Economy of Cuba
Economy of Cuba
Rank 89th Currency Cuban peso (CUP) = 100 centavos and Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) = 24 CUP Fiscal year yes Statistics GDP
$57.49 billion (2010 est.) $111.1 billion (2009 est.) (PPA)
GDP growth 1.4% (2009 est.) GDP per capita $9,700 (2009 est.) GDP by sector Agriculture: 4.3%, industry: 21.6%, services: 74% (2009 est.) Inflation (CPI) 1.5% (2009 est.) Population
below poverty line
1.5% (2006) Labor force 5.159 million (Public sector: 78%, Private sector: 22%) (2009 est.) Labor force
Agriculture: 20%, industry: 19.4%, services: 60.6% (2005) Unemployment 1.7% (2009 est.) Main industries Sugar, petroleum, tobacco, construction, nickel, steel, cement, agricultural machinery, pharmaceuticals External Exports $2.458 billion f.o.b. (2009 est.) Export goods sugar, medical products, nickel, tobacco, shellfish, citrus, coffee Main export partners Canada 27.8%, China 26.7%, Spain 6.2%, Netherlands 5.6% (2008) Imports $8.963 billion f.o.b. (2009 est.) Import goods petroleum, food, machinery and equipment, chemicals Main import partners Venezuela 29.8%, China 11.8%, Spain 10%, Canada 6.4%, US 6.3%, Brazil 4.6% (2008) Public finances Public debt $19.44 billion (31 December 2009 est.); another $20.8 billion owed to Russia, $0.9 billion owed to Romania and $0.2 billion owed to Hungary Revenues $35.01 billion (2007 est.) Expenses $36.73 billion (2007 est.) Economic aid $87.8 million (2005 est.) All values, unless otherwise stated, are in US dollars
The economy of Cuba is a largely centrally planned economy dominated by state-run enterprises overseen by the Cuban government, though there remains significant foreign investment and private enterprise in Cuba. Most of the means of production are owned and run by the government, and most of the labor force is employed by the state, although in recent years, the formation of cooperatives and self-employment has been encouraged by the Communist Party. In the year 2000, public sector employment was 76% and private sector employment was 23% compared to the 1981 ratio of 91% to 8%. Capital investment is restricted and requires approval by the government. The Cuban government sets most prices and rations goods to citizens. In 2009, Cuba ranked 51st out of 182 with an HDI of 0.863; remarkably high considering its GDP per capita only places it 95th. Cuba also significantly outperforms the rest of Latin America in terms of infant and child mortality, morbidity, educational attainment and an array of other social and health indicators.
In the 1950s, Cuba had a vibrant but extremely unequal economy, with large capital outflows to foreign investors. The country has made significant progress since the Revolution towards a more even distribution of income. Despite the economic embargo by the United States, the economy grew at a rate higher than the rest of Latin America until the collapse of the Soviet Union, which provided Cuba with $4 billion to $6 billion in subsidies annually. Between 1990 and 1993, Cuba's GDP declined by 33%. Yet Cuba has managed to retain levels of healthcare and education.
- 1 History
- 2 Energy production
- 3 Government policies
- 4 Agriculture
- 5 Industry
- 6 Tertiary industries
- 7 Poverty
- 8 International trade
- 9 Foreign investment
- 10 Self-employment
- 11 Connection with Venezuela
- 12 Other statistics
- 13 References
Cuba prior to the Cuban Revolution which had a one-crop economy whose domestic market was constricted. Its population was characterized by chronic unemployment and deep poverty. United States monopolies like Bethlehem Steel Corporation and Speyer gained control over Cuba's national resources, from which they made huge profits. The banks and the country's entire financial system, all electric power production, and most industry was dominated by US capital. US monopolies owned 25 percent of the best land in Cuba, and more than 80 of all farm lands were occupied by sugar and livestock-raising latifundia. 90 percent of the country's raw sugar and tobacco exports was sent to the USA. Before the Revolution, most Cuban children were not included in the school system. There was almost no machine-building industry in Cuba.
87 percent of urban homes had electricity, but only 10 percent of rural homes did. Only 15 percent of rural homes had running water. Nearly half the rural population was illiterate, as was about 25 percent of the total population. Poverty and unemployment in the rural areas forced desperate residents to migrate to Havana, where there was high levels of crime and prostitution. More than 40 percent of the Cuban workforce in 1958 was either underemployed or unemployed. Schools for blacks and mulattoes were vastly inferior than those for whites. Afro-Cubans had the worst living conditions and held the lowest paid jobs.
Following the Cuban Revolution, the country made economic progress. In the period 1960-85, real income growth per capita averaged 3.1 percent per year, compared to 1.8 percent in the rest of Latin America. As a result of this growth, Cuba's per capita income in 1987 exceeded $3500, compared to only $2200 in the rest of Latin America.
Unemployment in Cuba was minimal. Basic services for Cuban citizens have been maintained and improved. Lower income groups have experienced a rise in their wages and state-set prices have remained stable for Cubans. President Raúl Castro has recently fired half-a-million workers from state-run economy to increase discipline.
The share of agriculture in the GDP fell from 25 percent to only 10 percent in 1985. The country has had immense industrial growth, with manufacturing's share in the GDP rising from 23 to 36 percent. In the 1980s, with the exception of Argentina, Cuba's manufacturing share was the highest in Latin America. Branches of industry such as machinery and transport equipment have had significant growth, as their share of manufacturing output rose from under 2 percent in 1961 to over 20 percent in 1986.
Between 1980 and 1985, Cuba introduced over 100 new products for export and had significant growth in exports of citrus fruits, steel products, gas stoves, paper products, transport material, radios, batteries, among others.
Cuba also has succeeded in reducing poverty and equalizing the distribution of wealth. According to the United Nation's Economic Commission for Latin America, the decile ratio (share of total income for the top 10 percent of wage earners divided by the bottom 10 percent) in Latin America was 45 to 1, while that of Cuba was only 4 to 1. Cuba's income distribution was more than 10 times more equal than the rest of Latin America in the 1980s. Before the Revolution, Cuba's decile ratio was 65 to 1.
During the Revolutionary period, Cuba was one of the few developing countries to provide foreign aid. Foreign aid began with the construction of six hospitals in Peru in the early 1970s.
Foreign aid expanded later in the 1970s to the point where some 8000 Cubans worked in overseas assignments. Cubans built housing, roads, airports, schools, and other facilities in Angola, Ethiopia, Laos, Guinea, Tanzania, and other countries. By the end of 1985, 35,000 Cuban workers had helped build projects in some 20 Asian, African and Latin American countries.
Some have attributed the Cuban economic success to Soviet subsidies. However, comparative economic data has shown that the amount of Soviet aid is comparable to that received by U.S.-backed regimes in the rest of Latin America, such as Chile under Augusto Pinochet.
The Cuban economy is still recovering from a decline in gross domestic product of at least 35% between 1989 and 1993 due to the loss of 80% of its trading partners[clarification needed] and Soviet subsidies. This era was referred to as the "Special Period in Peacetime" later shortened to "Special Period". A Canadian Medical Association Journal paper states that "The famine in Cuba during the Special Period was caused by political and economic factors similar to the ones that caused a famine in North Korea in the mid-1990s. Both countries were run by authoritarian regimes that denied ordinary people the food to which they were entitled when the public food distribution collapsed; priority was given to the elite classes and the military." Cubans had to resort to eating anything they could find, from Havana Zoo animals to domestic cats. Because of the collapse of centrally-planned economies in the Soviet Union and other countries of the Eastern bloc, Cuba experienced economic difficulties, which led to a drop in calories per day from 3052 in 1989 to 2600 in 2006.
The government has undertaken several reforms in recent years[when?] to stem excess liquidity, increase labour incentives, and alleviate serious shortages of food, consumer goods, and services. To alleviate the economic crisis, the government introduced a few market-oriented reforms including opening to tourism, allowing foreign investment, legalizing the U.S. dollar, and authorizing self-employment for some 150 occupations. (This policy was later partially reversed, so that while the U.S. dollar is no longer accepted in businesses, it remains legal for Cubans to hold the currency.) These measures resulted in modest economic growth. The liberalized agricultural markets introduced in October 1994, at which state and private farmers sell above-quota production at free market prices, have broadened legal consumption alternatives and reduced black market prices.
Government efforts to lower subsidies to unprofitable enterprises and to shrink the money supply caused the semi-official exchange rate for the Cuban peso to move from a peak of 120 to the dollar in the summer of 1994 to 21 to the dollar by year-end 1999. Living conditions in 1999 remained well below the 1989 level. New taxes introduced in 1996 have helped drive down the number of self-employed workers from 208,000 in January 1996.
Havana announced in 1995 that GDP declined by 35% during 1989-93, the result of lost Soviet aid and domestic inefficiencies. The drop in GDP apparently halted in 1994, when Cuba reported 0.7% growth, followed by increases of 2.5% in 1995 and 7.8% in 1996. Growth slowed again in 1997 and 1998 to 2.5% and 1.2% respectively. One of the key reasons given was the failure to notice that sugar production had become dramatically uneconomic. Reflecting on the Special period Cuban president Fidel Castro later admitted that many mistakes had been made, “The country had many economists and it is not my intention to criticize them, but I would like to ask why we hadn’t discovered earlier that maintaining our levels of sugar production would be impossible. The Soviet Union had collapsed, oil was costing $40 a barrel, sugar prices were at basement levels, so why did we not rationalize the industry?" 
Due to the continued growth of tourism, growth began in 1999 with a 6.2% increase in GDP. Growth in recent years has picked up significantly, with a growth in GDP of 11.8% in 2005 according to official Cuban information. In 2007 the Cuban economy grew by 7.5%, below the expected 10%, but higher than the Latin American average rate of growth. Accordingly, the cumulative growth in GDP since 2004 stood at 42.5 %.
In 2007, Raúl Castro's administration hinted that the purchase of computers, DVD players and microwaves would become legal. However, monthly wages remain less than 20 U.S. dollars. Mobile phones, which have been restricted to Cubans working for foreign companies and government officials, have become legalized. The new program could put phones in the hands of hundreds of thousands of Cubans.
In 2010, Fidel Castro, in agreement with Raul Castro's reformist sentiment, admitted that the Cuban model based on the old Soviet model of centralized planning was no longer sustainable for the Cuban economy. While both leaders remain committed to dialectical materialism, they are encouraging the creation of a co-operative variant of socialism where the state plays a less active role in the economy, and the formation of worker-owned co-operatives and self-employed enterprises is being encouraged.
Due to the reliance on declining Soviet era electricity generators, many areas of Cuba suffered[when?] frequent blackouts and brownouts for extended periods, creating additional pressure on society. To counter these problems, the government has put Cuba through an "Energy Revolution", which has placed increased emphasis on the efficient use of electrical energy and more efficient, small-power generators linked in a synchronized network. The country has increased the number of solar- and wind-powered generators. Citizens are also encouraged to swap their old, electricity consumptive lamps with those of newer model to reduce consumption, which is also complemented with a new power tariff, which imposes economically punitive measurements on inefficient use of power. Though development was hampered by large-scale damage created by Hurricane Dennis and Hurricane Wilma, which cut Cuba's electricity generation capacity by half in the areas most affected, Cuba now exceeds the government set demand in electricity production.[clarification needed] Raul Castro told Cubans in his July 26 speech in 2007, that the Special Period is not yet over.
Rationing in Cuba refers to the system of food distribution known in Cuba as the Libreta de Abastecimiento ("Supplies booklet"). The system establishes the rations each person is allowed to buy through that system, and the frequency of supplies. It is rumoured that the rationing card, and the whole rationing system, will be abolished. The abolishment of the rationing system will become official at the next Communist Party of Cuba's party congress set for April 2011.
On top of rationing, the average wage at the end of 2005 was 334 regular pesos per month ($16.70 per month) and average monthly pension was $9.
A person can get more jail time for killing a cow (10 years in prison) than killing a human. Those who sell beef without government permission can get three to eight years in prison. Eaters of illegal beef can get three months to one year in prison.
After the 1959 Cuban Revolution, citizens were not required to pay a personal income tax (their salaries being regarded as net of any taxes). However, from 1996, the State started to impose income taxes on Cubans earning hard currency, primarily the self-employed.
The Corruption Perceptions Index ranks Cuba 65th (from best to worst) out of 180 countries, better than most other countries in Central or Latin America.
As a result of inefficient state-run agriculture, Cuba imports up to 80% of the food it rations to the public. After coming to power, Raúl Castro, Fidel Castro's brother, has ridiculed the bureaucracy that shackles the agriculture sector.
Before 1959, Cuba boasted as many cattle as people. Today meat is so scarce that it is a crime to kill and eat a cow without government permission. Cuban people even suffered from starvation during the Special Period.
In total, industrial production accounted for almost 37% of the Cuban GDP, or US$6.9 billion, and employs 24% of the population, or 2,671,440 people, in 1996.
More recently Cuba's world-class biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry is gaining in its importance to the economy. It has been claimed that soon it will become Cuba's main source of foreign exchange. Among the products sold internationally are vaccines against various viral and bacterial pathogens, and promising anti-cancer vaccines are undergoing exhaustive clinical trials. Some Cuban scientists, like V. Verez-Bencomo, have been awarded international prizes for their contributions in biotechnology and Sugar Cane. Cuban vaccines are sold, among other countries, in Russia, China, India, Pakistan, and several Latin American countries.
Tourism in Cuba
In the mid 1990s tourism surpassed sugar, long the mainstay of the Cuban economy, as the primary source of foreign exchange. Tourism figures prominently in the Cuban Government's plans for development, and a top official cast it as the "heart of the economy". Havana devotes significant resources to building new tourist facilities and renovating historic structures for use in the tourism sector. Cuban officials estimate roughly 1.6 million tourists visited Cuba in 1999 with about $1.9 billion in gross revenues. In 2000, 1,773,986 foreign visitors arrived in Cuba. Revenue from tourism reached US $1.7 billion.
The rapid growth of tourism has had widespread social and economic repercussions in Cuba. This has led to speculation of the emergence of a two-tier economy and the fostering of a state of tourist apartheid on the island. This situation was exacerbated by the influx of dollars into the Cuban economy during the 1990s, potentially creating a dual economy based on the dollar (the currency of tourists) on the one hand, and the peso on the other. Scarce imported goods - and even some of local manufacture, such as rum and coffee- could be had at dollars-only stores, but were hard to find or unavailable at peso prices. As a result, Cubans who earned only in the peso economy, outside the tourist sector, were at an economic disadvantage. Those with dollar incomes based upon the service industry began to live more comfortably. This widened the gulf between Cubans' material standards of living, in conflict with the Cuban Government's long term socialist policies.
Cuba has a very poorly developed retail sector. There are no large shopping centers and the commercial districts that existed before the revolution are largely shut down. Those that remain carry few and poorly made products that are priced in dollars and are too expensive for the average Cuban to purchase. The majority of the stores are small dollar stores, bodegas, agro-mercados (farmers' markets) and street stands.
Typical wages range from factory worker's 400 non-convertible Cuban pesos a month to doctor's 700. That is only around 17-30 U.S. dollars a month. However, the Human Development Index of Cuba still ranks much higher than the vast majority of Latin American nations. After Cuba lost subsidies in 1991, malnutrition resulted in an outbreak of diseases and general hunger. Despite this, the poverty level reported by the government is one of the lowest in the developing world, ranking 6th out of 108 countries, 4th in Latin America, and 48th among all countries. Pensions are among the smallest in the Western hemisphere at $9.50. In 2009, Raul Castro increased minimum pensions by 2 dollars, which he said was to recompense for those who have "dedicated a great part of their lives to working... and who remain firm in defense of socialism".
The Netherlands receives the largest share of Cuban exports (24%), 70 to 80% of which go through Indiana Finance BV, a company owned by the Van 't Wout family, who have close personal ties with Fidel Castro. Currently, this trend can be seen in other colonial Caribbean communities who have direct politicfickal ties with the global economy. (for example, British West Indies, United States Virgin Islands, French outer-territories, and so on). The second largest trade partner is Canada, with a 22% share of the Cuban export market.
Since the Special Period, Cuba has actively courted foreign investment. All would be foreign investors are required to form joint ventures with the Cuban government. The sole exception to this rule are Venezuelans, who are allowed to hold 100% ownership in businesses due to an economic agreement between Cuba and Venezuela. Cuban officials said in early 1998 that there were a total of 332 joint ventures. Many of these are loans or contracts for management, supplies, or services normally not considered equity investment in Western economies. Investors are constrained by the U.S.-Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act which provides sanctions for those who "traffic" in property expropriated from U.S. citizens. As of March 1998, 15 executives of three foreign companies have been excluded from entry into the United States. Over a dozen companies have pulled out of Cuba or altered their plans to invest there due to the threat of action under the Libertad Act.
In 1993 the Cuban Government made it legal for its people to possess and use the U.S. dollar. From then until 2004, the dollar became a major currency. To capture the hard currency flowing into the island through tourism and remittances - estimated at $500–800 million annually - the government set up state-run "dollar stores" throughout Cuba that sold 'luxury' food, household, and clothing items, compared with basic necessities, which were bought using the Cuban peso. As such, a gap in the standard of living developed between those with access to dollars and those without. Jobs that could earn dollar salaries or tips from foreign businesses and tourists became highly desirable. It was common to meet doctors, engineers, scientists, and other professionals working in restaurants or as taxicab drivers.
However, in response to stricter economic sanctions by the US, and because the authorities were pleased with Cuba's economic recovery, the Cuban government decided in October 2004 to remove the American dollar from circulation. In its place, the Cuban convertible peso is now used, which although not internationally traded, has a value pegged to that of the dollar. As a source of additional revenue, a 10% surcharge is levied for conversions from US dollars to the convertible peso; this surcharge does not apply to other currencies, so it acts as an encouragement for tourists to bring currencies like Euros, pounds sterling or Canadian dollars into Cuba. Indeed, an increasing number of tourist zones now also accept Euros.
To provide jobs for workers laid off due to the economic crisis that the government was having difficulty providing, and to try to bring some forms of black market activity into legal, and regulated, channels, Havana in 1993 legalized self-employment for some 150 occupations. The government tightly controls the small private sector, which has fluctuated in size from 150,000 to 209,000, by regulating and taxing it. For example, owners of small private restaurants (paladares) can seat no more than 12 people and can only employ family members to help with the work. Set monthly fees must be paid regardless of income earned and frequent inspections yield stiff fines when any of the many self-employment regulations are violated. Rather than expanding private sector opportunities, in recent years, the government has been attempting to squeeze more of these private sector entrepreneurs out of business and back to the public sector. Many have opted to enter the informal economy or black market. In recent years there has developed what is called "urban agriculture", production which takes place on small parcels of land in the cities. Growing organopónicos (organic gardens) in the private sector has been attractive to city dwelling small producers who get to sell their products in the same place where they produce them, avoiding taxes and enjoying a measure of government help from the Ministry of Agriculture (MINAGRI) in the form of seed houses and advisers.
Connection with Venezuela
The relationship cultivated between Cuba and Venezuela in recent years has resulted in agreements in which Venezuela provides cheap oil in exchange for Cuban "missions" of doctors to bolster the Venezuelan health care system. Cuba, with the second-highest per capita number of physicians in the world (behind Italy), sends tens of thousands of doctors to other countries as aid, as well as to obtain favorable economic terms of trade.
Electricity - production: 16.89 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 89.52%
other: 9.83% (1998)
Electricity - consumption: 13.93 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2008 est.)
Oil - production: 62,100 bbl/d (9,870 m3/d) (2008 est.)
Oil - consumption: 176,000 bbl/d (28,000 m3/d) (2008 est.)
Oil - exports: 0 bbl/d (0 m3/d) (2007 est.)
Oil - imports: 104,800 bbl/d (16,660 m3/d) (2007 est.)
Oil - proved reserves: 197,300,000 bbl (31,370,000 m3) (1 January 2009 est.)
Natural gas - production: 400 million cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 400 million cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 70.79 billion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
Agriculture - products: sugarcane, tobacco, citrus, coffee, rice, potatoes, beans, livestock
Annual budget: revenues: $47.08 billion expenditures: $50.34 billion (2009 est.)
Public debt: 34.6% of GDP (2009 est.)
Current account balance: $513 million (2009 est.)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $4.647 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
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Economy of the Caribbean
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