25 Odd Facts About Cuba To Know Before You Visit

There’s no doubting the mystery that has shrouded the island of Cuba for decades since the US travel ban to the country. These days, however, the lift on the ban has Americans flocking to the small country where bailando is all the rage and cigars are a way of life.

Gearing up for a trip to Cuba this year? Before you pack your bags check out this list of the weirdest things you should be aware of.

1. Ballet instead of basketball.

CREDIT: @panamaballetfestival / Instagram

In Cuba, ballerinas often earn more money than doctors and are considered to at the top tier when it comes to stardom. The National Ballet of Cuba was founded in 1948 and is considered to be the top in the world.

2. They don’t do rum and coke like you do.

CREDIT: @restauracja_secado / Instagram

In every other part of Latin America, a drink with rum, coke and a lime is called a “Cuba Libre.” In Cuba you can put in an order by asking for a “mentrita” AKA “little lie.”

3. Bacardi Rum comes from Cuba.

CREDIT: @beforwork / Instagram

The company moved to Puerto Rico when Fidel Castro took over.

4. It snows there

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Or, at least once it did. The most recent snowfall in March of 1857.

5. Hitchhikers always get a lift.

CREDIT: @elbelgavolador / Instagram

Government vehicles are required to pick up hitchhikers.

6. Internet access is for the 5%.

CREDIT: @martoshke / Instagram

Only this small percentage of the company is allowed access to the uncensored open Internet many across the world are able to access.

7. No selfies with the government.

CREDIT: @d3mariner / Instagram

In Cuba, it is against the law to take photos of police, airport and military workers.

8. Sex changes allowed since 2007

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And they’re covered by the health care system.

9. But the country is hardly a queer safe haven.

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Cross-dressing in the country is completely illegal.

10. America pays rent to Cuba but Cuba doesn’t cash it.

CREDIT: @attworldnews / Instagram

The United States pays the country $4,085 annually to rent the 45-square-mile naval base at Guantanamo Bay. Cuba has never cashed the checks however because they refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the lease that gave U.S control over Guantanamo.

11. Dolls get burned there.

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Every New Year’s Eve the island of Cuba gets lit up when residents burn dolls. The symbolic burning represents forgetting bad times and looking forward to the new.

12. “Operation Castration”

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The CIA had worked to take down Castro for years. The operation was called “Operation Castration” and included one idea of killing him with an explosive seashell.

13. Cuba looks like a crocodile.

CREDIT: @jens_cullmann / Instagram

The country gets its nickname “El Coccodrilo” from the aerial view of the island.

14. Castro hates Monopoly

CREDIT: @emmy_bel / Instagram

One of Fidel Castro’s first orders, when he seized power over Cuba, was to ban and destroy all sets of the game Monopoly.

15. No Coca-Cola

CREDIT: @cocacola / Instagram

Just like North Korea, Cuba bans the distribution of Coca-Cola. Poor mentritas.

16. Cubans love South Korean telenovelas

Of course, the country loves a good telenovela and the drama of Kdramas is too much for them to resist.

17. John Lennon lives there.

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Or at least his legacy does. A statue of Lennon is on 24hr patrol to keep patrons from stealing his glasses.

18. Don’t you dare blow your nose!

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It’s considered to be super rude to do in public.

19. Crocodiles leap there.

CREDIT: @brodbeckchristopher / Instagram

Cuba has a native species of leaping Cuban crocodiles that are extremely endangered.

20. Christmas came late.

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The country didn’t officially recognize the holiday until 1997.

21. One company makes the premium cigars.

CREDIT: @cigar_aficionado_swiss /

And oh yea they don’t call them cigars there. They call them puros or habanos.

22. No cell phones until 2008.

CREDIT: @cellphoneguys_com / Instagram

That’s a lot of years late when you consider that the rest of the world was getting their hands on the first iPhone just a year later.

23. There are a ton of readers there.

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At 99.8% the country holds one of the highest literacy rates in the world.

24. Cubans and American tourists pay with different money.

CREDIT: @beautybydaniela/ Instagram

In Cuba, there’s the Cuban convertible peso, AKA CUC, and the Cuban peso, AKA the CUP. U.S. visitors require the CUC, which is the exact 1:! of the U.S. dollar.

25. There’s a reason why the cars are old

CREDIT: @d.tolchennikov / Instagram

There was an import ban on cars in Cuba until 2011.

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