Society & everyday life in Cuba
Cuba was an atheist state until 1992, it only became secular after a constitutional amendment, which now enables believers to be politically active. The most represented religions are Catholicism and Santería, a mixed religion of the traditional religion of the West African Yoruba and Christian elements. Many Cuban Protestant churches have sprung up in recent years. Jehovah’s Witnesses are also well represented in Cuba.
The official form of government in Cuba is republic. Power comes from the state apparatus, the army and the Cuban Communist Party, PCC (the only allowed party). Head of State Raúl Castro, like his brother Fidel before, heads all three institutions.
National language and communication
The national language is Spanish. The Sanisch spoken there shows some differences to the standard language spoken in Spain. However, it is similar to the language in other Spanish-speaking countries in the Caribbean, such as the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and the Caribbean coasts of Colombia and Venezuela.
In Cuba, people shake hands in the traditional way to greet them. The locals greet each other with the salutation “Compañero”, but as a tourist one should say “Señor” or “Señora”. All Cubans have two surnames, but if you address them by name you only use the first one.
The island has a well-developed road network, but the roads are often in poor condition, which is why one should drive with caution and caution. There is also a railway company and an intercity bus company, which also operates the so-called “Viazul” buses for tourists. Isla de la Juventud and other islands can be reached by ferry, as well as the port bays of Santiago de Cuba, Cienfuegos and Havana.
Culture & History of Cuba
The first inhabitants migrated as early as 3500 BC. In Cuba and came from South America. Arawak Indians also settled on the island later.
After Columbus discovered Cuba in 1492 , the Spanish crown conquered the island. Thousands of Indians were killed in wars with the Spaniards and from European diseases introduced. The number of indigenous people sank to about 5000. As a result, African work slaves were brought to Cuba who had to work on cattle farms and in leather production. British troops occupied it in the 18th century the island. For the cultivation of sugar cane plantations, more forced laborers were deported from Africa to Cuba. In 1820, Cuba was the largest sugar producer in the world.
Spain lost its supremacy over Cuba in the war against the USA in 1898. At the beginning of the 19th century, Cuba gained its independence, but was still subject to US military administration. The first President of the Republic of Cuba was Tomás Estrada Palma.
In 1940 Fulgencio Batista became president. The dictator got Cuba’s complete independence from the USA. Due to an uprising, the revolutionary leader Fidel Castro took overthe position of Prime Minister 1959. Land and agrarian reforms were introduced and private land ownership was thus nationalized. The USA then initiated a trade embargo with Cuba. Despite assistance from Russia, Cuba’s economy fell to the ground after the end of the Soviet Union.
Tourism became more and more important in Cuba. In 1998 Pope John Paul II visited the island. In 2008, President Fidel Castro, who had ruled since 1976, handed over his position to his brother Raúl Castro.
Havana Cigar Festival: (February – March) Cigar lovers from all over the world make a pilgrimage to the unique “Festival del Habano”. Everything here revolves around the enjoyment of the cigar: new cigars are presented, plantations and factories are visited and seminars are offered where visitors can practice rolling cigars.
Havana Carnival: (July – August) You should not miss the Carnival in the Caribbean: This traditional spectacle of parades, colorful costumes, lavish street parties, wild dances and enchanting fireworks has been taking place in Havana since 1573.
International Ballet Festival: (October – November) Every two years the “Gran Teatro de La Habana Alicia Alonso” hosts the Ballet Festival, which was founded in 1960 shortly after the Cuban Revolution. Today it is an integral part of the Cuban cultural scene. Dancers from all continents are represented here and present creative dances at a high level. On Youtube you can find recordings of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba.
International film festival: (December) The film festival in Havana is absolutely worth seeing for South American fans: every year, mainly South American films are presented here. During the festival, the best films are awarded prizes.
On January 1 is Día de la Liberación (Liberation Day) celebrated as the victory of the revolution was proclaimed on January 1, 1959th
The May 1 , as in many other countries, Día de los Trabajadores (Workers’ Day) .
At the 25th, 26th, July 27th is Día de la Rebeldía Nacional (Anniversary of Revolution) celebrated. On July 26, 1953, Fidel Castro and an underground group stormed the Moncada barracks in Santiago de Cuba and the Céspedes barracks in Bayamo, thus kicking off the revolution.
The 10 October marks the Inicio de las Guerras por la Independencia (the beginning of the War of Independence).
Cuban cuisine is a combination of Spanish, African and Caribbean dishes. Basic foods include black beans and rice. Local vegetables are tomatoes, corn, potatoes, yucca and peppers; this is often combined with legumes, pumpkin, cabbage, chicken and pork. Fish and marine animals are often very expensive and are only available in (hotel) restaurants. In the more normal restaurants as well as the informal “paladares”, there are cheap typical Cuban dishes.