Cuba is an island state in Central America, located between the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. To the north are the United States and the Bahamas, to the west Mexico, to the south the Cayman Islands and Jamaica, and to the southeast, Haiti.
Etymology of the name Cuba
There is no certainty about the origin of the name "Cuba". Among the most accredited hypotheses, the name derives from the words Taino Cubanacán (which means "central land"), or Cubao ("fertile ground"), or from the contraction of two words: Coa ("earth") and Bana ("great" ) with the meaning of Great Earth. A last hypothesis would attribute the choice of the name to the sailors of Christopher Columbus, who believed they had arrived in Asia, precisely in the legendary Cipango, the fabulous land of gold which was then crippled in "Cuba".
The pre-Columbian period and the Spanish domination
Cuba was inhabited by different Amerindian populations, including the Taino, the Siboney and the Guanajatabey.
After the landing on 12 October 1492 on the island called "Guanahani" by the natives and later renamed in San Salvador, Christopher Columbus reached the north-eastern coast of Cuba with his three caravels, the Pinta, the Niña and the Santa María, arriving there on October 28th.
Columbus claimed the entire Cuban island for the Kingdom of Spain and named it Isla Juana ("Joan Island") in honor of the then heir to the Spanish throne John, Prince of Asturias.
In 1511 the first Spanish settlement was founded by Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar, in Baracoa. Other cities followed, including Havana, which soon became the capital.
The Tainos were forced to work as slaves within the encomienda system, similar to the fiefdom in medieval Europe. European diseases unknown to them, aggravated by the extremely difficult working conditions imposed by the colonial regime, caused the decimation of the indigenous population within a century.
In 1555, Havana was occupied by France, and then returned to Spain after a short period, in fact Cuba was a very coveted territory by the European powers. It was immediately the most developed and richest colony of the entire Spanish Empire.
Even England, during the Seven Years' War, made an attempt to conquer the island. In 1762 an expedition of five warships and 4,000 men set out from Portsmouth to occupy Cuba.
The contingent arrived in June and placed Havana under siege. When, after two months, the city surrendered, British Admiral George Keppel entered as the new governor and took control of the western part of the island. The British immediately opened trade with their colonies in North America and the Caribbean, and sugar production was intensified.
However, even the British occupation was short-lived, so that after just over a year the Treaty of Paris was signed, which handed over Florida to England and returned Cuba to Spain. Public opinion in Britain felt penalized, believing that swampy and uninhabited Florida was a poor second-hand compared to the wealth of Cuba.
In 1820, when most of the colonies in Latin America rebelled giving birth to independent states, Cuba remained faithful, but inevitably the idea of breaking away from the central government began to hover.
Independence from Spain
During the nineteenth century, little by little, intolerance towards the Spanish government and the desire for greater autonomy began to be created in the Cuban bourgeoisie.
Thus at the end of the century there were the so-called two wars of independence: the Ten Years' War (1868-1878) and the Little War (1879-1880), which were popular armed uprisings repressed in blood. The uprisings were led by the intellectual José Martí, known in Cuba as the "Father of the Fatherland".
Martí, in a letter to his friend Gonzalo de Quesada written on December 14, 1889, warned about