GEOGRAPHY: Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean measuring 110,922 square kilometres. Cuba also lays claim to the 220 sq km Isla de la Juventud and a further 4200-odd coral caves and islets, most of which are low lying and uninhabited. It is a land so vast that all of the rest of the islands of the Caribbean could fit into it. It has a total length of 1200 Km with 5746 km of coasts which host 200 bays and 289 natural beaches. There are three mountain ranges: the Sierra Maestra in eastern region, the Sierra del Escambray in the centre and the Sierra de los Organos in the west.
FLORA AND FAUNA: The Cuban flora has more than 80,000 botanical species, more than 50% are endemic. It has 900 species of fish, 4000 species of mollusks and 354 bird species.
CAPITAL: Havana City (pop. over 3 million).
POPULATION: 11 million. The people are an ethnic and cultural mixture of the descendants of African slaves and the white population originating in Spain. There is no racial discrimination and all Cubans are equal before the law.
MAIN RESOURCES: Sugar, minerals, tobacco, agricultural, medicine & tourism.
WEATHER: There are no great differences in seasonal temperatures in Cuba, its pleasant subtropical climate being augmented by the gentle north-easterly tradewinds. The wet summer season is between May and October, and the drier winter season runs from November through April. The average temperature reaches 27.4 degrees Celsius in July and August and 22.2 degrees Celsius in February. An average of 80% humidity exists all year round, with things just a little more sticky in the wet season.
ACCOMMODATION: All categories available, including 5 star properties.
AIRPORTS: 9 international airports. Havana's Jose Marti is the main entry point to the country, followed by Varadero and Camaguey. The air terminals at Cayo Largo, Cienfuegos, Cayo Coco, Holguin, Manzanillo and Santiago de Cuba also have international flights.
DEPARTURE TAX: $25.00CUC payable in cash upon departure.
CAR RENTAL: Cubacar, Rex Car, Transtours.
CLOTHING: Casual light clothing, preferably cotton.
CONDITIONS FOR TRAVEL: A valid passport and Tourist card is required. A special visa is required for business travellers, journalists, Cuban nationals and long-term stays. Check with your Cuban Embassy or Consulate for specific visa requirements.
CURRENCY: The national currency is the the Cuban Convertible Pesos. All goods and services are priced and paid for in CUC currency. Credit cards issued by CANADIAN BANKS in CANADIAN CURRENCY are accepted. However, Canadian credit cards in US currency, American Travellers cheques and American Express credit cards are NOT ACCEPTED.
CUSTOMS: Travellers can bring in two bottles of liquor, a carton of cigarettes, personal effects, photographic equipment, personal jewellery, etc., all duty free. They cannot bring in firearms, narcotics, pornography or Cuban currency. Durable goods or valuables acquired in Cuba must be declared upon leaving the country, showing receipts.
DRINK: Rum is the drink of Cuba. There are extra dry and aged rums of magnificent bouquet. The white rum mixes with practically everything and is ideal for cocktails. The traditional drinks of Cuba are the Cuba Libre, Mojito, Mulata and Daiquiri. There are various brands of beer as well as carbonated beverages. Bottled water is available and recommended.
ELECTRICITY: 110 volts, 60 cycles. The outlets are for flat prongs. Some locations are 220 volts.
FOOD: Traditional dishes are generally based on rice, beans, pork, and chicken along with fish.
HEALTH: Cuba's quality public health system extends across the entire country and is free for Cubans. Medical care is professional, efficient and economical. Medical insurance is recommended prior to departure.
MOBILITY: Tourists can go anywhere in the country at any hour of the day or night, by foot, by taxi, by plane, by train, by bus or by rent-a-car.
NATIONAL HOLIDAYS: Cuba's public holidays include Liberation Day (1 January), International Workers’ Day (1 May), Celebration of the National Rebellion (25, 26 and 27 July), and Beginning of the War of Independence. (10 October)
PHOTOS: Can be taken anywhere except military and prohibited zones.
SECURITY: Cuba is a hospitable country. It is easy to find help whenever you need it. The streets are safe. There are tourism police in hotel areas.
SHOPPING: Shops can be found in all hotels and airports. Cuban cigars, rum, liqueurs, arts and crafts, T-shirts and other souvenirs are good buys. All goods taken out of the country must be accompanied by official government receipts, as well as a stamp of approval for certain arts and crafts. Goods made from black coral, tortoise shell and sea shells will be confiscated by customs.
TAXES: Nothing is taxed anywhere in Cuba.
TIPS: At client's discretion, not included in bill. Normally tourists give to the waiter 10% (cash) of the bill.
Information is subject to change.