When asking what is Cuba known for, there are probably a few obvious things that spring to mind. There’s the fact that Cuba and the US were in each other’s bad books for rather a few decades (which is now changing). A Cuban cocktails is high on the list. Cocktails that are of course best enjoyed on a white sandy beach with an azure ocean gently lapping at your feet. Let’s not forget the music, which is part everyday life in Cuba. But what are some of the other things that Cuba is known for? Some of the items on this list might just surprise you. What is Cuba known for? here are some of the surprising facts.
The Education System
Cuba has an enviable literacy rate. Its education system is certainly something that should be included on a list of what is Cuba known for. The literacy rate amongst adults is a whopping 99.8% of the population. Attending school is mandatory from the ages of 6 to 15. There are 47 universities, the biggest and best-known of which is the University of Havana, which dates back to 1728.
What is Cuba Known For? Its Music, Naturally!
The music of Cuba is world famous and with good reason. Live Salsa music is a common occurrence in many bars and clubs. Strolling through Havana on a weekend evening you would be forgiven for thinking that there’s a band playing on practically every corner! Even chic night clubs often host a live salsa band before a DJ takes the stage to play electro-pop until the sun comes up. It’s truly a way of life, and it seems like every Cuban is a world class salsa dancer.
There is also Son, which is a slower, gentler form of music and actually a precursor to salsa. While salsa is perhaps the most famous form of musical expression when wondering what is Cuba known for, but let’s not forget Rumba and Bolero. Don’t be afraid to get up and dance alongside the locals, even if you have two left feet. Chances are that they’ve seen worse!
Christmas is (Sort of) New
Christmas simply isn’t a big deal in Cuba as it is in some parts of the world. Christmas was not celebrated in Cuba for a number of decades and was only reintroduced as a festivity in 1997. Fidel Castro declared it a holiday once again in celebration of an impending visit from the Pope. Christmas has quickly re-established itself as a major holiday in Cuba. Unsurprisingly it’s less commercial than here than in many other parts of the world.
Rather Remarkable Healthcare
Cuba in fact tops the list when it comes to its doctor to patient ratio. There are around 170 patients to every doctor. Compare this to a developed country like Australia, where it’s around 400 patients to every doctor. The healthcare system is limited to the locals, so it’s not something that many people are aware of when considering what is Cuba known for. Almost every medical procedure is covered under the national healthcare system, and this includes things that would definitely be considered optional in many parts of the world, such as elective cosmetic surgery.
Fast Food (But Not from the Usual Suspects)
It’s not as though you can’t track down a burger or a hotdog while in Cuba, but the lack of fast food restaurant chains can actually be rather refreshing. Okay so strictly speaking there is a McDonald’s, a Kentucky Fried Chicken, and a Subway in Cuba, but you will not be in a position to visit them. Because they’re located on the Guantanamo Bay US military base and are strictly for military personnel.
There is the local version ‘El Rapido’ that sells hamburgers, hot dogs, fries and soft drinks. Also a huge number of restaurants and street vendors that will grill you a sensational burger. It just won’t come with a plastic toy is all!
Ernest Hemingway: An Adopted Son of Cuba
Hemingway will forever be associated with Cuba as he lived there on-and-off for close to 21 years. His former home Finca Vigía on the outskirts of Havana is now a museum . You can follow in the footsteps of this literary hero by visiting his former home and even by staying in the hotel where he stayed whilst in Havana proper. The Hotel Ambos Mundos was his preferred residence prior to purchasing Finca Vigía. Even those who aren’t a fan of his writing will enjoy a visit to El Floridita, Hemingway’s favourite bar in Havana’s Old Town.
Cuba and Crocodiles
Cuba might not be known as a hot spot for crocodiles yet there is a species of crocodile (crocodylus rhombife) that can only be found on the island. Cuba is connected to the crocodile in a different way. It’s widely thought that shape of the island vaguely resembles a crocodile when seen from above. Or possibly an alligator. Or maybe it simply looks like a darn good place to enjoy a relaxing holiday.