The Republic of Cuba is an island country in the Caribbean. It consists of the island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city.
Cuba is home to over 11 million people and is the most populous insular nation in the Caribbean. Its people, culture, and customs draw fromdiverse sources, including the aboriginal Taíno and Ciboney peoples; the period of Spanish colonialism; the introduction of African slaves; and its proximity to the United States.
Before the arrival of the Spanish, the island was inhabited by Native American peoples known as the Taíno and Ciboney whose ancestors migrated from the mainland of North, Central and SouthAmerica several centuries earlier. The Taíno were farmers and the Ciboney were farmers and hunter-gatherers; some have suggested that copper trade was significant, and mainland artifacts have been found.
On October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus landed near what is now Baracoa, claimed the island for the new Kingdom of Spain, and named Isla Juana after Juan, Prince of Asturias. In1511, the first Spanish settlement was founded by Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar at Baracoa; other towns soon followed including the future capital, San Cristobal de la Habana, founded in 1515. The Spanish enslaved the approximately 100,000 indigenous people who resisted conversion to Christianity, setting them primarily to the task of searching for gold, and within a century European infectiousdiseases had virtually wiped out the indigenous people.
Cuba remained a Spanish possession for almost 400 years (1511–1898), with an economy based on plantations agriculture, mining and the export of sugar, coffee and tobacco to Europe and later to North America. The work was done primarily by African slaves brought to the island when Britain owned it in 1762. The small land-owning elite of Spanishsettlers held social and economic power, supported by a population of Spaniards born on the island (Criollos), other Europeans, and African-descended slaves.
After the Spanish-American War, Spain and the United States signed the Treaty of Paris (1898), by which Spain ceded Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam to the U.S. for the sum of $20 million. Under the same treaty, Spainrelinquished all claim of sovereignty over the title to Cuba. Theodore Roosevelt, who had fought in the Spanish-American War and had some sympathies with the independence movement, succeeded McKinley as U.S. President in 1901 and abandoned the 20-year treaty proposal. Instead, Cuba gained formal independence from the U.S. on May 20, 1902 as the Republic of Cuba. But under Cuba's new constitution, theU.S. retained the right to intervene in Cuban affairs and to supervise its finances and foreign relations. Under the Platt Amendment, the U.S. leased the Guantánamo Bay naval base from Cuba.
In 1906, following disputed elections, the first president, Tomás Estrada Palma, faced an armed revolt by independence war veterans who defeated the meager government forces. The U.S. intervened by occupyingCuba and named Charles Edward Magoon as Governor for three years. For many years afterwards, Cuban historians attributed Magoon's governorship as having introduced political and social corruption. In 1908, self-government was restored when José Miguel Gómez was elected President, but the U.S. continued intervening in Cuban affairs. In 1912, the Partido Independiente de Color attempted to establisha separate black republic in Oriente Province, but was suppressed by General Monteagudo with considerable bloodshed.
During World War I, Cuba shipped considerable quantities of sugar to Britain, avoiding U-boat attack, by the subterfuge of shipping sugar to Sweden. The Menocal government declared war on Germany very soon after the U.S. did.
Despite frequent outbreaks of disorder, constitutional...