Cuba is a charismatic tropical Caribbean island on the brink of a new era. The country has old-world charm – the result of Castro’s communist regime mixed with decades of isolation, keeping neon lights and fast-food chains far away from Cuban borders. With the arrival of Castro’s brother Raul, times are changing… and so is Cuba. More than ever, this is the time to visit Cuba, before the traditional charm of this country is unavoidably lost in a surge of modern-day changes.
Our Latin America travel expert Ceri is a huge Cuba fan, and returns whenever she has the chance! Here are her top ten fast facts about the land of Mojitos and salsa…
1. Birthplace of Rum Havana Club is the most famous rum in Cuba and the most famous exported rum. It used to be produced by the Bacardi family until they were exiled from Cuba following the revolution.
2. Familia Castro In 1959 Fidel Castro became Cuba’s leader and it has been run under his dictatorship since then.
3. Communism Cuba is a communist country where everybody earns the same amount, no matter what job they do.
4. Healthy People Cuba has some of the best healthcare with more doctors per capita than elsewhere and it supplies doctors to other developing countries.
5. Signature drink A Cuba Libre cocktail means “Free Cuba” and it’s not just a rum and coke – the secret is to add lime and plenty of ice.
6. Strict Immigration Cubans can only leave the country with a special invite and having been granted permission from their government. If they leave without permission they are not allowed to go back.
7. Dual Currency Dual currency exists in Cuba. There are CUCs for tourists and “moneda nacional” or pesos for the locals. The exchange rate is 24 pesos to one CUC.
8. Local Staples Rice and beans or beans and rice is the number one staple diet and served with every meal. The food is heavily subsidised by the government and people get it using ration cards.
9. No Golden Arches All products from USA are banned in Cuba and there is no McDonald’s!
10. Got Rhythm?! All children learn to salsa dance when they are 3 years old. Olé!