9 secrets about Cuba that will amaze you

Cuba is a fascinating country with an even more fascinating history. There are numerous intriguing and little known facts about both the past and the present of this beautiful country. Here are 9 secrets about Cuba that we found particularly interesting:

1. Cuba was discovered by…

… explorer Christopher Columbus in 1492. It is the largest island in the Caribbean and the 17th largest island in the world. Cuba is a long and narrow island, in the shape of a crocodile, which is why it is also called El Crocodilo.

2. Christmas was banned for 30 years

When Fidel Castro’s communist party came to power in 1959, Cuba was declared an atheist state. In 1969, Castro banned Christmas as a legal holiday because of its negative impact on the country’s production of sugar. Christmas was reinstated as an official holiday in 1997, following Pope John Paul II’s visit to Cuba, but has remained a regular working day.

3. Cuba holds a few very positive records

First of all, Cuba has one of the highest literacy rates in the world: 99.8%. It also has the highest doctor-to-patient ratio, with 70,000 qualified doctors. Consider the fact that the whole of Africa has only 50,000. Due to this fact, many Cuban doctors are sent to countries where medical aid is required. Also, 90% of the population owns the house they live in and don’t need to pay rent.

4. Cubans have interesting means of transportation

Since imported cars were banned until 2011, lots of classic cars from the ’50s can still be found roaming the streets. You know them for sure, the beautiful colorful cars we see in many typical Cuban photos. 

What is even more interesting is that hitch hiking is one of the most popular ways of traveling in Cuba. Actually, it is mandatory for government vehicles to pick up hitch hikers. Also, there are different buses for locals and for tourists. The latter are of course more expensive.

5. Burning rag dolls is a local New Year’s Eve tradition

On New Year’s Eve, many Cubans burn life sized rag dolls called monigotes. They gather in the streets and city squares for this midnight ceremony that symbolizes forgetting the bad things that happened in the past year and looking forward to new and good times in the New Year.

6. Cuba is home to a few rare animal species

The smallest bird (the bee hummingbird) and the smallest frog (the Mount Iberia frog) in the world live in Cuba. Also, the Manjuari is a fish that can only be found in this country.

7. Cuba has great health care and education

Cuba is known for having one of the best health cares in the world, which is free for its citizens. Education is also free and mandatory for children aged between 6-15.

8. You can’t OFFICIALLY find Coca-Cola in Cuba

Cuba is one of the only two countries in the world where Coke can’t be officially bought or sold, because of the US trade embargo. The other country is North Korea. But don’t worry, you’ll most probably be able to buy Coke at hotel shops. The price will not be friendly though.

9. You can send Cubacel bonuses to Cuba with MobileRecharge.com

One of the best kept Cuban secrets is that roughly twice a month you can send special bonuses to mobiles in Cuba. In fact, bonuses are on the way as we speak! A new promotion will be here between 24 – 29 October, offering your friends and family in Cuba double balance:

  • For 500 CUP, they get 1000 CUP
  • For 600 CUP, they get 1200 CUP
  • For 700 CUP, they get 1400 CUP
  • For 1000 CUP, they get 2000 CUP
  • For 1125 CUP, they get 2250 CUP
  • For 1250 CUP, they get 2500 CUP
  • For 2000 CUP, they get 4000 CUP
  • For 2500 CUP, they get 5000 CUP