Cuba Economy

By | October 15, 2021


Given the narrow and elongated shape of the territory, the rivers, which due to the arrangement of the reliefs almost all flow transversely from N to S or vice versa, are necessarily short. They are generally rich in water, but have an irregular flow rate depending on the rainfall regime; several have a torrential character and some, due to the diffusion of karst, are partly underground. The longest is the Río Cauto (370 km), which has instead – like few others – a longitudinal direction; it drains the northern slope of the Sierra Maestra, then flows into the Gulf of Guacanayabo. The Río Toa (100 km) follows in importance, which flows into the bay of Baracoa and which, rich in waters, rapids, waterfalls, appears to be largely usable for the production of electricity, and the Río Jatibonico del Sur (119 km), used for irrigation.


According to Smber, agriculture occupies 18.3% of the active population, affects over 33.1% of the territorial surface, but contributes to the national wealth only for 3.8%. Of the arable land, most of it is destined for the cultivation of sugar cane (which annually supplies over 12 and a half million tons of product). Another important export crop is tobacco, which has the most productive area in the province of Pinar del Río; followed by coffee and various fruit crops destined both for export (pineapple and citrus fruits) and for internal consumption (bananas). Among the cereals, at the center of a considerable productive effort to achieve food self-sufficiency, corn, rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes and cassava are grown instead. The cultivation of tomatoes has also had considerable success, kenaf and henequen (made from some species of agave) and cotton. § Finally, the exploitation of the forestry patrimony plays a not negligible importance, which covers a fifth of the territory and supplies about 3 million m 3 of wood per year, represented almost entirely by pines. § Great attention was also paid to strengthening the livestock sector (almost 4 million cattle and about 2 million pigs) and fishing, the latter largely developed thanks to the creation of a well-equipped flotilla of deep-sea vessels; the catch amounts to 53,000 t.


The secondary sector employs just over 16% of the active workforce and produces about a quarter of the national wealth. The industry continues to be essentially represented by the processing of local agricultural products, thus including above all sugar factories, tobacco factories, textile industries (which however also produce artificial yarns and fabrics). Enormous efforts are aimed at strengthening the chemical and petrochemical sectors (which already uses refineries in Havana and Santiago de Cuba), cement and metallurgical, as well as plants for extraction (in Sierra del Cristal) and refining (in Nicaro Moa and Punta Gorda) of nickel, of the iron and steel center (built with the technical competition of the German Democratic Republic). Also noteworthy is the center for biotechnology built near the capital. § The search for fuels to feed the island’s energy needs (which absorbs almost a quarter of the total import expenditure) had led in the last decades of the twentieth century to the design and construction of a nuclear plant in Juraguá, near Cienfuegos. This plant, subsidized by the USSR, should have accompanied the production of oil and natural gas present on the island in insufficient quantities. However, construction was abandoned in favor of other energy sources. Since the beginning of the new millennium, Cuba seems to have looked with growing interest at the possible fields present in the Gulf of Mexico, still unexplored. The Cuban subsoil is relatively rich in minerals, among which the aforementioned nickel emerges in quantity, of which Cuba is one of the main producers in the world; there are also chromite, cupriferous minerals and small quantities of cobalt.

Cuba Economy