Cuba

Quick Facts

Region: South America & Central America

Population:
11,451,652

Religion:

Cuba has no official religion and about half the people class themselves as non-religious.

Language:

The official language of Cuba is Spanish, brush up on a few words before you arrive as English is hardly spoken.

Area (sq. km):
110,860 square meters

Time:

GMT - 5

When To Travel

The climate of Cuba is semi-tropical, the mean annual temperature being 25°C. Extremes of heat and relative humidity during the summer season are tempered by the prevailing north-easterly trade winds; the maximum temperature averages 27.2°C and maximum humidity, 80 per cent. Annual rainfall averages about 1,320 mm. More than 60 per cent of the rain falls during the wet season, which extends from May to October. The island is at risk from tropical storms and hurricanes between July and November.

Any time of year is great to travel to Cuba, but there are a couple if things to take into consideration. July and August are the hottest months and these months tend to be the busiest along with Easter and Christmas. Hurricane season runs from June to November, but the strongest storms don’t tend to come through until September/October. There are festivals year-round, so you are sure to catch something in your time in Cuba.

Useful Travel Facts

Airports:

José Marti International Airport is located 25 kilometres southwest of Havana. You will most likely be arriving into Terminal 3 the only easy way to get to your hotel is to pre-book a transfer, or get a taxi. A taxi should cost no more than the equivalent of US$25 in one of the new tourist-taxis based at the airport. Agree on a cost before you get in.

Telephone:

The international dialling code for Cuba is 53.

Electricity:

110/220 volts AC, 60Hz. American-style flat two-pin plugs are generally used, except in certain large hotels where the European round two-pin plug is standard.

Food:

Cuba is not known for it’s great cuisine. Cuban cuisine is a mix of Spanish and African techniques, using local produce. Dishes like arroz con pollo (chicken and rice), Moros y Cristianos (Moors and Christian; black beans and rice) and picadillo (minced beef and rice) are common, as are soups made with plantains (baked or fried), chickpeas or beans. There are, however, food shortages in Cuba and eating out can mean long waits at state-run restaurants or hotel dining rooms. Cuban beer (cerveza) is excellent and the cocktails are legendary, make sure your try a mojito.

Transport:

Generally in Cuba there are two systems of transport. One for locals and one for foreigners. There are interstate buses for foreigners and in the larger cities most foreigners are not prepared to brave the overcrowded buses. Taxis are generally cheap and plentiful. All of Cuba’s public transport is controlled by the Ministry of Transport. There is approximately 4807 km of public railway and an estimated 27,700 km, of roads, of which almost half are paved. There are international airports at Havana, Santiago de Cuba, Varadero, Holguín, and Camagüey. The state airline, Cubana, provides internal and some international flights.

Shopping:

Look out for cigars, rum, coffee and local handicrafts to take home.

Visa:


Visas are required for all nationalities visiting Cuba. These visas can be obtained from Cuban embassies and consulates. All passengers must hold tickets and other documentation required for their onward or return journey unless holding special annotation issued by a Cuban Consulate. Please note that travellers to Cuba intending to transit through the United States of America should ensure that they have a loose leaf visa. There are no direct flights from the U.S.A. to Cuba. Flight sectors to Cuba should be on a separate ticket from sectors that include the United States of America.



Travel Insurance - Entry Requirements All foreigners entering Cuba will be required to have valid travel insurance that is officially recognised by the Cuban government department that deals with insurance and customs issues. Cuban authorities have announced that they will not recognise any insurance policy issued or underwritten by any insurance company which has an affiliation with a US company. At the time of writing, the Cuban Government is yet to release their list of insurance companies whose policies they consider to be valid. On arrival in Cuba, visitors will be required to present their travel insurance policy to customs officers. If Cuban customs do not recognise their policy as valid, visitors will be required to purchase additional Cuban insurance.


Useful Words & Phrases

Spanish

1: uno
10: diez
2: dos
3: tres
4: cuatro
5: cinco
6: seis
7: siete
8: ocho
9: nueve
Bicycle: bicicleta
Breakfast: desayuno
Can I take a photo?: Le puedo sacar una foto? Por Favor
Car: auto/carro
Cheaper: Mas barato
Closed: Cerrado
Dinner: cena
Do you speak English?: Habas ingles?
Entrance: Entrada
Exit: Salida
Fine, Thanks: Bien, gracias
Goodbye: Adios/Chau
Hello: Hola!
How are you?: Como estas?
How do I get to_____?: Como puedo llegar a_____?
I don't speak much Spanish: No hablo mucho espanol
I don't understand: No entiendo
I would like_____: Quisiera
I'm looking for_____: Estoy buscando
I'm vegetarian: Soy vegetariano
Information: Informacion
Lunch: almuerzo
Mr/Sir: Senor
Mrs/Madame: Senora
my hotel: mi hotl
My name is_____: Me llamo_____
My names is_____?: Me llamo_____
No smoking: No Fumar
Open: Abierto
Police: Policia
Taxi: taxi
the airport: el aeropuerto
the bank: el banco
the bill: la cuenta/la factura
the post office: el correo
the train station: ka estacuib de ferrocarril
Toilets: Banos
too expensive: muy caro
Turn left: A la izquierda
Turn right: A la derecha
What does_____mean?: Que quiere decir?
What is your name?: Como te Ilamas?
Where is_____?: Donde esta_____?

Further Reading

Real Life in Castro's Cuba -Catherine Moses Conversations with Cuba - C. Ripley Mi Moto Fidel - Christopher P. Baker Castro’s Daughter - Alina Fernandez Blessed by Thunder - Flor Fernandez-Barrios Cuba Libre - Elmore Leonard Cuba: From Columbus to Castro and Beyond - Jaime Suchlicki