Havana at a Glance
Living in Havana
Culture and Leisure in Havana
Havana has been a city of trade in Cuba ever since it was first established in the 16th century by Spanish explorers on their way to America. At this time, walls were built around the city to protect it, along with different forts, some of which are still there today.
Old Havana is the heart and soul of the city center, and the original structure of the city. Buildings in Havana are frequently undergoing restoration, but these narrow cobbled streets and old fashioned architecture have retained their charm and are an attraction for thousands of tourists each year. Havana also has a buzzing and vibrant Chinatown, which was established by Chinese-born explorers living in Havana in the 19th century. This Chinatown makes up a considerable part of the city center, and has contributed to the mix of cultures and cuisines in Havana. Havana also contains many museums and theaters, and is home to several festivals such as the Havana Film Festival and the Havana International Jazz Festival.
Safety and Security in Havana
Havana owes much of its income to tourists and foreign travel, so the authorities in the city are very careful to keep the popular tourist areas as safe as possible, and punishments for crimes against tourists in the city can be very harsh. Because of this extra security, the city is very safe during daytime, but at night, there is a lot less security, and it is not a good idea for expats living in Havana to walk around on their own once darkness falls. In the evening, you should stick to streets with good lighting, and avoid locals trying to hustle you into restaurants or bars. Simply keep walking and they will stop bothering you.
Healthcare in Havana
Throughout Cuba there is a national health service which exists for all of the country’s citizens. There are no privately-run hospitals or health services at all in Havana, but the city provides a great deal of medical personnel to developing countries considering its small size. Thanks to the low-cost healthcare services, roughly 2,000 healthcare tourists come to Havana each year. The costs are a great deal lower than in the United States of America or other countries without a proper national healthcare service.
Having health and travel insurance when moving to Havana is essential. The standard of healthcare in Havana has had mixed reviews, but there are few reported problems for minor health issues. Unfortunately, there are some concerns about corruption in the healthcare system, with money from fee-paying customers often going to government officials rather than to underpaid healthcare workers.