• United States!

    United States: Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Go Now!

    United States
    Explore the vast openness and wildlife found roaming in the western United States, including Theodore Roosevelt National Park (pictured) in North Dakota. Begin Your Journey!

  • Trinidad & Tobago!

    Trinidad & Tobago: Beautiful Coastline. Go Now!

    Trinidad & Tobago
    These Caribbean islands mix Indian, African, and European cultures alongside beautiful beaches. Go Now!

  • Cuba!

    Cuba: Sandy beach. Go Now!

    Cuba
    Many people fear the unknowns of Cuba, but the history, culture, food, and impressive beaches lure many visitors every year. Explore Cuba!

  • Panama!

    Panama: Panama City skyline. Go Now!

    Panama
    Panama is best known for the Panama Canal, but the beaches draw tourists, as does Panama City (pictured), a modern capital quite different from most nearby cities. Explore Panama

  • Mexico!

    Mexico: Sunrise over the mountains in Puerto Vallarta. Go Now!

    Mexico
    Although many people just go for the beaches, Mexico offers impressive mountain vistas (pictured in Puerto Vallarta), great food, and historic ruins that compete with the best in the world. Begin Your Journey!

  • Jamaica!

    Jamaica: Pristine beach. Go Now!

    Jamaica
    Jamaican culture is about relaxation, great foods, friendly competition, and so much more. A good place to start is on the beach. Begin Your Journey!

Culture & Identity of Cuba

WARNING: International disputes with Cuba are ongoing, please read this travel warning before going!

Introduction

Cuban Culture - Man carrying a bass
Man carrying a bass

Life in Cuba mixes traditional Caribbean with Europe and socialism like no place on earth. Most people are easy going and relaxed as time seems to slow down, but Havana is a thriving city and may at times seem like a modern city mixed with history and tradition. However, the government and its many laws contribute to a fairly equal society that dictates jobs, daily schedules, social benefits, and even how people live.

Life in Cuba begins in the cities as about three quarters of the people are urbanized. This is partially due to the fact that most jobs are in the services sector, but about 20% of the jobs available are in industry, which are also often based in cities. In these cities jobs are more widely available, public transportation and infrastructure are easily accessible, and all amenities are within reach. The government has put great effort into making city life easier by expanding social programs and many people have responded well to this as the cities are now home to most of the people.

For most of these urbanites life follows a set routine with regular working hours, often from about 9:00 am to about 4:00 or 5:00 pm. However, hours vary from occupation to occupation and on the last day of each month nearly everything closes at noon. Of course it's the Caribbean so for many people time is taken slowly and tardiness is common.

Cuban Culture - Cigar maker
Cigar maker

However, not everyone has abandoned the rural lands as nearly 20% of the people work in agriculture. For these people life is dictated by the sun, the seasons, and the weather, but also by the government. The government makes sure everyone in the country is fed and this begins with local farmers who can be greatly supported by the government if needed.

No matter where a person lives, the people are highly educated and this remains among the most important aspects of the culture and is the center of daily life for many with children. Since school, lunches, and day care are all available free of charge, many schools are open from about 6:30 am to about 6:30 pm, acting as both a school as well as a day care for children whose parents have to work early or late.

Education follows through the university level and today there is a massive growth in the number of professional post-graduate schools in Cuba. This is also leading to a more educated society and today there is a significant number of professionals in the country, such as physicians.

More than just schedule, education, and politics, the way of life in Cuba is about society. Granted this stems from government-imposed socialism, but many people have a mentality that one should help others so the people are quite giving. Work and education are undertaken to benefit one's self and one's family, but also to benefit society as a whole as this is the center of life in Cuba for many Cubans.

Identity

To be Cuban is to be an ideal in the minds of the people, an ideal the current government is arguably trying to accomplish. In the early 1900s the island was divided in nearly every way, but in the late 1800s and into today there has been a slow movement to create this ideal (although it sped up in 1959 when the communists took over). The Cubans in Cuba define themselves by this ideal, which seeks equality among all people no matter their color, race, ethnicity, economic standing, or education. It is defined, in many ways, by claiming there is no difference between people as all are equals. This movement began with the fight against slavery and today continues in an attempt to create economic uniformity through communist policies. Although the politic situation hasn't created the ideal that is strived for, the identity is still defined by ideals, not by ethnicity, language, politics, or wealth. To be Cuban is to be a person who sees all as equals and who wishes for all to be equals in every definition; it is also secondly defined in political and ethnic terms.

It is important to note that to most ethnic Cubans abroad, who also identify as "Cuban," define this identity primarily in terms of ethnicity, the Spanish language, the Catholic faith, the food, the music, and the culture.

This page was last updated: December, 2013