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History of Cuba 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 Isabella I of Spain his benefactors Columbus named it Juana the first of several names he successively applied to the island It eventually became known as Cuba from its aboriginal name Cubanascnan Colonization by Spain When Columbus first landed on Cuba it was inhabited by the Ciboney a friendly tribe related to the Arawak Colonization of the island began in 1511 when the Spanish soldier Diego Velzquez established the town of Baracoa Velzquez subsequently founded several other settlements including Santiago de Cuba in 1514 and Havana in 1515 The Spanish transformed Cuba into a supply base for their expeditions to Mexico and Florida As a result of savage treatment and exploitation the aborigines became by the middle of the 16th century nearly extinct forcing the colonists to depend on imported black slaves for the operation of the mines and plantations Despite frequent raids by buccaneers and naval units of rival and enemy powers the island prospered throughout the 16th and 17th centuries Restrictions imposed by the Spanish authorities on commercial activities were generally disregarded by the colonists who resorted to illicit trade with privateers and neighboring colonies Following the conclusion of the Seven Years War in 1763 during which the English captured Havana the Spanish government liberalized its Cuban policy encouraging colonization expansion of commerce and development of agriculture Between 1774 and 1817 the population increased from about 161000 to more than 550000 The remaining restrictions on trade were officially eliminated in 1818 further promoting material and cultural advancement During the 1830s however Spanish rule became increasingly repressive provoking a widespread movement among the colonists for independence This movement attained particular momentum between 1834 and 1838 during the despotic governorship of the captain general Miguel de Tacn Revolts and conspiracies against the Spanish regime dominated
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