Cuba History and Culture

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INTRODUCTION The native Amerindian population of Cuba began to decline after the European discovery of the island by Christopher Columbus in 1492 and following its development as a Spanish colony during the next several centuries. Large numbers of African slaves were imported to work the coffee and sugar plantations and Havana became the launching point for the annual treasure fleets bound for Spain from Mexico and Peru. Spanish rule was severe and exploitative and occasional rebellions were harshly suppressed. It was US intervention during the Spanish-American War in 1898 that finally overthrew Spanish rule. The subsequent Treaty of Paris established Cuban independence, which was granted in 1902 after a three-year transition period. Fidel CASTRO led a rebel army to victory in 1959; his iron rule has held the regime together since then. Cuba's Communist revolution. HISTORY OF CUBA Cuba was originally inhabited by about 50,000 Ciboney and Taíno Amerindians who are related to the Arawak peoples; they were hunter-gatherer and agricultural societies. Christopher Columbus made the European discovery of Cuba in 1492 on his first voyage to the Americas. Many died from disease and maltreatment soon after. The African slave trade began about 1523 as the Amerindian population declined, and grew thereafter, especially with the development of coffee and sugar on the island. As treasure began to flow out of Mexico, Havana became a last port of call and a target for French and English pirates. In 1762, the English captured Havana, holding Cuba for almost a year. HISTORY OF CUBA Cuba's first important independence movement came in 1868, when Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, a wealthy planter, freed his slaves and called for a revolution against Spain. In the end, the Cubans had to rely on the United States to defeat the Spanish. The United States declared war on Spain on 25

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