Cuba

Topics: Fidel Castro, Cuba, Cuban Revolution Pages: 54 (19268 words) Published: June 22, 2013
Library of Congress – Federal Research Division

Country Profile: Cuba, September 2006

COUNTRY PROFILE: CUBA September 2006

COUNTRY Formal Name: Republic of Cuba (República de Cuba). Short Form: Cuba. Term for Citizen(s): Cuban(s). Click to Enlarge Image

Capital: La Habana (Havana). Term for residents: Habaneros (males), Habaneras (females). Major Cities: Cuba’s six largest cities (more than 200,000 inhabitants) in order of population (2005 estimates, not including urban agglomerations) are Havana (2,201,610), Santiago de Cuba (423,392), Camagüey (301,574), Holguín (269,618), Santa Clara (210,220), and Guantánamo (208,145). Independence: Cuba attained its independence on May 20, 1902. It became independent from Spain on December 10, 1898, but was administered by the United States from 1898 to 1902. Public Holidays: Fixed official holidays are Liberation Day (January 1); Victory of the Armed Forces (January 2); International Workers’ Day (May 1); Eve of Revolution Day (July 25); Anniversary of the Moncada Barracks Attack Day, Revolution Day (July 26); Revolution Day, 2nd Day (July 27); Commencement of Wars of Independence Day (October 10); Independence Day (December 10); and Christmas Day (December 25). Flag: The Cuban flag has five equal horizontal bands of blue (top, center, and bottom) alternating with white; a red equilateral triangle based on the hoist side bears a white, five-pointed star in the center.

Click to Enlarge Image

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND Colonial Rule: The history of Cuba began with the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492 and the subsequent invasion of the island by the Spaniards. Aboriginal groups—the Guanahatabey, Ciboney, and Taíno—inhabited the island but were soon eliminated or died as a result of diseases or the shock of conquest. Thus, the impact of indigenous groups on subsequent Cuban society was limited, and Spanish culture, institutions, language, and religion prevailed. Colonial society developed slowly after Spain colonized the island in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; pastoral pursuits and agriculture served as the basis of the economy. For the first three centuries after the conquest, the island remained a neglected stopping point for the Spanish fleet, which visited the New World and returned to Spain with the mineral wealth of continental America.

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Library of Congress – Federal Research Division

Country Profile: Cuba, September 2006

Cuba awakened dramatically in the nineteenth century. The growth of the United States as an independent nation, the collapse of Haiti as a sugar-producing colony, Spanish protective policies, and the ingenuity of Cuba’s Creole business class all converged to produce a sugar revolution on the island. In a scant few years, Cuba was transformed from a sleepy, unimportant island into the major sugar producer in the world. Slaves arrived in increasing numbers; large estates squeezed out smaller ones; sugar supplanted tobacco, agriculture, and cattle as the main occupation; prosperity replaced poverty; and Spain’s attention replaced neglect. These factors, especially the latter two, delayed a move toward independence in the early nineteenth century. While most of Latin America was breaking with Spain, Cuba remained loyal. The Independence Struggle and Beginning of U.S. Hegemony: Toward the end of the nineteenth century, Cuban loyalty began to change as a result of Creole rivalry with Spaniards for the governing of the island, increased Spanish despotism and taxation, and the growth of Cuban nationalism. These developments combined to produce a prolonged and bloody war, the Ten Years’ War against Spain (1868–78), but it failed to win independence for Cuba. At the outset of the second independence war (1895–98), Cuban independence leader José Martí was killed. As a result of increasingly strained relations between Spain and the United States, the Americans entered the conflict in 1898. Already concerned about its economic...
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