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Cuba Vacation and Travel Guide
Cuba, officially the Republic of Cuba, is a unitary sovereign state comprising the island of Cuba as well as Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos.
Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean where the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic Ocean meet.
It is south of both the U.S. state of Florida and the Bahamas, west of Haiti, and north of Jamaica. Havana is the largest city and capital; other major cities include Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey. Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean, with an area of 42,426 sq mi.
With most of the island south of the Tropic of Cancer, the local climate is tropical, moderated by northeasterly trade winds that blow year-round.
The temperature is also shaped by the Caribbean current, which brings in warm water from the equator.
Cuban cuisine is a fusion of Spanish and Caribbean cuisines. Cuban recipes share spices and techniques with Spanish cooking, with some Caribbean influence in spice and flavor.
Tourism in Cuba
Tourism in Cuba is an industry that generates over 3 million arrivals per year, and is one of the main sources of revenue for the island. With its favorable climate, beaches, colonial architecture and distinct cultural history, Cuba has long been an attractive destination for tourists.
"Cuba treasures 253 protected areas, 257 national monuments, 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 7 Natural Biosphere Reserves and 13 Fauna Refuge among other non-tourist zones."
Provinces and Municipalities of Cuba
The country is subdivided into 15 provinces and one special municipality (Isla de la Juventud). These were formerly part of six larger historical provinces: Pinar del Río, Habana, Matanzas, Las Villas, Camagüey and Oriente.
The present subdivisions closely resemble those of the Spanish military provinces during the Cuban Wars of Independence, when the most troublesome areas were subdivided. The provinces are divided into municipalities:
- Pinar del Río
- Villa Clara
- Sancti Spíritus
- Ciego de Ávila
- Las Tunas
- Santiago de Cuba
- Isla de la Juventud
Cuba has tripled its market share of Caribbean tourism in the last decade; as a result of significant investment in tourism infrastructure, this growth rate is predicted to continue.
These are typically single-family residences, and are a very popular choice for tourists. Prices can range from 15 to 30 euros per night, or less for longer stays; the casas provide an inexpensive option for young or independent tourists. A stay in a private casa allows tourists more opportunity to mix with local Cubans, and engage in Cuban cultural life.
As tourism played an increasing role in the economy, a large percentage of young people migrate to resort towns seeking employment in the tourism industry. Many of them working in menial jobs can earn more through tips than they can employed as professionals. Thus, there is an economic and social divide emerging in Cuba between those employed in the tourist industry and others.
Tourism was initially restricted to enclave resorts where tourists would be segregated from Cuban society, referred to as "enclave tourism" and "tourism apartheid". Contacts between foreign visitors and ordinary Cubans were de facto illegal between 1992 and 1997. The rapid growth of tourism during the Special Period had widespread social and economic repercussions in Cuba, and led to speculation about the emergence of a two-tier economy.
The policy of restricting certain hotels and services to tourists was ended by the government of Raúl Castro in March 2008. As well as officially allowing Cubans to stay in any hotel, the change also opened access to previously restricted areas such as Cayo Coco. However, access remains very limited in practice, as the vast majority of Cubans do not have access to the hard currency needed to stay in such hotels.
The Cuban government has established safeguards designed to ensure that tourism and other development do not result in significant environmental impacts. The development of new tourist facilities and related infrastructure in Cuba must, among other things, proceed in accordance with Cuban environmental laws and policies.
In the context of tourism, a private residence in Cuba which has been converted to allow paid lodging, usually on a short-term basis, akin to bed and breakfast residences elsewhere, is usually referred to as a "casa particular", which simply means "private house". These are typically single-family residences, and are a very popular choice for tourists. Prices can range from 15 to 30 euros per night, or less for longer stays; the casas provide an inexpensive option for young or independent tourists. A stay in a private casa allows tourists more opportunity to mix with local Cubans, and engage in Cuban cultural life.
The Medical Tourism sector caters to thousands of European, Latin American, Canadian, and American consumers every year.
As well as receiving traditional tourism revenues, Cuba attracts health tourists, generating annual revenues of around $40 million for the Cuban economy. Cuba has been a popular health tourism destination for more than 20 years. Foreign patients travel to Cuba for a wide range of treatments including eye surgery, neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease, and orthopaedics.