In addition to the capital, Havana, which, due to its development and increasingly intimate relations with the neighboring United States, has long since surpassed the simple function of a local center, establishing itself among the most beautiful and richest metropolises in the New World, more than one city on the island has made significant progress in recent years: Santiago (75,000 residents), the old capital, capital of the eastern provinces, which draws life from a vast mining district; Matanzas (60,000 residents), at the outlet to the Antillean Sea of one of the best developed agricultural regions; Camagüey (50,000 residents), in the heart of an area recently opened to the large-scale cultivation of sugar cane; Cienfuegos (50,000 residents), the Perla del Sur, the busiest of the ports on the Caribbean Sea and also the center.
The administrative division and population of the island are shown in the table at the top of the next page.
Government. – Cuba is a straight republic on the model of the United States. The president is appointed by an electoral college for 6 years and cannot be re-elected at the end of his term; he appoints the ministers, whom he can remove in his judgment; sanctions, promulgates and executes laws and can issue legislative decrees; it directs foreign relations and concludes treaties, which must be approved by the senate, but cannot dissolve the congress. The congress is made up of two chambers: the senate, with 4 representatives (6 starting from 1931) per province, elected by special electoral commissions, for 6 years (9 starting from 1933); and the House of Representatives with 128 members, elected by direct suffrage of citizens who are at least 21 years old, for 6 years.
Army. – Out of a population of about three and a half million residents, Cuba has a balanced force of 10,919 men, voluntarily recruited, and a military budget of about 200 million lire out of 2 billion of the general budget. The army is made up of: 4 infantry battalions; 2 machine gun sections and 1 transport section; 6 cavalry regiments; 3 coastal artillery battalions, a machine gun section and a transport section; the field artillery batteries; 2 mountain artillery batteries; 1 company of genius diggers; 1 railway company of genius; 1 telegraph company; 1 telephone company; an aviation section.
Marina. – The Cuban navy currently includes a cruiser, Cuba, launched in 1911, of 2055 tons. and 18 knots; a cruiser-school Patria, launched in 1911, of 1200 tons. and 16 knots; five gunboats on 200 tons. and 12-14 knots; seven lookouts for coastal surveillance between 30-300 tons. and 12-16 knots; three 70-ton motorboats, launched in 1917-18. The naval program, approved in 1925, contemplates the construction, in 10 years, of a 5,000-ton cruiser, a 2,500-tonne cruiser, 8 900-tonne gunboats, 8 200-tonne gunboats. Navy personnel include 132 officers and 1050 non-commissioned officers and municipalities.
Finances. – Cuba’s finances, exceptionally prosperous in 1919 and then hit by severe crises in ’20 and ’21, rapidly improved after the reform introduced by President Zayas. A $ 50 million loan was launched in January 1923 on the British market and the $ 10 million war loan was liquidated; the financial year 1922-1923 ended in surplus and the results of the last few years in thousands of pesos reveal the constancy of this improvement:
The main entry chapters are customs duties, land taxes, national lotteries and post offices and telegraphs; the main expenses are those disbursed for public education, military defense and public debt.
The Cuban monetary unit is the gold peso, corresponding to the US dollar, established by the law of November 7, 1914; however, the American currency is legal tender. The minting of gold is unlimited; that of silver cannot exceed the value of 12 million pesos ; the limit of nickel minting is set by the executive power.
The total amount of the circulation as of June 30, 1929 corresponded to 138 million American dollars of which 33.5 of Cuban money (23.8 in gold pesos and the rest in divisional silver and nickel currency), and 104.5 of American currency (93 million in banknotes and the rest in metallic currency). The debt of the Republic of Cuba as of September 30, 1929 was 143 million dollars, of which 74 of foreign debt, mainly towards the United States, and 69 of internal debt.
Religion. – The first bishopric of Cuba, founded in 1518, had Baracoa as its residence. Only three years later this city renounced the honor of civil and religious capital in favor of Santiago, which, despite being a suffragan of S. Domingo, remained the only diocese for almost three centuries, and furthermore extended its jurisdiction to Florida and to Louisiana. The creation of the new diocese of San Cristóbal de la Habana, to which the three western provinces were assigned, and until 1793 the two continental provinces, dates from 1786. In compensation for this dismemberment Santiago was erected a few years later (1803) as an archbishopric and constituted a metropolis. Leo XIII in 1903 erected the two new dioceses of Cienfuegos and Pinar del Río, assigning them as respective territories the civil provinces of Santa Clara and Pinar del Río together with the Isle of Pines. In 1912 Pius X erected the provinces of Matanzas and Camagu̇ey in the diocese; and Pius XI doubled the ecclesiastical province of Santiago, erecting Havana, or San Cristóbal de la Habana as a metropolis and assigning them as suffragans the two dioceses of Matanzas and Pinar del Río, while the other two, Cienfuegos and Camagüey, were suffragans of Santiago. Moreover, since 1925 Havana has been the residence of the Apostolic Delegation of all the Antilles. For Cuba religion, please check thereligionfaqs.com.
Especially after the United States of America took over the island, the number of Protestants has increased considerably and the Episcopal Church established in the United States has established a diocese there.