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The island of Cuba has been populated for more than several thousand years by Amerindian peoples known as the Taino and Ciboney. The Taino were known to be mostly farmers while the Ciboney were hunter-gatherers. The name Cuba in fact is derived from the Taino word cubanacan, which means "a central placeĒ. Christopher Columbus sighted the island while on his foremost voyage of discovery on 24 October 1492, and directly laid claim it for Spain.

Spain maintaned the island of Cuba for 388 years, governed by the governor of Havana. It had an economic base of plantation agriculture and main exports of refined sugar, coffee bean and tobacco to European Community and in the future to North America. Brits got hold of the island in 1762, but returned it to Spain the following year. Like most of the Spanish Empire, a minute land-owning elect of settlers had all the social and economic force. They were attended to by a universe of small farmers, laborers and slaves.

Many architectural masterpieces built during Spanish rule still stand today. An excellent instance is the Catedral de San Cristobal, Havana. During the 1820s, when the rest of Spainís conglomerate in South America arose and seceeded, Cuba persisted loyal, though some pushed for independence. Partly because concerns of a slave revolt (as had materialised in Haiti) if the Spanish withdrew, partly because the prosperity of Cuban colonists depended on their export trade to Europe, and partly because Cuba dreaded the emerging power of the United States more than they disliked Spanish colonial reign.

Due to the fact that Cuba is a slight 90 miles from the United States has had a sound influence on the lands evolution. Politicians in the south planned the islandís annexation as a means of bolstering the pro-slavery forces in the U.S. throughout the early 1900ís. In 1848 a pro-annexationist insurrection was thwarted after various failed invasion atemps from Florida turned up fruitless. After that the United States attempted to buy Cuba from Spain but was universally turned down.

Rural poverty in Spain led to a real Spanish expatriation to Cuba. Among those arriving were the parents of Fidel Castro. During the 1890s pro-independence unrest revivified, fueled by rancor of the limitations imposed on Cuban trade by Spain and hostility to Spainís increasingly tyrannous and fumbling governance of Cuba. On 15 July 1895 insurrection erupted and the independence party, led by Tomas Estrada Palma and the poet Jose Marti, extolled Cuba an independent republic. Marti was killed not far thereafter and has become Cubaís unquestioned national hero.

This abbreviated paper canít possibly address the huge history that is Cuba. I have numbered a few excellent books at the end of this website. You can locate them all at Amazon or your local bookshop.

Cuba: A New History by Richard Gott

The Cuba Reader: History, Culture, Politics (Latin America Readers) by Aviva Chomsky, Barry Carr, and Pamela Maria Smorkaloff

This is Cuba: An Outlaw Culture Survives by Ben Corbett

Inside Cuba by Julio Cesar Perez Hernandez, Angelika Taschen, and Giani Bosso

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