[kyoo-buh; Sp. koo-vah]
Cubans (Cubanos) are people inhabiting or originating from Cuba. Most Cubans live in Cuba, although there is also a large Cuban diaspora, especially in the United States.


The largest urban populations of Cubans in Cuba are to be found in Havana (c. 3,073,000), Santiago de Cuba (c. 404,100), Camagüey (c. 294,000), Holguin (c. 242,100), Guantanamo (c. 208,000), Santa Clara (c. 205,900). According to Cuba's Oficina Nacional de Estadisticas ONE 2002 Census, the population was 11,177,743, including:

  • 5,597,233 men and
  • 5,580,510 women.

The racial make-up was 7,271,926 whites, 1,126,894 blacks and 2,778,923 mulattoes. The Chinese population in Cuba is descended mostly from indentured laborers who arrived in the 19th century to build railroads and work in mines. After the Industrial Revolution, many of these laborers stayed in Cuba because they could not afford return passage to China.

(Official 2002 Cuba Census)
Total Men Women % Of Total
White 7,271,926 3,618,349 3,653,577 65.05%
Black 1,126,894 593,876 533,018 10.08%
'''Mulatto 2,658,675 1,385,008 1,393,915 23.84%
Chinese Cuban 112,268 56,098 56,170 1,02%

The population of Cuba has very complex origins and intermarriage between diverse groups is so general as to be the rule.

The ancestry of White Cuban (65.05%) comes primarily from the Spanish peoples.

During the 18th, 19th and early part of the 20th century especially, large waves of Canary Islanders, Galicians and Catalans emigrated from Spain to Cuba.

Other European people that have contributed include:

Other Important sources (10.08% to 23.84%) is African The ancestry of black Cubans comes from the following groups:

People from Asia (1%):

Minor but significant ethnic influx is derived from diverse peoples from Middle East

There are Tainos in Cuba (1,02%).

Cuba's birth rate (9.88 births per thousand population in 2006) is one of the lowest in the Western Hemisphere. Its overall population has increased continuously from around 7 million in 1961 to over 11 million now, but the rate of increase has stopped in the last few decades, and has recently turned to a decrease, with the Cuban government in 2006 reporting the first drop in the population since the Mariel boatlift. Immigration and emigration have had noticeable effects on the demographic profile of Cuba during the 20th century. Between 1900 and 1930, close to a million Spaniards arrived from Spain.

Since 1959, over a million Cubans have left the island, primarily to Miami, Florida, where a vocal, well-educated and economically successful exile community exists (Cuban-American lobby). The emigration that occurred immediately after the Cuban Revolution was primarily of the upper and middle classes that were predominantly white, thus contributing to a demographic shift along with changes in birth rates and racial identifications among the various ethnic groups.

Abroad, the United States is home to the largest number of Cubans outside Cuba, particularly in Miami and other major cities in Florida as well as in Union City and New York City. Smaller numbers of Cubans live in many other countries around the world, especially in Latin America and Europe (especially in Spain - 82,596, see Cubans in Spain, and the United Kingdom - Around 10,000, see Cubans in the UK.


The first people known to have inhabited Cuba was the Ciboney, an Amerindian people. They were followed by another Amerindian people, the Taíno who were the main population both of Cuba and other islands in The Antilles when Christopher Columbus first sighted the island in 1492. He claimed the islands for Spain and Cuba became a Spanish colony. It was to remain so until 1902 apart from a brief occupation by Britain in 1762. before being returned in exchange for Florida. Towards the end of the 19th century, Spain had lost most of its American possessions and a series of rebellions had shaken Cuba. This, in combined with calls for annexation of Cuba in the United States, led to the Spanish-American War, and in 1902 Cuba gained formal independence.

During the first decades of the 20th century, US interests were dominant and in Cuba, leading to large influence over the island. This ended in 1959 when de facto leader Fulgencio Batista was ousted by revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro. Quickly deteriorating relations with the US led to Cuba's alliance with the Soviet Union and Castro's transformation of Cuba into a declared socialist republic. Castro has remained in power since 1959, first as Prime Minister then from 1976 as President of Cuba.

Culture and traditions

The culture of Cuba reflects the island's influences from various different cultures, such as European (particularly Spanish). After the Cuban revolution in 1959, the island's brand of socialism has had an influence on its culture while Cuban-Americans residing in the US have received influences from this country.

Arguably the most distinctive part of Cuban culture is the Cuban music and dancing, being well-known far outside the country. Well known Latin music styles such as salsa and son originated in Cuba, while reggaeton has become increasingly popular, especially among the younger generations. The origins of much of the Cuban music can be found in the mix of Spanish and West African music, while more modern music from the US has added to the mix. Cuban literature includes some of the most well-known names of the islands, such as writer and independence hero José Martí in the late 19th century. More contemporary Cuban authors include Daína Chaviano, Pedro Juan Gutiérrez, Zoé Valdés and Leonardo Padura.

The Spanish language is spoken by virtually all Cubans on the island itself. Cuban Spanish is characterised by the reduction of several consonants, a feature that it shares with other dialects of Caribbean Spanish as well as the Canary Islands. Many Cuban-Americans, while remaining fluent in Spanish, use American English as one of their daily languages.

Cuban Spanish

Although some words of traditional Cuban Spanish can be traced to those of the Spanish spoken in the Canary Islands, Cuban Spanish still retains its distinct, fluid accent. There were migrations of Galicians and Asturians as well, but they did not leave a mirror image on their accent on the Cuban accent. Much of the typical Cuban replacements for standard Spanish vocabulary stems from Canarian lexicon. For example, guagua (bus) differs from standard Spanish autobús the former originated in the Canaries and is an onomatopoeia stemming from the sound of a Klaxon horn (wah-wah!). An example of Canarian usage for a Spanish word is the verb fajarse ("to fight"). In standard Spanish the verb would be pelearse, while fajar exists as a non-reflexive verb related to the hemming of a skirt.


The flag of Cuba is red, white and blue and was first adopted by Narciso López on a suggestion by the poet Miguel Teurbe Tolón. The design incorporates three blue stripes, representing the sea that surrounds the island of Cuba, and two white stripes symbolizing the purity of the patriotic cause. The red triangle stands for the blood shed to free the nation. The white star in the triangle stands for independence.

See also


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