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The island of Cuba has been occupied for more than several thousand years by Amerindian peoples named the Taino and Ciboney. The Taino were known to be mostly farmers while the Ciboney were hunter-gatherers. The moniker Cuba in fact is derived from the Taino word cubanacan, which means "a central placeĒ. Christopher Columbus sighted the island in the period of his number one ocean trip of discovery on 24 October 1492, and forthwith claimed it for Spain.

Spain maintaned the island of Cuba for 388 years, dominated by the governor of Havana. It had an economic base of orchard agriculture and main exportations of sugar, coffee bean and tobacco to Europe and afterwards to North America. British seized the island in 1762, but returned it to Spain the following year. Like most of the Spanish Empire, a minute land-owning elite of colonists retained all the social and economic power. They were served by a universe of small farmers, laborers and slaves.

Many architectural masterpieces built during Spanish rule still stand today. An excellent illustration is the Catedral de San Cristobal, Havana. During the 1820s, when the rest of Spainís conglomerate in South America rose up and seceeded, Cuba rested loyal, although a few pushed for independence. Partly because fears of a slave uprising (as had materialised in Haiti) if the Spanish pulled away, partly because the prosperity of Cuban colonists counted on their exportation trade to Europe, and partly because Cuba dreaded the rising power of the United States more than they disliked Spanish colonial rule.

Due to the fact that Cuba is a slender 90 miles from the United States has had a unsounded influence on the lands growth. Politicians in the south diagrammed the islandís annexation as a way of supporting the pro-slavery forces in the U.S. throughout the early 1900ís. In 1848 a pro-annexationist insurrection was foiled after various failed invasion atemps from Florida turned up fruitless. After that the United States sought to buy Cuba from Spain but was always turned away.

Rural poverty in Spain led to a real Spanish expatriation to Cuba. Among those inbound were the parents of Fidel Castro. During the 1890s pro-independence turmoil vivified, fueled by resentment of the limitations levied on Cuban trade by Spain and hostility to Spainís more and more tyrannical and incompetent administration of Cuba. On 15 July 1895 rebellion erupted and the independence party, led by Tomas Estrada Palma and the poet Jose Marti, exclaimed Cuba an independent republic. Marti was killed shortly thereafter and has become Cubaís unchallenged national hero.

This short article canít possibly address the vast account that is Cuba. I have numbered several first-class books at the end of this site. You can get 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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