Cuba launches its own Wikipedia

Cuba has created its own alternative to Wikipedia, in a bid to present the communist island state's view of the world to web users.

The Spanish-language 'Enciclopedia cubana', www.ecured.cu, is due to launch today - but according to a report by news agency Reuters, the site already boasts nearly 20,000 articles on a range of subjects.

EcuRed has some way to go before it catches up with its US-based rival, Wikipedia, which was founded in 2001 by web entrepreneur Jimmy Wales. Wikipedia currently boasts 3.5 million articles in English and 682,000 in Spanish.

Explaining the purpose of the project, EcuRed's organisers said in a statement:

"[EcuRed's] philosophy is the accumulation and development of knowledge, with a democratising, not profitable, objective, from a decolonizer point of view."

It's not clear exactly who runs EcuRed, but users are encouraged to submit their own content, which must be approved by the site's administrators before it is posted.

The site's entry for the United States, Cuba's superpower neighbour - and the author of a decades-long trade embargo against the communist-ruled Caribbean island - makes for particularly interesting reading.

The US is described as an "empire of our time, which has historically taken by force territory and natural resources from other nations, to put at the service of its businesses and monopolies".

"It consumes 25% of the energy produced on the planet and in spite of its wealth, more than a third of its population does not have assured medical attention."

According to EcuRed, US authorities have always looked upon Cuba "like those who admire a beautiful fruit that will end up falling in their hands".

At the time of writing, the site appears to have been downed - though there's no word yet as to whether that's due to a deluge of interest... or the nefarious doings of Cuba's fruit-loving neighbours to the North.