Cuba, officially the Republic of Cuba (Spanish: República de Cuba) is a country comprising the island of Cuba, Isla de la Juventud, and several minor archipelagos. It is located south of Florida and the Bahamas, west of Saint-Domingue and north of Jamaica. The largest city and capital of Cuba is the historic port of Habana.
Before the start of Spanish colonization in the 15th century Cuba was inhabited by the Taíno people. From the 15th century to 1894 Cuba was a Spanish colony until the becoming an independent republic with a de facto client state relationship with the British empire. After a joint New Netherlands & Mexican intervention in the Cuban Civil War (1941-1945) the second republic of Cuba was established. In present day Cuba is a developing nation with a growing middle class, strong diplomatic relations with other nations in the Americas and a major tourism hotspot.
Historians believe the name Cuba comes from the Taíno language, however "its exact derivation [is] unknown". The exact meaning of the name is unclear but it may be translated either as 'where fertile land is abundant' (cubao), or 'great place' (coabana).
The Spanish empire started to decline in the second half of the 19th century and after the Communard Wars and the subsequent Spanish economic crisis of the 1880's most Spanish colonies in the Americas gained independence. In an attempt to appease the Cuban nationalists, the Spanish crown unilaterally declared Cuba (along with Florida and Puerto Rico) as semi-autonomous states. However, this did very little to pacify the revolutionary sentiment.
The Cuban war for independence started in 1885 and lasted for 9 years with Cuban guerilla fighters using hit and run tactics to wear down Spanish imperial forces. Starting in 1890, the British empire started to covertly support and arm the Cuban rebels in order to (1) undermine the Spanish (the British and Spanish empires relationship started to deteriorate in the 19th century due to growing political and economic conflicts) (2) to create another friendly nation to grow their sphere of influence in the newly independent post colonial Hispanic nations. In 1894 Spanish forces were finally expelled from the country and the first republic of Cuba was proclaimed.
The first republic era, and British neocolonialism
The Republic of Cuba was established in 1895, with Jesús Rodríguez installed as its first president. Rodríguez's tenure saw British investments in infrastructure, the building of canals, roads, bridges, and new seaports. This made Rodríguez popular among the public, leading to his reelection in 1902, despite his opposing party warning of the risks of heavy indebtedness to Britain. In 1909, Rodríguez was replaced by Sebastián Pareja as president, still under the same party as Rodríguez. Sebastián Pareja continued most of Rodríguez's policies but was less distinguished than his predecessor. By the 1910s, Cuba's debts to Britain had started to take a toll on their economy. To ease the economic situation, Pareja made several concessions to the British, notably the establishment of the Foreign Companies Investment Act, which allowed foreign businesses to operate and export outside of Cuba. The act was made without the consultation of the Cuban legislation (Cuban Senate) and is highly controversial in Cuban politics. Pareja was re-elected as president in the 1916 National Election, with his running mate, Ernesto Bienvenida, elected as vice-president. The Cuban Liberal Party and Communard Party of Cuba boycotted the election and accused Pareja of electoral fraud. Protests broke out in the urban regions in Cuba throughout 1916-1917 but were quickly put down by the Cuban army.
Pareja's tenure as president abruptly ended in 1922, when he was assassinated by a politically-unaffiliated laborer in Habana. Accordingly to the Cuban constitution, Vice President Ernesto Bienvenida ascended to the presidency and immediately declared a state of rebellion. Bienvenida's government cracked down on political dissent and arrested political enemies. He was regarded as a dictator, and was also colloquially known as 'El Terrible.' Meanwhile, British entrenchment into Cuba grew, as British companies dominated the Cuban mining and agriculture sector and Bienvenida's rule continued to receive support from London. Bienvenida would continue his rule up until the 1930s. The 1930s saw the Cuban government face constant rebellions. The rebels often sought the help of their fellow American nations, most notably Mexico and New Netherland whose governments were against foreign influence in America. These rebels often committed acts of terrorism: burning down of government buildings, attacking British-owned mines, and even holding British nationals as hostage.
Mexican and New Netherlander Intervention (1937)
In 1937, a collaborative military effort between New Netherland and Mexico was initiated to liberate Cuba from Bienvenida's rule. The operation overthrew President Bienvenida, and established diplomatic ties with both New Netherland and Mexico, ushering in a new era of international relations for the island nation.