State and Society
Since 1976, Cuba has been constitutionally defined as a communist state. The supreme body is the National Assembly of People’s Power (Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular o Parlamento, ANPP) whose members are elected every five years. The National Assembly of People’s Power (ANPP) then appoints the Council of State (Consejo de Estado). Raúl Castro Ruz has been the President of the Council of State and thus the Head of State since 2006. The highest executive authority is the Council of Ministers (Consejo de Ministros) and Raúl Castro Ruz has also been the President since 2006. With 500,000 members, the “Communist Party of Cuba” (PCC) is the only authorised political party in Cuba.
Cuba is subdivided into 15 provinces (Pinar del Río, Artemisa, La Habana, Mayabeque, Matanzas, Cienfuegos, Villa Clara, Sancti Spíritus, Ciego de Avila, Camagüey, Las Tunas, Holguín, Granma, Santiago de Cuba, Guantánamo) and one special municipality (Isla de la Juventud).
Capital City: La Habana (Havana) - with approximately 2 million inhabitants
The tourism industry is the main source of income in Cuba, but the sugar, tobacco, nickel, rum, coffee, pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries are also flourishing. After the revolution, 90% of Cuba’sindustry and 70% of agricultural farmingbecame state-led. With help from the former Eastern Bloc states, Cuba’s industry and agriculture were able to develop and the age of mechanisation quickly became a reality.However, the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe led to an economic crisis in Cuba. Since 1993, Cuba has been in economic recovery, after the government allowed some private companies to exist and made it legal to use and possess the US Dollar. Nevertheless, Cuba still faces a strained economic situation.
The healthcare system is very well developed in Cuba. The island hosts a good network of healthcare units that provide free medical care, having a positive impact on health of the Cuban population. For every 1000 inhabitants, there are 175 doctors, which makes the patient to doctor ratio significantly higher than in the UK.Due to the abnormally high quality of the healthcare for such a developing country, the infant mortality rate is the lowest in the whole of Latin America and life expectancy is just as high as in any Westernised country. Cuba also holds a leading position in biotechnology; the state has invested large amounts of money into biotechnology and medical research which, for example, led to Fidel Castro’s scientists discovering a vaccine against Meningitis, as well as new cancer treatments.
Cuba’s education system is extremely well established and free for all Cubans. The state supports every aspect of the system and provides all schooling materials. Children are required to attend school until the age of 14 and must wear a school uniform, so rich and poor look alike. It is unclear as to how long this high standard of education in Cuba can be maintained, largely because more and more teachers are having to take on other jobs to make ends meet. Since 1961, the illiteracy rate in Cuba has plummeted from 24% to 2%. This was helped by the extremely popular “cultural houses”, or “Casas de la Cultura” set up by Castro after the revolution.