Christofer Columbus discovered Cuba in 1492. Before the landing of the Spanish Cuba was inhabited by different Indian tribes. When the Spanish arrived they made Cuba into a colony that remained for 400 years. During that time the island was mainly used for growing sugar, coffee and tobacco.
In the 1800’s sugar was the biggest export trade. Cuba was the world leading producer of sugar. Because of the huge number of slaves shipped in from Africa it was possible for the industry to expand to that extent. Approximately one million men and women were taken to Cuba. In the 1830s half the Cuban population was black Africans, including slaves and freed slaves. Because of this, the life in the sugar plantations was to become an important part of the history and destiny of Cuba.
Cuba got its independency 1898, after the Spanish-American war but was immediately occupied by the US with help from the dictators Machado and Batista.
Batista became the most influential military man and politician after the military coup in 1933. He resigned in 1944 but gained power once again through an American supported military coup 1952.
Fidel Castro founded the guerilla band ”the July 26 movement” with among others his brother Raúl Castro and the Argentine Che Guevara. After a couple of years struggle in the Sierra Maestra in Eastern Cuba , the guerilla overthrew president Batista January 1, 1959. This was the start of the Cuban revolution, a turning point for the country. The new political system made radical changes in the social system.
The fall of the Berlin Wall 1989, and the communistic collapse following it in Eastern Europe made Cuba lose their trading partners. Without help from Soviet the Cuban economy were driven into deep crisis. 1990 was the year of one of the toughest periods in the history of the island. The economic situation worsened until 1994.
At this point the government started to encourage foreign investments, private companies got a certain amount of freedom, the relationship with the Eastern European countries were picked up and the Cubans were allowed to buy dollars. At the end of the 1990s tourism had become the biggest income of the country.
The younger brother of Fidel, Raúl Castro, became the president of Cuba in 2008. Since 2006 he has begun to take on more and more presidential tasks from his sick brother.