By: Sheyla Paz - Cuba Travel Expert When talking about the Cuban people it always come to mind our kindness and wholehearted people. Always happy and willing to help. Very innovative and creative, always making something out of nothing. “Los Cubanos inventamos de la nada.” In fact, you can see that when visiting the art market in Old Havana.
Making beautiful dolls out of the jaw of the cow, or jewelry made out of sea shells, music boxes that have a trick to open them, beautiful paintings on the cow’s leather and so much more. The creativity goes beyond our imagination. So, when you go to the Almacenes (the market), buy something from them no matter how small or how big, you’ll make their day.
There is a mixture of different religions in Cuba which was described by the great Cuban ethnologist Don Fernando Ortiz (1881/1969) as a cultural acculturation, known as religious syncretism. Formed by the juxtaposition of elements of the Catholic religion, brought by the conquerors and colonialists and African religions. With these mix of also came the mix of races; the Spanish, the Indians and the Africans. The Spaniards started having children with the Indians and with the African slaves brought to Cuba and a new race was born, the mestizos and Mulatos. In the high society of the 1800s in Cuba, the child of the Spaniard with a Slave were treated a little differently. They weren’t slaves but they weren’t considered part of the high class either and most of the time were hidden from society. They were also well dressed.
The Cuban population is very diverse, you can find white people with blue eyes, black people and mestizos as well. The population of Cuba was 11,167,325 inhabitants in 2012. The largest urban populations of Cubans in Cuba (2012) are to be found in Havana (2,106,146), Santiago de Cuba (506,037), Camagüey (323,309), Holguín (346,195), Guantánamo (228,436), and Santa Clara (240,543). According to Cuba's Oficina Nacional de Estadisticas ONE 2012 Census, the population was 11,167,325 including: 5,570,825 men and 5,596,500 women.
The first people known to have inhabited Cuba was the Siboney, 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, combined with calls for annexation of Cuba in the United States, led to the Spanish–American War, and in 1902 Cuba gained formal independence.
The culture of Cuba reflects the island's influences from various cultures, primarily European (Spanish), Taíno, and African. This is evident in the direct and dynamic yet open and witty humorous idiosyncrasy of most Cubans. However, during the period of the republic (1901–1959) Cuban culture was also heavily influenced by the USA. This was evident in music, sports, architecture, finances, among others. In some aspects many Cubans saw Cuban culture more closely related to American than Mexican or other neighboring Latin American nations. During the revolutionary period (1959-) as Cuba was surprisingly and abruptly declared a communist state; Cuba was internally isolated and exposed to a Russian presence. However, this presence only contributed a change in Cuba's political ideology.
An autosomal study from 2014 has found out the genetic ancestry in Cuba to be 72% European, 20% African and 8% Native American. Cubans of East Asian origins made up 1.02% of the population. They are mostly of Chinese (especially Cantonese), Japanese or Korean origins. 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. In the 2012 Census 64.1% or 7,160,399 self-identified as white. Based on genetic testing the average European, African and Other ancestry found in those self-reporting to be “blanco (White)” 91.4% were fully “European,” 7.7% had some "African" ancestry and .9% had "Native" or Other Ancestry.
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 boat-lift. 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.