Cuba but is only 60 miles (100 kilometers) wide

Cuba is an
island brimming with bold art, dance-provoking music and cities that still
possess a colonial charm. The largest island in the Caribbean makes up this
country along with smaller, lesser islands that lie off the coast of the main
island, such as La Isla de Juventud, that also act as part of Cuban soil. Cuba
is a long and narrow island. It stretches 750 miles (1,200 kilometers) from
east to west, but is only 60 miles (100 kilometers) wide in most places. Cuba’s
physical geography is mostly flat to rolling plains, with rugged hills and
mountains ranges such as, La Sierra Maestra, La Cordillera Guaniguanico and La
Sierra de Escambray. The country in its entirety has a surface area of 44,200
miles, making it a total land area slightly smaller than Pennsylvania.

Before centuries
of foreign occupation occurred by colonial powers, the island was inhabited by
Arawak people that were indigenous to the region. The different groups of
tribes that encompassed the island performed the traditional activities of
fishermen and hunters, and introduced agriculture to the island. Their staples
included maize, beans, squash, peanuts, yucca, and tobacco. Tobacco also served
in medicinal, ceremonial and leasure activies in amongst the Guanahatabey, the
Taíno and the Ciboneyes. In the year 1492, Christopher Columbus landed on the
island with three vessels along with an impressive sized crew. Columbus was on
a voyage in order to discover the New World. King Fernidand and Queen Isabel,
who served as the Spanish monarchy at the time had financed this trip in order
to expand the area of the Spanish crown. The native population were called
Indian because Columbus thought he had landed in India. The native population
was also regarded as savages due to their lack of clothing, hunting and
gathering techniques and lack of advances that were present in the continent of
Europe in that time period. As contact Arawak and European contact expounded,
the progation of ailments started to spread with a majority of the native
population perishing from disease brought over from Europe. The spread of
disease however wasn’t one-sided, with many of Columbus’s seamen contracting
diseases such as Syphillis.

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With the passing
of time, the influence of Spanish power continued to spread throughout not only
the island but throughout the Americas as well with the Spanish colonies
overthrowing the Aztec and Inca civilizations. Doing so the Spanish also
brought tobacco plant with them from the island of Cuba. Soon Cuba became known
as the island of tobacco throughout the world because the crop had become the
principal export. Due to the fact that the overwhelming majority of the
Arawak-populated natives had passed away due to the introduction of European
diseases that they had little to no immunity to, this left the Spainards with a
small number of slaves to exploit labor from. As a result of this, the
Spainards sought free labor from Africa. Around 12.5 million slaves were
crammed into slave ships over a series of years and brought into Cuba to be
exploited by the Spanish government in order to continue the booming tobacco
business.

Towards the end of the 18th
century in nearby Hispaniola a revolution occurred amongst the slaves and their
masters. In the then French colony of Saint Domingue, the number of slaves
outnumbered the number of white Frenchman dramatically, as a result of this
contrast, the slaves were able to successful commence a revolution to free
themselves from the chains of slavery along with the persistant dominance of
French rule in what is now the country of Haiti. Previously, these slavery were
worked and subject to work in the sugar industry. As a result of the slaves’
new freedom, the sugar industry tanked leaving the Cuba to take the opportunity
of producing the crop in its arable tropical land.  Therefore, Cuba became the new sugar capital
of the Caribbean.

As other Spanish-speaking countries
in the Americas began to rebel against the empirical colonization of Spain,
along with the knowledge of slave revolutions that had occurred the united
states and Haiti, many slave owners feared potential slave uprising in the
country. With a combination of slavery and the high taxation of sugar imposed
by the Spanish, many sugar planters, especially those in eastern Cuba grew
tired of Spanish occupation. Céspedes and his group were determined to strike a
blow at Spanish control of Cuba. When they learned that their conspiratorial
activities had been discovered by the Spanish authorities, they were forced to
act. On Oct. 10, 1868, Céspedes issued the historic Grito de Yara from his
plantation, La Demajagua, proclaiming the independence of Cuba. He soon freed
his slaves and incorporated them into his disorganized and ill-armed force and
made public a manifesto explaining the causes of the revolt.