Located in the northern Caribbean, Cuba is a former Spanish colony with Havana as its capital. Since 1959 and the fall of a US-backed dictator, Cuba has been a one-party state led by Fidel Castro and – since February 2008 – by his chosen successor and younger brother, Raul. Its embrace of communism allowed Cuba to receive a lot of Soviet military assistance during the Cold War, allowing it to play a larger than life role in both the region and the world in providing military and humanitarian assistance to troubled spots. It has also been the subject to numerous periods of conflict with the United States and sanctions have been imposed on it from time to time.
It is a multi-ethnic country whose people include the aboriginal Taíno and Ciboney peoples, as well as those who came over during Spanish colonialism, and the descendants of African slaves. The population of Cuba is 51% mulatto (of mixed European and African lineage), 37% white, 11% black and 1% Chinese. Cuba’s natural resources include sugar, tobacco, fish, citrus fruits, coffee, beans, rice, potatoes, and livestock.