The City of Havana is the capital of the Republic of Cuba.
The Republic of Cuba is made up of 15 provinces, 169 municipalities and the Special Municipality Isla de la Juventud.
From the west to the east provinces are:
Pinar del Río
Ciego de Ávila
Santiago de Cuba
Municipio Especial Isla de la Juventud
The capital has more than 2 million inhabitants and a territorial extension of 727 km².
It is located on the north coast of the western region of Cuba, facing the Florida Strait.
Other important cities in the country are: Santiago de Cuba, Holguín, Camagüey, Cienfuegos, Matanzas, Pinar del Río, Ciego de Avila, Bayamo and Guantánamo.
Cuba's cooperative and favorable climate offers opportunities to visit the country year round. It is best described as a sub-tropical, seasonally wet climate.
Instead of four seasons, Cuba has two:
The dry (winter) season from November through April with average day temperatures of 70 to
82ºF (average night temperatures are around 64 and 68ºF ).
The rainy (summer) period is from May through October, when average daily temperatures are around 86°F. This does not mean that it rains all day, but typically there will be refreshing tropical showers in late afternoon during this season, which is also characterized by high humidity.
The hurricane season is between June and November (the most active storm months, when they occur, are September and October).
Cuba is the largest of the Caribbean islands, located at the entrance of the Gulf of Mexico.
The closest lands to Cuba are: East Haiti (77 kilometers), Yucatan Peninsula (210 kilometers) to the west, Florida Peninsula (180 kilometers) to the north and Jamaica (140 kilometers) to the south.
It is formed by about 4,195 cays, islets and islands, occupying an area of 42,803 square miles (110,860 square kilometers) and 1,200 kilometers of extension, over a mostly flat and karstic territory.
Its diverse and lavish nature shows a wide variety of plants, animals and more than 280 beaches, virgin islands, caves, mountains, forests, savannas and marshes.
In its topography there are three large mountain systems.
In the West, the Sierra de los Órganos;
In the central part, the Sierra del Escambray;
And in the eastern region, the Sierra Maestra, where the highest elevation is located, the Pico Real del Turquino, with 1,974 meters above sea level.
Its longest river is the Cauto, with 250 kilometers of extension.
Cuba has two different currencies:
1) The Cuban Convertible Peso or CUC.
2) The Cuban National Peso or CUP.
Visitors pay mostly in Convertible Cuban Pesos (CUC).
The CUC can be exchanged for a number of foreign currencies (and vice versa) – notes only, coins are not accepted - including the EURO, Swiss Franc, English Pound and US Dollar.
Exchanging US Dollars in cash are charged with a tax established by bank commissions.
Hotels, car rentals and fuel, restaurants, luxury goods, souvenirs, entrance fees etc. are paid in CUC.
There are banknotes of 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 convertible pesos, coins come in 5, 10, 25 and 50 Cents and 1 peso.
The Cuban National Peso (CUP) is also called Moneda Nacional (MN; National Money).
The Cuban Peso is used mainly by Cubans to buy fruits and vegetables in the markets, a pizza on the street, for city bus fares, and to pay gas, telephone and electricity bills.
There are banknotes of 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 pesos, coins come in 1 centavo, 2 centavos, 5 centavos, 20 centavos, 1 peso and 3 pesos.
1 Peso Convertible (CUC) = approximately 24 Cuban National Pesos (CUP).
You can acquire Pesos Convertibles at the airport, banks, various hotel lobbies and at money exchange offices, called "CADECA" (you can find these offices everywhere in the country).
You can also get Cuban National Pesos (CUP) in the CADECA (exchanging small amounts is recommended).
Do not exchange money on the streets. All Cuban money is only valid inside Cuba – importation and exportation is not allowed.
In tourist facilities and other service units, prices are in Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC).
In Varadero, Cayo Largo del Sur, Jardines del Rey (Coco and Guillermo Keys), Santa Lucía and Covarrubias Beaches, as well as in Holguín province (tourist resorts on the northern coastline), payments in Euros are generally accepted.
As of May 2010, Cuba has required a health travel insurance policy to cover medical expenses for all travelers, foreign and Cuban, living abroad, in order to enter the country. The resolution states that the insurers issuing the policies should be recognized on the island. Cuban insurance policies are for sale at points of entry into the country for those unable to present an appropriate insurance policy. In about 95% of hotels, a doctor is present to provide primary care to patients. Additionally, there are eight international clinics offering specialized treatment. Kiwee travel offers a variety of travel insurance solutions.
Visitors should possess a valid passport, not due to expire at date of departure, together with the corresponding entry visa or Tourist Card (valid 30 days), excepting those countries with which Cuba maintains Free Visa agreements. Tourist Cards can be requested at Cuban consular offices. Some travel agencies and airlines also issue tourist cards. Kiwee travel offers its customers the tourist card for entry into the country. Buy it together with other tourism services.
Although not holidays, the following are considered important dates:
January 28: Anniversary of the birth of José Martí, Cuba's National Hero, in 1853.
February 24: Anniversary of the beginning of the War of Independence, in 1895.
March 8: International Woman's Day.
March 13: Anniversary of the attack on Havana’s Presidential Palace by a group of revolutionary youths seeking to the tyrant Fulgencio Batista, in 1957.
April 19: Anniversary of the defeat of the mercenary attack at the Bay of Pigs, in 1961.
July 26th – Attack on the Moncada and Carlos M. de Céspedes Barracks October Official Commemorations
July 30: Day of the Martyrs of the Revolution.
October 8: Anniversary of the death of Commander Ernesto Ché Guevara, in 1967.
October 10th – Abolition of slavery
October 28: Anniversary of Commander Camilo Cienfuegos’ death, in 1959.
November 27: Commemoration of the execution of eight medical students, by the Spanish colonial government, in 1871.
December 7: Anniversary of Antonio Maceo's death in combat in 1896, an outstanding figure in Cuba’s War of Independence against Spanish colonial rule.
The following dates are official public holidays:
January 1st and 2nd
July 25th, 26th and 27th
From 8:30 or 9:00am to 12:30pm and from 01:30pm to 05:30pm.
In tourist facilities and other service units, prices are set in Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC).
In Varadero, Cayo Largo del Sur, Jardines del Rey (Coco and Guillermo Keys), Santa Lucía and Covarrubias Beaches, and Holguín province (tourist resorts on northern coastline), you can also pay in Euros (change is mostly in CUC).
Credit cards - except those issued by US banks or their branches in other countries - are accepted. Among those, MasterCard and Visa International are the most widely accepted.
The CUC is not an internationally circulating currency.
When withdrawing cash with a credit card, the CUC will be converted first to the US Dollar, the amount in USD will be deducted from your account, plus 3%.
Example: if you want to withdraw CUC 100.00 cash with your credit card, USD 103.00 will be debited.
Cuban Convertible Pesos are legal tender everywhere in the national territory.
Cuban convertible pesos can be changed upon departure at bank offices at international airports and ports in Cuba.
Travelers Checks - as long as they are payable against banks that are not based in the United States - are accepted, although not recommended as they are subject to a commission and in case of loss, they cannot be substituted in Cuba.
There are only sanitary regulations for visitors coming from countries where yellow fever and endemic cholera exist or have been declared infection areas by the World Health Organization. In such cases, an International Vaccination Certificate is required. Products of animal and vegetable origin have entry restrictions. Animals may be imported, with previous presentation of the corresponding certificate.
Most electricity in Cuba is 110V/60Hz, although 220V is available in many hotels. Power outlets are mostly of the flat two-pronged type used in the United States (Type A). Hotels, however, often have power outlets for the European-style round, two-pronged variety (Type C)
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