World History

Cuba Timeline and History Highlights

Cuba Timeline Highlights


1000 – Cuban indigenous Guanajatabei arrive from South America.


1200 – The Tainos arrive in Cuba. They inhabit most of the region and grow corn, tobacco, yucca, and cotton.

1492 – Christopher Columbus becomes the first European to arrive in Cuba. He explores the north coast and claims Cuba instead of Spain.

1509 – A complete map of the Cuban coast is drawn up by the Spanish navigator Sebastian de Ocampo.

1511 – Diego Velázquez founded Baracoa, Cuba’s first Spanish settlement. He begins the conquest of Cuba for Spain. Most of the Taino Natives will die in the next few years from diseases such as smallpox.

1514 – The settlement that later became the City of Havana is founded.

1526 – Slaves are imported from Africa to work in the tobacco fields. Sugar eventually became an important crop.1589 – Morro Castle is built to guard the entrance to Havana Bay.

1607 – Havana is declared the capital of Cuba.

1762 – The British attack and occupy Havana as part of the Seven Years’ War.

1763 – With the end of the Seven Years’ War, Britain returns control of Cuba to Spain.

1791 – The Haitian Revolution begins on the nearby island of Hispaniola. Thousands of refugees have fled to Cuba.

1868 – First War of Independence. Ten years later, Spain promises a change of government and the curtain closes.

1886 – Slavery is abolished in Cuba.

1895 – The Cuban War of Independence begins, led by revolutionary and poet José Martí and military leader Maximo Gómez.

1898 – The United States goes to war with Spain in the Spanish-American War, and the USS Maine is sunk in the port of Havana.

1898 – The United States and Cuba defeat the Spanish at the Battle of San Juan Hill.

1898 – America wins the war and becomes a protectorate of Cuba.

1902 – Cuba becomes independent. Guantanamo Bay is leased to the United States.

1906 – José Gómez leads a rebellion. The United States intervenes and takes the lead.

1924 – Gerard Machado establishes a dictatorship. 1925 – The Socialist Party is established.

1933 – Gerard Machado is overthrown. New government reforms such as women’s suffrage and minimum wages are introduced.

1940 – Fulgencio Batista is elected president. He has the support of the Communist Party.

1941 – Cuba declares war on the Axis powers in World War II.

1952 – Batista regains power. This time he rules as a dictator and the government corrupts.

1953 – The Cuban Revolution begins as Fidel Castro attempts to lead an uprising against Batista.

1956 – Fidel Castro and Che Guevara begin guerrilla warfare in the Sierra Maestra Mountains.

1959 – Fidel Castro takes control of Havana and Batista flees the country. Castro becomes prime minister.

1959 – Thousands of Cubans flee Castro’s regime to the United States. An estimated 1.2 million Cubans fled to the United States between 1959 and 1993.

1960 – Castro introduced communism and nationalized all Cuban companies, including US companies. Cuba is allied with the Soviet Union.

1961 – US planned Bay of Pigs invasion fails with Castro overthrowing.

1962 – The Cuban Missile Crisis occurs when the Soviet Union deploys nuclear missiles in Cuba. After tense negotiations, the Soviets agreed to remove the missiles.

1965 – The Cuban Communist Party becomes the country’s sole political party. 1991 – Cuba’s most important ally, the Soviet Union, collapses.

1996 – The United States imposes a permanent embargo on Cuba.

2000 – US agrees to sell food and medicine to Cuba.

2002 – The last Russian military base in Cuba is closed.

2008 – Fidel Castro announces his resignation. His younger brother Raul will take over as president. Cuba restores relations with Russia.

2011 – Cuba passed several economic reforms, including the right of individuals to own property.

2012 – Pope Benedict XVI visits Cuba.

Cuba History Highlights:

Cuba was first settled by the Guanajatabei and Taino Indians. They were farmers, hunters and fishermen. Christopher Columbus landed in Cuba in 1492 and claimed Spanish territory. Columbus named the land Isla Juana, but he later named it Cuba, derived from the local Native American name Coabana.

The first Spanish settlement in Cuba was Baracoa, founded in 1511 by Diego Velázquez de Cuellar. The sugarcane, tobacco, and livestock industries developed as the Spanish settled Cuba. Cuba first fought for independence from Spain in 1868 during the Ten Years’ War. In 1895, the War of Independence escalated again under the leadership of national hero José Marti. In 1898, the United States was embroiled in war when one of her battleships, her USS Maine, was sunk. The Treaty of Paris gave the United States control over Cuba and recognized Cuba’s independence in 1902.

In 1952, a former Cuban president named Fulgencio Batista seized real power in the country and became a dictator. Many people in Cuba were not satisfied with this. Rebel leader Fidel Castro organized a revolution to overthrow Batista. In 1959, Fidel Castro overthrew Batista and took control of the country. He declared Cuba a socialist state and allied with the Soviet Union.

Cuba became a major player in the US-Soviet Cold War. First, the United States tried to overthrow Castro through the Bay of Pigs invasion, but failed. After that, the Soviet Union tried to set up a nuclear missile base in Cuba, and the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred.

Fidel Castro remained in power for 50 years before handing power over to his brother Raul.