Cuba, the People


32 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Index
ISBN 0-7787-9325-7
DDC j972.91




Reviewed by Alison Mews

Alison Mews is co-ordinator of the Centre for Instructional Services at
Memorial University of Newfoundland.


This is the third Caribbean country—following Puerto Rico and
Jamaica—to be covered by the visually exciting Lands, People and
Culture series. Cuba’s nickname “the Pearl of the Antilles” is
attributed to Christopher Columbus, and the natural beauty of this
island is evident in the fabulous photographs in Cuba, the Land.

The book describes the island’s cities, climate, industries
(especially sugar and cigars), and demographic history. That the fragile
ecosystems have been severely compromised by development, pollution, and
tourism is mentioned repeatedly when discussing the coral reefs,
wetlands, rainforests, and flatlands. A number of conservation areas
have been established, and many endangered species are now protected by

Cuba, the People covers the political and social history of Cuba that
resulted in its current Spanish culture and Communist government. The
effects of the U.S. trade embargo, declared after Castro expropriated
American-owned land in Cuba, and of the restrictions on the free flow of
people between the two countries are outlined. Details are given about
the daily lives of rural and urban Cubans, including education,
language, leisure, and cuisine.

Cuba, the Culture begins with the cultural context of Communism and the
difficulties of artistic self-expression in such a restrictive
environment. It then establishes an ancestral and historical context for
the many festivals, both patriotic and religious. Cuba is well-known for
its Latin American music and dance, and many different styles—such as
the rhumba, mambo, and salsa—are identified. Other forms of the arts
are also depicted, with famous artists in the various genres given
prominence. Also noted is the “exile literature” by expatriate
Cubans who were forced to leave because of their opposition to
Communism. The book finishes with a Cuban folk tale about how the rabbit
got its long ears.

These three books provide an excellent introduction to the largest
island in the Caribbean sea. Highly recommended.


Fast, April, and Susan Hughes., “Cuba, the People,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 15, 2024,