The Cuban Economy
The Cuban economy has been remarkably resilient over the years surviving a great many difficulties. For many years the country relied on trade with the Soviet Union but when that came to end they had to find different ways to keep their economy going. Despite an embargo by the United States, Cuba has managed to keep its economy afloat. They are one of the few communist countries remaining in the world and it seems unlikely that that is going to change anytime soon.
The main driver of the Cuban economy is agriculture. The country is a major producer of several crops but sugar and tobacco are the big money products. Despite not being able to export their products to the United States Cuba has become a major exporter of agricultural products. The downside is that because most of their agricultural production is focused on cash crops they need to import most of their food. This works well for the government from a balance of payments perspective but it is a problem for the people who have to spend a fair chunk of their wages on food. This is unlikely to change in the near future as the Cuban government relies heavily on the cash that is generated by exporting cash crops.
There has been an attempt on the part of the Cuban government to diversify their economy and it looks like natural resources will be one way that they can do this. The country has become a major nickel producer and this has quickly become one of their largest exports. There is also the potential for Cuba to become a major oil producer. There are large reserves of oil in the Caribbean that are in Cuba's territorial water. It is very likely that in the near future they will take advantage of these reserves in order to help diversify the economy.
In recent years Cuba has become a major tourist destination and this has become an important part of the economy. With the US embargo preventing American visitors from coming to the country the growth of the tourism industry has been slow. However there have been large numbers of visitors from Canada for many years and both European and Chinese visitors are also starting to arrive in large numbers. The main reason is that Cuba is probably the cheapest destination in the Caribbean for tourists.
Another of the attractions for tourists to Cuba is the health care. The Cuban health care system is very good and very cheap by western standards. This has resulted in a lot of medical tourists going to the country to get medical procedures that they need. The strength of the Cuban education system has helped to keep the Cuban economy going. They have even started to export skilled workers like doctors and teachers to other Latin American countries in order to bring in the resources that they need.