The communist nation was kept on a tight leash by the world’s most powerful nation, since severing of diplomatic ties in 1961 nearly two years after the Cuban revolution brought Fidel Castro to power.
It was cut off from international trade but Cubans learned to live with limited resources.
Despite the odds, the country developed one of the finest healthcare systems in the world.
Art and culture, particularly music, also flourished under communist rule. In spite of sanctions, Cuba managed to attract international tourists on the back of its rich cultural heritage and pristine beaches.
Nearly two million tourists visited the island in the first six months of this year, bringing billions of dollars into the country.
Booming tourism has offered Cubans an extra income that they could not have dreamt of with low-paying government jobs. Waiters are one of the biggest earners compared to much-respected professions of medicine and teaching that pay as low as $40 a month.