Monday, May 26, 2014

Latin America contd- French Guiana (annex-8)


French Guiana  officially just Guiana, is an overseas department and region of France, on the north Atlantic coast of South America. It borders Brazil to the east and south, and Suriname to the west. Its 83,534 km2 (32,253 sq mi) area has a very low population density of only 3 inhabitants per km2, with half of its 250,109 inhabitants in 2013 living in the metropolitan area of Cayenne, its capital. By land areaoverseas region of France. As an overseas region, it is inside the European Union, and its official currency is the Euro.










, it is by far the largest
The addition of the adjective "French" in English comes from colonial times when five such colonies existed (The Guianas), namely from west to east: Spanish Guiana (now Guayana Region in Venezuela), British Guiana (now Guyana), Dutch Guiana (now Suriname), French Guiana, and Portuguese Guiana (now Amapá, a state in far northern Brazil). French Guiana and the two larger countries to the north and west, Guyana and Suriname, are still often collectively referred to as the Guianas and comprise one large shield landmass.
A large part of the department's economy derives from the presence of the Guiana Space Centre, now the European Space Agency's 
launch site near the equator.
French Guiana in France.svg
Country France
PrefectureCayenne
Departments1
Government
 • PresidentRodolphe Alexandre (PSG)
Area
 • Total83,534 km2 (32,253 sq mi)
Population (Jan 2013)[1]
 • Total250,109
 • Density3.0/km2 (7.8/sq mi)
DemonymFrench Guianese
Time zoneGFT (UTC-03)
ISO 3166 codeGF
GDP (2012)[2]Ranked 27th
Total€3.81 billion (US$4.90 bn)
Per capita€15,416 (US$19,828)
NUTS RegionFR9
WebsitePrefecture
Region
Department
As an integral part of France, French Guiana is part of the European Union and the Eurozone; its currency is the euro.gf is the country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for French Guiana, but .fr is generally used instead.
In 2012, the GDP of French Guiana at market exchange rates was US$4.90 billion (€3.81 billion), ranking as the largest economy in the Guianas, and the 11th largest in South America.
French Guiana is heavily dependent on mainland France for subsidies, trade, and goods. The main traditional industries are fishing (accounting for 5% exports in 2012), gold mining (accounting for 32% of exports in 2012) and timber (accounting for 1% of exports in 2012). In addition, the Guiana Space Centre has played a significant role in the local economy since it was established in Kourou in 1964: it accounted directly and indirectly for 16% of French Guiana's GDP in 2002 (down from 26% in 1994, as the French Guianese economy is becoming increasingly diversified).The Guiana Space Centre employed 1,659 people in 2012.
There is very little manufacturing. Agriculture is largely undeveloped and is mainly confined to the area near the coast and along the Maroni River. Sugar and bananas were traditionally two of the main cash crops grown for export but have almost completely disappeared. Today they have been replaced bylivestock raising (essentially beef cattle and pigs) in the coastal savannas between Cayenne and Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni, and market gardening (fruits an vegetables) developed by the Hmong communities settled in French Guiana in the 1970s, both destined to the local market. A thriving rice production, developed on polders near Mana from the early 1980s to the late 2000s, has almost completely disappeared since 2011 due to marine erosion and new EU plant health rules which forbid the use of many pesticides and fertilizers. Tourism, especially eco-tourism, is growing. Unemployment is a major problem, running at about 20% to 25% year in, year out (22.3% in 2012).
In 2012, the GDP per capita of French Guiana at market exchange rates, not at PPP, was US$19,828 (€15,416), the highest in South America,[8] but only 49% of metropolitan France's average GDP per capita that year, and 57.5% of the metropolitan French regions outside the Paris Region.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Latin America contd - Virgin Islands (annex-7)



The Virgin Islands are the western island group of the Leeward Islands, which are the northern part of the Lesser Antilles, and form the border between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Politically, the eastern islands form the British Virgin Islands and the western ones form the Virgin Islands of the United States. The British Virgin Islands is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom comprising TortolaVirgin
Gorda, Jost Van Dyke and Anegada.
The U.S. Virgin Islands is one of five inhabited insular areas of the United States, along with American Samoa,GuamNorthern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico. The territory comprises St. CroixSt. JohnSt. Thomas and Water Island. The Virgin Passage separates the U.S. Virgin Islands from the Spanish Virgin Islands of Vieques andCulebra, which are part of Puerto Rico. The United States dollar is the official currency on both the British and U.S. Virgin Islands as well as the Spanish/Puerto Rican Virgin Islands.

Latin America contd - Turks and Caicos Islands (annex-6)


The Turks and Caicos Islands  are a British Overseas Territory consisting of the largerCaicos Islands and smaller Turks Islands, two groups of tropical islands in the Lucayan Archipelago, part of the larger Antilles island grouping. They are known primarily for tourism and as an offshore financial centre. The total population is about 31,500, of whom 23,769 live on Providenciales in the Caicos Islands.
The Turks and Caicos Islands lie southeast of Mayaguana in the Bahamas island chain and north of the island of HispaniolaCockburn Town, the capital since 1766, is situated on Grand Turk Island about 1,042 kilometres (647 mi) east-southeast of Miami, United States. The islands have a total land area of 430 square kilometres (170 sq mi). They are geographically contiguous with the Bahamas, but are politically separate.
The first recorded sighting of the islands now known as the Turks and Caicos occurred in 1512. In the subsequent centuries, the islands were claimed by several European powers with the British Empire eventually gaining control. For many years the islands were governed indirectly 
through Bermuda, the Bahamas, and Jamaica. When the Bahamas gained independence in 1973, the islands received their owngovernor and have remained a separate autonomous British Overseas Territory since. In August 2009, the United Kingdom suspended the Turks and Caicos Islands' self-government after allegations of ministerial corruption. Home rule was restored in the islands after theNovember 2012 elections.
The Turks and Caicos Islands are named after the Turk's-cap cactus (Melocactus communis), and the Lucayan term caya hico, meaning string of islands. The first inhabitants of the islands were Arawakan-speaking Taíno people, who crossed over from Hispaniola sometime from AD 500 to 800. Together with Taino who migrated from Cuba to the southern Bahamas around the same time, these people developed as the Lucayan. Around 1200 the Turks and Caicos Islands were resettled by Classical Taínos from Hispaniola.
Soon after the Spanish arrived in the islands in 1492, or 1512, they began capturing the Taíno of the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Lucayan as slaves (technically, as workers in the encomienda system) to replace the largely depleted native population of Hispaniola. The southern Bahama Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands were completely depopulated by about 1513, and remained so until the 17th century.
The first documented European to sight the islands was Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León, who did so in 1512. During the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, the islands passed from Spanish, to French, to British control, but none of the three powers ever established any settlements..
In 2006, GDP contributions were as follows:[51] Hotels & Restaurants 23.27%, Financial Services 29.64%, Construction 48.71%, Wholesale & Retail Trade 20.89% and Health & Social Work 10.83%.[clarification needed] Most capital goods and food for domestic consumption are imported.
In 2006, major sources of government revenue included Import Duties (37%), Stamp Duties from Property Transactions (20%), Work Permits and Residency Fees (9%) and Accommodation Tax (9%). The territory's gross domestic product as of late 2006 is approximately US$722 million (per capita $17,112), with an inflation rate of 3.7%.
The labour force totalled 12000 workers in 2006. The labour force distribution is as follows:
Skill levelPercentage
Unskilled/Manual53%
Semi-skilled12%
Skilled20%
Professional15%
The unemployment rate in 2007 was 5.4%. In 2006–2007, the territory took in revenues of $202.5 million against expenditures of $199.5 million. In 1995, the island received economic aid worth $5.7 million. The territory's currency is the United States dollar, with a few government fines (such as airport infractions) being payable in pounds sterling. Most commemorative coin issues are denominated in crowns.



The primary agricultural products include limited amounts of maize, beanscassava (tapioca) and citrus fruits. Fish and conch are the only significant export, with some $169.2 million of lobster, dried and fresh conch, and conch shells exported in 2000, primarily to the United Kingdom and the United States. In recent years, however, the catch has been declining. The territory used to be an important trans-shipment point for South American narcotics destined for the United States, but due to the ongoing pressure of a combined American, Bahamian and Turks and Caicos effort this trade has been greatly reduced.
The islands import food and beverages, tobacco, clothing, manufacture and construction materials, primarily from the United States and the United Kingdom. Imports totalled $581 million in 2007.
The islands produce and consume about 5 GWh of electricity, per year, all of which comes from fossil fuels..

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Latin America contd- Saint Berthelemy (annex-5)



































Saint Barthélemy , officially the Territorial collectivity of Saint Barthélemy is an overseas collectivity of France. Often abbreviated to Saint-Barth in French, orSt. Barts or St. Barths in English, the indigenous people called the island Ouanalao. St. Bart's lies about 35 kilometres (22 mi) southeast of Saint Martin and north of St. KittsPuerto Rico is 240 kilometres (150 mi) to the west in the Greater Antilles.
The collectivity is one of four territories among the Leeward Islands in the northeastern Caribbean that comprise the French West Indies, along with Saint MartinGuadeloupe (200 kilometres (120 mi) southeast), and Martinique. Saint Barthélemy was for many years a French commune forming part of Guadeloupe, which is an overseas region and department of France and is therefore in the European Union.
Saint Barthélemy, a volcanic island fully encircled by shallow reefs, has an area of 25 square kilometres (9.7 sq mi) and a population of 9,035 (Jan. 2011 estimate). Its capital is Gustavia, which also contains the main harbour to the island. It is the only Caribbean island which was a Swedish colony for any significant length of time; Guadeloupe was under Swedish rule only briefly at the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Symbolism from the Swedish national arms, the Three Crowns, still appears in the island's coat of arms. The language, cuisine, and culture, however, are distinctly French. The island is a popular tourist destination during the winter holiday season, especially the rich and famous during the Christmas and new year period.




















0

Latin America contd-Martinique (annex-4)


Martinique  is an island in the Lesser Antilles in the eastern Caribbean Sea, with a land area of 1,128 square kilometres (436 sq mi) and a population of 386,486 inhabitants (as of Jan. 2013). Like Guadeloupe, it is an overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department. One of the Windward Islands, it is directly north of Saint Lucia, northwest ofBarbados, and south of Dominica.
As with the other overseas departments, Martinique is one of the twenty-seven regions of France (being an overseas region) and an integral part of the French Republic. As part of France, Martinique is part of the European Union, and its currency is the euro. The official language is French, although many of its inhabitants also speak Antillean Creole (Créole Martiniquais).
Martinique owes its name to Christopher Columbus, who sighted the island in 1493 and finally landed on 15 June 1502.
Martinique was occupied several times by the British, including once during the Seven Years' War and twice during the Napoleonic Wars. Britain controlled the island almost continuously from 1794-1815, when it was traded back to France at the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars.Martinique has remained a French possession since then. 
As sugar prices declined in the early 1800s the planter class lost political influence, and in 1848 Victor Schoelcher persuaded the French government to end slavery in the French West Indies.
On May 8, 1902, Mont Pelée erupted and completely destroyed St. Pierre, killing 30,000 people. The only survivor in the town, Auguste Cyparis, was saved by the thick walls of his prison cell. Shortly thereafter the capital shifted to Fort-de-France, where it remains today.
In 1946, the French National Assembly voted unanimously to transform the colony into an Overseas Department of France. In 1974 it became simply a Department.
In 2003 Martinique had a total GDP of 5.496 billion euros. In 2000 its per capita GDP was 14,283 euros. In that year services constituted 82.2% of GDP, while industry represented 8.6% and agriculture 3.5%. In 2002 the island exported 26 million euros-worth of goods, primarily fruit, beverages and refined petroleum products. It imported 486 million euros-worth of goods, including vehicles, furniture, medicine and raw petroleum (used in the island's refinery).




Historically Martinique's economy relied on agriculture, but by the beginning of the 21st century this sector had dwindled considerably. Sugar production has declined, with most of the sugarcane now used for the production of rum. Banana exports are increasing, going mostly to France. The bulk of meat, vegetable, and grain requirements must be imported, contributing to a chronic trade deficit that requires large annual transfers of aid from France.
Tourism has become more important than agricultural exports as a source of foreign exchange. In 2000 the island hosted 500,000 tourists, and the tourism industry employed 7% of the total workforce. Roughly 16% of the total businesses on the island (some 6,000 companies) provide tourist-related services.
All goods entering Martinique are charged a variable "sea toll" which may reach 30% of the value of the cargo and provides 40% of the island's total revenue. Additionally the government charges an "annual due" of 1-2.5% and a value added tax of 2.2-8.5%.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Latin America contd- Guadeloupe (annex-3)


Guadeloupe  is a group of Caribbean islands located in theLeeward Islands, in the Lesser



Antilles, with a land area of 1,628 square kilometres (629 sq. mi) and a population of 405,739 inhabitants (as of Jan. 2013). It is an overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department. Guadeloupe is an integral part of France, as are the other overseas departments. Besides Guadeloupe's two islands of Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre, the smaller islands of Marie-GalanteLa Désirade, and the Îles des Saintes are included in Guadeloupe.
As part of France, Guadeloupe is part of the European Union and the Eurozone; hence, as for all Eurozone countries, its currency is theeuro. However, as an overseas department, Guadeloupe is not part of the Schengen Area. The prefecture (i.e. French regional capital) of Guadeloupe is Basse-Terre. Its official language is French, although many of its inhabitants also speak Antillean Creole (Créole Guadeloupéen).
Christopher Columbus named the island Santa María de Guadalupe in 1493 after the Virgin Mary, venerated in the Spanish town ofGuadalupe, in Extremadura.
The island was called "Karukera" (or "The Island of Beautiful Waters") by the Arawak people, who settled on there in 300 AD/CE. During the 8th century, the Caribs came and killed the existing population of Amerindians on the island.

During his second trip to America, in November 1493, Christopher Columbus became the first European to land on Guadeloupe, while seeking fresh water.
 In an effort to take advantage of the chaos ensuing from the French Revolution, Britain seized Guadeloupe in 1794, holding control from 21 April until December 1794, when Victor Hugues obliged the British general to surrender. Hugues succeeded in freeing the slaves, who then turned on the slave owners who controlled the sugar plantations.
Slavery was abolished on the island on 28 May 1848 at the initiative of Victor Schoelcher.
In 1946, the colony of Guadeloupe became an overseas department of France. Then in 1974, it became an administrative center. Its deputies sit in the French National Assembly in Paris.
In 2006, the GDP per capita of Guadeloupe at market exchange rates, not at PPP, was €17,338 (US$21,780).
The economy of Guadeloupe depends on tourism, agriculture, light industry and services. But it especially depends on France for large subsidies and imports.
Tourism is a key industry, with 83.3% of tourists visiting from metropolitan France, 10.8% coming from the rest of Europe, 3.4% coming from the United States, 1.5% coming from Canada, 0.4% coming from South America, and 0.6% coming from the rest of the world.[An increasingly large number of cruise ships visit the islands.
The traditional sugar cane crop is slowly being replaced by other crops, such as bananas (which now supply about 50% of export earnings),eggplantguinnepnonisapotillaparokapikingagiraumon squashyamgourdplantainchristophinemonbinprunecafécocoa,jackfruitpomegranate, and many varieties of flowers. Other vegetables and root crops are cultivated for local consumption, although Guadeloupe is still dependent on imported food, mainly from France.
Light industry features sugar and rum, solar energy, and many industrial productions. Most manufactured goods and fuel are imported. Unemployment is especially high among the youth. Hurricanes periodically devastate the economy.
The country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for Guadeloupe is ".gp".

Latin America contd - Cuba (annex-2)


Cuba, officially the Republic of Cuba , is an island country in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba comprises the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos.Havana is the capital of Cuba and its largest city. The second largest city is Santiago de Cuba. To the north of Cuba lies the United States (150 km or 93 mi away) and the Bahamas are to the northeast, Mexico is to the west (210 km or 130 mi away), the Cayman Islands and Jamaica are to the south, and Haiti and the Dominican Republic are to the southeast.
The island of Cuba was inhabited by numerous Mesoamerican tribes prior to the landing of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus in 1492, who claimed it for the Kingdom of Spain. Cuba remained a colony of Spain until the Spanish–American War of 1898, after which it was briefly administered by the United States until gaining nominal independence in 1902. The fragile republic endured increasingly radical politics and social strife, and despite efforts to strengthen its democratic system, Cuba came under the dictatorship of former president Fulgencio Batista in 1952. Growing unrest and instability led to Batista's ousting in January 1959 by the July 26 movement, which afterwards established a new socialist administration under the leadership of Fidel Castro. Since 1965, the country has been governed as a single-party state by the Communist Party.
Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean, and with over 11 million inhabitants, is the second-most populous after Hispaniola, albeit with a much lower population density than most nations in the region. A multiethnic country, its peopleculture, and customs derive from diverse origins, including the aboriginal Taíno and Ciboney peoples, the long period of Spanish colonialism, the introduction of African slaves, a close relationship with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and proximity to the United States.
Cuba ranks high in metrics of health and education, with a high Human Development Index of 0.780 as of 2013. According to data it presents to the United Nations, Cuba was the only nation in the world in 2006 that met the World Wide Fund for Nature's definition of sustainable development, with an ecological footprint of less than 1.8 hectares per capita, 1.5 hectares, and a Human Development Index of over 0.855
After first landing on an island then called GuanahaniBahamas on October 12, 1492, La Pinta, La Niña and the Santa María, the first three European ships under the command of Christopher Columbus, landed on Cuba's northeastern coast near what is now Bariay, Holguin province on October 28, 1492. He claimed the island for the new Kingdom of Spain and named Isla Juana after Juan, Prince of Asturias.
A series of slave rebellions and revolts took place during the 'sugar boom' under Spanish colonizing with the 1812 Aponte Slave Rebellion in Cuba against the Atlantic Slave Trade. Independence from Spain was the motive for a rebellion in 1868 led by Carlos Manuel de Céspedes. De Céspedes, a sugar planter, freed his slaves to fight with him for a free Cuba. On 27 December 1868, he issued a decree condemning slavery in theory but accepting it in practice and declaring free any slaves whose masters present them for military service. The 1868 rebellion resulted in a prolonged conflict known as the Ten Years' War. Two thousand Cuban Chinese joined the rebels. There is a monument in Havana that honours the Cuban Chinese who fell in the war.
The United States declined to recognize the new Cuban government, although many European and Latin American nations did so. In 1878, the Pact of Zanjón ended the conflict, with Spain promising greater autonomy to Cuba. In 1879–1880, Cuban patriot Calixto García attempted to start another war known as the Little War but received little support.] Abolition of slavery in Cuba began the final third of the 19th century, and was completed in the 1880s
An exiled dissident named José Martí founded the Cuban Revolutionary Party in New York in 1892. The aim of the party was to achieve Cuban independence from Spain. In January 1895 Martí traveled to Montecristi and Santo Domingo to join the efforts of Máximo Gómez. Martí recorded his political views in the Manifesto of Montecristi. Fighting against the Spanish army began in Cuba on 24 February 1895, but Martí was unable to reach Cuba until 11 April 1895. Martí was killed in the battle of Dos Rios on 19 May 1895. His death immortalized him as Cuba's national hero
Around 200,000 Spanish troops outnumbered the much smaller rebel army which relied mostly on guerrilla and sabotage tactics. The Spaniards began a campaign of suppression. General Valeriano Weyler, military governor of Cuba, herded the rural population into what he called reconcentrados, described by international observers as "fortified towns". These are often considered the prototype for 20th-century concentration camps. Between 200,000 and 400,000 Cuban civilians died from starvation and disease in the camps, numbers verified by the Red Cross and United States Senator and formerSecretary of War Redfield Proctor. American and European protests against Spanish conduct on the island followed.
The U.S. battleship Maine was sent to protect U.S. interests, but she exploded suddenly and sank quickly, killing nearly three quarters of her crew. The cause and responsibility for her sinking remained unclear after a board of inquiry, but popular opinion in the U.S., fueled by an active press, concluded that the Spanish were to blame and demanded action. Spain and the United States declared war on each other in late April.
Over the decades, four US presidents—PolkBuchananGrant, and McKinley—tried to buy the island from Spain.
After the Spanish-American War, Spain and the United States signed the Treaty of Paris (1898), by which Spain ceded Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam to the United States for the sum of $20 million. Cuba gained formal independence from the U.S. on May 20, 1902, as the Republic of Cuba..
The U.S. battleship Maine was sent to protect U.S. interests, but she exploded suddenly and sank quickly, killing nearly three quarters of her crew. The cause and responsibility for her sinking remained unclear after a board of inquiry, but popular opinion in the U.S., fueled by an active press, concluded that the Spanish were to blame and demanded action. Spain and the United States declared war on each other in late April.
Over the decades, four US presidents—PolkBuchananGrant, and McKinley—tried to buy the island from Spain
 Between 1933 and 1958, Cuba extended economic regulations enormously, causing economic problems. Unemployment became a problem as graduates entering the workforce could not find jobs. The middle class, which was comparable to that of the United States, became increasingly dissatisfied with unemployment and political persecution. The labor unions supported Batista until the very end. Batista stayed in power until he was forced into exile in December 1958.
Main article: Cuban Revolution

Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, photographed by Alberto Korda in 1961.
In the 1950s, various organizations, including some advocating armed uprising, competed for the public's support in bringing about political change. In 1956, Fidel Castro and about 80 other rebels aboard the Granma yacht launched a failed attempt to start a rebellion against the government. It was not until 1958 that the July 26th Movement emerged as the leading revolutionary group.
By late 1958, the rebels broke out of the Sierra Maestra and launched a general popular insurrection. After the fighters captured Santa Clara, Batista fled from Havana on 1 January 1959 to exile in Portugal. Fidel Castro's forces entered the capital on 8 January 1959. The liberal Manuel Urrutia Lleó became the provisional president.
From 1959 to 1966 Cuban insurgents fought a six-year rebellion in the Escambray Mountains against the Castro government. The insurgency was eventually crushed by the government's use of vastly superior numbers. The rebellion lasted longer and involved more soldiers than the Cuban Revolution. The U.S. State Department has estimated that 3,200 people were executed from 1959 to 1962. Other estimates for the total number of political executions range from 4,000 to 33,000.
The revolution was initially received positively in the United States, where it was seen as part of a movement to bring democracy to Latin America.Castro's legalization of the Communist party and the public trials and executions of hundreds of Batista's supporters caused a deterioration in the relationship between the two countries. The promulgation of the Agrarian Reform Law, expropriating farmlands of over 1,000 acres, further worsened relations. In February 1960, Castro signed a commercial agreement with Soviet Vice-Premier Anastas Mikoyan. In March 1960, Eisenhower gave his approval to a CIA plan to arm and train a group of Cuban refugees to overthrow the Castro regime.
The invasion (known as the Bay of Pigs Invasion) took place on April 14, 1961. About 1,400 Cuban exiles disembarked at the Bay of Pigs, but failed in their attempt to overthrow Castro. In January 1962, Cuba was suspended from the Organization of American States (OAS), and later the same year the OAS started to impose sanctions against Cuba of similar nature to the US sanctions. The tense confrontation known as the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred in October, 1962. By 1963, Cuba was moving towards a full-fledged Communist system modeled on the USSR.

Fidel Castro and members of theEast German Politburo in 1972.
During the 1970s, Fidel Castro dispatched tens of thousands of troops in support of Soviet-supported wars in Africa, particularly the MPLA inAngola and Mengistu Haile Mariam in Ethiopia.
The standard of living in 1970s was "extremely spartan" and discontent was rife. Fidel Castro admitted the failures of economic policies in a 1970 speech.
In 1975 the OAS lifted its sanctions against Cuba, with the approval of 16 member states, including the U.S. The U.S., however, maintained its own sanctions.
Castro's rule was severely tested in the aftermath of the Soviet collapse in 1991 (known in Cuba as the Special Period), when the country faced a severe economic downturn following the withdrawal of former Soviet subsidies worth $4 billion to $6 billion annually, resulting in effects such as food and fuel shortages. The government did not accept American donations of food, medicines, and cash until 1993. On 5 August 1994, state security dispersed protesters in a spontaneous protest in Havana.
Cuba has found a new source of aid and support in the People's Republic of China, and new allies in Hugo Chávez, former President of Venezuela and Evo MoralesPresident of Bolivia, both major oil and gas exporters. In 2003, the government arrested and imprisoned a large number of civil activists, a period known as the "Black Spring".
In February 2008, Fidel Castro announced his resignation as President of Cuba, and on 24 February his brother, Raúl Castro, was elected as the new President. In his acceptance speech, Raúl promised that some of the restrictions that limit Cubans' daily lives would be removed. In March 2009, Raúl Castro removed some of Fidel Castro's officials.
On 3 June 2009, the Organization of American States adopted a resolution to end the 47-year ban on Cuban membership of the group. The resolution stated, however, that full membership would be delayed until Cuba was "in conformity with the practices, purposes, and principles of the OAS."[86] Cuban leaders have repeatedly announced they are not interested in rejoining the OAS, and Fidel Castro restated this after the OAS resolution had been announced.
Effective January 14, 2013, Cuba ended the requirement established in 1961 that any citizens who wish to travel abroad were required to obtain an expensive government permit and a letter of invitation. The now-replaced travel ban dates to 1961, when the Cuban government imposed broad restrictions on travel starting to prevent the mass migration of people after the 1959 revolution and only approved exit visas on rare occasions. Henceforth, Cubans will only need a passport and a national ID card to leave; they will also be allowed for the first time to take their young children with them. Despite the new policy, a passport will still cost on average five months' salary and it is expected that it will be mostly Cubans with paying relatives abroad that will be able to take advantage of the new policy  In the first year of the program, over 180,000 left Cuba and returned.
The Republic of Cuba is one of the world's remaining socialist states with Communist governments. The Constitution of 1976, which defined Cuba as a socialist republic, was replaced by the Constitution of 1992, which is "guided by the ideas of José Martí and the political and social ideas ofMarxEngels and Lenin." The constitution describes the Communist Party of Cuba as the "leading force of society and of the state".
The First Secretary of the Communist Party is concurrently President of the Council of State (President of Cuba) and President of the Council of Ministers (sometimes referred to as Premier of Cuba). Members of both councils are elected by the National Assembly of People's Power. The President of Cuba, who is also elected by the Assembly, serves for five years and there is no limit to the number of terms of office.
The Cuban state adheres to socialist principles in organizing its largely state-controlled planned economy. Most of the means of production are owned and run by the government and most of the labor force is employed by the state. Recent years have seen a trend toward more private sector employment. By 2006, public sector employment was 78% and private sector, mainly composed by personal property, 22%, compared to 91.8% to 8.2% in 1981. Any firm wishing to hire a Cuban must pay the Cuban government, which in turn will pay the employee in Cuban pesos. The average monthly wage as of July 2013 is 466 Cuban pesos, which are worth about US$19.
Cuba has a dual currency system, whereby most wages and prices are set in Cuban pesos (CUP), while the tourist economy operates withConvertible pesos (CUC), set at par with the US dollar. Every Cuban household has a ration book (known as libreta) entitling it to a monthly supply of food and other staples, which are provided at nominal cost.

Cigar production in Santiago de Cuba.
Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba depended on Moscow for substantial aid and sheltered markets for its exports. The removal of these subsidies (for example the oil sent the Cuban economy into a rapid depression known in Cuba as the Special Period. Cuba took limited free market-oriented measures to alleviate severe shortages of food, consumer goods, and services. These steps included allowing some self-employment in certain retail and light manufacturing sectors, the legalization of the use of the US dollar in business, and the encouragement of tourism. Cuba has developed a unique urban farm system (the organopónicos) to compensate for the end of food imports from the Soviet Union.
The leadership of Cuba has called for reforms in the country's agricultural system. In 2008, Raúl Castro began enacting agrarian reforms to boost food production, as at that time 80% of food was imported. The reforms enacted are aimed at expanding land usage and increasing efficiency. Venezuela supplies Cuba with an estimated 110,000 barrels (17,000 m3) a day of oil in exchange for money and the services of some 44,000 Cubans, most of them medical personnel, in Venezuela. Estimates place Venezuelan assistance at over 20% of the Cuban GDP for 2008–2010, similar to the aid flows from the Soviet Union in 1985–1988.
In 2005 Cuba had exports of $2.4 billion, ranking 114 of 226 world countries, and imports of $6.9 billion, ranking 87 of 226 countries. Its major export partners are Canada 17.7%, China 16.9%, Venezuela 12.5%, Netherlands 9%, and Spain 5.9% (2012). Cuba's major exports are sugar, nickel, tobacco, fish, medical products, citrus, and coffee; imports include food, fuel, clothing, and machinery. Cuba presently holds debt in an amount estimated to be $13 billion, approximately 38% of GDP. According to the Heritage Foundation, Cuba is dependent on credit accounts that rotate from country to country. Cuba's prior 35% supply of the world's export market for sugar has declined to 10% due to a variety of factors, including a global sugar commodity price drop that made Cuba less competitive on world markets.
In 2010, Cubans were allowed to build their own houses. According to Raul Castro, they will be able to improve their houses with this new permission, but the government will not endorse these new houses or improvements.
On August 2, 2011, The New York Times reported Cuba as reaffirming their intent to legalize "buying and selling" of private property before the year ends. According to experts, the private sale of property could "transform Cuba more than any of the economic reforms announced by President Raúl Castro's government". It will cut more than one million state jobs, including party bureaucrats who resist the changes. The new economic reforms effectively created a new economic system, referred by some as the "New Cuban Economy".
In August 2012, a specialist of the "Cuba energia Company" announced the opening of Cuba's first Solar Power Plant. As a member of the Cuba solar Group, there was also a mention of 10 additional plants in 2013.
In October 2013, as part of Raúl Castro's latest reforms, Cuba announced an end to the dual currency system.