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The Republic of Cuba is an island country in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city.
Cuba is home to over 11 million people and is the most populous island nation in the Caribbean, as well as the largest by area. Its people, culture, and customs draw from diverse sources, such as the aboriginal Taíno and Ciboney peoples, the period of Spanish colonialism, the introduction of African slaves and its proximity to the United States.
To the north of Cuba lies the United States (90 miles away) and the Bahamas, Mexico is to the west, the Cayman Islands and Jamaica are to the south, and Haiti and the Dominican Republic are to the southeast.
Cuba has a 99.8% literacy rate, an infant death rate lower than some developed countries, and an average life expectancy of 77.64. In 2006, Cuba was the only nation in the world which met the WWF's definition of sustainable development; having an ecological footprint of less than 1.8 hectares per capita and a Human Development Index of over 0.8 for 2007.
In 1492, Christopher Columbus landed on and claimed the island now occupied by Cuba, for the Kingdom of Spain. Cuba remained a territory of Spain until the Spanish–American War ended in 1898, and gained formal independence from the U.S. in 1902. Between 1953 and 1959 the Cuban Revolution occurred, removing the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. A new socialist government led by Fidel Castro was later set up.