What kind of electrical outlets and plugs are used in Cuba?

The voltage of the AC power plugs and outlets in Cuba is mainly 110V. To a lesser extent you can find 220V plugs and sockets as well. The frequency in both cases is 60Hz.

All Cuban homes have 110V outlets and plugs. Additionally, some households have a secondary line carrying 220V, but this is really not the norm. As I said before, the norm in regular Cuban houses is 110 volts.

You are more likely to find 220V sockets in hotel (resort) rooms. As a matter of fact, hotel rooms are usually equipped with both 110V and 220V outlets; so, make sure to plug your laptop, cellphone and other electrical appliances in the right socket.

Advice 1: It is very handy to carry a 220V to 110V converter in case you need to down convert your outlet voltage.

This way, you don’t even have to worry about picking the right socket: the converter will make sure to always deliver the proper output voltage at 110V.

There are two main types of plugs used in Cuba: NEMA 1-15 and NEMA 5-15. Both types are standard in North America; namely the United States and Canada. See images of the two types of plugs below: 
NEMA 1-15 plug with two flat parallel prongs
NEMA 1-15. This plug has two flat parallel prongs.
NEMA 5-15 plug with two flat thick blades and one round earth pin
NEMA 5-15. This plug has two flat thick blades and an extra round earth pin.

One thing you should know is that power surges and voltage drops are quite common in the regular Cuban homes. Power outages are also common.

Power outages are dangerous; because in the first few seconds after the service is restored, the voltage spikes above its normal level, possibly damaging the electrical devices still hooked to the outlet.

Voltage drops are also a problem, because devices will receive less power than they should and this will eventually affect them.

Advice 2: Get a power surge/voltage drop protector (NEMA compatible)

An interesting situation arises if you are trying to hook your 3 pin laptop plug (NEMA 5-15) into an outlet that only has two slots (NEMA 1-15). I guess you can cut the round earth pin; but we don’t want to mutilate our laptop plug, don’t we? In this case, you might need a 3 Prong to 2 Prong Adapter, like this one:


I must say you can get by without the 3 Prong to 2 Prong Adapter. It would be better to get a surge protector that’s compatible with NEMA plugs and that also integrates a 220V to 110V converter. The Amazon product below is one good example of it.

This one has two added bonuses: first, it has a couple of USB ports to charge your cellphone, table, camera, etc.; second, it can be used not only in Cuba; but anywhere in North America, the UK, Europe and Australia.


Finally, if you think the voltage converter is too much, a simpler choice would be to get a NEMA compatible surge protector with USB ports, like the ones below. They’re cheaper, because they don’t integrate the AC converter.


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Canadian Citizenship Exam - Questions and Answers

All these questions and answers are covered in more detail in Discover Canada (Citizen Study Guide).

I also put together a separate article named “How much do you know about your Government?” I advise you to read it before going to the Canadian Citizenship Exam. Just follow the link in the line above.

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Which federal political party is in power?
Liberal Party.
Which party is the Official Opposition at the federal level?
The Conservative Party.
Who is the leader of the Federal Official Opposition Party?
Rona Ambrose (Interim).
Name all the federal political parties in the House of Commons and their leaders.
Conservative(Rona Ambrose), NDP (Tom Mulcair), Liberal (Justin Trudeau), Bloc Quebecois (Rhéal Fortin), Green Party (Elizabeth May).
What is the name of the Prime Minister of Canada and his/her party?
Justin Trudeau (Liberal Party).
Who was the first Prime Minister of Canada?
Sir John A. Macdonald.
What is the name of the Royal Anthem of Canada?
God Save the Queen (or King).
What is the name of the Governor General?
David Johnston.
Who are the Aboriginal peoples of Canada?
The first people to live in Canada.
What are the three main groups of Aboriginal peoples?
First Nations, Métis and Inuit.
Who are the Métis?
A distinct people of mixed Aboriginal and European ancestry.
Who were the United Empire Loyalists?
Settlers who came to Canada from the United States during and after the American Revolution.
What does Confederation mean?
Joining of provinces to make a new country.
What year was Confederation?
1867.
Which provinces first formed Confederation?
Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Province of Canada.
Which was the last province to join Canada?
Newfoundland.
When is Canada Day and what does it celebrate?
We celebrate the anniversary of Confederation July 1st of each year.
When did the British North America Act come into effect?
1867.
Why is the Constitution Act of 1982 important in Canadian history?
It allows Canada to change the Constitution without asking approval of the British Government.
What part of the Constitution legally protects the basic rights and freedoms of all Canadians?
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
When did the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms become part of the Canadian Constitution?
1982.
Name two fundamental freedoms protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms:
Freedom of religion and freedom of speech.
Name three legal rights protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms:
Right to live and work anywhere in Canada, right to a fair trial, and right to protection against discrimination.
What is the meaning of the Remembrance Day poppy?
To remember the sacrifice of Canadians who have served or died in wars up to the present day.
When is Remembrance Day celebrated?
November 11th.
What does equality under the law mean?
Being treated with equal dignity and respect, and having equal rights to speak out and express ideas.
Name six responsibilities of citizenship:
Vote, help others, care for our heritage and environment, obey Canada’s laws, respect the rights of others, eliminate injustice.
What is an example of how you can show responsibility by participating in your community?
Join a community group.
Lists four rights Canadian citizens have:
Right to challenge unlawful detention, vote, apply for a Canadian passport, enter and leave Canada freely.
What will you promise when you take the Oath of Citizenship?
Pledge allegiance to the Queen, observe the laws of Canada and fulfill the duties of a Canadian.
What are the two official languages of Canada?
English and French.
What is an example of where English and French have equal status in Canada?
In the Parliament of Canada.
Where do most French-speaking Canadians live?
Quebec.
Which province has the most bilingual Canadians?
Quebec.
Which province is the only officially bilingual province?
New Brunswick.
What does the Canadian flag look like?
White with a red border on each end and a red maple leaf in the centre.
What song is Canada’s national anthem?
O Canada.
Give the first two lines of Canada’s national anthem.
O Canada! Our home and native land! True patriot love in all thy sons command.
From where does the name “Canada” come?
From “kanata”, The Huron-Iroquois word for village.
Which animal is an official symbol of Canada?
The beaver.
What is the population of Canada?
About 33 millions.
On what date did Nunavut become a territory?
April 1st, 1999.
What are the three main types of industry in Canada?
Natural resources, manufacturing and services.
In what industry do most Canadian work?
Service.
What country is Canada’s largest trading partner?
The United States of America.
Which region is known as the industrial and manufacturing heartland of Canada?
Central Canada.
Which region of Canada is known for both its fertile agricultural land and valuable energy resources?
Prairie Provinces.
Who is Canada’s Head of State?
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Who is the Queen’s representative in Canada?
Governor General of Canada.
What do you call the Sovereign’s representative in the provinces?
Lieutenant – Governor.
What is Canada’s system of government called?
Parliamentary government.
What are the three parts of Parliament?
The Queen, the House of Commons and the Senate.
What do you call a law before it is passed?
A Bill.
How does a bill become a law?
Approval by a majority in the House of Commons and Senate and finally the Governor General.
How are the Members of Parliament chosen?
Elected by Canadian citizens.
Who do Members of Parliament represent?
Everyone who lives in his or her electoral district.
What are the tree levels of government in Canada?
Federal, Provincial and Territorial, Municipal (local).
Name two responsibilities of the federal government:
National defense and foreign policy.
What is the government of all of Canada called?
Federal.
How many electoral districts are there in Canada?
338.
Who has the right to vote in federal elections?
A Canadian citizen, 18 years or older and on voters list.
What three requirements must you meet in order to vote in a federal election?
Canadian citizen, 18 years or older and on the list of electors.
When asked, who must you tell how you voted in a federal election?
No one.
What do you mark on a federal ballot?
An “X”.
How is the government formed after a federal election?
The party with the most elected representatives becomes the party in power. The leader of this party becomes the Prime Minister.
How is the Prime Minister chosen?
The leader of the party with the most elected representatives becomes the Prime Minister.
When must federal elections be held?
On the third Monday in October every four years following the most recent general election.
Which party becomes the Official Opposition?
The party with the second most MPs.
What is the role of the opposition parties?
To oppose or try to improve government proposals.
What is a voter information card?
A form that tells you when and where to vote.
Who has the right to run as a candidate in federal elections?
Any Canadian citizen who is at least 18 years old.
Who do Canadians vote for in a federal election?
A candidate they want to represent them in Parliament.
What was the Women’s Suffrage Movement?
The effort by women to achieve the right to vote.
In the 1960s, Quebec experienced an era of rapid change. What is this called?
The Quiet Revolution.
Which of the following is not a feature of Canada’s system of government: Dictatorship, a Federal state, parliamentary democracy and Constitution Monarchy?
Dictatorship.
Who have major responsibilities on First Nations reserves?
Band chiefs and councillors.
What is Canada’s national winter sport?
Hockey.
How many Canadians have been awarded the Victoria Cross (V.C.), the highest honour available to Canadians?
99.
What is meant by the equality of women and men?
Men and women are equal under the law.
Who are the founding peoples of Canada?
Aboriginal, French and British.
What does the word “Inuit” mean?
“The people” in the Inuktitut language.
What percentage of Aboriginal people are First Nations?
65%
What did the Canadian Pacific Railway symbolize?
Unity.
What does it mean to say Canada is a constitutional monarchy?
Canada’s Head of State is a hereditary Sovereign (Queen or King) who reigns in accordance with the Constitution.
What is the highest military honour a Canadian can receive?
Victoria Cross.
In Canada, are you obliged to tell others how you voted?
No, but you may choose to discuss how you voted with others.
Who was Sir Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine?
A champion of democracy and French language rights and the first leader of a responsible government in the Canadas.
What does the term “responsible government” mean?
The ministers of the Crown must have the support of a majority of the elected representatives in order to govern.
In Canada, are you allowed to question the police about their service or conduct?
Yes, if you feel the need to.
What is the role of the courts in Canada?
To settle disputes.
When you vote on Election Day, what do you do?
Go to the voting station with your voter’s card and ID, mark an X in the circle next to the candidate of your choice, fold the ballot and present it to the pools officials.
Name two key documents that contain our rights and freedoms:
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Magna Carta (the Great Charter of Freedoms)
What is the difference between the role of the Sovereign and that of the Prime Minister?
The Sovereign is the guardian of Constitutional freedoms; the Prime Minister selects the Cabinet ministers and is responsible of operations and policy of government.
What is the significance of the discovery of insulin by Sir Frederick Banting and Charles Best?
Insulin has saved 16 million lives worldwide.
What are some examples of taking responsibility for yourself and your family?
Getting a job, taking care of one’s family, and working diligently in keeping with one’s abilities.
Which three countries are signatories to NAFTA?
Canada, Mexico and the United States.
What was the significance of June 6th, 1944, invasion of Normandy?
Canadians made a significant contribution to the defeat of Nazism and Fascism in Europe during the Second World War.
Gloria is a new immigrant in Canada. What law allows her to take up jobs at par with a man?
Equality of woman and men.
Why is the battle of Vimy Ridge important?
Canadian Corps secured its reputation for valor and bravery.
What is a majority government?
When the party in power holds at least half of the seats in the House of Commons.
Which province is the main producer of pulp and paper and hydro-electricity?
Quebec.
A Member of Parliament from Toronto announces that she will spend her weekend in her electoral district. This mean she would be:
In the part of Toronto where she was elected.
What is the Queen’s representative in the Territories called?
Commissioner.
How is a Cabinet Minister chosen?
By the Prime Minister.
The Canadian Coat of Arms and motto is “A Mari Usque Ad Mare.” This means:
From sea to sea.
Canada has three territories and how many provinces?
10.
Why is trade with other counties important to Canada?
It enhances our economy and raises our standard of living.
How are the Senators chosen?
They are chosen by the Prime Minister and appointed by the Governor General.
What should you do if you do not receive a voter information card telling you when and where to vote?
Call Elections Canada or visit their website.
After a federal election, which party forms the new government?
The party with the most elected representatives becomes the party in power.
Which of the following statements about residential schools is NOT true?
  • [NOT TRUE] The schools were welcomed by the Aboriginal people.
  • [TRUE] The federal government placed many Aboriginal children in residential schools to educate and assimilate them into mainstream Canadian culture.
  • [TRUE] The schools were poorly funded and inflicted hardship on the student.
  • [TRUE] Aboriginal language and cultural practices were mostly prohibited.
Who are the Quebecers?
People of Quebec.
Who are the Acadians?
The descendants of French colonists who began settling in what are now the Maritime Provinces in 1604.
What is the largest religious affiliation in Canada?
Roman Catholic.
Which Act granted, for the first time in Canada, legislative assemblies elected by the people?
The Constitutional Act of 1791.
Describe with one sentence the War of 1812.
The USA invaded Canada and was defeated, which ensured that Canada would remain independent of the United States.
Who was the first leader of a responsible government in the Canadas in 1849?
Sir Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine.
Who was Sir Sam Steele?
A great frontier hero, Mounted Policeman and soldier of the Queen.
Who had played an important part in building the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR)?
Chinese railroad workers.
What is the “Head Tax”?
Race-based entry fee charged for Chinese entering Canada.
Who is General Sir Arthur Currie?
Canada’s greatest soldier in the First World War.
Approximately how many Canadians served in the First World War?
More than 600,000.
What three oceans border Canada?
Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific.
What is the capital city of Canada?
Ottawa.
Name the five regions of Canada:
Atlantic, Central, Prairie, West Coast and North.
What are the provinces of Central Canada and their capital cities?
Ontario (Toronto) and Quebec (Quebec City).
What are the provinces of the Atlantic region and their capital cities?
Newfoundland and Labrador (St. John’s), Nova Scotia (Halifax), New Brunswick (Fredericton) and Prince Eduard Island (Charlottetown).
What are the Prairie Provinces and their capital cities?
Alberta (Edmonton), Saskatchewan (Regina) and Manitoba (Winnipeg).
What are the territories of Northern Canada and their capital cities?
Yukon Territory (Whitehorse), Northwest Territories (Yellowknife), and Nunavut (Iqaluit)
Which region covers more than one-third of Canada?
Northern Territories.
In which region do more than half the people in Canada live?
Central Canada.
One third of all Canadians live in which province?
Ontario.
Where are the Great Lakes?
Between Ontario and the United States.
Where are the Parliament Buildings located?
Ottawa.
Which country borders Canada on the South?
United States of America.
Which province in Canada is the smallest in land size?
Prince Eduard Island.
What is a major river in Quebec?
St. Lawrence River.

Circulating coins in Cuba

Cuba has two currencies at the moment: the Cuban Peso (in Spanish “Peso Cubano”) and the Cuban Convertible Peso (in Spanish “Peso Convertible Cubano”). Their respective symbols under the ISO 4217 standard are CUP and CUC.

The Cuban Peso (CUP) was born in 1915. Specimens of different compositions, designs and face values have been minted over the years. Many of them are no longer in circulation, for instance, all the silver and gold coins minted before the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959 are no longer circulating.
Cuban Peso - Coin Set

On the other hand, the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) is a fairly new currency. It appeared for the first time in 1994. Currently, this currency is at par with American Dollar (USD).
Cuban Convertible Peso - Coin Set
What’s the difference between the “Cuban Peso” and the “Cuban Convertible Peso”? To summarize it: the “Cuban Peso” is the historical and national currency of the Cubans. It is what most Cubans are paid with. The “Cuban Convertible Peso” is a secondary currency that was intended to be the currency of the tourists visiting Cuba. The “Cuban Convertible Peso” is just a placeholder for the American Dollar inside the Cuban economy.

Other important difference is that 1CUC is roughly 25CUP. This means the “Cuban Convertible Peso” is the stronger currency and it has 25 times the value of the “Cuban Peso”.

Things have changed since 1994 and today you can see Cuban citizens using both the CUC and the CUP interchangeably. There have been talks (and gossip) about the unification of the two currencies into a single currency. If this happens, most people expect the “Cuban Peso” to outlive the “Cuban Convertible Peso".

The Cuban Peso:

Currently, the coins in circulation have the face values of 1 cent, 2cents, 5 cents, 20 cents, 1 Peso and 3 Pesos (1 Peso = 100 cents).

All the coins of 1, 2 and 5 cents that were minted after 1915 are legal tenders in Cuba. This is quite interesting; because all other Cuban coins minted before the Cuban Revolution (that came to power in 1959) were taken out of circulation. The exception was the coins of 1, 2 and 5 cents.

1 cent - Cuban Peso 

1 cent - Cuba - 1943


1 cent - Cuba - 1953
1 cent - Cuba - 1979
 2 cents - Cuban Peso 

2 cents - Cuba - 1915

2 cents - Cuba - 1985
 5 cents - Cuban Peso

5 cents - Cuba - 1946
5 cents - Cuba - 1961

The coin of 20 cents currently in circulation was minted for the first time in 1962. There are two varieties of it.

20 cents - Cuban Peso
 
20 cents - Cuba - 1968

20 cents - Cuba - 1969








The 1 Peso coin began to circulate in 1983. It was revamped years later in 1992 and a new coin of 1 Peso was born. So, there are two variates of the 1 Cuban Peso as well.

1 Cuban Peso
 
1 Peso - Cuba - 1983




1 Peso - Cuba - 1994











Finally, the 3 Pesos coin entered circulation for the first time in 1990.

3 Cuban Pesos

3 Pesos - Cuba - 1992








The Cuban Convertible Peso:

The first coins of the Cuban Convertible Peso were minted in 1994. They corresponded to the denominations of 5 cents, 10 cents, 25cents, 50 cents and 1 Convertible Peso. These coins entered circulation in early 1995.

5 cents - Cuban Convertible Peso - CUC
10 cents - Cuban Convertible Peso - CUC
25 cents - Cuban Convertible Peso - CUC
50 cents - Cuban Convertible Peso - CUC
1 Cuban Convertible Peso - CUC

An interesting numismatic detail: the coins of the Cuban Convertible Peso minted in the year 1994 are slightly different from those minted in later years. The coins of 1994 and those that came later have the same design; but the Cuban Coat of Arms in the reverse of the 1994 coins is upside down if you compare it to the coins that came later. The 1994 coins were minted in Canada and after that, the Cuban Convertible Peso coins were (are) minted in Cuba. 

In the year 2000, the 1 cent coin was emitted for the first time.
1 cent - Cuban Convertible Peso - CUC - 2003











A bimetallic coin with a facial value of 5 Convertible Pesos entered circulation in 2004. It was minted by the House of the Coin of Cuba (in Spanish “Casa de la Moneda de Cuba”) in 1999. This coin is very hard to come by.
5 Cuban Convertible Pesos - CUC













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How to request the RRSP transfer rebate at Questrade?

Most brokers and financial institutions will charge you a transfer-out fee when you transfer your RRSP to a competitor. 

I suffered this recently when I transferred my RBC RRSP account over to Questrade. RBC charged me $50CAD upon transferring the funds in cash.

Fortunately, I was able to get that money back. Questrade has a transfer fee rebate promotion by which they will rebate up to $150 of those transfer-out fees, if you transfer an RRSP worth at least $25,000CAD (either in cash or assets).

In order to claim the rebate, you will need to wait 3 months after transferring the RRSP. Once you have had the RRSP active with Questrade for 3 months, just log into your Questrade account and upload the RRSP statement containing the transfer-out fee. Then you need to email or call whoever helped you in opening the account and ask him/her to process the rebate for you.

What happens if your previous institution statement does not show the transfer out fee?  This happened to me actually: my last RBC RRSP statement did not show any transfer out fee; but the first Questrade statement was exactly $50 short. 

So, I went to my RBC branch and asked for information about this issue. How come I have no trace in my statement of the missing $50? They opened an investigation and mailed back to me (over postal mail) with an explanation.

RBC sent me a letter confirming that they charged $50CAD in transfer out fees, but that was not reflected in the statement. I find this omission from the statement a little odd, but anyhow I used this letter in order to get my rebate with Questrade.

It took less than a week for me to get the rebate, after I uploaded my RBC statement/letter and emailed the Questrade specialist that helped me in opening the account. The $50CAD rebate was deposited in cash directly into my Questrade RRSP account.

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How to calculate the weightings of VSB and VSC given a desired allocation of government and corporate bonds?

Let’s say I want to allocate 10% of my investment portfolio in government bonds and 5% in corporate bonds. For that I want to use short-term bonds ETFs.

After some research, I narrowed my choices of ETFs to these:
VSB is composed approximately of 72% government bonds and of 28% corporate bonds. On the other hand, VSC is composed roughly of 8% government bonds and of 92% corporate bonds.

Question: given the description above, what would be the percentages of VSB and VSC in our portfolio?

At this point, I am going to throw a couple of formulas at you. You can use them to calculate the weightings of VSB and VSC. I came up with these formulas by myself. I can share the algebraic demonstration…If you want it, drop a comment below. 

% VSC = S * [ ( X - Y*R ) / ( Z*R Y*R + X W )  ]
% VSB = S * [ (Z*R - W) / (Z*R Y*R + X - W)  ]

Where:
  • X is the percentage of VSB dedicated to government bonds; in our example would be 72.
  • Y is the percentage of VSB dedicated to corporate bonds; in our example would be 28.
  • W is the percentage of VSC dedicated to government bonds; in our example would be 8.
  • Z is the percentage of VSC dedicated to corporate bonds; in our example would be 92.
  • S is the sum of the weightings of government and corporate bonds in our portfolio; in our example S would be 15 (10 + 5), because we want to have 10% in government bonds and 5% in corporate.
  • R is the ratio of government bonds to corporate bonds; in our example R would be 2 (10 / 5).

Finally, let’s evaluate each formula:

% VSC = 15 * [ ( 72 - 28*2 ) / ( 92*2 – 28*2 + 72 – 8 )  ] = 1.25%
% VSB = 15 * [ (92*2 - 8) / (92*2 – 28*2 + 72 – 8)  ] = 13.75%

Answer: if we want to hold 10% in government bonds and 5% in corporate bonds; then 1.25% of our portfolio should be allocated in VSC and 13.75% should be allocated in VSB.

The usefulness of the formulas lies in the ability to change your target weightings for government and corporate bonds. This will of course result in new values for R and S that can be used to revaluate the formulas, allowing you to calculate the new percentages for VSB and VSC.

Finally, notice that the values of X, Y, Z and W do not change often. They represent the weighting of the different bonds within these ETFs. Refer to “Sector weighting (% of net asset value)” within the corresponding ETFs fact sheets if you want to determine these values yourself.

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VSB fact sheet:

https://www.vanguardcanada.ca/individual/mvc/loadImage?country=CAN&docId=249

VSC fact sheet: