Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean . Due to its history and current political situation Cuba is Cuba as a destination of a special kind is best known for music and dance, for rum and cigars, for its Spanish colonial buildings, and not least for the communist revolution of 1959, when the population help of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, the dictator Batista drove from the island. The north-west of the island borders the Gulf of Mexico, south to the Caribbean and the North East by the Atlantic Ocean.
Cuba, on 28 October 1492 by Christof Columbus on his first voyage to the New World and visited Juana baptized. From 1511 it was conquered by the Spanish Governor Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar Cuba in search of gold, enslaved the indigenous population and established the first settlements. At that time there were two ethnic groups on the island, the Taino and Ciboney to which the military as hunters and gatherers the heavily armed Spaniards could not oppose much. The population on the island before its conquest by the Europeans is estimated at 60,000 and 300,000 people. Those who survived the first wave of conquest, died soon afterwards to introduced diseases and the miserable living conditions of slavery.
Bell Tower in Cienfuegos, a typical example of colonial architecture. Cuba served the Spaniards as a basis for the further conquest of the Americas and was crossing port for many goods that were shipped from North and South America to Europe. Compared to its neighboring island of Hispaniola, Cuba remained isolated until 1762 held the British captured Havana and for many years. During this period flourished the trade of new goods and slaves, and sugar cane cultivation became economically limiting. Between 1791 and 1804 many French fleeing the Haitian revolution to Cuba and brought not only their knowledge of coffee growing and processing sugar, but also African slaves to the island. As a consequence, Cuba became the world’s largest sugar producer. The independence movements of the island’s population collapsed in the second half of the 19th Century railway. In the ten-year war from 1868 to 1878 but little progress has been made. Born in Cuba intellectual poet and revolutionary Jose Marti was exiled for his political activities in Spain. In 1895 he returned with other revolutionaries in exile to fight for Cuba’s freedom. Although he was killed just a month later, he is still considered a national hero, whose names carry a lot of streets and squares. In the Spanish-American War, the U.S. occupied the Spanish colony in 1898 and granted her four years later in 1902 a partial autonomy, but they kept the big influence.
In the 20th Century there were as in many other countries of Central and South America, many governments, which were usually of short duration. 1940 Fulgencio Batista came into office, but was voted out in 1944 and was army chief.
Cuba develops in the forties and fifties, a popular destination for Americans. Only a few hundred kilometers away, and far less prudish than the Americans, offering enterprising Cubans and Americans to tourists many forms of entertainment: music, dance revues, gaming, alcohol, pretty girls and prostitution in many variants (eg prostitutes all-inclusive to the hotel room).
Until Victory – The statue of Che Guevara on his mausoleum in Santa Clara. With his coup in 1952 established Fulgencio Batista, a military dictatorship, which was supported by the U.S. because they vehemently turned against communism. In a first attempt took Fidel Castro at Moncada Barracks in 1953 but was captured. After a general amnesty Batista Castro went to Mexico to organize the revolution there. He returned in November 1956 with 82 fighters, including Che Guevara , on a boat called the Granma back. They succeeded on 1 January 1959, to seize power for themselves. Over the next few years, Fidel Castro approached ever closer to the communist bloc, although his power was by no means been a pure communist revolution (although today the propaganda like that). Based on this approach and because Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba in 1962 was installed, leading to the Cuban missile crisis led the U.S. broke off all contact and imposed a trade boycott, which lasts until today.
Cuba opened up to foreign tourism in 1980, where guests were allowed to enter only from the fraternal socialist countries. The first hotels and tourist facilities have been built but before that, for Cuban holiday makers. Conversely, time and again traveled to Eastern Europe and Cuba as tourists visited there, for example, the GDR.
The collapse of the Eastern Bloc in 1989, Cuba difficult, because it could trade up to that much of its sugar production for oil in the big brother. The Soviet Union bought Cuban sugar at twice the world price and selling Russian oil at a greatly reduced price. The constraint now having to sell the sugar on the world market, where he was worth much less and the loss of oil supplies led, within two weeks of a severe economic crisis that lasted for many years. The government was the problem of ‘economic crisis due to the collapse of the socialist economies of Eastern Europe’ now named ‘periodo especial’ (special period). This period is still on and Cubans who lived through the period before 1989, as workers think often, that many things were better back then than now (in 2006).
Another government response to the difficult economic situation in 1989 was the opening to tourists from capitalist countries. Spanish hotel chains (‘Meliá’) and tourism companies began joint ventures with the Cuban government, and this has a 51% majority stake to keep up today and took the Spanish material and know-how. Most of these hotels are managed by two directors, one Spanish and one Cuban, the latter is essentially limited to monitoring the human. The largest contingent of tourists make the Canadians, for which Cuba is only about three hours away. A US-Americans are seldom travel, either through Canada or Mexico, since there are no direct flights between the U.S. and Cuba.
With the opening in 1989 for tourists from capitalist market economies, unfortunately, also began the sale of movable cultural goods. Thousands of old books, sculptures and other culturally significant objects changed for a few dollars and the owners were under the hand sold abroad. The economic crisis made people inventive.
In 1994, as currencies of tourists ‘Peso Cubano Convertible’ (abbreviation CUC) was introduced originally in 1:1 parity with the U.S. dollar. Since November 2004, the U.S. dollar is no longer approved for payment, in exchange for CUC is a ‘penalty’ imposed by 10%. Example: On a motorway service station does a coffee CUP 0.50. Tourists are required for the same coffee CUC 0.50 (which is about 25 times more). In addition, the government has raised the exchange rate to U.S. dollar and euro, which has increased the prices of some tourists felt. Cuba is an expensive holiday destination (if not with Cuban products, manages and pays them in pesos Cubanos).
Only since the late 1990s, the situation relaxed somewhat, because Cuba has opened up to tourism a new and lucrative industry, which is by far the most important foreign exchange earner for the country is still socialist. With its own oil (covers about 90% of consumption) as well as the friendly-minded countries like Canada, Venezuala, and the People’s Republic of China and the European Union is now Cuba is getting better. Officially, there is still the special period, but the economy is growing again, and the slow opening of the country also entails a moderate advance. The country also benefits world-wide as the archenemy of the United States little diplomatic approach.
One can travel to Cuba generally throughout the year. Since it lies close to the equator and is surrounded by warm seas, temperatures remain relatively constant. Frost is practically not at all, but sometimes a nasty winter blows in the cold wind from the north, where temperatures sometimes even can push up to 10 degrees.
Remember september it is called in many countries of the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. This refers to the annual hurricane season, which reached its peak in September. Unlike many underdeveloped countries, especially Cuba can handle and because of the strict regime reasonably well with such events. Even if the local population should lose belongings (which happens very rarely), you will never be left alone as a tourist, but rather transferred to a safe hotel.
EU citizens need a 6 months valid passport and a so-called “tourist card” , the best advance in the in Germany Embassy of the Republic of Cuba should be made (for individuals) or you can contact the travel agency or at the service counters of major airports. The temporary, 1 year valid passport that is obtained in advance when ordering the correct passport is accepted (July 2008).
Be sure to check before departure: The tourist card must be stamped on the back of the travel agencies have (enough simply stamp). If this lack of negligence, the card may not be recognized, and you have to buy another one at the Cuban customs. On arrival in Cuba, the “tourist card” is registered with a stamp in your passport no entry is made.
It should be noted on registration of property, is that this is a government licensed hotel or a casa particular must act. In both cases it is advisable, if a voucher for the hotel and a business card of the casa particular to have around to it when requested to. Otherwise it may happen that you can still book an expensive hotel at the airport for at least three nights, before the entry is approved.
It is important to know that may be required for exit 25 CUC per person. These costs will be deducted package tourists with “all inclusive” Bookings mostly on price, but must be paid locally on departure. It is best when you arrive 25 CUC per pass on its side.
When a visa, but you get the filling in advance and must be shown. The actual entry may still take a while, because each pass is carefully controlled. Exceptions are few, as a general rule, persons with a passport of a country friendly to significantly less waiting time than Americans (as an example of a very long waiting times, even Mexicans currently have to wait some time). Europeans and Chinese can enter the other hand, usually without problems (but for a serious examination). The controls are always friendly and correct, there are always at least Spanish and English, spoken mostly German and French. “American” interrogation methods are not known.
A severed half of the “tourist card” must be lifted up to the exit along with the passport. If they lost, this can be a problem at the border. For travelers who are traveling the country, it is perhaps, for the security of the digital camera with sharp photos of all documents to make.
For longer distances we recommend a rental car, and you prefer a newer better model the damaged fragile, beautiful classic cars. Be sure to inform if there are problems just oil, thanks to domestic production, and Venezuela are but little known bottlenecks. Repairs are almost everywhere, unless one travels to remote areas, no special precautions are necessary, but you should always carry with them enough CUC. Night driving should be avoided if possible, because no street lamps light the way. In addition, you should absolutely have good roads or maps, because the signs extremely fragmentary and sometimes does not exist. You should calculate approximately twice the time for a road that you need in Germany would, because of potholes, carriages, etc. go on the streets, and very carefully. It is also important to review the insurance carefully: If you have been involved in an accident, leaving the territory of Cuba and threatens to several months of forced detention, until the trial is completed. Rental cars are very expensive, especially in high season (the smallest model costs for 3 days the equivalent of around 300 CUC, or about 200 euros), which is the cheapest of the three state Cubacar provider (Cubacar, Havanautos, Rex). The previous posting recommended in Germany, in the tourist areas, rental cars are also available on short notice.