192-Part Guide To The World: Cuba

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The Independent Travel

Language: Spanish.

Size: 42,804 square miles, making it the largest Caribbean island and just smaller than England.

Population: Approximately 11 million.

National dish: Chicken, rice and beans are the staple foods. Morros y cristianos, literally Moors and Christians, is a basic dish comprising rice and beans.

Best monument: Havana is an incredible Spanish colonial city, boasting splendid churches and mansions. Undoubtedly its highlight is the Plaza de la Revolución, with its mural to Che Guevara.

Most famous citizen: More than 40 years after he gained power, President Fidel Castro continues to lead his country. Before embracing rebellion and his political calling, he was educated at a Jesuit school and studied law at Havana University.

Best moment in history: On New Year's Day in 1959 the dictator Fulgencio Batista fled the country and the revolutionary aims of the Communist guerrillas, led by Castro and Che Guevara, became reality.

Worst moment in history: The failed assault on the army's base at Moncada in July 1953 was the nadir of the revolutionary movement's fortunes. Many rebels were killed in the confrontation and the survivors, including Castro, were captured and imprisoned.

Essential accessory: Not all things American are detested in Cuba - US currency is coveted, so make sure you bring your dollars.

What not to do: Do not question the policies or sanity of El Jefe, Fidel Castro.

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