Migration from the countryside of Cuba to the nation’s capital, Havana, was extremely sluggish during much of the 1970s. This, along with other factors, contributed to the capital’s low population increase.
Havana’s percentage increase remained low compared to that of other Latin American cities throughout the decade.
The capital’s rate of growth increased over the period 1980-1990 while expansion in other areas of Latin America was beginning to slow during the same period.
Population shifts impacted Havana differentially.
At the municipio level, those areas of the city most affected by population growth were Diez de Octobre, Playa, Centro Havana, Arroyo Naranjo, and Playa. These areas contained more than 50% of all the capital’s inhabitants.
The most densely populated municipios were those located in the center of the city — Centro Havana, Old Havana, Diez de Octobre, Cerro, and Plaza. These areas had density levels as high as 10,000 inhabitants per square kilometer.
The municipios with the lowest density levels were those on the periphery of the city — Guanabacoa, Habana del Este, Cororro, Boyeros, and Arroyo.
After 1970, however, the municipios that made up the urban core of the capital — Old Havana, Centro Havana, Regla, Diez de Octobre, and Cerro — began to grow more slowly as areas on the periphery having more free space began to attract residents.
Also, the capital began to reflect the effects of differential migration, with a lower percentage of male residents (91.6 males for every 100 females) than elsewhere in Cuba, and a higher proportion of residents over 60 years of age (14.7% of all residents as compared to 11.7% for the rest of the country). Once again, these factors were both cause and effect of Havana’s lowered fertility rate.
Over much of the period, growth due to in-migration was higher — and in all cases was proportionally greater — than growth due to natural increase. Nevertheless, the proportion of the capital’s growth attributable to in-migration continued to remain low over the course of the 1970s and 1980s, particularly in comparison to pre-1958 levels when Havana was the destination of 45% of the country’s migrants.
Over the entire period 1970-1981, the capital absorbed only 12.9% of the country’s migrants, while Havana absorbed 25.8% of all Cuba’s internal migrants from 1976-1981.
These figures can be compared to other areas of Latin America. For example, Santiago de Chile, Lima, and Caracas received 34.2%, 40%, and 34.2% of their countries migrants respectively during this approximate time frame.
In sum, since in-migration was balanced by emigration and low fertility, Havana exhibited slow growth over the entire period when that capital could be called a Cold War City.