Google Chrome is now surfable in Cuba

The web giant makes its Internet browser available for download in one of the world's most closed-off countries.

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Google Chrome can now be downloaded to Cubans' computers or mobile devices. Google

Google Chrome is now downloadable in Cuba -- a country known for limited Internet access. The Web giant announced Wednesday that it made the browser available specifically to Cubans via google.com.cu.

"We're happy to say that Internet users in Cuba can now use Chrome," Google wrote in a Google+ post, "and browse the web faster and more safely than they could before."

While Cubans have been able to access Chrome through other means before now, they haven't been able to easily and directly download the browser to computers or mobile devices.

In a blog post, Google hinted that the reason Cubans had to wait so long to get Chrome was because of US sanctions against the island nation.

"US export controls and sanctions can sometimes limit the products available in certain countries," Google wrote. "As these trade restrictions evolve we've been working to figure out how to make more tools available in sanctioned countries."

In June, a delegation of top Google executives, including Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, reportedly visited Cuba to push for greater Internet access. The team was said to have toured the country to see first-hand how difficult it is for everyday Cubans to get online.

While the Cuban government has been slowly easing restrictions -- it even opened 118 public Internet centers last year -- the country is still extremely closed-off and has one of the lowest Internet penetration rates in the world. Only 5 percent of Cuban residents have periodic access to the Internet, according to Freedom House, a US-based government watchdog and human rights organization.

Besides Cuba, Google also made Chrome downloadable in Syria and Iran over the past couple of years -- two other countries that have faced US sanctions.

 

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