninth centuries groups of pottery-making and farming Mayari, sub-Taino, and Taino began to appear on the territory of Cuba. They were descendants of the Arawak Indians, who had settled the northern coast of South America. The social differentiation of these tribes was based on the division of labor. They engaged in hunting, fishing, and farming (tobacco, cotton, cassava, and corn).

The Taino, who were at a relatively high stage of development, exploited the labor of the conquered Ciboney. Stone and wooden implements were used by the Taino, who also practiced the arts of pottery and weaving. By the end of the 15th century the primitive communal structure had entered a stage of disintegration. The island’s population at this time was at least 200,000.

The period of Spanish colonial domination (end of the 15th through the end of the 19th century).FROM THE END OF THE 15TH CENTURY TO THE 1860’s. In October 1492 the island of Cuba was discovered by an expedition led by Columbus. The Spaniards began the conquest of the island in 1510, ruthlessly exterminating the native population. Under the leadership of chiefs Hatuey (1510–12) and Guama (1529–32) the Indians heroically resisted the invaders. During the colonization of the island cities were built, including Santiago (founded in 1514) and Havana (founded around 1515), which became the most important ports.

The Spaniards introduced a colonial system. All land was declared the property of the Spanish king. The repartimiento system and the economienda ensured the distribution of Indians and sometimes even of land among the Spaniards, who were given the right to exploit the labor of the indigenous population. At the same time, some of the Indians were enslaved. The free Indians were subordinate to royal officials known as corregidores.

Because of unbearably hard labor, hunger, disease brought into Cuba by the Spaniards, and cruel treatment, a considerable part of the aboriginal population died. By 1537 there were only about 5,000 Indians left on the island. Therefore, the colonists began to import Negro slaves from Africa to work in the mines as well as on the sugarcane and tobacco plantations. The labor of these Negro slaves was vital to the slaveholding plantation economy. However, for a long time the country’s principal wealth was livestock, and the most prevalent form of landownership was the latifundium specializing in animal husbandry.

By the mid-17th century the division of the country’s territory among the Spanish conquerors had basically been completed. The development of sugarcane and tobacco plantations and the increasing importance of exports was accompanied in the mid-18th century by the breakup of the latifundia that had specialized in animal husbandry. In the large estates located near cities the lands that had been devoted to raising livestock were converted into sugarcane and tobacco plantations.

From the mid-17th through the 18th century the tobacco growers struggled against the tobacco monopoly (introduced by Spain in 1717) and for control of the most fertile lands. A strict trade monopoly, which ensured the interests of the crown and of merchants in the metropolitan country, provoked dissatisfaction among the island’s population and led to widespread smuggling. Cuba was an important transit point for Spain’s commercial and military expeditions. In 1762, during a war against Spain, the British captured Havana and proclaimed free trade, thus promoting a revival of the island’s economy. A year later, when Havana was returned to Spain, the metropolitan power was compelled to mitigate its system of trade monopoly in Cuba.

The expansion of trade with Europe, particularly with France, and later with the USA, caused a boom in sugar and tobacco production. By the end of the 18th century there were 339 large-scale livestock farms, 478 sugarcane plantations, and 7,814 small-scale landowners engaged in farming, raising livestock, or growing tobacco. As a result of the development of an economic and cultural community during this period, the foundation for the Cuban nationality was laid. An influential class of rich Creole landowners emerged, who had an interest in the country’s economic and political development.

During the War for the Independence of the Spanish Colonies in America (1810–26) progressive Cuban landowners led by F. Arango y Parreño advocated economic and political reforms. Spain was forced to grant certain concessions (the abolition of the tobacco monopoly, 1817, and permission to engage in free trade, 1818), which contributed to an economic boom and a flowering of the plantation economy and considerably strengthened the position of those who advocated the continued domination of Cuba by Spain. Frightened by the uprisings of Negro slaves in Cuba (for example, the rebellion led by Aponte in 1812), the Cuban slaveholders made a compromise agreement with Spanish authorities. The island became a Spanish military and naval stronghold.

Nevertheless, from the early 1820’s Cubans published newspapers calling for a struggle for liberty. Secret societies, such as the Suns and Rays of Bolivar (1821–23) and the Great Legion of the Black Eagle (1827–30), defined their task as the struggle for independence. In 1844, Spanish authorities dealt harshly with the participants in the “ladder conspiracy,” whose goal was the liberation of the Negro slaves. (The name of the conspiracy is derived from the penalty inflicted on its members, who were crucified on ladders.)

Deprived of their basic civil and political rights, most of the Cuban people suffered from the arbitrary rule of the Spanish authorities and their military garrison. During the 1830’s the first tobacco and cigar factories were established. They exploited the labor of the free Negroes, the mulattoes, and the poorest whites. Sugar production increased, mining grew more important, railroads were built, and foundries began to operate. By the 1860’s the slaveholding system had entered a period of crisis. Capitalist relations emerged and developed within the colonial system. The concentration of workers led to the establishment of the first workers’ mutual aid societies. The workers’ newspaper La Aurora was first published in 1865. The first strike took place in 1866 at the Cabañas y Carvajal Tobacco Factory in Havana.

Capitalist relations also began to take shape in agriculture. The rise in the number of free people and the growth of productive forces helped to develop the Cuban nation and shape the struggle for independence. The US Civil War (1861–65), during which slavery was abolished, directly influenced Cuba’s liberation struggle.

THE LIBERATION STRUGGLE OF THE CUBAN PEOPLE BETWEEN 1868 AND 1898. On Oct. 10, 1868, an uprising of Cuban patriots began under the leadership of C. M. de Céspedes near the settlement of Yara in Oriente Province. The manifesto promulgated by Céspedes laid the foundation for a ten-year national liberation war by the Cuban people against the Spanish colonialists. The social base of the national liberation struggle, which developed under the leadership of the patriotic segment of the landowners and with the help of their supporters among the rural and urban middle classes of the eastern and central regions, consisted of peasants, slaves, craftsmen, and the still small proletariat. In April 1869 a Cuban constitution was adopted, and the first independent Cuban republic was proclaimed. Frightened by the growing people’s war, the compromising leadership of the Liberation Army signed a peace agreement in the town of Zanjón on Feb. 10, 1878. Under the agreement, the leaders of the liberation war promised to cease their armed struggle, and the Spanish promised administrative reforms and the liberation of the slaves. In 1886 slavery was abolished, but the majority of the slaves became economically enslaved farm laborers and peasants (colonos). The abolition of slavery gave rise to conditions that stimulated the development of capitalism. In the sugar industry the concentration of enterprises led to the exclusion of the ingenio (the small-scale enterprise for processing sugarcane) by the central (the large-scale enterprise furnished with the most up-to-date equipment). The centrals employed wage laborers and colonos. Increased trade with the USA was accompanied by an intensified introduction of American capital into the Cuban economy, primarily into sugar production. Cuba exported 75 percent of its raw sugar to the USA and had to import almost all necessities.

In the period after the Ten Years’ War (1868–78) preparations for the final attack on Spanish domination were made under the leadership of J. Martí, ideologist and head of the liberation movement. Prominent leaders of the workers’ movement (C. Baliño and D. Tejera) helped to disseminate socialist ideas, to consolidate and organize workers, and to encourage their participation in the political and liberation struggle. In 1892, during his stay in the USA, Martí created the Cuban Revolutionary Party, whose goals were the unification of the revolutionary patriotic forces, preparation for the liberation struggle, and direction of it. The newspaper Patria was the party’s central organ.

On Feb. 24, 1895, a new, armed, liberation rebellion broke out in Oriente Province. The principal moving force of the national liberation struggle, which was essentially a bourgeois democratic revolution, was the peasantry and the proletariat. The struggle was guided by progressive representatives of the urban middle classes, who advocated political independence from Spain and the creation of a national state. On May 19, 1895, Martí was killed in combat against the Spanish colonialists.

The struggle continued under the leadership of M. Gómez Baez and A. Maceo. In September the revolutionary government of the Cuban Republic was established, and a constitution was drafted. From October 1895 through January 1896 the Liberation Army under Maceo’s leadership fought its way over the entire island, inflicting a number of defeats on the colonialists. On Nov. 25,1897, Spain granted Cuba autonomy, but the Cuban people, who were fighting for full independence, continued their struggle. By the end of 1897 most of the territory of Cuba had been liberated, and Spanish troops remained only in the port cities.

At this point Cuba was threatened by a new form of colonial enslavement—American imperialism—which was trying to gain control of the country. In April 1898 the USA unleashed a war against Spain. Taking advantage of the Cubans’ national liberation struggle to achieve their own goals, American imperialists completed the defeat of the Spanish Army with the help of the Liberation Army. Ignoring the revolutionary government of Cuba, the Americans signed a peace treaty with Spain (Paris, December 1898). Under the treaty Spain renounced its rights in Cuba, and the island fell under US control.

The period of US occupation (1899–1902). In January 1899 the USA occupied Cuba. The leaders of the Cuban Revolutionary Party in New York, who grew opportunistic after Martí’s death, did not wish to deepen and prolong the revolutionary struggle. Therefore, in December 1898 they disbanded the party and all revolutionary clubs, destroying the revolutionary unity of the Cuban people. Under pressure from the USA the Liberation Army was dismissed, and the Cuban people were deprived of the possibility of carrying to a conclusion the struggle to implement the program that had been put forth by the leaders of the liberation movement. With the cooperation of Cuba’s wealthy classes, US capital penetrated the Cuban economy, particularly the sugar, tobacco, and mining industries. US capital was also invested in railroads to provide service to the centrals.

Despite the conditions created by the American occupation, the Cuban people continued their struggle to establish an independent republic. In November 1900, US occupation authori-ties convoked a Constituent Assembly to draft a constitution for Cuba and to “coordinate with the US government everything that affects relations between Cuba and the USA.” The constitution was approved by the Constituent Assembly in February 1901. However, the USA applied pressure on the Cubans, refusing to cut short the American occupation of Cuba until certain principles affecting Cuban-American relations had been inserted in the constitution. In June 1901 the Platt Amendment, which granted the USA the right to interfere in Cuba’s internal affairs, was included in the Cuban Constitution. In December 1901, T. Estrada Palma, who was linked with US ruling circles, was elected president of Cuba in the country’s first presidential election. The Republic of Cuba was officially proclaimed on May 20, 1902; the national flag was raised in Havana, replacing the US flag; and the evacuation of American troops was begun.

Cuba—formally an independent republic, actually a semicolony of US imperialism (1902–58). To a great extent, the economic and social structure of the period of Spanish colonization was retained under the administration of Estrada Palma. The accelerated introduction of US capital (by 1906, US investments totaled $120 million) had a number of unfortunate consequences for Cuba: the country had a one-crop, backward economy, its domestic market was constricted, there was chronic unemployment, and more of the population sank into poverty. In 1902, Cuba and the USA signed a trade agreement which ensured the latter’s control over the Cuban market. In 1903 the two countries signed a “permanent treaty” and an agreement under which the naval base at Guantánamo was leased to the USA. These treaties contributed to the enslavement of Cuba.

To protect the toiling masses and to continue the struggle for the people’s interests, the Workers’ Party of Cuba was founded in 1904 with the participation of C. Baliño. In 1905 it changed its name to the Workers’ Socialist Party and proclaimed Marxism as its doctrine. By this time the bourgeois-landowner Conservative and Liberal parties had already been organized. The governments of Estrada Palma (1902–06), J. M. Gómez (1908–12), and M. Menocal (1912–21) made it easier for US monopo-lies, such as the Bethlehem Steel Corporation and Speyer and Company, to gain control over Cuba’s national resources, from which they made huge profits. By 1905 the 29 sugar mills that belonged to the USA were producing 21 percent of Cuba’s domestic output, and approximately 90 percent of the country’s raw sugar and tobacco exports was being sent to the USA.

Increased economic dependence was accompanied by increased political dependence. In order to suppress the anti-imperialist and national liberation movements, the USA landed troops in Cuba, occupying the island a number of times (for example, in 1906–09 and 1912). The leaders of the workers’ and peasants’ movement and of uprisings of the Negro population against racial discrimination (1912) made both economic and political demands (an end to intervention and the granting of complete independence to Cuba, for instance).

During World War I the income from the sugar industry tripled, owing to the increased demand and increased prices for sugar. Cuba produced about half the world’s sugar in 1918–19.

The sugar latifundia grew rapidly, and landless peasants swelled the ranks of hired workers. In April 1917, Cuba, following the lead of the USA, declared war on Germany.

THE PERIOD OF THE UPSWING OF THE NATIONAL LIBERATION AND WORKERS’ MOVEMENT, 1918–25. The rising cost of living and the decline in the standard of living worsened the condition of the working class, provoking a number of strikes in the ports of Havana, Santiago, and Matanzas. Many strikes ended in victory for the workers, who were demanding an eight-hour workday and a wage increase. As a result of an uprising initiated by the Liberals in 1917 and supported by the broad masses, the island was occupied by US troops (1917–22). In 1918 a series of work stoppages grew into a general strike. The disturbances continued in 1919, and additional contingents of American troops were sent to Cuba.

The Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia contributed to the development of the anti-imperialist and workers’ movement in Cuba and to the spread of the teachings of Marx, Engels, and Lenin. The working people of Cuba came out in defense of the land of the Soviets, and they protested against the sending of troops to Russia by the interventionists.

The crisis in sugar production in 1921 caused a reduction in the volume of trade, the ruination of many small-scale property owners, and the growth of unemployment. Taking advantage of these hardships, the USA established its control over Cuba’s budget. The intervention of the American imperialists in Cuba’s internal affairs hurt the Cubans’ national pride and led to their enslavement. In 1923 an anti-imperialist movement of young people and students took shape under the leadership of the revolutionary leader J. A. Mella. By 1924, Communist groups had emerged in many cities. The Communist Party of Cuba was founded in Havana in August 1925, laying the foundation for a new stage in the development of the revolutionary workers’ movement. During the same year the National Workers’ Congress founded the National Labor Confederation of Cuba.

THE MACHADO DICTATORSHIP AND ITS FALL AS THE RESULT OF A REVOLUTION (1925–33). G. Machado, who came to power with the support of the USA in May 1925, set up a terrorist dictatorship. An antinationalist policy and onerous loans that increased Cuba’s dependence on the USA provoked dissatisfaction among the masses. The reactionaries responded to an upsurge in the liberation movement with repressive measures. In 1926 the Communist Party was banned and compelled to go underground. Machado’s agents killed Mella in Mexico in January 1929.

The worldwide economic crisis of 1929–33 had particularly severe effects on Cuba, abruptly worsening the condition of the working people. In 1931 the number of unemployed reached 500,000 (one-eighth of the country’s population). Under the direction of R. Martínez Villena, a leader of the Communist Party of Cuba, a general strike took place in March 1930. Its slogan called for the overthrow of the Machado government. Certain petit bourgeois organizations committed acts of terrorism against the dictatorship. The revolutionary situation, which took shape at the beginning of 1933, grew into a revolutionary crisis by August. The country faced the task of carrying out an antiimperialist, bourgeois democratic revolution.

Troops fired on a mass demonstration on Aug. 1, 1933, provoking a general strike which began on August 4. Immediately, the strike took on a political character. The people’s movement was headed by the Communist Party of Cuba, the National Labor Confederation of Cuba, and other left-wing organizations, which demanded the creation of a democratic government, the abrogation of the Platt Amendment, and the return to Cuba of the naval base at Guantánamo. All efforts at mediation by the USA were rejected by the revolutionary forces. On August 11 officers of the capital’s garrison, hoping to stem the rise of the revolution, forced Machado to submit his resignation. The dictator fled from the island, and on August 12 a government was formed under C. M. de Céspedes. Although the initiative in overthrowing the dictator had been wrested at the last moment from the people, August 12 was the date of a great popular victory. The precise reason for the destruction of Machado’s regime was the scope of the revolutionary movement, together with the general strike, which lasted until August 14.

Unable to hold back the revolutionary movement, which was accompanied by outbreaks among military personnel (for example, the “revolt of the sergeants”) and students, as well as by frequent seizures of plants and populated points, Céspedes’ compromise government (August-September 1933) was overthrown. A manifesto published on September 4 stated that the revolution must be continued. With the aid of radical political organizations, the government of R. Grau San Martín (September 1933-January 1934) came to power. Pressured by left-wing forces led by A. Guiteras, the minister of internal affairs, the government carried out a number of progressive reforms. How-ever, right-wing elements led by F. Batista y Zaldívar, the head of the sergeants’ revolt, soon gained the upper hand in the government. The counterrevolution went on the offensive.

1934—39. Batista overthrew the Grau government in January 1934, replacing it with the government of C. Mendieta (1934–36). In fact, however, power passed to Batista, who established a military-police regime. Taking into consideration the conditions that had developed after the events of 1933, the American government agreed in 1934 to abrogate the Platt Amendment, but it retained the naval base at Guantánamo, as well as its economic position and privileges in Cuba. In June 1934 the USA introduced a quota system on the import of Cuban sugar. In September it signed a trade agreement that consolidated Cuba’s economic dependence.

The country was again seized by a wave of strikes and protest meetings. In March 1935 a general strike flared up, demanding the abolition of the military-police regime and the restoration of democratic government. In 1937 the right-wing opposition parties—the Republican Action, Republican Democratic, and ABC parties—demanded that elections be held. The left-wing opposition parties—Auténticos (the Cuban Revolutionary Party), the Agrarian National Party, and the Revolutionary Alliance Party, which had formed their own political union, the National Revolutionary Bloc—advocated calling a constituent assembly and creating a new democratic constitution. Led by the Communist Party of Cuba, the proletariat struggled for a unified workers’ and anti-imperialist front. The ruling circles were compelled to make several concessions. As early as June 1935 the parliamentary system was restored under a constitutional law. In 1938 the Communist Party of Cuba was legalized, and in 1939 it participated in the creation of the Conference of Cuban Workers. Acting in a bloc with the Revolutionary Alliance Party, the Communist Party of Cuba took part in elections to the Constituent Assembly in 1939. In 1940 the two parties merged, forming the Revolutionary Communist Alliance. For demagogic purposes Batista sharply criticized the right-wing opposition parties and advocated the promulgation of democratic reforms during the election campaign.

WORLD WAR II AND THE POSTWAR YEARS (UNTIL 1952). The Constituent Assembly of Cuba, which was held in 1940, adopted a progressive bourgeois democratic constitution. However, the rights and liberties proclaimed by it existed, for the most part, only on paper. Batista was elected president in June 1940. Prior to the elections he had resigned his military commission. In December 1941, Cuba followed the lead of the USA in declaring war on Germany, Japan, and Italy. It participated in the war by supplying the USA with strategic raw materials and by granting the USA new naval and air bases.

In October 1942, Cuba established diplomatic relations with the USSR. Communists were included in the government for the first time in 1943. In 1944 the Revolutionary Communist Alliance was renamed the People’s Socialist Party of Cuba. A movement for solidarity with the Soviet Union and for giving aid to the victims of fascist aggression developed in Cuba. The growing antifascist and workers’ movement contributed to the election of Grau San Martín, the leader of the Cuban Revolutionary Party, to the presidency in 1944. Grau set forth a nationalist, anti-imperialist program. At the beginning of his administration he implemented certain progressive reforms, but later he em-barked on a policy of repressive measures against the democratic forces. The activity of the Grau administration discredited the Cuban Revolutionary Party to the point where some members of the Auténticos spoke out against the policy of their own leader. Stressing their fidelity to revolutionary ideals, Grau’s opponents called themselves Ortodoxos. In 1946 they organized the Cuban People’s Party (Ortodoxos), which also included most of the members of the ABC Party, which had disintegrated by that time.

In December 1947 the National Labor Confederation of Cuba was banned, and many leaders of the workers’ movement were killed. A brief economic boom after World War II gave way to a depression. The government of Prío Socarrás, who replaced Grau in 1948, moved even further to the right. A decree limiting freedom of speech and the press was promulgated. Adhering to the anti-Communist policy of the USA, Prío’s government was active in the “cold war.” Despite these repressive measures, the democratic movement continued to develop in Cuba. In 1949 the Congress of the Advocates of Peace was held in Havana, a peasants’ congress demanded the promulgation of agrarian reforms, and the membership of the People’s Socialist Party of Cuba grew. In 1951 the strike struggle became more intense, encompassing hundreds of thousands of people, the most active of whom were the workers in the sugar industry. Because of the people’s growing dissatisfaction with the Prío Socarrás government and because of dissension within the government, Batista, who was striving for unlimited power, carried out a coup d’etat on Mar. 10, 1952, shortly before the presidential elections.

BATISTA’S DICTATORSHIP AND ITS OVERTHROW DURING THE PEOPLE’S ANTI-IMPERIALIST AGRARIAN REVOLUTION (1952–58). Relying on domestic reactionary forces and the US imperialists, Batista established a dictatorship. The 1940 Constitution was abrogated, and democratic liberties were abolished. Parties and organizations that expressed dissatisfaction with the dictatorship were persecuted, and the Communist Party was declared illegal. The activity of the trade unions was put under the control of the government, which waged an offensive against the rights of the workers. The army and police launched a policy of terror throughout the country.

In foreign policy Batista completely subordinated his country to the USA. He provoked a break in diplomatic relations with the USSR on Apr. 3, 1952, and began to conduct a militant anti-Communist policy, actively supporting the actions of the USA in the international arena. American monopolies were given exceptionally favorable opportunities to plunder Cuba. Their capital investments began to grow rapidly, totaling about $1 billion in 1954.

Cuba’s bourgeois parties did not offer any real resistance to Batista’s coup. Only the People’s Socialist Party of Cuba decisively opposed the establishment of the dictatorship, leading a number of local popular protest demonstrations and setting forth a specific program for combating the Batista government. By the beginning of 1953, Batista was able to consolidate his power, relying on the support of US imperialists, big capitalists and landowners, officers, police, and officials and taking advantage of the dissension within opposition forces. Under these conditions a group of revolutionary-minded youths led by F. Castro Ruz decided to launch an armed struggle against the Batista regime. On July 26, 1953, they attacked the Moncada Barracks in the city of Santiago de Cuba, hoping to organize a broadly based popular movement against the dictatorship. The attack failed.

Taking advantage of the armed outbreak against the dictatorship, Batista abolished all constitutional guarantees and established a regime of bloody terror. All sociopolitical and cultural facets of Cuban life were placed under the control of the authorities. After going deep underground, the People’s Socialist Party of Cuba directed the struggle for the workers’ essential demands —a wage increase, aid to the unemployed, and the reduction of the peasants’ rent payments.

The armed uprisings that had begun on July 26, 1953, continued almost without interruption. On the eve of the presidential elections in November 1954, Batista proclaimed an amnesty for political prisoners, including those who had participated in the July 26 uprising. In 1955 Fidel Castro and his brother, Raul, emigrated to Mexico, where they formed a revolutionary detachment to continue the struggle against the dictatorship.

Within Cuba the strike movement grew more intense. The year 1955 was particularly turbulent. From February through March workers in the sugar industry, as well as railroad and urban transportation workers, went on strike. Later, mass student demonstrations broke out. In December the People’s Socialist Party of Cuba led a general strike in the sugar industry. The strikes shook the Batista regime, facilitating further activity by underground organizations and groups. The country’s patriotic forces united to form the 26th of July Movement. On Nov. 30, 1956, a group of young workers and students carried out an armed uprising in Santiago de Cuba.

In December 1956 a revolutionary detachment led by F. Castro went ashore in Oriente Province from the yacht Granma. After a few failures the insurgents succeeded in consolidating their position in the Sierra Maestra and created a front for struggling against the dictator. The small detachment, which gradually recruited farm laborers and peasants, grew into the Rebel Army. After it was liberated by the Rebel Army, the Sierra Maestra region was called the Free Territory of Cuba. The successful actions in the Sierra Maestra were combined with armed uprisings, strikes, demonstrations, and other forms of struggle in the cities and the countryside. On Mar. 13, 1957, the Revolutionary Directorate, a students’ political organization, attacked the presidential palace, intending to kill Batista and arouse the masses to revolt in the capital.

In 1958 many strikes broke out in a number of cities. Resistance groups were established throughout the country. The political situation changed qualitatively. A bloc of revolutionary forces, including the 26th of July Movement, the People’s Socialist Party of Cuba, and the 13th of March Revolutionary Directorate (known as the Revolutionary Directorate until March 1957), rallied more and more closely around F. Castro’s Rebel Army. This bloc led the revolution in Cuba.

By the end of 1958 the Rebel Army had more than 6,000 men. Relying on the decisive support of the common people, it successfully opposed the attacks of government troops, who were supplied with American military equipment. Subsequently, Rebel Army detachments led by F. Castro, E. Guevara, C. Cienfuegos, R. Castro, and J. Almeida went on the offensive, captured Santa Clara and Santiago de Cuba, and finally smashed the enemy. On the night of Jan. 1, 1959, Batista and his henchmen fled from the country. The revolution was victorious in Cuba.

Since January 1959.DEVELOPMENT OF THE REVOLUTION INTO A SOCIALIST ONE AND THE BEGINNING OF THE BUILDING OF SOCIALISM. In the early days after the victory of the revolution a unique dual authority developed in the country: the people’s power, represented by the Rebel Army, and the provisional government, which was formed after the victory of the revolution and which exercised formal authority. Right-wing forces opposed to the revolution’s further development prevailed in the provisional government. (M. Cardona was prime minister, and M. Urrutia, president.) With the formation in February 1959 of the Revolutionary Government headed by F. Castro and the expulsion of the last rightwing elements, the period of dual authority came to an end. The revolutionary power, represented by the Rebel Army, merged completely with the governmental authority. The principal government posts were occupied by representatives of the Revolutionary Armed Forces—for example, R. Castro and E. Guevara. In July 1959, O. Dorticós Torrado became president.

The Revolutionary Government, relying on the popular masses and revolutionary organizations such as the 26th of July Movement, the People’s Socialist Party of Cuba, and the 13th of March Revolutionary Directorate and using the Rebel Army as an active instrument of power, proceeded to make profound socioeconomic and political changes. The old machinery of state was abolished and replaced by revolutionary bodies of power and administrative bodies, as well as by the revolutionary Armed Forces and agencies of state security. The new authority granted the Cuban people broad democratic liberties and took measures to improve the material condition of the working people. Under the Agrarian Reform Law of May 17, 1959, the latifundia system was eliminated, and a state sector was established in agriculture. Between August and October 1960 the property of American companies, as well as that of the Cuban big and middle bourgeoisie, was nationalized. As a result of these measures, all the basic means of production became the property of the Cuban people.

The First Havana Declaration, which was adopted on Sept. 2, 1960, proclaimed the political principles of the new Cuba. The radical transformations carried out by the Revolutionary Government led to an acute sharpening of the class struggle and a new polarization of political forces. The working class and the poor peasants became the base of the revolution. The revolutionary democrats, who had led the revolution, shifted more decisively to the position of the proletariat. The unity of the country’s revolutionary forces was strengthened.

In 1959, American imperialists inspired a number of counterrevolutionary conspiracies, including the revolt led by H. Matos in Camagüey Province. The USA began to exert economic pressure on Cuba, curtailing and then completely cutting off its purchases of Cuban sugar and refusing to supply Cuba with petroleum and petroleum products. At the beginning of 1961 the USA broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba and declared an economic blockade against the island nation. In April the USA organized an armed attack by Cuban counterrevolutionaries in the Playa Giron (Bay of Pigs). An important role in the victory over the forces of counterrevolution was played by international solidarity with the Cuban working people and, above all, by the Soviet Union’s support of the Cuban Revolution. On Jan. 10, 1959, the USSR recognized the Cuban Revolutionary Government. In February 1960 a Soviet-Cuban trade agreement was signed, as well as an agreement granting Cuba Soviet credit for $100 million. Under these agreements the USSR began to supply Cuba with petroleum, industrial equipment and machinery, and foodstuffs and raw materials and began to purchase Cuban sugar and other goods. In addition, the Soviet Union gave Cuba economic and technical aid to develop its national economy, assisting the Cuban people in overcoming the consequences of the USA’s economic blockade. In May 1960 diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and Cuba were officially restored. The Soviet Union helped Cuba to create a well-trained army furnished with up-to-date military equipment and capable of resisting any attempts to invade the country.

By mid-1961 the prerequisites for building a socialist society had been established. Of the cultivated land, 41 percent belonged to the people’s (state) farms and cooperatives, and 90 percent of the industrial output was produced in state-owned enterprises. The state owned the banks and most of the transportation industry. It controlled domestic trade, and it had established a monopoly over foreign trade.

After only a brief time the cultural revolution met with great success. Illiteracy was eliminated, and education was made universal and free. The foundation was laid for training staffs of specialists drawn from the working people. In April 1961, F. Castro proclaimed the Cuban Revolution a socialist revolution. In the process of developing the revolution all of the country’s revolutionary forces were united. This was manifested in the merging of the 26th of July Movement, the People’s Socialist Party of Cuba, and the 13th of March Revolutionary Directorate, which formed a single organization founded on a Marxist-Leninist platform—the Integrated Revolutionary Organizations.

Endeavoring to isolate Cuba from other Latin American countries, the US government succeeded in having Cuba excluded from the Organization of American States (OAS) in February 1962. The Cuban people’s response to this action was the Second Havana Declaration (adopted on Feb. 4, 1962), which exposed the policy of American imperialism and called upon the peoples of Latin America to engage in a national liberation struggle. During the same year Cuba went through the Caribbean Crisis of 1962 (the Cuban Missile Crisis), which was over-come thanks to the courage and persistence of the Cuban people and the decisive foreign policy actions of the USSR. Cuba won the opportunity to continue to build socialism under peaceful conditions.

Between 1962 and 1963 the Integrated Revolutionary Organizations became the Unified Party of the Cuban Socialist Revolution, which was renamed the Communist Party of Cuba in October 1965. F. Castro, who became first secretary of the party’s Central Committee, continued to serve as premier of the Revolutionary Government. During the second half of 1963 the Revolutionary Government issued a program for the country’s economic development, giving top priority to developing sugar production and other export branches in order to create accumulation for subsequent industrialization.

The Cuban people had to overcome difficulties caused by the US economic blockade and the necessity of diverting great material and labor resources to ensure the country’s safety against the aggressive intentions of American imperialism. In July 1964 the USA bound the OAS by a resolution concerning collective sanctions against Cuba. This envisioned a break in diplomatic relations between the members of the OAS and Cuba. The Cuban people responded with the Declaration of Santiago de Cuba (July 26, 1964), which rejected the sanctions imposed on the OAS and voiced opposition to the threats of armed aggression.

As a result of the Second Agrarian Reform, which was promulgated in October 1963, and the “revolutionary offensive” of 1968, during which the remaining private enterprises, even the smallest ones, were nationalized, the socialist sector encompassed almost the entire national economy. The private sector survived only in agriculture in the form of small-scale commodity peasant farms. Nonetheless, in agriculture the trend was toward the conversion of the former latifundia into large-scale socialist agricultural enterprises. By 1973 they included 70 percent of the country’s arable land and accounted for most of the agricultural output. With regard to peasants who own plots of land, government policy calls for gradually drawing them into the socialist economy, but only by methods that strictly observe the principle of voluntarism.

The class alliance between the workers and the peasants—the basis of revolutionary power in Cuba—has been further consolidated. The dominant positions are held by the socialist order, which includes the working classes in the cities and the country-side. The exploiter classes of landlords and capitalists have been completely abolished.

Cuba has had considerable success in creating the material-technical base for socialism. After reorganizing the sugar industry and expanding the sugarcane plantations, Cuba produced 8.5 million tons of sugar in 1970—an output unequalled in the nation’s history. Progress has also been made in fishing, animal husbandry, and the production of rice and citrus fruits and other tropical crops. Cuba has made great progress in irrigation, the mechanization of agriculture, and the use of chemicals. Since the revolution there has been a great deal of road construction, the merchant fleet has been expanded, and there have been advances in electric power production and metallurgy.

Unemployment, which used to affect one-fourth of the ablebodied population, has been completely eliminated. Wages and funds allotted to social insurance have increased significantly. A maximum increase in labor productivity has been declared Cuba’s central national task. For other Latin American countries revolutionary Cuba is a model of the radical solution of economic and social problems.

The Soviet Union and other socialist countries are giving the Cuban people a great deal of aid in building socialism. With the participation of the USSR alone, 161 industrial enterprises and other facilities had been built or reconstructed or were in the process of being built or reconstructed as of the end of 1972. Scientific and technical cooperation with socialist countries permits Cuba to introduce advanced technology and to solve the problem of training personnel. However, economic backwardness inherited from the old regime, relative poverty in raw materials and especially in power resources, a lack of qualified specialists, and lack of experience in socialist management are among the factors that have complicated the country’s economic development. Between 1970 and 1972 the Communist Party of Cuba and the Revolutionary Government took measures to strengthen the party and state, to perfect their work, to improve the planning and organization of labor, to increase the efficiency of public production, and to tighten the austerity program.

Cuba’s achievements in building socialism, its expanding participation in the international socialist division of labor, and its entrance into Comecon (Council of Mutual Economic Assistance) strengthened its international position. Demands for the normalization of relations with Cuba increased in Latin America. By mid-1975 many Latin American countries had reestablished diplomatic relations with Cuba, repairing the break in relations that took place at the beginning of the 1960’s. As of 1975, Cuba had diplomatic relations with 95 states.


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Pichardo, H. Documentos para la historia de Cuba, vols. 1–2. Havana, 1971.
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A. M. ZORINA (prior to 1952) and O. T. DARUSENKOV (since 1952)

The Communist Party of Cuba (Partido Comunista de Cuba) was founded in 1925. In 1940 it merged with the Revolutionary Alliance Party, forming the Revolutionary Communist Alliance, and in 1944 was renamed the People’s Socialist Party of Cuba. In 1961 the People’s Socialist Party of Cuba, the 26th of July Movement, and the 13th of March Revolutionary Directorate formed the Integrated Revolutionary Organizations, which became the Unified Party of the Cuban Socialist Revolution in 1962–63. The latter was renamed the Communist Party of Cuba in October 1965. As of 1975 the party had 190,000 members.

The Communist Youth League (Komsomol) of Cuba, an out-growth of the Association of Young Rebels (1961), was established in 1962. By 1975 it had more than 130,000 members.

Founded in 1939, the Trade Union Center of Cuban Workers unites branch trade unions that have more than 2 million members (1975). The Committees for Defense of the Revolution—a mass public organization with more than 4.2 million members as of 1975—were founded in 1960. Established in 1960, the Federation of Cuban Women had 1.6 million members in 1972. The National Association of Small-scale Farmers is made up of various mutual aid organizations uniting peasants who own plots of land. Another important organization is the Cuban Committee of the Movement for Peace and Sovereignty of Peoples. The Cuban-Soviet Friendship Association was established in 1969.


General characteristics. Since the establishment of the people’s power, socialist relations of production have achieved a dominant position in the Cuban economy. Cuba has begun to create the material-technical base for socialism.

Before the victory of the people’s revolution Cuba was an agrarian country with a one-crop economy oriented exclusively toward the export of raw sugar. Economically and politically the country was completely dependent on the USA. Between 1949 and 1958 the USA received an average of more than 50 percent of Cuba’s exports and provided more than 70 percent of its imports. The banks and the country’s entire financial system, all electric power production, and most industrial enterprises were controlled by US capital. Sugar production was controlled by Cuban capital (21 percent), as well as by capital from the USA (57.1 percent), Spain (14.3 percent), Canada (4.3 percent), and Great Britain, France, and the Netherlands (3.3 percent). US monopolistic companies owned 25 percent of the best land in Cuba, and more than 80 percent of all agricultural lands were occupied by sugar and livestock-raising latifundia.

The revolution in Cuba brought profound socioeconomic changes. Under the Agrarian Reform Law of May 17, 1959, the latifundia were eliminated, and the government set a limit on the area of land that could be privately owned (30 caballerías, or 402 hectares [ha]; 1 caballería= 13.42 ha). All privately held plots of land exceeding this size were expropriated and distributed among landless peasants and farm laborers. Also eliminated after the revolution were all forms of precapitalist exploitation: for example, peonage, the colonat, and church assessments. Almost 100,000 landless peasants were given land. On the sites of the latifundia people’s (state) farms (granjas) were established. The second Agrarian Reform Law (Oct. 3, 1963) limited privately owned landed properties to 5 caballerías.

In 1973 the socialist sector included all of Cuba’s industrial production and construction, the entire banking system, and almost all transportation and communications and accounted for more than 80 percent of the national income. The state has a monopoly on foreign trade and controls all wholesale and retail domestic trade. As of 1973, 70 percent of all agricultural lands belonged to socialist-type farms (granjas). Approximately one-third of the agricultural area is cultivated by the small-scale peasant sector.

Within the international socialist division of labor Cuba is outstanding for its production of sugar. It is the world’s top exporter of sugar. Tobacco and tobacco products, nickel ores, and tropical fruits are also very important in the country’s economy.

Sugar production is the core around which a number of branches of industry have developed (confectionery and chemicals plants and distilleries, for example). Agriculture uses the waste products of sugar refining for fertilizers and for livestock fodder. In transportation the importance of sugar stimulated the construction of railroads to haul sugarcane to the mills and sugar to the ports to be shipped abroad.

Economic cooperation with the Soviet Union and other socialist countries is very important to the development of the country’s economy. With the aid of the USSR many enterprises have been built, including a motor vehicle repair plant in Havana, a large-panel house-building plant in Santiago de Cuba, the Renté Steam Power Plant in Santiago de Cuba and the Maximo Gómez Steam Power Plant in Mariel, and a fishing harbor with a complex of shore buildings in Havana. In addition, 70 sugar mills have been reconstructed. In 1973 the José Martí Metallurgical Complex in Havana was being reconstructed. Nickel and cobalt enterprises in Oriente Province are being expanded. A nitrogen fertilizer plant was under construction in 1973 in Nuevitas.

Agriculture. Excluding areas on the Isla de Pinos and other small islands, in 1968 the Cuban state’s land holdings totaled 6,245,000 ha, of which 4,445,600 ha were agricultural lands. (The sown area covers 61.2 percent of the state’s agricultural lands, natural pastures, 27.3 percent, and unused lands, 11.5 percent.) Other state-owned productive lands amounted to 1,799,400 ha, including 347,700 ha of forests.

The water system plays an important role in Cuba’s economic development. Uneven precipitation during the year has an unfavorable effect on the harvest; there are frequent, devastating floods and droughts. Major land-improvement projects are being carried out, and previously unused lands have been put to use. At the beginning of 1973 the total volume of Cuba’s reservoirs was 3.5 billion cu m. The most important reservoirs are the Carlos Manuel de Céspedes on the Contramaestre River (200 million cu m), the Jibacoa-Hanabanilla (286 million cu m), and the Zaza (on the Zaza River, 700 million cu m), which had almost been completed in 1973. (Its final volume will be 1 billion cu m.) As of 1972, the irrigated area totaled 598,000 ha (four times that of 1959). Swamplands are being drained. In 1968, 230,300 ha had been reclaimed.

Cuba has begun to mechanize its agriculture. Between 1960 and 1969 more than 50,000 tractors of various types were imported from the USSR and other socialist countries. The tractor pool was 43,300 in 1970, as compared with 2,000 in 1958. The use of machines to harvest sugarcane has met with great success. By the end of 1969 there were 8,400 automatic loaders and 2,400 sugarcane-collecting combines. More artificial fertilizers are being used (1,350,000 tons in 1970, as compared with 157,600 tons in 1957).

The principal agricultural crop is sugarcane, which accounts for 25 percent of the value of Cuba’s agricultural output, or more than 40 percent of the income derived from agriculture. Other important crops are tobacco, which provides 20 percent of the value of the country’s agricultural output, cereals and legumes (18 percent), root and tuber crops (14 percent), coffee (6 percent), fruits (4 percent), vegetables (2 percent), and other crops, including vegetable-oil crops and henequen (11 percent).

About half the total sown area (1970–71) is planted with sugarcane. Plantations specializing in the crop are located almost everywhere, with the exception of the extreme western part of Cuba (the western part of Pinar del Rio and the Isla de Pinos). However, sugarcane plantations occupy particularly large areas in the eastern part of the country. Tobacco—a traditional Cuban crop—is grown on large plantations (vegas) in the fertile river valleys. Because it is an extremely labor-intensive crop that must be grown on patches of land especially suited to it, tobacco is raised primarily by the small-scale peasant sector of the economy, which produces 89 percent of the harvest.

Rice is the fundamental cereal crop. Large-scale, specialized regions for its cultivation have been established near Sancti-Spíritus and in the Cauto Valley, as well as in other places. Corn, haricots, and other crops are also cultivated. Among the root and tuber crops there are many important food crops: yuca (cassava), sweet potatoes, yautia, potatoes, and yams, which are grown all over the country.

Coffee is grown in the eastern regions (the Sierra Maestra and the areas around Guantánamo and Baracoa). It has also been assimilated on the plains near Havana (the cordon), Jagóey Grande, and Quivicán. The cultivation of fruits, particularly citrus (oranges and grapefruit, for example), is very important. The principal fruit-growing areas are the Isla de Pinos and the regions around Guane and Mantua (Pinar del Rio Province) and Ciego de Avila and Morón (Camagüey Province). In 1970 citrus plantings occupied 33,000 ha in the state sector.

Pineapples, bananas, papayas mangoes, guavas, avocados (aguacate), and coconut are also cultivated. Vegetables (chiefly tomatoes, onions, pumpkins, peppers, and cucumbers) and melons are grown throughout the year on open ground. Of the fibrous plants henequen is cultivated in the northwest around Mariel and Cárdenas. (It occupied 13,100 ha in the state sector in 1969.) Cuba is second to Mexico in the harvest of henequen. Since 1959 there have been significant increases in the sown areas of cacao (near Baracoa) and kenaf. (See Table 2 for the sown areas and harvests of the principal agricultural crops.)

Great attention has been paid to the development of animal husbandry and particularly to increasing the number of cattle raised for milk and meat. (In 1970–71 there were 7 million head of cattle, including more than 4 million in the state sector.) In 1969 cultivated pastures occupied 1.1 million ha; natural, year-round pastures (2.1 million ha) are also used. Pig farming is another important branch of animal husbandry (1.5 million head in 1970–71). Poultry raising has also been developed. Chickens and ducks are among the poultry raised in Cuba. In 1970–71 there were 10.5 million fowl.

Industry. Characteristic of Cuba before the revolution was a combination of a few highly mechanized enterprises (chiefly in the sugar-processing industry) and a considerable number of small-scale and cottage industries that relied on manual labor. After the revolution new mills were built, and old ones were reconstructed and enlarged. By 1967 the sugar industry’s share in the country’s industrial production was only 19.2 percent. Other branches of the food-processing industry accounted for 19.5 percent; tobacco (and beverages), 10.7 percent; chemicals, 10.3 percent; petroleum refining, 10 percent; textiles and leather footwear, 9.2 percent; building materials, 6 percent; mining, 2.1 percent; metallurgy and metalworking, 4.1 percent; electric power production, 3.4 percent; and other branches, 5.5 percent.

The branches of industry that serve agriculture, such as the manufacture of artificial fertilizers and farm machines, are being developed, as are those branches that process agricultural produce (above all, the food-processing industry, within which sugar processing has the greatest importance). In addition metallurgy (basically, the industrial use of Cuba’s huge resources of laterites) and the infrastructure (primarily, the electric power industry and road building) are being developed.

ELECTRIC POWER. The principal source of energy is petroleum imported from the USSR. A small amount of petroleum is extracted off the coasts of Havana and Matanzas provinces from Mariel to Baradero. Prior to 1959 the total capacity of electric power plants for general use was approximately 450 megawatts, and their output was 1.76 billion kilowatt-hours. Between 1960 and 1969 steam power plants were built in Mariel (200 megawatts) and Renté (near Santiago de Cuba, 100 megawatts). The first unit (60 megawatts) of an electric power plant in Nuevitas has been put into operation. A hydroelectric power plant (43 megawatts) has been built on the Hanabanilla River south of Santa Clara, in Las Villas Province, and, as of 1973, hydroelectric power plants were under construction in the Yara Basin near Manzanillo. In 1972 the capacity of electric power plants for general use reached 1,038,000 kilowatts. The production of electric power had reached 4,400 gigawatt-hours by 1972. In 1973 a new electric power line (220 kilovolts), which will join the country’s other two main power systems, was under construction. A high-voltage electric power line from the Renté Steam Power Plant to the city of Holguín (120 km) was put into operation in 1973. At the beginning of 1972, Cuba had 22,200 km of electric power lines.

PROCESSING. The sugar industry is the leading branch of Cuba’s national economy. Before the revolution the greatest amount of raw sugar (7.2 million tons) was produced in 1952. But the highest level of raw sugar production in Cuba’s entire history—8.5 million tons—was reached in 1970. There are 152 sugar mills, 16 of which produce refined, granulated sugar and the rest of which produce raw sugar. Almost all of the raw sugar is exported. The largest and best equipped mills are located in Oriente and Camagüey provinces. In Las Villas Province the sugar industry also ranks first among the various branches of industry. Oriente produces more than one-third of the country’s output of sugar. The central, a typical Cuban enterprise, includes the sugar mill, the sugarcane plantations surrounding it, and the means of transportation (railroads, for example) between the plantation and the mill and the mill and the ports.

The food-processing industry is also represented by flour mills and bakeries that depend on imported grain, as well as by hulling enterprises, meat-packing plants (Havana, Camagüey, and Sancti-Spíritus), creameries, and vegetable-oil extraction plants. After the revolution new plants were built for the production of soy oil and concentrated feeds (in Regla near Havana), peanut oil (Havana), and palm oil (Jinaguaybo in Las Villas Province). In Baracoa there is a chocolate factory built with the aid of the German Democratic Republic. Tobacco products are manufactured, for the most part, at six large factories (four in Havana and two in Las Villas Province).

The chemicals industry relies to a considerable degree on imported raw materials and semifinished goods. In recent years the emphasis has been on using the wastes and by-products of

Table 2. Area and harvest of principal agricultural crops
 Area (thousand hectares)Harvest (thousand tons)
1Annual average 21970–71 31970
Source: FAO, UN, vol. 25 , 1971
Sugarcane ................1,2041,0461,160250,46638,57149.0002
Tobacco ................52575032.446.740
Rice ................63116180164172452
Yuca (cassava) ................55263331791712203
Sweet potatoes and yams ................99396232901722503
Coffee ................8931.237.133
Citrus fruits ................55106167
Tomatoes ................694340115503

sugar production as well as on developing petrochemistry. Of particular importance is the production of artificial fertilizers. Superphosphates are produced in Santa Clara and Pinar del Río, and nitrogen fertilizers in Cienfuegos, Matanzas, and Nuevitas. Fertilizer production, which averaged 180,000 tons per year between 1952 and 1958, reached 888,000 tons in 1969. In 1973 an enterprise for mixed fertilizer production was under construction in Felton (Oriente Province). The leading chemical enterprises are the Sulfometales Plant in Santa Lucía (Pinar del Río Province)—one of the largest plants in Latin America—and a synthetic fibers plant in Matanzas. Outstanding for its output of plastics and plastic products is the Combinado de Plástico in Havana. The petroleum refining industry is represented by two plants in Havana and in Santiago de Cuba.

Domestic production meets 50–60 percent of the demand for fabrics and textile products. There are textile complexes in Bauta (on the outskirts of Havana) and near Artemisa (in Havana Province), textile mills in Holguín and Remedies, and garment factories in Holguín Güines, and Remedios. Enterprises producing containers are located in Cárdenas and Mariel, and in Bayamo, Jobabo, and Santa Clara there are factories that make henequen rope and kenaf bags. The leather and footwear industry basically satisfies the country’s needs; about 46 percent of all enterprises are located in Havana. The cement industry is important (Santiago de Cuba, Mariel, Nuevitas, and Siguanea), and there are also reinforced-concrete structural components plants and brickyards. In Santiago de Cuba there is a house-building complex. A large glass-making complex is located in Marianao, a suburb of Havana. (The complex was built with the aid of Hungary.)

Before 1959 there was almost no machine-building industry in Cuba. After the revolution the production of farm machinery was organized. Plants were built to manufacture diesel motors (Cienfuegos), electrodes (Nuevitas), mechanical equipment (Santa Clara), bicycles (Caibarien, Las Villas Province), and files and to assemble radios (Santiago de las Vegas, Havana Province). The shipbuilding and ship-repair industry was renovated. (Shipyards in Cárdenas, Havana, and Manzanillo build primarily fishing boats and some other vessels.) Outstanding among ferrous metallurgical enterprises is the José Martí Metallurgical Complex in Havana (annual capacity, 350,000 tons of steel; presently being reconstructed).

MINING AND NONFERROUS METALLURGY. Mining and non-ferrous metallurgy are represented by enterprises that extract and concentrate nickel, copper, and other ores. In the mining of nickel Cuba occupies one of the leading places in the world. Cobalt is extracted as a by-product of nickel ores. Located in the cities of Niquero and Moa are large nickel-processing plants. In Oriente Province (in the Sierra Maestra near Santiago de Cuba) manganese ores are extracted. Chromites are mined on the northern coast near Moa, and in Camagüey Province. Near Santiago de Cuba and Minas de Matahambre (Pinar del Río Province) copper ores are mined, and in Oriente Province, iron ores. (See Table 3 for the production of the most important types of industrial output.) Marble, kaolin, chalk, gypsum, and rock salt are quarried.

Table 3. Production of the most important types of industrial output
11948/49–1952/53 annual average 21970–71 3 196841967 51969 6By metal content 7Exports 81961–65, annual average 91966
Raw sugar (million tons) ..................5.816.78.52
Cigarettes (billions) ..................8.713.625.1
Cigars (millions) ..................203422.05
Electric power (million kW–hr) ..................3,0304,300.05
Petroleum (thousand tons) ..................298200.0
Nickel ore6(thousand tons) ..................12.614.840.0
Manganese ore6(thousand tons) ..................160. 1719720.43
Copper ore 6(thousand tons) ..................
Chromites (thousand tons) ..................
Sulfuric acid, 98 percent (thousand tons) ..................58.026.05
Cement (thousand tons) ..................4058711,088.0

Fishing developed intensively only after 1959. Cooperatives that own modern fleets and refrigeration equipment have been organized. New fishing zones located in shallow international waters have been opened. In 1973 a large fish-refrigeration complex was being built in Cienfuegos. The fishing fleet included more than 3,200 vessels in 1970. Between 1963 and 1972 the catch increased from 42,100 tons (52.6 percent higher than the prerevolutionary level in 1958) to 139,000 tons. The principal commercial fish are tuna, bonito, and swordfish. Also of commercial importance are sharks, crustaceans (chiefly lobsters and shrimp), octopus, and squid. Sea sponges are gathered.

Transportation. Of greatest importance in Cuba’s internal transportation system are the railroads, which carried 58.5 percent of all freight in 1970. By comparison, motor vehicles handled 31 percent of the freight, maritime transportation (including coastal shipping), 10 percent, and air transportation, only 0.5 percent.

From west to east the country is intersected by the Central Highway, from which a number of branches run to all major populated points. Before the revolution Cuba had 10,100 km of automobile roads, of which 5,900 km were paved. Many rural regions had no roads. Between 1959 and 1971 new roads were built that totaled 18,500 km by the beginning of 1972, including 8,000 km of paved roads. The new Baracoa-Guantánamo road has brought into the country’s unified road network the once completely isolated region of Baracoa. A first-class highway now intersects the formerly impassable Zapata swamp, as well as a number of regions in the Sierra Maestra. In 1973 a major automobile highway almost 1,000 km long was under construction in the south.

The country has 14,800 km of railroads, including 9,500 km of tracks connecting the sugarcane plantations with the mills and the latter with the ports. Especially important for Cuba’s foreign economic ties is maritime transportation. In 1958 there were 14 ships with a displacement of 56,000 tons; in 1973 there were 56 ships (displacement, 490,000 tons). The largest ports are Havana and Santiago de Cuba. In the bulk export of sugar a major role is played by Cienfuegos (the most important port of this type in Cuba, with a projected capacity of 2.2 million tons per year), Matanzas, and Guayabal.

Air transportation ensures connections between Havana and the country’s most important centers, as well as between Santiago de Cuba and other cities in Oriente Province. Airlines connect Havana with Prague, Madrid, and Mexico City. Aeroflot, the Soviet airline, provides service between Moscow and Havana. In 1971 regular air routes were inaugurated from Havana to Lima.

Foreign trade. After the 1959 revolution the structure and geographic direction of Cuba’s foreign trade changed. Cuba maintains stable commercial ties with many countries. The socialist countries account for about 70 percent of Cuba’s foreign trade turnover; the USSR alone accounts for approximately 50 percent. Between 1959 and 1972 the foreign trade turnover rose from 1,238,000 pesos to 1,936,000 pesos. Cuba’s principal exports are raw sugar (about 80 percent of the value of an exports), ores and their concentrates, and tobacco and tobacco products. Imports include equipment, means of transportation, petroleum and petroleum products, grain, foodstuffs, and timber and other wood products.

The USSR and other socialist countries have concluded long-term trade and credit agreements with Cuba, as well as agreements providing for economic and scientific and technical cooperation. Cuba supplies the USSR with sugar, nickel products, tobacco and tobacco products, and other goods. The USSR sends Cuba petroleum and petroleum products, rolled iron and nonferrous metals, mineral fertilizers, farm machinery, equipment, and other industrial goods. The monetary unit is the Cuban peso. As of August 1973, 1 peso = 90 kopecks on the USSR Gosbank (State Bank) exchange.

Internal differences. The western region (Pinar del Río Province) is the main area for the production of highest quality tobacco. Fruits, vegetables, and the products of animal husbandry are also produced in this region. Copper is mined. Sugarcane is cultivated, and sugar is produced. The center of the western region is Pinar del Río.

The capital region (the provinces of Havana and Matanzas) is the most highly developed area, with about two-thirds of the country’s industrial enterprises. In addition to sugarcane, fodder crops are important in the region’s agriculture. There is dairyand-meat animal husbandry and poultry farming. The center of the capital region is Havana.

Industrially, the central region (Las Villas Province) is the second most developed area. Sugar and other branches of food processing are the most important industries. Machine building is also being developed. The central region is important for agricultural production (sugarcane, rice, yuca, sweet potatoes, and fruits, for example). Its centers are Santa Clara, Cienfuegos, and Sancti-Spíritus.

In the Camagüey region (Camagüey Province) sugarcane is cultivated, and animal husbandry (primarily cattle for meat) is well developed. Industry, chiefly food processing, is becoming more important. The center of the region is Camagüey.

The economy of the northeastern region (the northern part of Oriente Province) is directed toward sugar production and animal husbandry, as well as mining (nickel). Its center is Holguín.

The southeastern region (the southern part of Oriente Province) has a growing sugar industry. Mining is also being developed (copper, manganese, and iron). There are diverse branches of agriculture (tropical fruits, food crops, and animal husbandry) as well as of industry. The southeast is the country’s largest coffee-producing region. Its center is Santiago de Cuba.



Natsiona/’nyi atlas Kuby. Havana, 1970.
Núñez Jiménez, A. Geografiia Kuby. Moscow, 1969. (Translated from Spanish.)
Semevskii, B. N. Ekonomicheskaia geografiia Kuby. Leningrad, 1970.
Kuba: 10 let revoliutsii. Moscow, 1968.

The armed forces of Cuba (the Revolutionary Armed Forces) consist of an army, an air force and air-defense units, a navy, and a people’s militia. The prime minister is the supreme commander in chief, but the minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces is responsible for the direct administration of the armed forces. The armed forces of people’s Cuba originated in December 1956, when a group of Cuban patriots led by F. Castro landed from the yacht Granma in Oriente Province and began the armed struggle against Batista’s tyranny. A regular army was first organized in May 1961.

The armed forces are conscripted on the basis of a law on universal military duty (1963). Young people are called up at age 17 for three years of active military service. Staff officers are trained at military schools, the Institute of Military Engineering, and the Naval Academy.

Ground troops, which include a number of armies, are equipped with up-to-date small arms, artillery, tanks, and antiaircraft rockets. The air force and air-defense units consist of several subdivisions: fighter aircraft, antiaircraft rockets, artillery, and radio engineering units. The navy’s subdivisions are surface ships, the coast guard, and reconnaissance ships. December 2 is observed as Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces Day.

In 1970 the birthrate was 36 per 1,000 inhabitants, and the total death rate was 6.1 per 1,000. Infant mortality was 37.6 per 1,000 live births. The average life-span is 66 years. The principal causes of death are cardiovascular diseases and malignant growths. Among the infectious diseases amebiasis, typhoid fever, and mycoses are encountered. Helminthiases include trichocephalosis, ascariasis, ancylostomiasis, fascioliasis, and brucellosis. Located in the eastern regions are foci of tick-borne spirochetosis and wuchereriasis. By 1972 malaria had been eliminated. (In 1962 there were 3,500 cases.) Under the people’s power the incidence of diphtheria has been reduced tenfold, and the percentage of tuberculosis patients has been significantly reduced.

Cuba has a state health service that provides the working people with free medical aid and with monetary assistance in case of disability.

In 1969 there were about 100 hospital institutions with 50,100 beds—that is, 6.1 beds per 1,000 inhabitants (as compared with 11,700 beds, or two beds per 1,000 inhabitants, in 1953). In the outlying regions there were 52 medical centers as of 1972. (Prior to 1959 there was one hospital for peasants.) Outpatient care is provided by 314 polyclinics, which have replaced the primitive “first-aid houses.”

In 1967 there were 6,600 physicians, or one physician for every 1,200 inhabitants (as compared with one physician per 5,600 inhabitants in 1953), 1,100 dentists, 380 pharmacists, and 12,500 secondary-level medical personnel (as compared with 4,000 in 1953). Physicians are trained at four university medical faculties, and secondary medical personnel are trained at 13 colleges.

In 1972 more than 200 million pesos were spent on health services, as compared with 20 million pesos per year before 1959.

Located in Cuba are the well-known health resorts of San Vicente, San Diego de los Bañios, and Santa Fé.


Veterinary services. Conditions in Cuba are basically favorable for controlling diseases of farm animals. Infectious encephalomyelitis of horses has been eliminated. A program to elimi-nate brucellosis and tuberculosis has been successful. (Positive reactions to brucellosis fell from 4.33 percent in 1963 to 0.87 percent in 1969, and positive reactions to tuberculosis decreased from 3.24 percent in 1964 to 0.25 percent in 1969.) In 1969 cases of rabies and hog cholera were recorded, and there was a high incidence of anaplasmosis (389 foci), babesiasis (137 foci), and enzootic mastitis (1,550 foci). Cases of leptospirosis in dogs and leukosis in poultry, as well as mycoplasmosis, mosis, infectious rhinitis, and typhus were recorded. There is a high incidence of American foulbrood in bees. Scientific veterinary research is conducted at the National Veterinary Scientific Research Institute, which has a network of branch laboratories throughout the country. Veterinarians are trained at the Veterinary School at the University of Havana. As of 1971, there were 578 veterinarians in Cuba.


Prior to the victory of the Cuban Revolution, 44.4 percent of the children in the cities and 72 percent in the outlying rural regions were not included in the school system, even though the 1901 Constitution had proclaimed compulsory education for children between ages six and 14. There were extremely few state schools, the system of vocational-technical education remained poorly developed, and the universities produced too many specialists in the liberal professions and too few technical personnel.

The revolution introduced far-reaching changes into the system of education. The year 1961 was proclaimed the Year of Education. Some 300,000 persons took part in a mass campaign to eliminate illiteracy. Before 1961 there were more than 979,000 illiterates; by the end of 1961, 707,000 of them could read and write. In January 1962 free instruction was introduced at all levels, and a decree established a nine-year compulsory education, including six years of elementary school and three years of basic secondary school. However, in 1971 only the six-year elementary curriculum was compulsory. Further education for literate adults has been offered since 1962 in general-education and vocational schools, as well as through special courses. By 1967, 274,700 adults had completed elementary school, and more than 33,000 had completed the basic secondary school. A system of stipends was introduced at all educational institutions. (During the academic year 1969–70, 232,500 persons received stipends.)

A decree adopted during the academic year 1967–68 lengthened the term of instruction at the basic secondary schools by one year. By 1971 all the basic secondary schools in the cities had become four-year schools.

In the academic year 1970–71 the Cuban system of public education had many branches, including nurseries and kindergartens for children age 45 days to six years, six-year elementary schools, four-year basic secondary schools in the cities, and three-year secondary schools in rural areas. The three-year university preparatory schools confer baccalaureate diplomas in the humanities or natural sciences, which give the student the right to enroll at a university.

The curriculum of the three-year technical schools, which train skilled workers, builds on that of the six-year elementary schools. Graduates of the technical schools, as well as students who have completed the ninth grade of the basic secondary schools, have the right to enroll at four-year technical institutes, which train technicians. Later technical-school graduates may enroll in a university. (The technical schools used to be a dead end.)

The four-year institutes of foreign languages, economics, and physical education base their curricula on the completion of the basic secondary school curriculum. Elementary school teachers are trained at pedagogical schools, whose course of study is designed for those who have completed elementary school. Secondary school teachers are trained at the five-year pedagogical institute. The A. S. Makarenko Higher Pedagogical Institute was opened at larara (near Havana) in 1960.

During the academic year 1970–71, Cuba’s 15,134 elementary schools had an enrollment of 1.7 million pupils. The 403 basic secondary schools and 33 university preparatory schools had 186,700 pupils; the 95 vocational-technical schools, 24,900; and the 33 pedagogical colleges, 27,000. There were 361 adult-education schools with an enrollment of 282,400.

Cuba’s system of higher education includes the University of Havana, with branches in the cities of Matanzas and Pinar del Río. The University of Oriente Province in Santiago de Cuba has branches in Niquero and Moa. Other higher educational institutions are Central University of Las Villas Province in Santa Clara and the University Center of Camagüey Province in Camagüey. Among the university faculties are engineering, agronomy, natural sciences, humanities, and medicine. In the universities there are also pedagogical and economics institutes, which are equal in rank to the faculties. During the academic year 1970–71 the country’s higher educational institutions had an enrollment of more than 35,000 students. Incomplete higher educational institutions include a municipal academy of dramatic arts, three conservatories, the National School of Fine Arts, and the School of Applied Plastic Arts in Havana.

The most important libraries are the José Martí National Library in Havana (founded in 1901; 260,600 volumes) and the library of the University of Havana (1728; 202,800 volumes). Located in Havana are the National Museum (founded in 1913), the Museum of Folk Art, the Museum of the Revolution, the José Martí Museum (1925), the Anthropological Museum (1847), and the Hemingway museum.


Social sciences.PHILOSOPHY. During the colonial period the development of philosophy in Cuba was closely linked with the development of philosophy in Spain. Prior to the 18th century, Scholasticism, which was widely disseminated by the religious orders, prevailed. Only from the end of the 18th century did the materialist and humanistic sociopolitical ideas of the period of the Great French Revolution begin to penetrate into the country.

J. A. Caballero (late 18th century and the early 19th) was the first Cuban philosopher who went beyond the limits of Scholastic dogmatism and disseminated some of the ideas of Descartes and the British materialists. His follower F. Varela y Morales reformed the teaching of philosophy, putting an end to the dominance of Scholasticism in Cuba.

During the 19th century idealist philosophy was represented by Catholic neo-Scholasticism as well as by adherents of the eclecticism of the French philosopher V. Cousin. The materialist-sensualist trend, which elaborated on the ideas of Caballero and Varela, was most brilliantly represented by J. de la Luz y Caballero, who developed the ideas of the British philosophers Bacon and Locke. From 1839 through the 1840’s, Luz y Caballero and the González del Valle brothers carried on a polemic that gave rise to extensive philosophical literature. Luz y Caballero’s ideas were developed by his friend and colleague, J. M. Mestre, who undertook the study of the history of Cuban philosophy.

Beginning in the mid-19th century I. Kant’s philosophical ideas became known in Cuba through the work of the neo-Kantian J. Perojo, who translated the Critique of Pure Reason into Spanish. G. Hegel’s works became known through R. Montoro. J. Martí, the revolutionary democratic poet and thinker of the second half of the 19th century, left a profound mark on the culture and philosophy of Latin America. His ideas were important for the development of an anti-imperialist ideology.

The most famous Cuban philosopher at the turn of the 20th century was E. J. Varona, who is considered a representative of Latin American positivism. To a great degree he adhered in his philosophical ideas to the materialism of the natural sciences, but in the solution of social problems his ideas approached Martí’s revolutionary democratism. During the 20th century pragmatism, existentialism, and neo-Thomism became popular in Cuba.

Marxism, which penetrated into Cuba at the end of the 19th century, became widely known at the beginning of the 20th century. Founded in 1901 under the guidance of C. Baliño, the Club for Socialist Propaganda disseminated the works of Marx and Engels. The founding of the Communist Party of Cuba in 1925 facilitated the further development of Marxist ideas in the country. An important role in the ideological preparation for revolution in Cuba was played by the works of the Marxists C. Baliño, J. A. Mella, R. Martínez Villena, Blas Roca, and J. Marinello.

After the victory of the revolution (1959), Marxist philosophy began to play the leading role in the country’s ideological activity. In 1964 a philosophical group was created under the Cuban Academy of Sciences to conduct research on Marxist philosophy and the history of philosophy in Cuba. After 1960 philosophical problems received a great deal of attention in the journals Cuba Socialista (founded in 1961), Pensamiento crítico (1967), and Universidad de la Habana (1934).


Istoriia filosofii, vols. 2, 4, 5. Moscow, 1957–61.
Ternovoi, O. S. Filosofiia Kuby. Minsk, 1972.
Vitier, M. La filosofia en Cuba. Mexico City-Buenos Aires, 1948.
Vitier, M. Las ideas y la filosofia en Cuba. Havana, 1970.
HISTORY. Historical scholarship in Cuba first became important at the end of the 18th century. At the beginning of the 19th century, during the upswing in the liberation movement in Latin America and especially under the influence of the War for the Independence of the Spanish Colonies in America (1810–26), the works of P. A. Morell de Santa Cruz, J. M. Félix de Arrate y Acosta, and A. J. Valdés appeared. They demanded reforms and the broadening of the rights of the Cuban people. Works by J. A. Saco published during the 1830’s were directed against the slave trade. Later, during the 1840’s, he opposed the annexationists, who demanded that the USA annex Cuba.
The liberation struggle of the Cuban people (1868–78) inspired many memoir-like historical publications. E. Piñeyro’s essays are of particular interest. With the intervention of the USA in the Cuban War for Independence (1895–98) and the occupation of the country by US troops, two groups became more sharply delineated: the advocates of independence (V. Morales y Morales) and the supporters of annexation by the USA (J. I. Rodríguez). The National Academy of History, which was created in 1910, endeavored to avoid political disputes and set as its goal the collection and publication of documents. (After the 1959 revolution the academy disbanded itself.)
The formation of the three principal schools in the latest Cuban historiography—the Marxist, liberal-progressive, and conservative-clerical schools—dates from the 1920’s, a decade characterized by an upswing in the liberation struggle. The most brilliant representative of the Marxist trend was J. A. Mella, who was the first to expose the predatory nature of US imperialist policy in the Caribbean countries. He also explained that the Cuban bourgeoisie, which was linked with US imperialism, was an enemy of the Cuban people. At the same time, Mella predicted that socialism would inevitably come to Cuba.
The representatives of the liberal-progressive trend (E. Roig de Leuchsenring, F. Ortiz, R. Guerra y Sánchez, and J. L. Franco) were critical of US policy toward Cuba. They condemned the Spanish colonial regime, racism, and fascism, and they adopted a friendly position toward the USSR. However, they were not consistent in their political activity. Particularly characteristic of the works of Leuchsenring is their anti-imperialist tendency, as well as their exposure of the antipopular, anti-nationalist activity of the Catholic Church.
Representatives of the conservative-clerical school (for example, H. Portell Vilá and E. Santovenia) played down and often defended the dominance of US imperialism in Cuba, thus falsifying the nation’s history.
In 1940, Leuchsenring founded the Cuban Society for Historical and International Research, which united all the country’s patriotic historians and convoked national congresses of historians between 1942 and 1960. Significant contributions to the methodology of historical research on Cuba were made by Bias Roca’s The Principles of Socialism in Cuba (1943) and the works of C. R. Rodríguez and S. Aguirre, which stressed the goals and tasks of Marxist historiography as applied to the history of Cuba.
The 1959 revolution opened broad vistas for the systematic study of Cuban history from the Marxist-Leninist standpoint. Of great importance for the development of historical scholarship are the works of F. Castro Ruz and other leaders of the Communist Party of Cuba. In Marxist historical research the works of J. Marinello and A. Núñez Jiménez hold an important place. The principal centers for historical research and the filing of historical documents are the Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences (founded in 1962) and the National State Archives (founded in 1840). The Political Adminstration of the Revolutionary Armed Forces and the Historical Commission of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba have also done valuable historical research. The “historical schools” (that is, the historical faculties of Cuban universities), which were created after the revolution, train historians and do scholarly work.


Grigulevich, I. R. “Kubinskaia istoriografiia v period ‘Nominal’noi’ respubliki (1902–1958).” In Ot Aliaski do Ognennoi zemli. Moscow, 1967.
ECONOMICS. In Cuba the study of economics dates from the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th. The occupation of Havana by the British (1762–63), who proclaimed a system of free trade, engendered aspirations toward economic independence among Creole landowners, merchants, and owners of sugar mills. The Economic Society of Friends of the Country (1793), which was founded to promote the development of the island’s productive forces, made a significant contribution to the evolution of economic scholarship in Cuba. F. Arango y Parreño, the founder of the society, expressed the interests of the slaveholders. He proposed a number of reforms that provided for the expansion of Cuba’s foreign economic ties and the lifting of the economic limitations imposed on the island by Spain.
During the first half of the 19th century, A. Bachiller y Morales criticized slavery and preached the capitalist path of development. F. Frías y Jacott made a significant contribution to the development of economic scholarship during the 1860’s. The group of economists and public figures which gathered around Jacott’s newspaper El Siglo favored Cuban economic independence. They demonstrated the necessity of carrying out economic reforms, abolishing slavery, developing the sugar industry on a capitalist basis, creating a system of peasant farms, and applying the findings of economic scholarship.
During the first half of the 20th century, economics developed further through the work of scholars who focused on the general problems of political and economic history. The prominent liberal-progressive economist R. Guerra y Sanchez was the first to make an extensive study of Cuban history, emphasizing the development of the economy. Despite their bourgeois limitations, his works reflected the problems of Cuba’s economic growth with sufficient objectivity.
A number of research projects completed during the 1940’s opened a new stage in the development of Cuban economics by applying the Marxist-Leninist point of view for the first time in tracing the changes in Cuba’s socioeconomic formations and in presenting the historical characteristics of these changes. (Bias Roca, F. Perez de la Riva, and R. Cepero Bonilla were among the first economists to adopt Marxist-Leninist ideas.) The development of the Cuban economy as a whole and the growth of its various individual branches was examined in these works, which frequently criticized the one-crop system and Cuban economic dependence.
Planned economic research was begun only after the victory of the 1959 Cuban Revolution, when Cuba embarked on the development of a socialist economy. Basic questions regarding economic growth are analyzed in the works of F. Castro, E. (”Che”) Guevara, C. R. Rodríguez, and other leaders of the revolution. After the revolution, works on economics took the Marxist point of view in explaining the country’s economic development, the dominance of American monopolies in prerevolutionary Cuba, the history of their penetration into the country’s economy, the country’s economic problems, and its prospects for building the foundations of socialism (for example, G. J. García Galló, S. Aguirre, and J. R. Muñiz). A. Núñez Jiménez and J. Le Riverend have made important contributions to the study of the economy of revolutionary Cuba.
Problems in economics are studied at institutes attached to the universities. Among Cuba’s economics journals are Economía y Desarrollo (since 1970), Nuestra industria (since 1963), ANAP (since 1961), and Comercio Exterior (since 1962). Information on economics is also published in the journals Bohemia (since 1911) and Cuba socialista (since 1961).
Scientific institutions. Although the first scientific institutions were established in Cuba as early as the 18th century, most research was done in the humanities. Scholars worked primarily at the universities and at a small number of scholarly societies. In 1861 the Havana Academy of Medical, Physical, and Natural Sciences was founded. The Cuban Academy of Language was founded in 1951.
Since the revolution in 1959, Cuba has rapidly overcome its backwardness in the development of scientific research. Founded in 1962, the Cuban Academy of Sciences has six divisions that unite a number of scientific research centers and institutes in fields such as biology, the study of sugarcane, the physics of the atmosphere, nuclear physics, geology, geography, meteorology, neurophysiology and psychology, ethnology and folklore, and history. Departments of the academy conduct research in astronomy, geophysics, botany, forest ecology, electronics, cybernetics, philosophy, and anthropology. The Institute of Literature and Linguistics, which was founded in 1793, has been placed under the jurisdiction of the Cuban Academy of Sciences. There are provincial divisions of the academy in Oriente Province and on the Isla de Pinos. The academy directs the work of agricultural experimentation, seismological, and meteorological stations.
In addition to the academy’s departments, there are a number of branch institutes, including the Cuban Institute for Research into the Derivatives of Sugarcane, the Cuban Institute of Mineral and Metallurgical Research, the Cuban Institute for Technological Research, the Cuban Institute of the Chemicals Industry, the Institute of Zoology, the National Institute of Hygiene, the Havana Institute of Oncology and Radiobiology, and the Institute of International Politics. Cuba also has a National Observatory (founded in 1902) and Botanical Gardens (1967). Among the country’s scientific societies are the Cuban Society of the History of Science and Technology (founded in 1967), the Cuban Engineers’ Association (1908), and the Cuban Folklore Society (1923). Scientific research is also conducted by faculties and other subdivisions of the universities. Their scholarly activity is coordinated by the National Council of Universities (founded in 1960). The Soviet Union and other socialist coun-tries have given Cuba a great deal of aid in organizing and carrying out scientific research and in training the country’s scientific personnel.

In 1975 there were more than 50 periodical publications with a total circulation of more than 2 million copies. There are nine daily newspapers with a circulation of more than 700,000. Havana’s two newspapers are the daily Granma (1965; circulation, 500,000), which is the organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, and the young people’s daily Juventud Rebelde (1965; circulation, 170,000), an organ of the Communist Youth League.

All seven of the provincial dailies are organs of the provincial leadership of the Communist Party of Cuba. The most important of them are Adelante (1959; circulation, 24,000), which is published in the city of Camagüey (Camagüey Province); Vanguardia (1962; circulation, 18,000), which is published in Santa Clara (Los Villas Province); and Sierra Maestra (1959; circulation, 40,000), which is published in Santiago de Cuba (Oriente Province).

Of Cuba’s other periodical publications, one of the most important is the weekly magazine Verde Olivo (1959; circulation, 100,000), an organ of the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces. Bohemia (1908; circulation, 200,000) is an illustrated weekly literary and sociopolitical journal. Like Verde Olivo, it is published in Havana. Cuba (1962; circulation, 30,000) is an illustrated monthly published in Havana in Spanish and in Moscow in Russian.

Located in Havana is the Latin American press agency Prensa Latina (founded in 1959), which supplies information to the press in Cuba and in other Latin American countries. The first Cuban radio broadcasts were made in 1914, and the first television broadcasts in 1950. There are 41 radio stations, the most important of which are Radio Liberación, Radio Rebelde, Radio Progreso, Radio Reloj, and Radio Havana Cuba. Broadcasts to foreign countries are carried in eight languages, including English, French, and Arabic. There are 19 television stations. Radio and television are administered by the Cuban Broadcasting Institute.


The literature of the pre-Columbian Indians has not been preserved. Modern Cuban literature has developed in Spanish. The earliest work of Cuban literature that has come down to us is the descriptive narrative poem The Mirror of Patience (1608) by S. Balboa, a Spaniard by birth. In the 18th century a number of events promoted the development of Cuban literature. Books were printed for the first time in Cuba (1707 or 1720), the University of Havana opened in 1728, and the first periodicals were published (1764). Under the influence of the Great French Revolution and the War for Independence in North America, Cuban writers who supported the Patriotic Society of Havana, which had been founded in 1793, propagated Enlightenment ideas. (Among the society’s members were the the prose writer B. P. Ferrer [1772–1851] and the poets M. de Zequeira y Arango [1760–1846] and M. J. de Rubalcava [1769–1805]). Creole and Negro folk poetry also developed during the 17th and 18th centuries.

The revolutionary Enlightenment figure F. Varela y Morales (1788–1853) played an outstanding role in early 19th-century literature, which took shape under the influence of the national liberation movement against colonialism. In the lyrics of J. M. de Heredia (1803–39) revolutionary, patriotic classicism is intertwined with features of romanticism, whose development was promoted by the work of the critic and poet D. Del Monte y Aponte (1804—53). Members of his circle included the romantic poets G. de la C. Valdés (1809–44; pseudonym, Plácido) and J. F. Manzano (1797–1854 or 1857) and the poet and playwright J. J. Milanés (1814–63). Patriotic motifs resound in the early poems of Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda (1814–73).

Romanticism, which prevailed in Cuba almost until the end of the 19th century, was represented by a number of schools. For Ciboneyist writers such as J. Fornaris (1827–90), author of the Songs of the Ciboney (1855), the idyllic depiction of the everyday life of the Ciboney Indians was a form of protest against the enslavement of Cuba by the Spanish colonialists. Patriotic and civic motifs were asserted by M. Teurbe Tolón (1820–58) and J. C. Zenea (1832–71), poets who belonged to the Exile’s Lute, a group named after a collection of poems published in 1858. J. L. Luaces (1826–67) concentrated on depicting social conflicts. In the collection of poems The Sound of the Ormigo’s Waters (1856), C. Nápoles Fajardo (1829–62; pseudonym, El Cucalambé) described the life of the common people.

The revolutionary patriotic verses of poets who took part in the war of 1868–78 against Spanish oppression were collected by J. Martí (1853–95) in the book Poets of War (1893). The lyric poet R. M. de Mendive (1821–86) wrote revolutionary poems (for example, “Ode to Juarez”) and published the journal Revista de la Habana (1853–57), which became the center of revolutionary romantic literature. Among the finest examples of Cuban romantic prose are the historical novel Matanzas and Yumurí (1837) by R. de Palma (1812–60), the abolitionist novel Francisco (1839; published, 1880) by A. Suárez y Romero (1818–78), and the novel Sab (1841) by Gómez de Avellaneda.

Costumbrismo, a type of literature that described popular customs and laid the foundation for realism, developed within romanticism because of the interest of some writers in the nation’s everyday life. Associated with costumbrismo was the creative work of the novelist C. Villaverde (1812–94), whose novel Cecilia Valdés, or The Angel’s Hillock (1882) was directed against Negro slavery. Realistic prose is represented by the satiric novels of R. Meza (1861–1911) and slice-of-life novels by N. Heredia (1852–1901). The revolutionary democratic creative work of the publicist, critic, and poet Martí developed from romanticism into realism—for example, the cycles Free Poems (1882; published, 1913) and Simple Poems (1891).

The pessimistic poems of J. del Casal (1863–93), who morbidly accepted the people’s defeat in the war of 1868–78, laid the foundation for “modernism,” which combined features of decadence with a trend toward the creation of an independent national art. Under the influence of the Cuban war against Spain (1895–98), civic lyrics appeared (B. Byrne, 1861–1936; F. J. Pichardo, 1873–1941; and J. M. Poveda, 1888–1926).

Disillusionment with the results of the war against Spain (the occupation of Cuba by the USA) contributed to the deepening of crisis phenomena in the creative work of the second-generation modernist poets. R. E. Boti (1878–1954) and A. Acosta (born 1886) wrote intimate lyric poems for the most part. In the creative work of the novelists M. de Córrion (1875–1929) and C. Loveira (1882–1928) and the short-story writer A. Hernández Catá (1885–1940) motifs of social criticism were some-what weakened by elements of naturalism.

With the sharpening of the class conflict in the 1920’s, the poets Acosta (the collection The Harvest) and F. Pichardo Moya (1892–1957; Poem of the Sugar Plantations, 1926) argued against the US imperialist yoke. Characteristic of the avant-garde poets were antibourgeois attitudes. For some of them, including

M. Brull (1891–1956), rebellion meant formalist innovations. The literary figures who rallied around the “group of the minority,” which originated in 1923 and was led by the poet R. Martínez Villena (1899–1934), and later, around the journal Revista de avance (1927–30), endeavored to discover and develop the principles of revolutionary art. Social motifs are characteristic of the poetry of R. Pedroso (born 1896), M. Navarro Luna (1894–1966), and A. I. Augier (born 1910), the novels and stories of P. de la Torriente y Brau (1901–36), and the novels and short stories of L. F. Rodríguez (1888–1947) and L. Marrero (born 1911). In the 1930’s, E. Florit (born 1903) and J. Buesa (born 1910) published lyric poems.

At the end of the 1920’s, J. Z. Tallet (born 1893) and R. Guirao (1908–49) laid the foundation for Afro-Cuban poetry, turning to Negro folklore and striving to reproduce Negro dance rhythms in their poetry. These traditions were supported by E. Ballagas (1910–54). Also associated with Afro-Cuban poetry is the early creative work of the major Cuban poet N. Guillén (born 1902), who since the mid-1930’s has addressed himself to social and revolutionary themes in such works as the collection West Indies Limited (1934) and All Songs (1947). As reactionary forces and the Batista dictatorship (1952–58) grew stronger, many progressive writers emigrated (N. Guillén, for example). In Cuban poetry transcendentalism prevailed. Characterized by a complex system of imagery, transcendental poetry reflected a rejection of social reality. (This was true, for example, of poems by J. Lezama Lima [born 1912].) After the victory of the 1959 revolution many transcendentalists became prominent figures in Cuban revolutionary culture. The creative work of A. Carpentier (born 1904) occupies an important place in the history of modern Latin American literature. During the period he spent as an émigré he wrote the novels The Earthly Kingdom (1949) and Lost Steps (1953). Returning to his homeland, he published the historical novel The Age of Enlightenment (1962), whose principal theme is the fate of the intellectual in society.

The victory of the revolution opened broad opportunities for the development of folk literature. The majority of literary figures joined the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (1961), which publishes the newspaper Gaceta de Cuba (since 1962) and the journal Unión (1962). During the cultural revolution and the building of socialism the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba has played an important role in creating a new, socialist art. Among those who made important contributions to the development of socialist art in Cuba were the poets N. Guillén, F. Jamís (born 1930), R. Fernández Retamar (born 1930), A. Álvarez Baragaño (1932–62), and E. Diego (born 1920). In prose the postrevolutionary years were marked by a struggle against populism—a deliberate simplification of form and coarsening of vocabulary—and against experimentalism, which closely resembled contemporary Western modernism. (Both populism and experimentalism were rather widespread in Cuba in the early 1960’s.) Out of this struggle emerged works that give meaning to the social shocks experienced by Cuba and describe the building of a new life (novels by J. Soler Puig [born 1916], M. Cofiño López, and J. Travieso and stories by S. Quiñones and E. Cirules). Semifictional prose is also important in contemporary Cuba. Among the first artistic depictions of the social shocks experienced by Cuba were J. Puigo Solér’s works. Plays have been published by W. Piñera and J. Triana.

The first important works of literary criticism were written by Del Monte y Aponte. In his three-volume Notes on the History of Literature and Education in Cuba (1859–61), A. Bachiller y Morales (1812–89) attemped to provide a picture of the development of Cuban literature. Martí approached Cuban literature, as well as that of other countries, from a revolutionary democratic point of view. Representative of 20th-century literary theory and criticism are works by J. M. Chacón y Calvo (born 1893), J. J. Remos y Rubio (born 1896), F. Ortiz (1881–1969), and F. Lizaso (born 1891). Associated with the “group of the minority” is the work of J. A. Fernández de Castro (1897–1951). The Marxists J. Marinello (born 1898), J. A. Portuondo (born 1911), C. Vitier (born 1921), and S. Bueno have made important contributions to the study of Cuban literature.


Kubinskaia poeziia. Moscow, 1959.
Kubinskaia novella XX veka. Moscow-Leningrad, 1965.
Ostrov zari bagrianoi: Kubinskaia poeziia XX veka. [Moscow, 1968.]
Poeziia kubinskogo romantizma. Moscow, 1971.
Iz sovremennoi kubinskoi poezii. Moscow, 1972.
Kuteishchikova, V. N. “Sotsial’naia tema v kubinskoi poezii XX v.” In the collection Kuba: Istorikoetnograficheskie ocherki. Moscow, 1961.
Portuondo, J. A. Istoricheskii ocherk kubinskoi literatury. Moscow, 1961.
Mamontov, S. P. “Literatura Kuby.” In Istoriia zarubezhnoi literatury posle Oktiabr’skoi revoliutsii. Part 1: 1917–1945. Moscow, 1969.
Mamontov, S. P. Ispanoiazychnaia literatura stran Latinskoi Ameriki XX veka. Moscow, 1972.
Khudozhestvennaia literatura Latinskoi Ameriki v russkoipechati: Bibliografiia. [Compiled by L. A. Shur.] Moscow, 1960.
Shur, L. A. Khudozhestvennaia literatura Latinskoi Ameriki v russkoi pechati, 1960–1964: Bibliografiia. Moscow, 1966.
Remos y Rubio, J. Historia de la literatura cubana, vols. 1–3. [Havana, 1945.]
Vitier, C. Lo cubano en la poesía. [Havana] 1958.
Lazo, R. La literatura cubana: Esquema histórico desde sus orígenes hasta 1964. Mexico City, 1965.
Henríquez Ureña, M. Panorama histórico de la literatura cubana, vols. 1–2. Havana, 1967.
Ford, J. D. M., and M. I. Raphael. A Bibliography of Cuban Belles-lettres. Cambridge, Mass., 1933.


The ancient art of the Indians is represented by cave murals, ceramic vessels and figurines, and stone and wooden idols. The Indians built frame huts (bohíos) and platforms on piles (barbacoas) to hold their foodstuffs. Bohíos and barbacoas were still being built in rural areas in the early 20th century.

Havana, Santiago de Cuba, and Trinidad were built during the 16th century. Characteristic of Cuba’s cities were heavy fortifications, a rectangular grid of streets, and a church and the city hall situated in the central plaza. Spanish and Mexican baroque architecture influenced the development of Cuban architecture. One- or two-story stone apartment houses were built with inner courtyards, whitewashed or painted walls, and wooden shutters on the windows and on the balconies. Churches with one aisle, rectangular towers, and artesonado ceilings or vaults became popular. During the 18th century, buildings became more imposing: baroque and classical facades were ornamented with columns, arches, and stained-glass windows. Beautiful architectural ensembles were created for the main squares of Havana and Trinidad at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th. The architectural traditions of the colonial period were maintained until the early 20th century.

At the turn of the 19th century, Cuban engraving developed under Spanish influence (F. J. Baes’ religious prints, illustrations, and cigar labels). Painting also showed the influence of Spanish art (J. N. de la Escalera’s religious paintings, V. Escobar’s realistic portaits, and classical historical paintings by J. B. Vermay, the founder of the San Alejandro Academy of Arts in Havana [1818]). The costumbrists V. P. de Landaluze and F. Miahle, who painted typical episodes from the lives of the people, and the landscape painters H. Garneray and E. Laplante achieved prominence during the first half of the 19th century. In landscapes and in historical paintings academic and romantic traditions prevailed during the second half of the 19th century (F. Cisneros and V. Sanz Carta, as well as M. Melero).

At the beginning of the 20th century the first multistoried houses without inner courtyards were built in Havana. These early 20th-century buildings were in both the eclectic and the “modern” styles. During the 1920’s and 1930’s residential architecture imitated the contemporary European and American styles (for example, buildings designed by E. Rodríguez Castels). In the 1940’s and 1950’s, A. Quintana Simonetti, A. Rodríguez Pichardo, and A. Capablanca y Graupera designed a number of reinforced-concrete buildings in the spirit of functionalism. The main characteristics of this style, which was new to Cuba, were a concern for the relationship between architecture and climatic conditions (the use of ventilation shafts and of jalousies and grills for protection against the sun), innovations in volume and plane composition, and skillful use of color. Cuba’s multistoried buildings, large hotels, and health resort complexes (primarily for American tourists) underscored even more sharply the contrasts between rich neighborhoods and the growing slums.

With the liberation of the country from the Spanish yoke, patriotic paintings of historical and battle scenes became popular (A. Menocal y Menocal), as did realistic and genre painting, which combined the traditions of costumbrismo (particularly a standing interest in the everyday life of the people) with the attainments of contemporary French and Spanish painting (L. Romanach and R. Loy). Characteristic of sculptures by J. J. Sicre, T. Ramos Blanco, and E. Betancour are lively, typical folk figures and a sensitive grasp of the national character. During the 1920’s, Cuba’s most outstanding painters were V. Manuel García, A. Gattorno, E. Abela Villanueva, J. Arche, C. Enríques, and F. Ponce de León. Although they were influenced by fauvism, neoclassicism, or primitivism, they endeavored to make their works emotional, sharply characteristic embodiments of the people’s life. Beginning in the mid-1930’s, A. Peláez del Casal, Mariano (M. Rodríguez), R. Portocarrero, M. Carreño, and C. Bermúdez, who worked in mosaics, frescoes, and painting, and the sculptor D. Ravenet drew on both national traditions and on the experience of Mexican and European monumental art, striving primarily for a decorative effect and for overall beauty. Abstract art became popular in the 1940’s and 1950’s (W. Lam’s paintings, for example).

After the victory of the 1959 revolution, planned construction on a mass scale developed in the interests of the people. On the sites of slums well-designed neighborhood units were built, with reinforced-concrete houses (one or two to 11 or 12 stories), schools, kindergartens, trade and cultural centers, sports arenas, swimming pools, and lawns. In Havana the large public housing complex of Havana del Este was built, and residential districts were also put up in Santa Clara, Santiago de Cuba, and Camagüey. Various combinations of standardized sections, galleries, loggias, open stairways, balconies, roof peaks, and colored accents distinguish one building from another. In agricultural cooperatives and people’s farms there has been a concerted effort to build housing complexes (for example, Camillo Cienfuegos and Los Pinos), which include standardized houses built on reinforced-concrete frames; these complexes provide many services. Industrial and transportation facilities have been built, in addition to numerous buildings for educational institutions, hospitals, medical centers, and polyclinics. Sports complexes and recreation areas are especially distinguished for their free, cheery composition, their outlines, and their color.

At the beginning of the 1970’s, Cuban architects such as R. M. Franco, F. Salinas, and R. Porro industrialized and standardized urban construction, using precast, reinforced concrete. The design of large-panel houses made at construction plants took into consideration the climatic conditions and architectural features of Cuban cities.

The revolutionary theme has been developed with great success in the graphic arts, which tend to emphasize generalized, symbolic figures, dynamic composition, and bold chiaroscuro (for example, posters and prints by C. González Iglesia, R. Quintana, A. Posse, Mariano, and Portocarrero). Works on revolutionary themes have also been created by the painters S. Cabrera Moreno, O. Yanes, and A. Benítez. Cuban artists belong to the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba, which was founded in 1961.


Grafika Kuby: Katalog. Moscow, 1960.
Kuba: Istoriko-etnograficheskie ocherki, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1961.
Zhivopis’ Kuby: Katalog. Moscow, 1962.
Filipovskaia, N. Arkhitektura revoliutsionnoi Kuby. Moscow, 1965.
Weiss y Sánchez, J. E. Arquitectura cubana colonial. Havana, 1936.
La pintura y la escultura en Cuba. Havana, 1953.
Kubanische revolutionäre Graphik. Dresden, 1962.

Cuban folk music was an outgrowth of European (primarily Spanish) music, as well as African music. (The music of the Indians has not been preserved.) The long interrelationship between the Spanish and African musical cultures led to the rise of Afro-Cuban music, in which Spanish meters and melodies were fused with the ancient traditions of the Negroes’ skills in performing music. The oldest Afro-Cuban song and dance forms are the son, guaracha, and conga. Among the more recent forms are the danzón and the rumba. Afro-Cuban music prevails in the musical folklore of Cuba, which it endows with a specific coloring and quality—the predominantly two-beat meter, a sharply syncopated rhythm, and the prevalence of percussion instruments. Creole music is popular among the peasants. Its principal forms are the punto, the guajira, and the criolla. Negro music is used in the African religious cults of Cuba.

From the 16th through the 18th century the centers of professional music were the church schools. The flowering of church music dates from the second half of the 18th century and is associated with the creative work of E. Salas y Castro, whose followers were J. París and A. Raffelin. At the end of the 18th century concert and theatrical music became important. The Coliseo Theater in Havana was built in 1776 (from 1803, the Principal Theater). European operas were staged there, and later, tonadillas by Cuban composers. Founded in 1816, the Santa Cecilia Music Academy laid the foundations for training professional musicians.

At the beginning of the 19th century a Cuban opera buffa developed. Associated with folk genres and nationalistic subject matter, it was represented by F. Covarrubias, J. A. Millán, B. J. Crespo y Borbón, A. Medina, P. Carreño, R. Cabrera, and especially J. Anckermann. In the mid-19th century, M. Saumell y Robredo and later, I. Cervantes Kawanagh laid the foundations for a national school of composition. Among the composers of the second half of the 19th century were N. Ruiz y Espadero, J. M. Jiménez, G. Villate, and L. Fuentes. The first opera with a Cuban plot—E. Sánchez de Fuentes’ Yumurí—was produced in 1898. The opera The Slave Girl by J. Maura Esteve (staged in 1921) is noteworthy for its treatment of subject matter drawn from the life of the Cuban Negroes, as well as for its use of Negro song and dance genres.

In Cuban music the period of the late 19th century and the early 20th was an active one, associated with the work of a number of musical societies, including the Havana Conservatory (founded in 1885) and the Symphony Orchestra (1908), which was directed by G. Tomás. During the 1920’s and 1930’s an Afro-Cuban trend developed in the creative work of professional composers, under the leadership of A. Roldán and A. Caturla. In the 1930’s, J. Ardévol—composer, teacher, and leading Cuban musician—began his career. His seminar, the Group for Musical Revival (1943), played an important role in the development of Cuban music.

Associated with the victory of the 1959 revolution is a new phase in the history of Cuban music. Old groups were reorganized, and new ones were established, including the National Symphony Orchestra, as well as the chamber orchestra and string quartet attached to it, the A. Roldán Quartet in Havana, and orchestras in the principal provincial cities. Folk ensembles as well as foreign opera and ballet troupes perform in the National Theater of Cuba.

In the creative work of composers of the 1960’s and early 1970’s a tendency to experiment prevails. The mass song has been fruitfully developed by such composers as C. Puebla, E. Saborit, and T. Castellanos. A. Diaz Cartaya, who wrote the music and the text of the revolutionary “26th of July Anthem,” has won fame.

Among Cuba’s well-known performers are the conductors E. González Mántici and M. Duchesne Cuzán, the pianists C. Tieles, J. G. Labraña, and S. Rodríguez Cárdenas, the violinist E. Tieles, the double bass player O. Urfé, and the singers R. Calzadilla and I. Burguet. The journal Revista de música has been published since 1960.


Alender, I. “Muzykal’naia kul’tura Kuby.” In Kuba: Istoriko-etnograficheskie ocherki, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1961.
Carpentier, A. Muzyka Kuby. Moscow, 1962. (Translated from Spanish.)
Pichugin, P. “Muzyka.” In Kuba: 10 let revoliutsii. Moscow, 1968.
Ardévol, J. Música y Revolución. [Havana, 1966.]
Ardévol, J. Introducción a Cuba: la música. Havana, 1969.


Cuban folk dance developed under the influence of the Spanish dance. Later (beginning in the 16th century), it was influenced by Negro culture. Dances were part of all popular and religious holidays as well as theatrical presentations. During the first quarter of the 20th century tours by A. P. Pavlova acquainted the Cubans with the Western European classical ballet. The national ballet began to develop during the 1930’s, when the first ballet school was organized in Havana. Among its students were the future founders of the Ballet de Cuba, F. Alonso and A. Alonso (maiden name, A. Martenez), who subsequently became one of the leading classical ballerinas of Cuba. In 1948 she founded the Ballet Alicia Alonso, a troupe which has been known as the National Ballet of Cuba since 1954. It toured the USSR in 1960, 1965, and 1972. In 1950, A. Alonso organized a ballet school. The repertoire of the National Ballet of Cuba includes productions of classical ballets (for example, A. Adam’s Giselle and L. Delibes’s Coppélid) as well as contemporary ballets. (During the 1940’s and 1950’s, for example, the National Ballet staged J. Ardévol’s Forms and A. Roldán’s Negro Festival Among its productions during the 1960’s and early 1970’s were C. Fariñas’ The Awakening, C. Chavez’ Calaucaya, the Carmen Suite, with music composed by G. Bizet and arranged by R. K. Shchedrin, and Oedipus Rex by L. Vanhurenbeek.) The Cuban ballet has been heavily influenced by American modern dance, as is obvious in the repertoire of the National Ensemble of Modern Dance, which is directed by R. Guerra. Organized in 1959, the troupe went on tour in the USSR in 1969 and 1972.


Indian theatrical presentations (the arieto) date from antiquity. After the colonization of Cuba by the Spaniards (16th century), plays by Spanish authors were staged in private homes in Havana, and shows associated with Catholic holidays were organized. Since the 17th century, productions have been staged in the provinces (for example, in Matanzas). The first play by a Cuban author—The Gardener-Prince, or The False Cloridano (attributed to S. Pita)—was published during the first half of the 18th century. In addition to operas and tonadillas, plays (primarily those by Spanish playwrights) were staged at the Coliseo Theater (from 1803, the Principal Theater).

The national theater was founded at the beginning of the 19th century by the actor and playwright F. Covarrubias, the author of sainetes (plays with music and singing), the plots and characters of which were drawn from the life of the Cuban people. In 1838 the Tacón Theater was opened in Havana. With more than 3,000 seats, it was the first large theater building in Cuba, and it was well suited to the staging of dramatic, operatic, and ballet productions. Theaters were founded in a number of cities, including Santiago, Camagüey, and Cienfuegos. However, the Cuban theater was still in decline. Although the country became independent in 1902, the theater continued to feel the influence of Spanish culture: Spanish dramas were presented, and most of the troupes that performed in Cuban theaters were Spanish.

The Cuban theater developed somewhat from 1910, with the founding of a theatrical society that helped to make Cuban plays known to the public. In addition, theatrical magazines were published, and new troupes were organized, including the Cueva Theater (Havana, 1936), which brought progressive theater people together under the direction of L. A. Baralt. The Academy of Dramatic Arts for the training of actors and directors was established in 1941 in Havana. In 1941 a school of theater arts was established at the University of Havana—the Seminar of Dramatic Arts, which contributed to the development of several Cuban directors.

Cuban authors such as P. Alfonso, C. Felipe, V. Piñera, and R. Ferrer published plays on significant themes during the 1940’s and 1950’s. However, the national theater and dramaturgy were not supported by the authorities, who preferred foreign groups and plays. Because of financial difficulties, theater troupes and organizations curtailed their activity.

The development of democratic national theater arts became possible only after the victory of the 1959 revolution, when the theater belonged to the people. Professional and amateur groups, as well as theaters for children and young people, were established in the provinces. Founded in 1958 in Havana, the Theater Studio drew up a program to revive the Cuban theater and presented mass agitational shows. Workers’ and peasants’ theater festivals have been held since 1961, and annual Latin American theater festivals have been organized. During the 1960’s and early 1970’s the theater repertoires included the works of classical world drama, as well as plays by V. Piñera, J. Triana, M. Reguera Saumell, A. Estorino, R. Ferrer, J. R. Brene, R. de Cárdenas, and H. Quintero. As of 1972, Havana’s many theater groups included the National Theater of Cuba (1959)—the organizational center which directs the creation of a new theater culture—the Experimental Theater (1961), the National Puppet Theater (1963), the Theater House (1964), and the Joint National Theater for Children and Youth (founded in 1966). Among Cuba’s leading theater people are V. Revuelta, R. Revuelta, M. Acevedo, R. Blanco, and N. Dorr.


[Sannikov, O. K.] “Teatr.” In Kuba: 10 let revoliutsii. Moscow, 1968.
Freire, N. G. Teatro cubano (1927–1961). Havana, 1961.
Tolón, E. T., and J. A. González. Historia del teatro en La Habana. Santa Clara, 1961.
Leal, R. El Teatro. Havana, 1968.


Newsreels and documentary films have been made in Cuba since 1897. From 1910 through the 1920’s the directors E. D. Quesada and R. Péon laid the foundation for the systematic production of motion pictures. Only a few of the motion pictures of the 1930’s and 1940’s depicted life in Cuba. Most of the motion pictures shown in Cuba were made in the USA. A truly national cinematography and motion-picture industry began to develop only after 1959. The Cuban Institute of Film Art and the Film Industry —the center for motion-picture production and release and for the training of personnel—was founded in Havana after the revolution. Of great importance for the development of cinematography was the work of directors of documentaries, who touched on the important problems of Cuban and international life in their films. (Among them were S. Alvarez, J. G. Espinosa, T. G. Alea, A. Roldan, J. Massip, S. Giral, and F. Canel.) Many directors of documentary films became leading directors of feature films. T. G. Alea directed Stories of the Revolution (1961), Death of a Bureaucrat (1966), and Memories of Underdevelopment (1969), and J. G. Espinosa directed The Young Rebel (1962) and The Adventures of Juan Quinquín (1967). H. Solas created the distinguished motion picture Lucía (1970), and M. Octavio Gómez, The First Attack With Machetes (1969) and Days of Water (1971). S. Alvarez directed Why Was the General Killed? (1971). Among the most significant documentary films produced in Cuba is We Have No Right to Wait (1972, directed by R. Paris). A number of films have been made in collaboration with representatives of the Soviet cinema (for example, M. K. Kalatozov’s I Am Cuba), as well as with Czechoslovak and French personnel. Animated cartoons have been developed (for example, those directed by J. de Armas).

The industry publishes a weekly chronicle, the News of the Cuban Institute of Film Art and the Film Industry. In 1972, four feature films and about 40 documentary films were released. Among Cuba’s most well-known screen actors are R. Revuelta, S. Corrieri, D. Granados, A. L. Llauradó, O. Valdés, and I. Andeus. As of 1972, more than 450 motion-picture theaters were open to the public. The journal Cine cubáno has been published since 1961.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Official name: Republic of Cuba

Capital city: Havana

Internet country code: .cu

Flag description: Five equal horizontal bands of blue (top, center, and bottom) alternating with white; a red equilat­eral triangle based on the hoist side bears a white, five-pointed star in the center

National anthem: “La Bayamesa” (The Bayamo Song) by Pedro Figueredo

Geographical description: Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, 150 km south of Key West, Florida

Total area: 44,200 sq. mi. (110,860 sq. km.)

Climate: Tropical; moderated by trade winds; dry season (November to April); rainy season (May to October)

Nationality: noun: Cuban(s); adjective: Cuban

Population: 11,394,043 (July 2007 CIA est.)

Ethnic groups: Mulatto 51%, European 37%, African 11%, Chinese 1%

Languages spoken: Spanish

Religions: Roman Catholic, Santeria, Protestant, Jehovah’s Witness, Jewish

Legal Holidays:

Anniversary of the beginning of the War of IndependenceOct 10
ChristmasDec 25
End of the Year Public HolidayDec 31
Labor DayMay 1
Liberation DayJan 1
New Year Public HolidayJan 2
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


a republic and the largest island in the Caribbean, at the entrance to the Gulf of Mexico: became a Spanish colony after its discovery by Columbus in 1492; gained independence after the Spanish-American War of 1898 but remained subject to US influence until declared a people's republic under Castro in 1960; subject of an international crisis in 1962, when the US blockaded the island in order to compel the Soviet Union to dismantle its nuclear missile base. Sugar comprises about 80 per cent of total exports; the economy was badly affected by loss of trade following the collapse of the Soviet Union and by the continuing US trade embargo. Language: Spanish. Religion: nonreligious majority. Currency: peso. Capital: Havana. Pop.: 11 328 000 (2004 est.). Area: 110 922 sq. km (42 827 sq. miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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