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Cuban History

Christopher Columbus landed on the island of Cuba on October 28, 1492, during his initial westward voyage. In honor of the daughter of Ferdinand V and IsabellaI of Spain, his benefactors, Columbus named it Juana, the first of several nameshe successively applied to the island. It eventually became known as Cuba, fromits aboriginal name, Cubanascnan.Colonization by Spain When Columbus first landed on Cuba it was inhabited by the Ciboney, a friendlytribe related to the Arawak. Colonization of the island began in 1511, when theSpanish soldier Diego Velzquez established the town of Baracoa. Velzquezsubsequently founded several other settlements, including Santiago de Cuba in1514 and Havana in 1515. The Spanish transformed Cuba into a supply base fortheir expeditions to Mexico and Florida. As a result of savage treatment andexploitation, the aborigines became, by the middle of the 16th century, nearlyextinct, forcing the colonists to depend on imported black slaves for theoperation of the mines and plantations.Despite frequent raids by buccaneers and naval units of rival and enemypowers, the island prospered throughout the 16th and 17th centuries.Restrictions imposed by the Spanish authorities on commercial activities weregenerally disregarded by the colonists, who resorted to illicit trade withprivateers and neighboring colonies. Following the conclusion of the SevenYears' War in 1763, during which the English captured Havana, the Spanishgovernment liberalized its Cuban policy, encouraging colonization, expansion ofcommerce, and development of agriculture. Between 1774 and 1817 thepopulation increased from about 161,000 to more than 550,000. The remainingrestrictions on trade were officially eliminated in 1818, further promoting materialand cultural advancement.During the 1830s, however, Spanish rule became increasingly repressive,provoking a widespread movement among the colonists for independence. Thismovement attained particular moment...

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