Cuba, formally the Republic of Cuba, is a nation comprised of the island of Cuba, Isla de la Juventud, and a number of smaller archipelagos. Cuba is situated in the northern Caribbean, near the confluence of the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and Atlantic Ocean. It is located south of both Florida and the Bahamas in the United States, west of Haiti, and north of Jamaica. Havana is the capital and biggest city; other significant cities include Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey. Cuba is the Caribbean’s biggest island, with an area of 109,884 square kilometers (42,426 square miles), and the second most populated after Hispaniola, with a population of over 11 million.
Cuba was inhabited by Amerindian tribes prior to Spanish invasion in the late 15th century. It remained a Spanish colony until 1898, when the Spanish–American War resulted in formal independence as a de facto protectorate of the United States in 1902. Cuba tried to develop its democratic system as a fledgling republic, but increasing political radicalism and socioeconomic conflict resulted in Fulgencio Batista’s dictatorship in 1952. Further turmoil and instability resulted in Batista’s demise in January 1959 at the hands of the July 26 Movement, which later created a government headed by Fidel Castro. The state has been ruled by the Communist Party of Cuba since 1965. A source of disagreement between the Soviet Union and the United States during the Cold War, a nuclear war almost broke out during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
Cuba is culturally regarded to be a part of Latin America. It is a multiethnic nation whose people, culture, and traditions stem from a variety of sources, including the indigenous Tano and Ciboney peoples, a lengthy history of Spanish colonization, the importation of African slaves, and a Cold War-era strong connection with the Soviet Union.
Cuba is a Marxist–Leninist one-party state, with the Constitution enshrining the vanguard Communist Party’s position. Independent human rights monitors have accused the Cuban government of a slew of human rights violations, including arbitrary detention and torture. It is one of the world’s remaining planned economies, with exports of sugar, tobacco, coffee, and skilled labor dominating the economy. Cuba is classified as a nation with a high level of human development by the Human Development Index, ranking ninth in North America. Additionally, it scores favorably on many national performance indicators, including health care and education.