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Cuba - History



Cuba - History
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 7 to 9
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   8.1

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    encomienda, launched, suffering, riches, better, shores, warship, economic, producer, unrest, nuclear, political, communist, settlement, refused, outcome
     content words:    South America, Christopher Columbus, But Columbus, Diego Velazquez, In June, First War, United States, Spanish-American War, Guantanamo Bay, Great Depression


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Cuba - History
By Ekaterina Zhdanova-Redman
  

1     Cuba's known history stretches back a few thousand years. Scientists believe that humans first came to the island of Cuba around 3500 BC from South America. These travelers hunted and fished. They settled in Cuba and were joined later by a more agricultural group of people. Many years later, the Europeans arrived.
 
2     The story goes that Christopher Columbus sailed from Spain and discovered America in 1492. But Columbus actually sailed to the islands of the Caribbean. Columbus spotted Cuba on October 28, 1492. Other Spanish conquerors were soon on their way. Just a few years later, in 1511, Diego Velazquez de Cuellar set up the first Spanish settlement in Cuba. The Spanish goals in Cuba were the same as they were all over the Caribbean and North and South America: To convert the natives to Christianity and to discover riches they could send home.
 
3     Initially, the Spanish had a very difficult time converting the natives to Christianity. The Spanish brutalized the natives. The Spaniards forced the natives into slavery under the "encomienda" system. This system gave large farms to Spaniards and forced the natives to work on them. In the early days of Spanish settlement, cattle farming was Cuba's major industry. Within 100 years, the Spanish had reduced the native population from 100,000 to 5,000.
 
4     Spain's grip on Cuba was challenged by other European powers. In June 1762, British troops invaded Cuba. They overran the capital city of Havana and controlled it for 11 months. The British improved trade and brought in many more slaves. Sugar and tobacco became important commodities for Cuba. In fact, Cuba became the world's largest sugar producer by 1820.
 
5     As Spanish control over many Caribbean islands was challenged, many people fled to Cuba. Cubans began to desire independence, too, and in October 1868, Cuba's First War of Independence was launched. After 10 years and 200,000 deaths, the war was over, yet independence had not been secured. Cuban exiles in the United States didn't like the outcome and decided to help the Cuban rebels. A poet and journalist by the name of Jose Marti started the Cuban Revolutionary Party. The Party's goal was to give Cuba independence from Spain. A group of exiles landed on Cuba's shores in 1895. The Spanish fought the exiles fiercely. Jose Marti was killed in battle; his fighting and death made him into a national hero in Cuba.

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