Because the supply of river water is limited, wells in La Habana province and elsewhere draw heavily on groundwater supplies. The main hydroelectric power plants are located in southeastern Cuba.
Domestic petroleum and natural gas deposits supply a growing portion of the country’s needs, but the majority is met by imports from Mexico and Venezuela. In fact, since the 1990sCuba has received free oil from Venezuela in exchange for sending thousands of its doctors to treat Venezuela’s poor. In the mid-2000s Venezuela funded the renovation of a dilapidated oil refinery in the Cienfuegos area of Cuba. The refinery has the capacity to refine hundreds of thousands of barrels of the oil imported from Venezuela. Peat, concentrated in the Zapata Peninsula, is still the most extensive fuel reserve. Nickel, chromite, and copper mines are important to Cuba, and beds of laterite (an iron ore) in the Holguín region have considerable potential. Nickel ore, which also yields cobalt, is processed in several large plants, and Cuba is a world leader in nickel production.
There are also major reserves of magnetite and manganese and lesser amounts of lead, zinc, gold, silver, and tungsten. Abundant reserves of limestone, rock salt, gypsum, kaolin (china clay), and marble are found on Juventud Island. Industrial production accounts for slightly more than one-tenth of the gross domestic product (GDP). Tobacco, processed foods (including sugar), and beverages are the most valuable products. Chemical products, transport equipment, and machinery are also important.
The banking system has been operated by the state since 1966 through the National Bank of Cuba, which sets interest rates, regulates foreign exchange, and issues currency (theCuban peso and the convertible peso). There are no stock exchanges. Foreign investment was prohibited until 1982, when a joint-venture law was enacted.
The government has had increasing success at attracting private capital and foreign-owned commercial banks since the 1990s, especially with European and Canadian investors; however, U.S. investment has been withheld because it violates the Helms-Burton law enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1996.
Sugar is the main export, followed by nickel and other minerals, fish products, tobacco (notably cigars), and citrus fruits. Among the most important imports are mineral fuels and lubricants, foods, machinery and transport equipment, and chemicals. Cuba’s main trading partners include Venezuela, Spain, Russia, China, Canada, and the United States. In the 1950s more than two-thirds of Cuban foreign trade was with the United States. By 1961 Cuban-U.S. trade was down to 4 percent, and it soon ceased entirely under U.S. government embargo policies.
Trade shifted to the Soviet Union and other socialist countries, and in 1972 Cuba became a full member of the Eastern-bloc Comecon (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance; disbanded in 1991). By the end of the 1980s almost three-fourths of Cuba’s trade was with the Soviet Union, on extremely beneficial terms for Cuba.Cuba’s overall trade declined sharply after the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. The United States again became a top trading partner beginning in 2002 when it began to sell food toCuba under an amendment to the embargo legislation. "Cuba" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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