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Cuba travel guide
Capital city: Havana
Form of state: Republic
Citizen count: 11.238.317
Police emergency calls: 106
Emergency fire engine calls: 105
Country code for calls: +53
Circuitry voltage: 110 or 220 Volts
Witness this breath-taking Caribbean island surrounded by beautiful beaches and nature reserves.Learn Spanish in the fascinating city of Havana. This tropical country is known for its energetic locals, authentic cuisine and a romantic musical scene that is famous for captivating its visitor. Cuba is the ideal destination to learn the romantic Spanish language with passion and energy fueling every aspect of this stunning Caribbean island.
The Cuban history, culture and heritage will enthral every visitor while spoiling them for choice, with an endless number of tourist attractions to visit. Allow the unique rhythm of Havana to inspire you while you learn a lifelong language skill, create unforgettable memories and meet friends who will experience this incredible journey with you. Spanish courses in Cuba are becoming a popular choice among students when deciding where to learn Spanish. Many people jump at the opportunity to see this fascinating Caribbean island; and improve their ability to speak Spanish. But don't just take our word for it, experience all of this for yourself during one of our Spanish courses in Cuba!The home of passionate rhythms, rum, cigars and classic cars offers a diverse tropical landscape that thrives in a wonderful, subtropical climate. The many charming towns and cities filled with colonial architecture, bars, restaurants and museums, boast a rich artistic and cultural heritage.
This Caribbean island offers a wide diversity of cultures; music and dance being major factors. Mambo, Rumba, Salsa or the Cha Cha Cha are just some of the many popular local dances. Cuba is also known for its literary enthusiasts which holds a particular significance to Cubans. Students are encouraged to spend their free time absorbing the culture and exploring the wonders of their surroundings. Our students are also awarded with endless opportunities to hear the Spanish language in its natural everyday use in an environment which fuels a passion for everything Spanish. The welcoming Cuban community coupled with Havana’s exquisite landscapes will leave every student inspired to learn the language and embrace the laid-back lifestyle.
Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean with the highest population of inhabitants. The Cuban population consists mainly of Native American descendants as well as Spanish and African immigrants. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and in the entire Caribbean, a quarter of the population is concentrated in the capital. Some other significantly large cities include Santiago de Cuba, Camaguey, Guantanamo and Holguín. Cuba is an archipelago consisting of the main island with the same name, the Isla de la Juventud and about 4195 smaller islands. This archipelago belongs to the Greater Antilles. Cuba borders the Gulf of Mexico in the northwest, the Atlantic Ocean in the north and the Caribbean Sea in the south. The distance to the American mainland is 180 km.
The Cuban time zone is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
Climate and travel seasons
Havana has a specific tropical climate. From November to April is the dry season and from May to October is the rainy season. It is to be expected that there may be tropical cyclones from June to November. Typically the weather ranges from 25C to 35C degrees, with the sun shining for approximately two thirds of the year.
Climate chart for Havana (in degrees Celsius)
Hours of sunlight per day
Preparing your journey
If you plan on staying in Cuba for up to 30 days you will require a “tourist card”. This card must be purchased prior to entering Cuba and is available Cuban embassies as well some airlines within airports. If you wish to stay more than 30 days a Visa is required by law. Remember to plan ahead as obtaining a Visa can take several weeks.
There are two main currencies in Cuba, the original Peso Cubano (CUP, symbol: Cub $) and the Peso Convertible (CUC, symbol: $). As a tourist you pay with the Peso Convertible, which is divided into 100 centavos
Tourists are treated exclusively in hospitals meant for tourists, not local ones. The cost of various treatments are extremely high and therefore insurance is required. You will only be permitted to enter Cuba provided you have private travel health insurance coverage (an insurance card or certificate will suffice). Please note that you can always chose to book you travel insurance through Sprachcaffe. It is required that you have at least the common vaccinations prior to entering the country; such as vaccinations for tetanus, diphtheria and hepatitis A. If you plan on remaining in the country for over 4 weeks you should at least have vaccinations for hepatitis B, typhoid and rabies. Other useful information to keep in mind: tap water is not drinkable and bottled water is available in most shops. Fruits and vegetables should always be peeled, cleaned and/or cooked before consumption.
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Society and every day life
Until 1992 Cuba was declared an atheist state, however it became a mostly catholic nation due to constitutional amendment allowing believers to be politically active. The most present religions are Catholicism and the Santeria, many Cuban Protestant communities have also emerged in recent times. The Jehovah's Witnesses are also strongly represented.
The official form of government is Republican. The power comes from the state apparatus, the army and the Cuba Communist Party, PCC (the only party allowed). Head of state Raúl Castro, like his brother Fidel before him, heads all three institutions.
Local language & communication
The Cuban national language is Spanish. The Spanish has some differences to Spanish in Spain however, it is similar to the language used in other Spanish-speaking Caribbean countries. As a welcome, you give a classic hand shake. The locals greet each other with the title "Compañero", but as a tourist it is preferable that you address locals as "Señor" or "Señora". Most Cubans have two surnames but prefer to be called by their original name.
The local road work network is very reliable, however, roads outside of the city are often in bad condition. If you rent your own vehicle remember to drive cautiously. There are local railway and intercity bus companies to bring you to your destination. If you plan on visiting other islands know that most ferries will take you there.
Culture and history
The first inhabitants migrated in 3500BC and came from South America, later Arawak Indians also populated the island. After Columbus discovered in 1492, the Spanish crown conquered the island for centuries to come. Thousands of Indians died in wars with the Spanish people and due to imported European diseases. The number of indigenous people sank to about 5,000. African slave laborers were brought to Cuba, they had to work on animal farms and in the production of leather goods. In the 18th century British troops occupied the island. Spain lost the predominance over Cuba in the war against the USA in 1898. At the beginning of the 19th century Cuba finally gained its independence. The first President of the Republic of Cuba was Tomás Estrada Palma. In 1940 Fulgencio Batista became president, the dictator got the complete independence of Cuba from the USA. The revolutionary leader Fidel Castro took over the position of prime minister in 1959. In 2008, President Fidel Castro relinquished his position to his brother Raúl Castro.
The mixture of native, African and European influences in Cuba gives this island a lively culture that is known worldwide! The introduction of communism to the country in 1959 has had a big impact on the people – both positive and negative. Cuba’s history is reflected in its food, language, art, and, most of all, its music. All year round, it seems as if bands are everywhere in Havana. The main musical form is called son, which combines lively rhythms with classical guitar. Unlike most countries in Latin America, Cuba’s favourite sport is not football – it’s actually baseball! Baseball came to Cuba from the United States in the 1860s. Many international baseball stars have come from Cuba, and the Cuban national team is one of the best in the world.
Havana Cigar Festival - Havana hosts this event annually during February. The festival lasts five days, with activities including: tours of cigar factories, a trade fair, various seminars focusing on production, distribution and history of Havanos cigars, cigar tastings, an instruction class on how to roll a Habano, and visits to tobacco plantations.
Havana Carnival - A mixture of social classes parading down the streets of Havana dressed in elaborate masks and costumes.
International Ballet Festival - enjoy the performances and the works of prestigious figures of the world of dance and witness the high level reached by the Cuban ballet, occurs once every two years.
International Film Festival - festival that focuses on the promotion of Latin American filmmakers
January 1st is the Día de la Liberación and therefore a holiday celebration. May 1st is the Día de los trabajadores (Labor Day). July 25th, 26th, and 27th is the Día de la Rebeldá Nacional (anniversary of the revolution) and widely celebrated. October 10th marks the Inicio de la Guerras por la Independencia (the beginning of the War for Independence).
Cuban cuisine is mostly a combination of African, Spanish and Caribbean dishes. Most dishes will be comprised of beans and rice. Local vegetables like yucca, corn, potatoes and tomatoes are often combined with squash, chicken, cabbage or pork. Seafood is often quite expensive and available in most local restaurants or hotel restaurants.
Common tourist mistakes
Cubans are very strict about their local laws and regulations due to being afraid of sanctions. Being topless at the beach is considered taboo for Cubans, you can do so only at the beaches of hotels/resorts. Children are forbidden to beg but may do so when in the presence of tourists, we advise that you do not give them money.
Hints and tips
There is virtually no Wi-Fi access in most areas, purchasing an internet card is preferable. Waiters aren't paid well and often receive their salary in “peso Cubano” which holds very little value. Therefore tipping is customary and has become the unofficial salary.
How are you?
Good, thank you!
You're welcome/No problem!
¡Con mucho gusto!
See you later!
¡Hasta más tarde!
I am lost
Do you need help?
¿Puedo ayudarte o necesitas ayuda?
Could you help me?
¿Disculpe, puede ayudarme?
Where is the bathroom/the pharmacy?
¿Donde esta el baño/la farmacia?
Do you speak (English)?
¿Disculpe, usted habla (inglés)?
My name is …
Me llamo …
Cuba tour with Sprachcaffe
Cuba tour with Sprachcaffe
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