Summary: Cuba was already populated when discovered by Columbus in 1492 and turned into a Spanish colony. Finally having its independence in 1902, Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean, and has a loosening Communist economy based on agriculture and to a lesser extent, tourism. With rugged hills and rolling plains, Cuba is only about 150 km from Florida's Key West.
Time Zone: UTC-5
Power: 110 V / 220 V, 60 Hz - older hotels offer 110 V, while newer ones offer 220 V.
Currency: Cuban Peso
- Currently 1 CUP = 1.0000 USD $
Climate: Cuba enjoys a tropical climate moderated by trade winds, with a dry season running from November to April, and a rainy season going from May to October.
- Currently 81º, var t
Hurricane Paloma powers up on path through Caymans to Cuba - AFP via Yahoo! News - Nov 07 7:18 PM
Hurricane Paloma lashes Caymans as it moves toward Cuba - AFP via Yahoo! News - 1 hour, 2 minutes ago
Hurricane Paloma powers up on path to Caymans, Cuba - AFP via Yahoo! News - Nov 07 4:48 PM
Hurricane Paloma Strengthens to Category 3, Heads Toward Cuba - Bloomberg - 1 hour, 19 minutes ago
US renews offer to send aid team to Cuba after Hurricane Ike - AFP via Yahoo! News - Sep 09 4:30 PM
| Havana: Founded in 1515, the capital city of Havana enjoys a Spanish charm mixed with Caribbean hospitality. Enjoy the Catedral de San Cristobal, the promenades and the Malecon seafront, stroll through Vieja Havana (Old Havana) to see the Spanish architecture, or the El Morro fortress. Finally, give in to temptation and buy a cigar from the old Partagas Cigar Factory.|
| Varadero: About two hours drive northeast of Havana, you can find one of Cuba's best resort beach fronts. Tourists from Canada and Europe have been coming here since the late 1800's, and visitors can now see Josone Park, with restaurants, an aquarium and frequent events, or take a day cruise from Chapelin Marina, or go explore the nearby Bellamar Caves.|
| Trinidad: The colonial-era architectural gems in Trinidad, founded in the 16th century, have made it a world heritage site. Baroque style churches, marble floors in some of the piazzas, and the Museo Histórico Municipal can entertain you if you're not at one of the local beaches.|
Baseball: Cuba has a passion for baseball that rivals any other. The local fans cheering a game on can be worth the small price of admission to see potential stars that may never play in the major leagues.
Street Smart: As long as you are smart, Cuba can be as safe a place as any. Avoid changing money anywhere but an official change booth or bank. Traveling as a group is safe, and know that police and military may not like having their picture taken.
Packaged Tours: As international ties strengthen, tourism will strengthen the country's infrastructure. Until then, a packaged tour may be a sensible option to see Cuba, as resorts can offer guided tours and trips to see many sights that would be more difficult without.
Friendliness: Government restricts contact between Cubans and non-Cubans to a minimum, and attitudes harmful to the state are to be reported to help control the corrupting capitalist influence on the society. In reality, though, locals are still friendly and helpful to tourists.
US Dollar: Exchanging of US currency is now next to impossible on the island, so bring pesos with you when you travel.
When To Visit: From May to October is hotter and wetter, and most locals take their holidays in July and August, making the beaches packed, and December to April is the peak tourist season.
Food: Typical Cuban foods include Moros y Cristianos (black beans and rice), arroz con pollo (rice and chicken) and platanos (plantains that are baked or fried).
Phrases: Yes = si, no = no, hello = hola, please = por favor, thank you = gracias, do you speak English = usted habla inglés?
Tipping: Tipping has not truly been standardized and is being frowned upon, but settling on the rule of thumb of 10% - 15% percent for excellent service is the best way to err.
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