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The Republic of Cuba, commonly known as Cuba, is made up of the island of Cuba, the smaller island of Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. It's situated in the northern Caribbean on the Caribbean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico. Its capital is Havana. It is the largest island in the Caribbean.

In 1492, Columbus, who was looking for a short route to China, sailed from the Bahamas to explore the northeast coast of Cuba, thinking it was a peninsula of Asia. The mapping of Cuba was finally finished in 1509.

In 1511, Spanish Conquistador Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar was chosen to lead an expedition of 300 men to conquer Cuba. The conquest took more than three years to achieve, but in 1514, the settlement which would one day become Havana was founded. On October 10, 1868, Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, owner of a sugar mill, began the war by raising the flag he said was the flag of an independent Cuba and ringing a bell at his mill.

He stepped outside to the steps of the sugar mill and read the manifesto which enumerated the reasons for their independence which he and 15 of his followers had signed. In 1868, the Ten Years' War began. It was the first part of Cuba's fight for independence from Spain. That war lasted for ten years. The Pact of Zanjon, which was the result of two years of negotiations, ended the war.

The terms of the pact included a provisional government and a constitution, as well as abolition and manumission of the slaves. It also contained a promise from the rebels that they would dissolve the Cuban government they had established at the beginning of the war. A tense peace between the Cuban rebels and Spain, and then, in August of 1879, bubbled over again.

Five Generals of the Revolution, Francisco Carrillo, Calíxto García, José Maceo, Emilo Núñez, and Guillermo Moncada, tried to whip up emotions, and they did so enough to start a new war. But soon, the enthusiasm and fervor the rebels felt dissolved, and in 1880, this war, dubbed "the Small War" was over.

In February of 1895, the War of Independence began with a new leader, José Martí who was a philosopher and an author. He gave the order to begin the fight, and the opening battles began in four places -- Ibarra, Bayate, Baire, and Guantanamo simultaneously. Martí was killed near Dos Rios in May of 1895, but the revolution was not slowed.

In late 1897, as a constitutional convention took place in Cuba, the United States Congress House of Representatives as well as the Senate passed separate resolutions recognizing the Cuban Revolution. Meanwhile, Spain and the United States were experiencing tensions, and in 1897, Spain relinquished some of its control of Cuba, granting them autonomy in domestic matters. But the Cuban government in arms did not accept the terms.

Because of the situation and the tensions, the United States Consul in Havana, Fitzhugh Lee, advised President McKinley to dispatch the navy to Cuba to protect American interests. The President agreed and sent the battleship USS Maine to Havana. Less than three weeks later, on February 15, 1898, a gigantic explosion destroyed the Maine, killing 266 sailors.

In March, a court of inquiry ruled that the explosion was caused by a mine, and the assumption of many was that Spain was responsible. The majority of Americans, in fact, believed Spain to be guilty and called for a declaration of war. The matter of the battleship Maine, along with wide American condemnation of Spain for their brutality with the Cuban rebels, led to the Spanish-American War, which went on for the last thee months of the Great War of the Cuban rebels.

Three months after the United States went to war with Spain, it was over. The Treaty of Paris was signed, officially ending the war, and giving the United States an empire of its own, with the Ceding of Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam. The United States held control of Cuba until May 20, 1902.

In 1940, Colonel Fulgencio Batista y Zaldivar was elected president. While he was president, Cuba fought in World War II and established diplomatic relations with the USSR. He was defeated in 1944 by Grau San Martin. In 1948, Carlos Prio Socarras Colonel was elected president of Cuba. In 1952, he was overthrown in 1952 in a coup arranged by Batista, who was re-elected in 1954.

In 1958, a Cuban rebel named Fidel Castro led rebels in guerrilla warfare which would lead to Batista's overthrow. On January 1, 1959, Batista resigned and fled Cuba while Castro set up a provisional government and declared himself as premier. He signed his country on to communist policies and imprisoned anyone who opposed him.

During his reign, thousands of dissidents as well as those who attempted to flee the country were persecuted and imprisoned. In 2008, he handed over his leadership to his brother Raul Castro, and he died in 2016 when he was 90 years old.



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