National Geographic : 1909 Feb
CONDITIONS IN CUBA AS REVEALED BY THE CENSUS* BY HENRY GANNETT IN the autumn of 1907 a census of the population of Cuba was taken. The primary purpose of this census was to obtain, by means of non-partisan machinery, a list of the persons qualified to vote, to serve as a basis for the then approaching municipal and national elec tions. Because such was the primary purpose, the census was not extended to include the industries of the island, but related solely to the population. The questions asked differed but little from those employed in the Cuban census of 1899 and in the census of the Philip pines. The results of this census were tabu lated by the United States Census Office and a report, printed in Spanish only, is about to be issued. From the results I have brought together a few of the more striking facts. The civil organization of Cuba is as follows: The island is divided into 6 provinces, and these provinces into 82 municipali ties. These municipalities are in turn divided into 1,069 barrios, the "barrio" being the smallest political subdivision of the island. There are no cities, towns, villages, or boroughs, as we understand those terms. The urban parts of the municipalities are not separated from the adjoining rural parts., It is possible, however, in the case of most centers of population, to make an approximate sep aration by means of the barrios, certain of the barrios of a municipality being composed mainly, if not entirely, of urban or of rural inhabitants. A REMARKABLE NATURAL INCREASE IN POPULATION The population of Cuba on September 30, 1907, was 2,048,980; at the census next preceding, taken under American administration, in 1899, at the close of the Spanish-American War, the popula tion was 1,572,797. The rate of increase in these eight years is not less than 30 per cent, or at the rate of 39 per cent per decade. This is a very rapid rate of increase-greater than that of any country with which I am acquainted. This increase has not been brought about by immigration, for in the eight years the net immigration (that is, the excess of arrivals over departures) num bered only 75,000, and the element of foreign birth increased from II per cent to 11.2 per cent only, but it has been brought about almost entirely by the ex cess of births over deaths. During the years of revolution, when a large part of the men were away from their homes fighting for freedom, marriages and births were very few, and at the close of the war there were great arrears to be made up. The natural result followed an astonishing birth rate, which is shown in the fact that by the last census the number of children under five years of age, who, of course, have been born since the war, accounts for three-fourths of the increase in population. One peculiar phenomenon of this in crease is that the rural population has gained much more rapidly than has the urban-a condition which rarely exists, as in nearly every country in the world the drift of population is toward the cities. The urban population, including all places of 1,000 inhabitants and over, was 43.9 per cent of the total population. In 1899 it was 47.1 per cent. If the urban population be limited to towns of 8,ooo inhabitants, the proportion was 30.3 per cent. The chief cities are Habana, with 297,159 inhabitants, or about one-seventh *Paper read before the American Association of Geographers, January 2, 1909.