All About Cuba
One of the remaining few communist-like countries in the world can be found just 90 miles south of Key West, Florida. The Latin American country is Cuba or officially named the Republic of Cuba and its form of government is socialist republic. The country is a narrow island, and the largest, in the Caribbean Sea and stretches about 750 miles from east to west, but in most places, it is only 60 miles wide.
Cuba was discovered in 1492 by Christopher Columbus and it was colonized by Spain. During the Spanish-American War in 1898, Cuba was claimed by the United States, but in 1902 the country regained its independence. It became a socialist state in 1961.
The government of Cuba is run by the Cuban Communist Party, though people vote for leaders, the communist party is the only legal party permitted. For over 30 years the leader of Cuba was Fidel Castro; he was the president, prime minister, and commander of the armed forces until 2008. Following his leadership was his brother, Raul Castro, who as of 2017, remains the president of Cuba.
Following communist power in 1959, the United States became hostile towards Cuba but when Castro stepped down, the relations between the U.S. and Cuba became friendlier. In fact, in 2015, the U.S. reopened an embassy in the country.
Cuba and its neighbors, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica and Haiti form the Greater Antilles, which are a chain of islands that were created millions of years ago when two of the Earth's tectonic plates collided. The size of Cuba is nearly 43,000 square miles, about the same size as the state of Pennsylvania. The population of Cuba as of 2016 was about 11.5 million, with about 2.2 million people residing in its capital city, Havana. The official language of Cuba is Spanish, and Catholicism is the religion practiced by many Cubans.
About one-third of the land is covered by high, rugged mountains and rolling hills, and the remaining land, lowland plains, is used for farming. Cuba also includes urban areas, Colonial villages, and sandy white beaches.
There are many different habitats that make up Cuba. There are mountain forests, jungles, and grasslands, plus some small deserts. The different ecosystems include unique plants and animals found only in Cuba, such as the world's smallest bird, the bee hummingbird, which grows to only 2 inches. The world's smallest frog may be found in Cuba as well.
There is a mixture of native, African, and European influences in the country leading to a lively culture well-known throughout the world. The history of Cuba is reflected in its food, language, art, and music. Bands can be found throughout the year playing everywhere in Cuba. Their main form of music is called son, which is a combination of lively rhythms with classical guitar.
Finally, unlike other Latin American countries, Cuba's favorite pastime is not soccer but baseball. The United States introduced baseball to Cuba during the 1860s leading to many internationals baseball stars leaving the country and joining teams in the United States. In addition, there is a Cuban national baseball team, recognized as one of the best in the world.
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