Cuba is a totalitarian state controlled by President Fidel Castro, who is Chief of State, Head of Government, First Secretary of the PCC, and commander in chief of the armed forces. Castro seeks to control most aspects of Cuban life through the Communist Party and its affiliated mass organizations, the government bureaucracy, and the state security apparatus. The Ministry of Interior is the principal organ of state security and control.
According to the Cuban Constitution, the National Assembly of People's Power, and its Council of State when the body is not in session, has supreme authority in the Cuban system. Since the National Assembly meets only twice a year for a few days each time, the 31-member Council of State wields power. The Council of Ministers, through its nine-member executive committee, handles the administration of the of the state-controlled economy. Fidel Castro is President of the Council of State and Council of Ministers and his brother Raul serves as First Vice President of both bodies in addition to being Minister of Defense.
Although the constitution theoretically provides for independent courts, it explicitly subordinates them to the National Assembly and to the Council of State. The People's Supreme Court is the highest judicial body. Due process is routinely denied to Cuban citizens, particularly in cases involving political offenses. The constitution states that all legally recognized civil liberties can be denied to anyone who opposes the "decision of the Cuban people to build socialism."
The Communist Party is constitutionally recognized as Cuba's only legal political party. The party monopolizes all government positions, including judicial offices. Though not a formal requirement, party membership is virtually a de facto prerequisite for high-level official positions and professional advancement in most areas, although non-party members are sometimes allowed to serve in the National Assembly.
Cuba's state-controlled economy has failed to provide adequate housing to Cubans. Multi-family occupation of often unsafe housing is common. The government uses scarce resources to restore and preserve historic sites intended for tourist use.
conventional long form: Republic of Cuba
conventional short form: Cuba
local long form: Republica de Cuba
local short form: Cuba
Data code: CU
Government type: Communist state
Administrative divisions: 14 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia) and 1 special municipality* (municipio especial); Camaguey, Ciego de Avila, Cienfuegos, Ciudad de La Habana, Granma, Guantanamo, Holguin, Isla de la Juventud*, La Habana, Las Tunas, Matanzas, Pinar del Rio, Sancti Spiritus, Santiago de Cuba, Villa Clara
Independence: 20 May 1902 (from Spain 10 December 1898; administered by the US from 1898 to 1902)
National holiday: Rebellion Day, 26 July (1953); Liberation Day, 1 January (1959)
Constitution: 24 February 1976, amended July 1992
Legal system: based on Spanish and American law, with large elements of Communist legal theory; does not accept compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 16 years of age; universal
chief of state: President of the Council of State and President of the Council of Ministers Fidel Castro Ruz (prime minister from February 1959 until 24 February 1976, when office was abolished; president since 2 December 1976); First Vice President of the Council of State and First Vice President of the Council of Ministers Gen. Raul Castro Ruz (since 2 December 1976); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President of the Council of State and President of the Council of Ministers Fidel Castro Ruz (prime minister from February 1959 until 24 February 1976 when office was abolished; president since 2 December 1976); First Vice President of the Council of State and First Vice President of the Council of Ministers Gen. Raul Castro Ruz (since 2 December 1976); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Council of Ministers proposed by the president of the Council of State, appointed by the National Assembly
note: there is also a Council of State whose members are elected by the National Assembly
elections: president and vice president elected by the National Assembly; election last held 24 February 1998 (next election unscheduled)
election results: Fidel Castro Ruz elected president; percent of legislative vote - 100%; Raul CASTRO Ruz elected vice president; percent of legislative vote - 100%
unicameral National Assembly of People's Power or Asemblea Nacional del Poder Popular (601 seats, elected directly from slates approved by special candidacy commissions; members serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 11 January 1998 (next to be held in 2003)
election results: percent of vote - PCC 94.39%; seats - PCC 601
Judicial branch: People's Supreme Court or Tribunal Supremo Popular; president, vice president, and other judges are elected by the National Assembly
Political parties and leaders: only party - Cuban Communist Party or PCC [Fidel CASTRO Ruz, first secretary]
International organization participation: CCC, ECLAC, FAO, G-77, IAEA, ICAO, ICRM, IFAD, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO, ITU, LAES, LAIA, NAM, OAS (excluded from formal participation since 1962), OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO
Diplomatic representation in the US: none; note - Cuba has an Interests Section in the Swiss Embassy, headed by Principal Officer Fernando REMIREZ DE ESTENOZ; address: Cuban Interests Section, Swiss Embassy, 2630 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009; telephone:  (202) 797-8518
Diplomatic representation from the US: none; note - the US has an Interests Section in the Swiss Embassy, headed by Principal Officer Vicki HUDDLESTON; address: USINT, Swiss Embassy, Calzada between L and M Streets, Vedado Seccion, Havana; telephone: 33-3551 through 3559 and 33-3543 through 3547 (operator assistance required); FAX: 33-3700; protecting power in Cuba is Switzerland
Flag description: five equal horizontal bands of blue (top and bottom) alternating with white; a red equilateral triangle based on the hoist side bears a white, five-pointed star in the center