Cuba by the Numbers

by Ed Sawicki - March 21, 2016
updated December 2019

Cuba map

President Obama's visit to Cuba is long overdue. The United States should have reconciled with Cuba immediately after Russia pulled out of Cuba in the early 1990s. We didn't because the Cuban community in Miami is powerful politically and they didn't want reconcilliation as long as the Castros were still in power.

Since Cuba has been isolated from the U.S. for over 50 years, here's a table of data to get you up to speed. I'll be adding data here as well as commentary as I find it.

Population 318.9 million 11.27 million
Global Peace Index
(lower number is more peaceful)
94 82
Human Development Index
(higher number is better)
0.915 0.769
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) $17.42 Trillion $78.69 Billion
GDP growth 2.0% 4.7 %
Public debt
(% of GDP)
104.5% 35.3%
Inflation 0% 4.4%
Percentage of population living
below poverty line
15.1% 1.5%
Moody's credit rating Stable Stable
Literacy rate 86% 99%
Unemployment 4.9% 3.8%
Health Care
Infant Mortality Rate
(deaths per 1000 births)
5.87 4.63
Health Care Cost
(% of GDP)
16% 7.3%
Number of doctors
per 1000 people
2.5 6.72
Suicide rate 12.1 11.4
Life expectancy
(average of male and female)
78 79
Guns per 100 people 112.6 2.0
Gun deaths per 100,000
10.54 under 0.1
Military spending
(% of GDP)
3.5% 3.5%
Military service volunteer 2 years


1943The Soviet Union opens an embassy in Havana.
1952 Mar 10Former president Batista, supported by the army, seizes power once more.
1954 NovBatista dissolves parliament and is elected constitutional president unopposed.
1958 MayBatista sends an army of 10,000 into the Sierra Maestra to destroy Castro's 300 armed guerrillas and their supporters. By August, the rebels had defeated the army's advance and captured a huge amount of weaponry.
1959 Jan 1President Batista resigns and flees the country.
1959 Jan 5Manuel Urrutia named President of Cuba
1959 Jan 11Fidel Castro appears on the Ed Sullivan show and on Face The Nation.
1959 Feb 16Fidel Castro becomes Premier of Cuba.
1959 Apr 20Fidel Castro speaks at Princeton University, New Jersey.
1960 Mar 17U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower orders CIA director Allen Dulles to train Cuban exiles for a covert invasion of Cuba.
1960 Jul 5All U.S. businesses and commercial property in Cuba is nationalized.
1960 Oct 19U.S. imposes embargo prohibiting all exports to Cuba except foodstuffs and medical supplies.
1960 Dec 26Operation Peter Pan begins.14,000 children of parents opposed to the new government are transported to the United States.
1961 Jan 1Cuban government initiates national literacy.
1961 Apr 15Bay of Pigs invasion.
1962 Jan 31Cuba is expelled from the Organization of American States (OAS)
1963Cuba sends medical mission to Algeria to replace French doctors who left.
1976 Dec 2Fidel Castro becomes president of Cuba
1980 AprThe Mariel Boatlift. Cuban authorities allow up to 125,000 people to depart Cuba by boat from Mariel harbor for the U.S. The Cuban and U.S. governments agree to halt the exodus in October.
2000 Dec 14Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Cuba and signs accords aimed at boosting bilateral ties.
2002 May 12Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter visits Cuba. He praises the Varela project and criticizes the U.S. embargo.
2006 Jul 31Raúl Castro assumes the duties of president of Cuba while Fidel Castro recovers from an emergency operation.
2008 Feb 19Fidel Castro resigns as President of Cuba.
2016 Mar 20U.S. President Barack Obama begins a three-day visit to Cuba.
2016 Nov 25Fidel Castro dies.

John F. Kennedy

Cuba became communist in part because of the massive corruption caused by U.S. companies and the Mafia bribing the Batista government. President John F. Kennedy knew this. He said of Castro:

“I believe that there is no country in the world including any and all the countries under colonial domination, where economic colonization, humiliation and exploitation were worse than in Cuba, in part owing to my country’s policies during the Batista regime. I approved the proclamation which Fidel Castro made in the Sierra Maestra, when he justifiably called for justice and especially yearned to rid Cuba of corruption.

I will even go further: to some extent it is as though Batista was the incarnation of a number of sins on the part of the United States. Now we shall have to pay for those sins. In the matter of the Batista regime, I am in agreement with the first Cuban revolutionaries. That is perfectly clear.”

Ed Sullivan Show

An interview with Fidel Castro appeared on the Ed Sullivan show on January 11, 1959.

Cuban Literacy


Wikipedia: Healthcare in Cuba

NIH: Cuba's health care policy: prevention and active community participation

The Atlantic: How Cubans Live as Long as Americans at a Tenth of the Cost

When Fidel Castro Charmed the United States

Bernie Sanders Was Right About the Cuban Literacy Campaign

Timeline of Cuban history

Fidel Castro on Face the Nation in 1959

Cuba's 2018 Constitution

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