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Cuba - People

With a population of almost 11.4 million in 2016, Cuba's population skews old, with 13 percent 65 or older compared with 8 percent worldwide. Its under-15 age group accounts for 17 percent of islanders versus 26 percent globally.

A multiracial society, Cuba has a population of mainly Spanish and African origins; a majority of inhabitants, 51 percent, are mulatto or mestizo; 37 percent, white; and 11 percent, black. A small Chinese minority constitutes less than 1 percent of the total population. Cuba has two living languages. Spanish (Espaol) is the official and dominant language. Lucum is an ethnic language with NigerCongo, AtlanticCongo, VoltaCongo, BenueCongo, Defoid, Yoruboid, and Edekiri roots.

In spite of official statistics to the contrary, African descendent Cubans probably constitute a majority of the population. However, they occupy few leading positions in government, state owned industries and academia. They live in the poorest and most marginal neighborhoods. They rarely occupy jobs with access to hard currency in the tourist industry. Refugee applicants are disproportionately white. African descendants have far fewer relatives in other countries and so by and large do not have relatives who can either send remittances or pay for them to be smuggled into other countries. African descendants rarely take to the seas in rustic vessels, partly because for years they have been told that racism in the United States is as brutal as it was 60 years ago. Accounts from inmates indicate that as much as 80% of the prison population are of African descent. Due to emigration, Cuban society is becoming increasingly black resulting in much more overt racism than was seen in the past.

According to Cubas third post-1959 Population and Housing Census conducted in 2002, the islands permanent residents numbered 11,177,743, an increase of 1,454,138 inhabitants since the previous census in 1981. Cubas estimated population in mid-2005 was 11,346,670. During 19902003, Cubas annual population growth averaged less than 0.5 percent per year, well below the Latin American average of 1.6 percent. However, the population growth rate in 2002 and 2003 was 2.8 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively.

According to the 2002 census, 75.9 percent of the total population was living in urban areas in cities ranging from 20,000 inhabitants to 100,000 or more. The provinces with at least 1 million estimated inhabitants in 2004 were Ciudad de La Habana (City of Havana), with 2.8 million; Holgun, 1 million; and Santiago de Cuba, 1 million. The countrys official population density in 2003 was 101.3 inhabitants per square kilometer, but that figure had risen to an estimated 102.4 inhabitants per square kilometer by 2006, ranking Cuba number 72 of 238 in a list of countries with the densest populations.

Demographic indicators in 2006 included the following: a total fertility rate of an estimated 1.66 children born per woman, an estimated birthrate of 11.9 births per 1,000 population, a general mortality rate of 6.22 per 1,000 population, a death rate of an estimated 7.2 deaths per 1,000 population, and an infant mortality rate of 6.2 deaths per 1,000 live births. Deaths among children under five years of age (1.7 percent of all deaths) totaled 8.0 per 1,000 live births in 2003. Life expectancy at birth in 2006 was an estimated 77.4 years: 75.1 years for men and 79.8 years for women. After two decades of sustained declines in fertility and mortality rates, in 2003 the country was showing a process of aging: 14.7 percent of inhabitants were aged 60 or older, and persons under 15 years of age constituted only about 22 percent of the population. The average age of the population was 35.1. According to the 2002 census, the population is about equally divided between males and females.

Public education in Cuba is universal and free through the university level. It is based on Marxist-Leninist principles and combines study with manual labor. Day nurseries are available for all children after their forty-fifth day, and national schools at the preprimary level are operated by the state for children of five years of age. Primary education from six to 11 years of ageor until the ninth gradeis compulsory, and secondary education lasts from 12 to 17 years of age, comprising two cycles of three years each. All elementary and secondary school students receive obligatory ideological indoctrination. During the 20045 school year, primary-school enrollment totaled 99.4 percent and secondary-school enrollment, 93.1 percent. In 20023 an estimated 192,000 students were enrolled in higher education. Workers attending university courses receive a state subsidy to provide for their dependents. Courses at intermediate and higher levels emphasize technology, agriculture, and teacher training.

As much as 99 percent of the population (or at least 95 percent of the urban population and 78 percent of the rural population) is reported to have access to safe water, one of the highest figures in Latin America. Cubas potable water is derived primarily (72 percent) from underground sources. Of the water supplied, 94 percent receives treatment. In 2000 an estimated 38 percent of the population had access to sewerage systems and 55 percent to septic tanks and latrines. At the end of 2005, the countrys water distribution and sanitation systems reportedly were in dire need of repair.

The health profile of the Cuban population is more like that of a developed country than a developing one, with low infant mortality, low fertility, low rates of infectious disease, and high cancer and cardiovascular disease rates. Despite Cubas relatively meager resources, the primary health care system is still able to provide almost universal coverage and to ensure the continuance of low mortality among those less than 65 years of age even in the face of rising health threats. More than 95 percent of pregnant women receive prenatal care, and 98 to 99 percent of newborns are delivered in hospitals, factors that contribute to low infant and maternal mortality. Cuba also has high vaccination rates for childhood diseases, plus children up to age seven receive additional food rations through the ration card system.

In 2004 Cuba spent a total of 6.2 percent of gross domestic product on health care. The total per capita expenditure on health at an average exchange rate in 2002 was US$197. In 2004 Cuba had 69,713 doctors, theoretically giving the country a ratio of about one doctor per 161 residents, as compared with one doctor per 188 residents in the United States.

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Page last modified: 20-03-2016 15:20:58 ZULU