The landscapes of Cuba are mostly plains or hilly countries, the island only has mountain character in three or four places. In addition to the Sierra Maestra (Pico de Turqino, 1974 m), this includes the neighboring Baracoa Mountains, the Sierra del Escambray and the Sierra Guaniguanico in the northwest. Although the mountain range of Cuba rise individually from the lowlands and are separated from each other by wide, often marshy plains, but they are connected by a common thread: a geological arching line that runs roughly from northwest to southeast and in the core of which crystalline slate, gneiss and granite rock as well as folded limestone layers come to light step. Otherwise, younger, barely deformed limestone layers and loose alluvial deposits lie above the folded subsurface.
The mountains made of crystalline rocks can be easily recognized by the fact that the mountains and valleys have gently rounded shapes, while the limestone mountains are often dissolved into the bizarre rock towers and cones of the tropical karst. The most impressive karst formations have the Sierra de los Organos, the “Organ Pipes Mountains” at the northwest end of Cuba. At the opposite end, the Sierra Maestra breaks off steeply to the sea. Along this fault line, as in other areas of Cuba, the earth’s crust slowly rises and falls, which sometimes manifests itself in extremely violent earthquakes.
According to andyeducation, the Sierra Maestra fracture level continues below sea level and leads down to the 7,000 m deep Cayman Trench, which separates Cuba from the islands of Hispaniola and Jamaica. The coast is otherwise mostly flat and lined with many islets and coral reefs. Typical are small bays with a bottle-like floor plan, which become wider behind the narrow “bottle neck” towards the land side. The island’s Caribbean coast is divided by several wide gulfs. The Rio Cauto, the only major river in Cuba, flows into the southern of these gulfs.
Depending on the original rock, sandy-loamy, partly solidified red earth or clayey red loam are common in Cuba. There are also black, humus-rich soils in the plains.
Cuba essential travel information
Area: 110,860 km² (land: 109,820 km², water: 1,040 km²)
Population: 11.1 million (July 2011, CIA). Mulattos 51%, whites 37%, blacks 11%, Chinese 1%.
Population density: 100 residents per km²
Population growth: -0.104% per year (2011, CIA)
Capital: Havana (2.2 million residents, 2006)
Highest point: Pico Turquino, 1,974 m
Lowest point: Caribbean, 0 m
Form of government: Cuba has been a socialist republic since 1959. The current constitution dates from 1976, the last change was made in 2002. The People’s Congress (Asemblea Nacional del Poder Popular) consists of 609 members who are elected every 5 years. The State Council consists of 31 members, the chairman of the State Council is also head of state of Cuba and chairman of the Council of Ministers. Cuba has been independent from Spain since December 10, 1898, but was under US administration until May 20, 1902.
Administrative division: 14 provincias (Camaguey, Ciego de Avila, Cienfuegos, Ciudad deLa Habana, Granma, Guantanamo, Holguin, La Habana, Las Tunas, Matanzas, Pinar del Rio, Sancti Spiritus, Santiago de Cuba and Villa Clara) as well as a municipio especial (Isla de la Juventud).
Head of State and Government: Raúl Castro Ruz, since July 31, 2006
Language: The official language inCubais spanish. English and French are sometimes spoken, and German is often spoken in tourist centers.
Religion: 56% of the Cuban population indicate no religious affiliation, 39% are Catholics, minorities of Protestants, Jews and Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Local time: CET – 6 h. From the first Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October: CET – 5 h.
The time difference to Central Europe is 6 hours in both summer and winter.
International phone code: +53
Mains voltage: 110/120 V, 60 Hz. Often two-pole American plugs, only a few hotels have European plugs. It is therefore recommended to take an adapter with you.
Cuba – money and currency
Local currency: 1 convertible peso equals 100 centavos.
Two different currencies are valid in Cuba: the convertible peso (CUC, Peso Convertible, popularly Chavito or Fula) and the Cuban peso. Tourists in Cuba use the convertible peso to pay for products and services. This currency is linked to the US dollar with a fixed exchange rate.
The Cuban Peso (CUP, in common parlance moneda nacional) is a subsidized currency and only intended for Cubans. The possession of CUP is not allowed for tourists.
Currency abbreviations: Cub $, CUC and CUP
Peso Convertible banknotes are issued in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 Cub $, coins in denominations of 1, 5 and 25 Centavos as well as 1 and 5 Cub $. The 5 Cub $ coins are rarely used.
Currency Exchange: Touristscan exchange foreign currencies in banks, government exchange offices (CADECA), in larger hotels and at the airport for convertible peso. Euros, British Pounds, and Canadian Dollars are recommended as 10% tax will be charged on exchanging US Dollars. The convertible peso can only be changed in Cuba, so any unused convertible peso should be changed back at the airport before departure. In large tourist areas (e.g. Varadero, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo, Playa Covarrubias, Holguin and Santa Lucia) the euro has been approved as an official means of payment.
Exchange rate Peso Convertible:
Currency converter at OANDA
1 Peso Convertible (CUC) = 22 Cuban Pesos (CUP)
Credit Cards: with major credit cards (e.g. Visa, Eurocard and MasterCard) you can usually pay in larger hotels and restaurants (fees of up to 11.25%), but credit cards from US companies such as American Express or Diners Club are rejected, as are German credit cards Subsidiaries of American institutes (such as Citibank). Power outages can cause problems when paying with credit cards.
Check cards such as EC or Maestro cards are not accepted anywhere in the country.
ATMs: at machines in several banks (e.g. Banco Financiero Internacional and Banco Metropolitano) you can withdraw cash with a Visa card and PIN. When withdrawing cash with a credit card, a fee of 3% is normally charged, please also note that the exchange rate between CUC and Euro is converted to the US dollar at the respective rate set by Cuba.
Travelers Checks: Thomas Cook travelers checks are accepted for travel in Cuba, but should be made out in Euros. Travelers checks made out in US dollars are not accepted. Basically, travelers checks are rather cumbersome to exchange in Cuba. There is a 4 to 6% fee for exchanges. recommended. The exchange receipt must be kept. In larger hotels you can pay with travelers checks, outside of larger cities nobody accepts this payment option.
Foreign exchange regulations: the import and export of pesos is prohibited. There are no restrictions on the import of foreign currencies, but amounts from the equivalent of 5,000 US dollars must be declared. Foreign currencies may not be exported up to the amount specified on entry.
Bank opening times: Mon – Fri 8.30 a.m. – 1.30 p.m., some of the Cadeca branches are open until 7 p.m.