Following a historic thaw in U.S.-Cuban relations (and in some cases, a little before), U.S. tech firms have been furiously attempting to make inroads into the island nation that's home to just over 11 million.
Most recently, representatives from Twitter held meetings with the Cuban government about expanding the company's network on the island, according to Politico. Of course, Cuba is years—if not decades—away from building anything resembling a modern high-bandwidth smart-mobile landscape that most people in the U.S. use to access Twitter. However the platform could exist as it did in its earliest days, as an SMS-based platform.
The move can only serve to raise the standard of living of the Cuban people. And that's a wonderful thing. But let us not be lulled into believing that these initiatives from Big Tech are purely altruistic. While tech companies like to paint their outreach into the developing world as human-right-ish do-goodery (and surely, humanitarian concerns do factor into in the execs' thinking), the truth of the matter is there's a lot of money to be made connecting the developing world. Across the globe there are billions of people coming online for the first time, and they represent vast economic potential.
Cuba's connected infrastructure is decades behind much of the rest of the world (it has the lowest level of Internet access in the Western hemisphere), however it's not a complete hermit nation. In 2013, the government opened more than 100 "navigation halls" across the country, in which any Cuban can access a strictly controlled version of the Internet. Initially, this public Internet access cost $4.50 per hour, which is pricey given that the median salary in Cuba is only $20 per month. These connections join a handful of digital access points at hotels catering to foreign tourists and some industrial locations.
So, which websites have the Cubans—with their limited connectivity—been visiting most? The Web traffic analytics site Alexa offers rankings of the most popular websites in just about every country, including Cuba. The rankings are based on the average daily users and pageviews to the various sites over the past month. Here are the top 10 websites Cubans visited in the previous month, beginning with the most popular. As you see, it's not so different the rest of the world*.
1. Google.com.cu This is the official Cuban landing page for Google (default language is Latin American Spanish).
2. Google.com The official U.S. landing page for Google (default language: English).
This is a government-supported news site whose subhead is "against media terrorism." The site's mission (per Google Tranlsate) states that it is "a space for information and exchange on topics related to the actions of subversion and organized smear campaigns against Cuba."
7. Wikipedia.org 8. Blogspot.com I guess someone should be using Blogspot—because Americans don't really anymore.