As Christopher Columbus landed on 27 October 1492 during his first journey to the "New World" in Bariay in the east of the island in the province of Holguín, he was greeted by the original inhabitants of Cuba who lived then under really primitive conditions.
The conqueror Diego Velazquez was the first to found the country's seven cities at the beginning of the 16th century: Baracoa - the first town on the island, Bayamo, Santiago de Cuba, Trinidad, Sancti Spiritus, Santa Maria del Puerto Principe (today called Camagüey) and San Cristobal de la Habana (now Havana).
The original population was almost entirely extinguished during the process of colonisation. Many Africans found their way to Cuba as slaves during the 4 years of Spanish governance.
Even today, African influences can be seen in the people. The Spanish regime was brought to an end in 1898 by the American occupation, although even they only remained in power until 1902. The following new colonial government was finally ousted on the 1st January 1959 by the victory of the revolution.

Milestones in the history of Cuba

  • 27 October 1492: Cuba discovered by Christopher Columbus
  • 16 November 1519: foundation of Havana, the last town founded by the Spanish.
  • 12 August 1762: island conquered by the English.
  • 28 January 1853: birth of national hero José Martí.
  • 10 October 1868: begin of the wars of independence.
  • 15 March 1878: protest of Baraguá.
  • 1880: abolition of slavery.
  • 10 April 1892: foundation of the Revolutionary Party of Cuba.
  • 24 February 1895: recommencement of the wars of independence.
  • 19 May 1895: José Martí dies while fighting.
  • 7 December 1896: Antonio Maceo, revolutionary and fighter for social equality, dies while fighting.
  • 1898: invasion by the Americans.
  • 20 May 1902: begin of the "Republic" under American occupation.
  • 1925: foundation of the first Communist Party in Cuba.
  • 26 July 1953: storming of the Moncada barracks.
  • 2 December 1956: Fidel Castro and Ché Guevara arrive with the Granma on Cuba.
  • 1 January 1959: victory of the Revolution.
  • 19 April 1961: invasion in the Bay of Pigs, defeat of the Americans.
  • 1961: Begin of the widespread literacy campaign.
    Important public holidays
  • 1 January: Liberation Day and the Victorious Revolution.
  • 1 May: Labour Day.
  • 26 July: Day of Rebellion.
  • 30 July: Commemoration of the Victims of the Revolution.
  • 10 October: Independence Day.
  • 7 December: Antonio Maceos Memorial Day.

A comprehensive overview of Cuban history (only in Spanish) can be found here: