Backgrounder: Republic of Cuba 2008-11-18 09:32:57   Print

    BEIJING, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- The Republic of Cuba, with an area of 110,860 square km and Havana as its capital, lies in the Caribbean Sea, 217 km south of Florida Peninsular, the United States, and 140 km north of Jamaica.

    Being the largest island country in the West Indies, Cuba is an archipelago of two main islands, Cuba and the Isla de la Juventud (Isle of Youth), and about 1,600 islets.

    Cuba has a population of 11.24 million, most of whom are of Spanish and African origin. Its official language is Spanish.

    Sugarcane production had been the country's main economic pillar until the end of 1980s when the industry lost its dominance due to the serious impact caused by the drastic changes in Eastern Europe and the disintegration of the former Soviet Union.

    In 1995, Cuba's economy started to recover and since then it has been growing with the government's efforts in readjusting economic restructure and improving the system of state-owned enterprises.

    Cuba's gross domestic product (GDP) was about 47.35 billion pesos (1.97 billion U.S. dollars) in 2007, up 7.5 percent from the previous year.

    Now with tourism as a pillar industry, it also serves the country's No. 1 foreign exchange earner. In 2007, Cuba received 2.15 million foreign visitors, with an income of 2.24 billion convertible pesos (2.8 billion dollars).

    The nickel industry is Cuba's second largest foreign exchange earner. The country boasts a nickel reserve of 6.5 million tons, ranking third in the world.

    Cane sugar, tobacco and fruit are the country's major agricultural products.

    Cuba is the first Latin American country to have established diplomatic relations with China. Since the establishment of ties in September 1960, the overall relations between the two countries have developed smoothly.

    Frequent high-level visits between the leaders of the two countries have been made in recent years and cooperation in various fields has been continuously enhanced.

    In 2007, the trade volume between Cuba and China reached 2.28 billion dollars, up 27.1 percent from the previous year.

Editor: Jiang Yuxia
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