Cuba’s national territory includes more than 4000 islands and islets, conforming this huge archipelago in te Caribbean.
The population of Cuba is almost 14 million of which almost 75% live in rural areas. Cuba is a long and narrow island 846 miles long and 130 miles wide at it widest spot and 20 miles at its narrowest spot. Cuba has four mountain ranges with Turquino being the highest peak at 6476 feet. The climate ranges from semi-desert to tropical rain forests.
A chronology of key events in the history of Cuba
The navigator Christopher Columbus claims Cuba for Spain.
Spanish conquest begins under the leadership of Diego de Velazquez
Who establishes the country’s first seven townships: Baracoa, Bayamo, Santiago de Cuba, Santisima Trinidad, Sancti Spiritus, Santa Maria del Puerto del Principe (Camaguey) and San Cristobal de La Habana (Havana was founded in 1519 and officially became the Capital City of Cuba in 1607).
Importing of slaves from Africa begins
Havana captured by a British force
Cuba becomes a colony of England for 11 months.
Havana returned to Spain by the Treaty of Paris
Wars of independence
Ten Years War
Ten Years War of independence ends in a truce with Spain promising reforms and greater autonomy – promises that were mostly never met.
Jose Marti leads a second war of independence
US declares war on Spain.
US defeats Spain
Which gives up all claims to Cuba and cedes it to the US.
Cuba becomes independent
with Tomas Estrada Palma as its president; however, the Platt Amendment keeps the island under US protection and gives the US the right to intervene in Cuban affairs.
And the US occupies Cuba following a rebellion led by Jose Miguel Gomez.
Jose Miguel Gomez becomes president
Following elections supervised by the US, but is soon tarred by corruption.
US forces return to Cuba
To help put down black protests against discrimination.
Gerardo Machado institutes vigorous measures
Forwarding mining, agriculture and public works, but subsequently establishing a brutal dictatorship.
Socialist Party founded
Forming the basis of the
Machado overthrown in a coup led by Sergeant Fulgencio Batista
The US abandons its right to intervene in Cuba’s internal affairs
Revises Cuba’s sugar quota and changes tariffs to favor Cuba.
Batista retires and is succeeded by the civilian Ramon Grau San Martin
Batista seizes power again and presides over an oppressive
And corrupt regime.
Fidel Castro leads an unsuccessful revolt against the Batista regime
Castro lands in eastern Cuba
From Mexico and takes to the Sierra Maestra mountains where, aided by Ernesto “Che” Guevara, he wages a guerrilla war.
The US withdraws military aid to Batista
Triumph of the revolution
Castro leads a 9,000-strong guerrilla army into Havana
Forcing Batista to flee. Castro becomes prime minister, his brother, Raul, becomes his deputy and Guevara becomes third in command.
All US businesses in Cuba are nationalized without compensation
Washington breaks off all diplomatic relations with Havana
The US sponsors an abortive invasion by Cuban exiles at the Bay of Pigs; Castro proclaims Cuba a communist state and begins to ally it with the USSR.
Cuban missile crisis
Cuban missile crisis ignites when, fearing a US invasion, Castro agrees to allow the USSR to deploy nuclear missiles on the island. The crisis was subsequently resolved when the USSR agreed to remove the missiles in return for the withdrawal of US nuclear missiles from Turkey.
Organization of American States (OAS) suspends Cuba over its “incompatible” adherence to Marxism-Leninism.
Cuba’s sole political party renamed the Cuban Communist Party
A group of exiled counterrevolutionaries are held under arrest after their failed, US-backed invasion at the Bay of Pigs in 1961
Cuba becomes a full member of the Soviet-based Council
For Mutual Economic Assistance.
Cuban Communist Party approves a new socialist constitution
Castro elected president.
Many convicts flee to the US.
Around 125,000 Cubans, many of them released convicts, flee to the US.
Cuba agrees to withdraw its troops from Angola
Following an agreement with South Africa.
Surviving without the USSR
Soviet military advisers leave Cuba
following the collapse of the USSR.
The US tightens its embargo on Cuba
Which introduces some market reforms in order to stem the deterioration of its economy. These include the legalization of the US dollar, the transformation of many state farms into semi-autonomous cooperatives and the legalization of limited individual private enterprise.
Cuba signs an agreement with the US
According to which the US agrees to admit 20,000 Cubans a year in return for Cuba halting the exodus of refugees.
US trade embargo
US trade embargo made permanent in response to Cuba’s shooting down of two US aircraft operated by Miami-based Cuban exiles.
Pope John Paul II visits Cuba and The US eases restrictions
The US eases restrictions on the sending of money to relatives by Cuban Americans.
Cuban child Elian Gonzalez is picked up off the Florida coast
Cuban child Elian Gonzalez is picked up off the Florida coast after the boat in which his mother, stepfather and others had tried to escape to the US capsized. A huge campaign by Miami-based Cuban exiles begins with the aim of preventing Elian from rejoining his father in Cuba and of making him stay with relatives in Miami.
Elian allowed to rejoin his father
In Cuba after prolonged court battles.
US House of Representatives approves the sale of food and medicines to Cuba
Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Cuba
And signs accords aimed at boosting bilateral ties.
Cuba angrily criticizes Russia’s decision to shut down the Lourdes radio-electronic center on the island
Saying President Putin took the decision as “a special gift” to US President George W Bush ahead of a meeting between the two.
US exports food to Cuba
For the first time in more than 40 years after a request from the Cuban government to help it cope with the aftermath of Hurricane Michelle.
US Under Secretary of State John Bolton accuses Cuba
Of trying to develop biological weapons, adding the country to Washington’s list of “axis of evil” countries.
Former US president Jimmy Carter makes a goodwill visit which includes a tour of scientific centres, in response to US allegations about biological weapons. Carter is the first former or serving US president to visit Cuba since the 1959 revolution.
National Assembly amends the constitution
To make socialist system of government permanent and untouchable. Castro called for the vote following criticisms from US President George W Bush.
”Black Spring” crackdown on dissidents draws international condemnation
75 people are jailed for terms of up to 28 years; three men who hijacked a ferry to try reach the US are executed.
EU halts high-level official visits to Cuba
In protest at the country’s recent human rights record.
UN Human Rights Commission censures Cuba
Over its rights record. Cuban foreign minister describes resolution – which passed by single vote – as “ridiculous”.
US sanctions restrict US-Cuba family
US sanctions restrict US-Cuba family visits and cash remittances from expatriates.
President Castro announces ban on transactions in US dollars
And imposes 10% tax on dollar-peso conversions.
Havana says it is resuming diplomatic contacts with the EU
Frozen in 2003 following a crackdown on dissidents.
Around 200 dissidents hold a public meeting
Said by organisers to be the first such gathering since the 1959 revolution.
Propaganda war in Havana
As President Castro unveils a monument which blocks the view of illuminated messages – some of them about human rights – displayed on the US mission building.
President Fidel Castro undergoes gastric surgery
And temporarily hands over control of the government to his brother, Raul.
Fidel Castro’s failure to appear
At a parade to mark the 50th anniversary of his return to Cuba from exile prompts renewed speculation about his future.
A lawyer and a journalist are given lengthy jail terms after secret trials
Which rights activists see as a sign of a crackdown on opposition activity.
Castro fails to appear at Havana’s annual May Day parade
Days later he says he has had several operations.
Anger as the US drops charges against veteran anti-Castro militant Luis Posada Carriles, who is a former CIA operative and Cuba’s “Public Enemy No. 1” accused of downing a Cuban airliner.
Raul Castro takes over as president
Days after Fidel announces his retirement.
Plans are announced to abandon salary equalityPlans are announced to abandon salary equality
The move is seen as a radical departure from the orthodox Marxist economic principles observed since the 1959 revolution.
EU lifts diplomatic sanctions imposed on Cuba in 2003 over crackdown on dissidents.
Russian warships visit Havana for first time since end of Cold War.
Government says 2008 most difficult year for economy since collapse of Soviet Union. Growth nearly halved to 4.3%.
Government unveils austerity program
Government unveils austerity program to try to cut energy use and offset impact of global financial crisis.
Organization of American States (OAS) votes to lift ban on Cuban membership imposed in 1962. Cuba welcomes decision, but says it has no plans to rejoin.
Cuba signs agreement with Russia allowing oil exploration in Cuban waters of Gulf of Mexico.
President Castro agrees to free 52 dissidents
Under a deal brokered by the Church and Spain. Several go into exile.
US President Barack Obama relaxes restrictions
On travel to Cuba. Havana says the measures don’t go far enough.
Last two political prisoners detained during 2003
Crackdown are released.
New Reforms take shape
National Assembly approves economic reforms
Aimed at encouraging private enterprise and reducing state bureaucracy.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Pope Benedict – pictured with Raul Castro – criticized both the US and Cuba during his visit
Law allowing individuals to buy and sell private property
Cuba passes law allowing individuals to buy and sell private property for first time in 50 years.
Pope Benedict visits
Criticizing the US trade embargo on Cuba and calling for greater rights on the island.
Cuba marks Good Friday with a public holiday for the first time since recognition of religious holidays stopped in 1959.
President Raul Castro says the eastern province of Santiago was hard hit by Hurricane Sandy, with 11 people dead and more than 188,000 homes damaged. A United Nations report says Sandy destroyed almost 100,000 hectares of crops.
The National Assembly re-elects Raul Castro as president
He says he will stand down at the end of his second term in 2018, by which time he will be 86.
Cuba agrees to a European Union invitation
To begin talks to restore relations and boost economic ties, on condition of progress on human rights. The EU suspended ties in 1996.
Cuba sends hundreds of frontline medical
Cuba sends hundreds of frontline medical staff to West African countries hit by the Ebola epidemic.
Rapprochement with USASurviving without the USSR
US President Barack Obama and Cuba’s President Raul Castro announce moves to normalize diplomatic relations
In a surprise development, US President Barack Obama and Cuba’s President Raul Castro announce moves to normalize diplomatic relations between the two countries, severed for more than 50 years.
Washington eases some travel and trade restrictions on Cuba.
Two days of historic talks between the US and Cuba take place in Havana, with both sides agreeing to meet again. The discussions focus on restoring diplomatic relations, but no date is set for the reopening of embassies in both countries.
President Raul Castro calls on President Obama to use his executive powers to bypass Congress and lift the US economic embargo on Cuba.
Cuba and US
Cuban and US diplomats say they have made progress in talks in Washington to restore full relations.
Cuba establishes banking ties with US, which drops country from list of states that sponsor terrorism.
Cuba and US reopen embassies and exchange charges d’affaires.
Cuban and US officials hold preliminary talks on mutual compensation.
US eases a number of trade restrictions with Cuba
Cuba and the European Union agree to normalize relations.
US President Barack Obama visits Cuba in the first US presidential visit there in 88 years.
Cuba takes steps to legalize small and medium-sized businesses
Cuba takes steps to legalize small and medium-sized businesses as part of economic reforms.
Fidel Castro's death
Fidel Castro dies at the age of 90
Fidel Castro, former president and leader of the Cuban revolution, dies at the age of 90. Cuba declares nine days of national mourning.
Washington ends a long-standing policy
Which grants Cuban immigrants the right to remain in the US without a visa.
US President Donald Trump overturns some aspects
Some aspects of predecessor Barack Obama’s policy on Cuba which brought about a thaw in relations between the two countries.
Diplomatic row over mysterious sonic attacks
Which are said to have affected the health of US and Canadian embassy staff in Havana.
Senior Communist Party stalwart Miguel Diaz-Canel becomes president
Ending six decades of rule by the Castro family.