Economy of Cuba

in the 1990s. In 2004 Cuban officials publicly backed the Euro as a "global counter-balance to the US dollar", and eliminated U.S. currency from circulation in its stores and businesses.

Tourism was initially restricted to enclave resorts where tourists would be segregated from Cuban society, referred to as "enclave tourism" and "tourism apartheid". Contacts between foreign visitors and ordinary Cubans were de facto illegal until 1997. In 1996 tourism surpassed the sugar industry as the largest source of hard currency for Cuba. Cuba has tripled its market share of Caribbean tourism in the last decade; as a result of significant investment in tourism infrastructure, this growth rate is predicted to continue. 1.9 million tourists visited Cuba in 2003, predominantly from Canada and the European Union, generating revenue of $2.1 billion. The rapid growth of tourism during the Special Period had widespread social and economic repercussions in Cuba, and led to speculation about the emergence of a two-tier economy. The Medical tourism sector caters to thousands of European, Latin American, Canadian, and American consumers every year.

The communist agricultural production system was ridiculed by Raúl Castro in 2008. Cuba now imports up to 80% of food used for rations. Before 1959, Cuba boasted as many cattle as people.

For some time, Cuba has been experiencing a housing shortage because of the state's failure to keep pace with increasing demand. The government instituted food rationing policies in 1962, which were exacerbated following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the tightening of the U.S. embargo. Studies have shown that, as late as 2001, the average Cuban's standard of living was lower than before the downturn of the post-Soviet period. Paramount issues have been state salaries failing to meet personal needs under the state rationing system, chronically plagued with shortages. The variety and quantity of available rationed goods declined