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Christopher Columbus landed on the island of Cuba on October 28 1492 duringhis initial westward voyage In honor of the daughter of Ferdinand V and IsabellaI of Spain his benefactors Columbus named it Juana the first of several nameshe successively applied to the island It eventually became known as Cuba fromWhen Columbus first landed on Cuba it was inhabited by the Ciboney a friendlytribe related to the Arawak Colonization of the island began in 1511 when theSpanish soldier Diego Velzquez established the town of Baracoa Velzquezsubsequently founded several other settlements including Santiago de Cuba in1514 and Havana in 1515 The Spanish transformed Cuba into a supply base fortheir expeditions to Mexico and Florida As a result of savage treatment andexploitation the aborigines became by the middle of the 16th century nearlyextinct forcing the colonists to depend on imported black slaves for theoperation of the mines and plantationsDespite frequent raids by buccaneers and naval units of rival and enemypowers the island prospered throughout the 16th and 17th centuriesRestrictions imposed by the Spanish authorities on commercial activities weregenerally disregarded by the colonists who resorted to illicit trade withprivateers and neighboring colonies Following the conclusion of the SevenYears War in 1763 during which the English captured Havana the Spanishgovernment liberalized its Cuban policy encouraging colonization expansion ofcommerce and development of agriculture Between 1774 and 1817 thepopulation increased from about 161000 to more than 550000 The remainingrestrictions on trade were officially eliminated in 1818 further promoting materialDuring the 1830s however Spanish rule became increasingly repressiveprovoking a widespread movement among the colonists for independence Thismovement attained particular momentum between 1834 and 1838 during thedespotic governorship of the captain general Miguel de Tacn Revolts andconspiracies against the Spanish regime dominated Cuban political lifethroughout the remainder of the century In 1844 an uprising of black slaves wasbrutally suppressed A movement during the years 1848 to 1851 for annexationof the island to the United States ended with the capture and execution of itsleader
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