Christopher Columbus discovered Cuba in 1492. Cuba is a little island about 90 miles south of Florida and also about 90 miles north of Jamaica in the Caribbean Sea. Cuba has a population of about 11,382,820. It is nearly the size of Pennsylvania, which is about 42,803 square feet. Cuba is always hot and humid due to its tropical climate, and is the biggest Caribbean Island.On February 15, 1898, the American battleship Maine mysteriously exploded. It was sent to Havana to protect American citizens. The United States subsequently blamed the Spanish, and declared war against Spain. The land battles at El Caney and San Juan Hill, and the naval battle at Santiago de Cuba, were all fought in July, and were the main events of the war. A treaty was signed on December 10, 1898, called the Treaty of Paris, which confirmed that Spain gave up all claims to Cuba. The American forces left Cuba, in 1909. Following that, Cuba had a democratic government for fifteen years. In 1924 a Liberal party politician by the name of Gerardo Machado, came to power and seized the Cuban government. He fiercely ruled until 1933, when an army revolt led by Sergeant Fulgencio Batista placed Ramon Grau San Martin, another Liberal Party politician, in office. Grau removed Batista from office in 1934, and ruled Cuba as a dictator until 1944, although several presidents held office. In 1934, Cuba and the United States signed a treaty that abolished the Platt Amendment.In 1940, a new constitution was adopted. Also, Batista Ran was elected for president. In 1941, Cuba joined World War II on the Allied side. The United States had naval and air stations in Cuba during the war. Grau was elected president again in 1944, when Batista retired. Carlos Prio Socarras was elected president in 1948. In 1952, Batista overthrew Prios government by a military revolt and became temporary president and dictator of Cuba.On July 26, 1953, Fidel Castro unsuccessfully led rebel forces, to attack the Moncada Army Barracks in Santiago de Cuba. Castros rebellion became known as the 26th of July Movement winning its name from the date of this first attack. Castros revel forces staged another unsuccessful revolt in the province of Oriente in 1956. Castro then retreated to the Sierra Maestra mountains. The rebels engaged in guerrilla warfare from the mountain headquarters, for the next two years.A large-scale civil war broke out in Cuba in 1959. In January, 1959, Batista fled to the Dominican Republic, and Castros forces gained control of the government. Castro became ruler and dictator or Cuba in February, 1959. Raul Castro, Fidels brother, and Ernesto Guevara also became leaders in the new government. Both men were were known to have communist backgrounds and were leaders in the 26th of July Movement.Relations with the United States became seriously strained in 1960 when Castro seized almost all American-owned property. Property owned by other foreigners and by wealthy Cubans was also nationalized. Sugar factories and estates, telephone and transportation companies, power plants, banks, mines, apartment houses, and hotels were all taken over by the government.The United States reacted by stopping purchases of Cuban sugar, and cutting off almost all trade. Only needed food and medicine was sent to Cuba. Castro angrily denounced the United States for its actions, and obtained military and economic aid from communist countries. The United States finally broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1961.Conditions in Cuba worsened steadily. All activities were brought under state control, and a secret police force was formed to control the people. More than 100,000 Cubans left the country.In April, 1961, a band of Cuban exiles invaded Cuba at the Bay of Pigs on Cubas southern coast, less than 100 miles from Havana. The invaders planned to advance into Cuba and overthrow Castro. But Castros forces completely crushed the invasion. Because The Bay of Pigs invasion had been launched with the support of the CIA, it became an important issue in the United States.In August, 1962, the Cuban Crisis began to build up. Shiploads of Russian military equipment and Russian technicians started arriving in Cuba. On October 22, 1962, President Kennedy announced that Russia had built missile bases in Cuba that could launch atomic attacks against the U.S. and other parts of the Western Hemisphere. President Kennedy ordered a naval quarantine of Cuba to halt the flow of weapons to the island. He demanded that Russia remove all missiles and missile bases from Cuba. In October, Premier Khrushchev agreed and invited the UN to inspect and verify the dismantling of the bases in Cuba. Castro refused to cooperate. He also demanded that the United States give up its Guantanamo Bay as an act of privacy.Cuban exile groups began making raids on the Cuban coast. In April 1963, the U.S. announced it would not allow the exiles to launch raids from U.S. territory. Most of the exiles moved to Central America. They made some sea and air attacks on sugar refineries, ports, and railroads in Cuba.In conclusion Cuba is a beautiful country, yet has always been place of turmoil and relative violence. Even today you are still not allowed to visit Cuba without special permission.


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