Traditionally, the Cuban family was a close-knit unit. The Communist regime, however, requires young people to take part in social activities outside the household. This requirement has eroded some of the authority that parents traditionally had over their children.

 With the help of child-care centres, as well as maternity benefits, many women have entered the work force. In 1974, the Family Code was passed, which set out the responsibilities of married couples. The Code gave men and women equal rights and responsibilities for housework, child rearing and education. Nevertheless, some gender stereotypes persist in the home, at work and in the political arena. Some men find it hard to accept that women want to work, and feel that their wives are abandoning their homes.

The divorce rate in Cuba is high. This may be due to pressures put on relationships by overcrowding resulting from housing shortages. After marriage, many newlyweds have to move into the home of the bride's family. The decreasing influence of the Catholic Church and the changing role of women may also contribute to stress within families.

 Little new housing has been built in Cuba since the 1960s. It is not unusual for three generations to live in one apartment. In the countryside, some people still live in traditional Cuban bohíos. These are palm wood huts with roofs made of palm leaves. They are built with the same materials that the early inhabitants of Cuba used to build their houses.

  Did you know?
Men usually do two years of compulsory military service between the ages of 16 and 30. Recently, they have been given the option of doing agricultural service instead.
Transportation is a problem for many Cubans. Few new vehicles have been brought into the country since the 1960s and gas is rationed. Old buses called guaguas and new buses called camellos (camels) are usually crammed with passengers. Some people build cars with parts from other vehicles. Cubans show great ingenuity in maintaining old vehicles. Bicycles are also common, including taxi-bikes, which are bicycles with a trailer in the back for passengers. Steam locomotives more than 100 years old still carry sugar cane from one town to the next. In the cities there are some horse-drawn carriages and people in the country may ride oxen, donkeys or mules. 

Cuba has a sizable Chinese community. During the second half of the 19th century, as many as 150,000 Chinese labourers came to Cuba to work on the plantations. Later, some of them set up businesses on the island. Many married Cubans from other ethnic backgrounds. Havana still has an area called Barrio China (Chinatown).

  Did you know?
Cuban families may celebrate a daughter's fifteenth birthday by throwing a big party. Traditionally, this celebration announced her readiness for marriage.