Cuba Country Overview
Where is Cuba located? The island nation of Cuba is a republic with the Republic of Havana and is located in the Caribbean. On the time zone map, which divides the world into time zones along lines of longitude, Cuba is in a time zone called “Central Standard Time” (CST) because of its location near the Atlantic Ocean. There is a time difference of 5 hours to the coordinated world time (UTC-5). In summer, the time is changed from March to October to daylight saving time. Then the difference to the world clock is 4 hours.
As of 2023, the latest population of Cuba is 11,059,062, based on our calculation of the current data from UN (United Nations).
|Population growth rate||-0.25%|
|Birth rate||10.70 births per 1,000 people|
|65 years and above||15.22%|
|Median age||40.40 years|
|Gender ratio (Male to Female)||0.99|
|Population density||99.76 residents per km²|
|50% African-European, 37% European, 11% African, 1% Asian|
|nominally 85% Catholics (Roman Catholic) before Fidel Castro came to power. Also Protestants, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jews and Santeria|
|Human Development Index (HDI)||0.778|
|HDI ranking||72nd out of 194|
People in Cuba
11 million people live in Cuba. They are predominantly the descendants of those who once came from Europe and of the Africans who were brought here as slaves. 66 percent of the population are white, 10 percent are black. The remainder have both white and black ancestors.
The majority of Cubans live in cities, namely 77 percent. 2 million of the 11 million residents live in Havana alone.
But who were the residents before Christopher Columbus landed here in 1492 and was mainly followed by Spaniards? The people who lived here (and on the other islands of the Greater Antilles) were the Taíno. The Taíno were forced to work on their plantations by the Spanish. Many died of diseases that were brought in from Europe and against which they had no defenses. The Taíno were already extinct in the 17th century.
Children and old people
Life expectancy in Cuba is 79.2 years and is one of the highest in Latin America. The birth rate has now fallen and is 1.7 children per woman. It is slightly higher than in Germany (1.4 children).
Languages in Cuba
Spanish is spoken in Cuba. However, it is different from the Spanish spoken in Spain. The Seseo is typical (c before e and i is pronounced like s, not like the English th). The word cine (cinema) is therefore pronounced “ssine”. Many Cubans pronounce an r at the end of a syllable like an l. So puerta (door) becomes “puelta”. This is often difficult for Spaniards to understand.
Other peculiarities in Cuban Spanish are: The politeness form ustedes has replaced the Spanish vosotros. A d in the middle of a word is often left out: Helado (ice cream) is then pronounced like “ela-o”. While in Spanish a double l (as in llamar) is pronounced as lj, in Cuba it is only pronounced as j. By the way, that’s called yeísmo. The sound ch (as in German “ach”) does not exist, it is spoken like h.
Religions in Cuba
Most Cubans belong to the Catholic Church. Many Catholics practice a kind of mixed religion. Catholic elements are mixed with those from the religion of the West African Yoruba. These came to Cuba with the slaves from West Africa.
This mixed religion is called Santería. The gods of the Santería are the Orishas. They merge with saints of the Catholic Church. The orishas are honored in trance dances and sacrifices are made to them. You can light a candle, lay fruit or slaughter an animal.
The priests of the Santería give advice to the faithful, consult the oracle and work as healers. Amulets are important to the believers and they believe in the magical powers of herbs. A mixture of at least 21 herbs is called omiero and is particularly important in rituals. The herbs are dissolved in rainwater and are considered a healing potion.
Anyone who converts to the faith of the Santería must wear white clothing for a year. The pendants can also often be recognized by a pearl bracelet, the pulso.
Religious minorities are Protestants, but their number is growing, as well as Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims and Jews. There are only two religious holidays in Cuba: Christmas on December 25th and Good Friday.