Meaning of CUBA, FLAG OF in English

national flag with three blue and two white horizontal stripes and a red triangle at the hoist bearing a white star. The width-to-length ratio of the flag is 1 to 2. In the 19th century in New York City, anti-Spanish Cuban exiles under the leadership of Narciso Lpez adopted a flag suggested by the poet Miguel Teurbe Toln. His design, which later became the national flag, incorporated three blue stripes representing the three military districts of Spanish-dominated Cuba and two white stripes symbolizing the purity of the patriot cause. The red triangle stood for strength and constancy, but it may also have reflected Masonic influences (triangles are Masonic symbols for equality and were found in a number of other flags in the former Spanish empire). The white star in the triangle stood for independence. Lpez carried this flag in battles at Crdenas (1850) and Playitas (1851). Although the battles were unsuccessful, these were the first times the flag was raised in Cuba. After the United States seized Cuba from Spain during the Spanish-American War, the Stars and Stripes flew from January 1, 1899, until May 20, 1902, when the Cuban national flag was hoisted as a symbol of independence and sovereignty. It has been used ever since, even after the communist revolution led by Fidel Castro was successful in seizing control of the country. Like the previous dictator, Fulgencio Batista, Castro made use of a party flag in all public activities. Castro's 26th of July Movement created a flag equally divided in red and black, usually in horizontal stripes and often with inscriptions. Whitney Smith History At the time of the Spanish exploration of Cuba, the native population formed two groups totaling 50,000. The Ciboney and Guanahatabey occupied western Cuba. The more numerous Taino, who occupied the rest of the island, were highly developed agriculturalists and a peaceful people, related to the Arawakan peoples of South America who had migrated to the Greater Antilles. Their houses, called bohos, formed villages ranging from single families to communities of 3,000 persons. They had pottery, polished stone implements, and religious spirits called zemis, which were represented by idols of wood, stones, and bones. The Taino diet included potatoes, manioc, fruits, and fish. The Spanish colonial regime Christopher Columbus discovered Cuba for Spain during his first voyage, on Oct. 27, 1492. Diego Velzquez began permanent settlement in 1511, founding Baracoa on the northeastern coast with 300 Spaniards and their African slaves. Within five years the island had been divided into seven municipal divisions, including Havana, Puerto Prncipe, Santiago de Cuba, and Sancti Spritus. Each municipality had its own cabildo, or town council, governing its legal, administrative, and commercial affairs. From 1515, elected representatives of each cabildo formed a body that defended local interests before the royal council, especially matters such as the slave trade and the encomienda (a system that granted to conquistadors a certain number of Indians in a specified area from whom tribute could be exacted). A bishopric, subordinate to Santo Domingo, was founded at Baracoa in 1518 but later moved to Santiago de Cuba. The island's limited gold deposits discouraged early settlement. The colony became a staging ground for the mainland exploration of Yucatn, Florida, and the Gulf Coast. Such expeditions as that of Corts, which attracted 400 Spaniards and 3,000 Indians, depleted the colonial population. The small number of permanent resident Spanish colonists used the Indians in encomienda. But by 1550 the encomienda was no longer feasible, because the island's Indian population had declined dramatically to about 5,000 because of social dislocation, maltreatment, epidemic diseases, and emigration. Throughout the 17th century, colonial life was made more difficult by the ravages of hurricanes, epidemics, the attacks of rival European countries trying to establish bases in the Caribbean, and pirates. By 1700 peace had returned, and the population had grown to about 50,000. The flota system (regularly scheduled fleets between Spain and Spanish America) increased the commercial and strategic importance of Havana, while ranching, smuggling, and tobacco farming occupied the colonists. The administrative costs depended, however, on irregular subsidies from New Spain until 1808. The 18th century brought intensified agricultural development. The main changes came with the growing dependence on sugarcane cultivation and the importation of African slaves for work on the plantations. In 1740 the Havana Company was formed to stimulate agricultural development by increasing the importation of slaves and regulating the export trade. The company was unsuccessful, selling fewer slaves in 21 years than the British sold during a 10-month occupation of Havana in 1762. Reforms of Charles III of Spain at this time further stimulated the development of the sugar industry. Between 1763 and 1860 the island's population increased from less than 150,000 to more than 1.3 million. Slaves made the most dramatic growth, increasing from 39,000 in the 1770s to some 400,000 in the 1840s. In the 19th century Cuba imported more than 600,000 Africans, most of them after an Anglo-Spanish agreement to terminate the slave trade in 1820. The Cuban insistence on the slave trade raised considerable diplomatic controversy between Spain and Great Britain between 1817 and 1865. In 183880 the Cuban sugar industry became the most mechanized in the world, utilizing steam-powered mills and narrow-gauge railroads. Expanding ingenios (sugar mills) dominated the landscape from Havana to Puerto Prncipe, expelling small farmers and destroying the island's famous large hardwood forests. By 1850 the sugar industry accounted for 83 percent of all exports, and in 1860 Cuba produced nearly one-third of the world's sugar. The sugar revolution propelled a new rich class of slave owners to political prominence. Mexican Indians and Chinese augmented the labour force, and in 1865 the African slave trade ended, although slavery was not abolished until 1886. The demands of sugarlabourers, capital, machines, technical skills, and marketsstrained interracial relations, aggravated political and economic differences between metropolis and colony, and laid the foundation for the break with Spain in 1898. Spanish colonial administration had been corrupt, inefficient, and inflexible. The United States had shown a lively and growing interest in the island, and expeditions by U.S. filibusters won support in the United States, especially in the Southern slave states. After the 1860s the United States tried many times to purchase the island. Spain's failure to grant political autonomy, while increasing taxes, led to the outbreak of the first war of independencethe Ten Years' War (186878)which led to a military stalemate. The rich sugar producers of western Cuba and the vast majority of the slaves failed to rally to the nationalists, themselves divided over the questions of slavery, complete independence, and annexation to the United States. Spain promised to reform the island's political and economic system at the Convention of Zanjn (1878). Many Cubans, including the nationalist leader Antonio Maceo, however, refused to accept the Spanish conditions. By 1895 the political and economic crisis had grown more severe. U.S. investment had reached $50 million, and its annual trade with Cuba amounted to about $100 million. Cuban political organizations in exile were coordinated and mobilized by the poet and propagandist Jos Mart. War broke out again on Feb. 24, 1895. Spain deployed more than 200,000 troops. Both sides killed civilians and burned estates and towns. By 1898 commercial activity had come to a standstill. Excited by the yellow press and a mysterious explosion aboard the USS Maine in Havana's harbour, the United States declared war on Spain on April 25, 1898. In August Spain signed a peace protocol in Washington, ending hostilities. The economy By the end of the 1950s Cuba had developed one of the leading economies among Latin-American nations. Nevertheless, the country was confronted by a number of major problems: a sugar monoculture (sugar accounted for four-fifths of total exports), a low rate of economic growth, a heavy dependence upon the United States for investment and trade, high rates of unemployment and underemployment, and significant inequalities between urban and rural areas and among the various ethnic divisions. When the revolutionary government took over in 1959, it set out to correct these problems through various means, the most significant being collectivization of all means of production (except for 9 percent of agricultural land); establishment of a centrally planned economy; emphasis on industrialization and deemphasis of sugar production (both later reversed); formation of close economic ties with the Soviet Union; and strong development of social services, particularly in rural areas. The measures taken achieved mixed results. The attempt to introduce central planning (following the Soviet model of the 1950s) in 196163 failed because of the lack of infrastructure and qualified personnel and because of overly ambitious goals. After a period of intense debate (196466), the role of the central plan was reduced and emphasis placed on moral incentives (nonmonetary awards such as medals and titles, labour mobilization, and the development of the new man ). When this approach also failed to bring about the desired results, there was a return to Soviet-type central planning and the orthodox system of socialist incentives. Even as the Soviet Union began experimenting with market mechanisms in the mid-1980s, Cuban leaders rejected the possibility of altering the economy. The fall of communist governments throughout Europe and the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 had deleterious effects on Cuba, which had received substantial economic aid from the Soviet Union. The policies of the government were more successful in reducing unemployment (to about 3 percent of the labour force), although at the cost of overstaffing state enterprises and lowering labour productivity, and sharply reducing income and urban-rural inequities. Economic growth rates have been erratic and relatively low; periodic experiments with moral incentives have provoked economic slowdowns and negative growth rates. Sugar continues to account for about three-fourths of exports, but there has been significant development of domestic industry. The directorate of the Communist Party of Cuba is the planning agent for all phases of the Cuban economy. The institutional economic structure consists of the Central Planning Board, headed by the economics minister; the ministries and national organizations that control the economic sectors and basic activities; the various state enterprises (empresas); and the provincial delegations that direct the work of the factories and related services. Wages and prices are rigidly controlled, and quota systems strictly enforced. Resources Cuban soil is fertile, allowing for up to two crops a year, but agriculture has been traditionally plagued by the unreliability of the annual rainfall. Subterranean waters are an important additional resource for the country. Petroleum deposits supply only a small percentage of the nation's needs, and the rest is met by imports. Peat, concentrated in the Zapata Peninsula, is still the most extensive fuel reserve. Nickel, chromite, and copper are the most important minerals mined, and the laterite (iron ore) beds in Holgun province have considerable potential. Nickel ore, which also yields cobalt, is processed in several large plants, and Cuba is a world leader in nickel production. There are also major magnetite and manganese reserves and lesser amounts of lead, zinc, gold, silver, and tungsten. Abundant limestone, rock salt, gypsum, and dolomite reserves and large kaolin and marble beds are also found on the Isle of Juventud. The land Relief Mountains cover about a quarter of the total area of the island of Cuba. They are often interrupted by the plains that cover some two-thirds of the surface. The coastal basins of Santiago de Cuba and Guantnamo lie in the extreme east; a great central valley also begins in the east and then combines with a peneplain that continues westward across the island. These plains have been hospitable to sugarcane and livestock raising. The alturasregions of moderate elevationare in some cases residues of formerly higher surfaces. More rugged relief includes the Guaniguanico range in the west, comprising the Sierra de los rganos and the Sierra del Rosario, which attains 2,270 feet (692 metres) at El Pan de Guajaibn; the Sierra de Trinidad in the central region, with the 3,793-foot (1,156-metre) San Juan Peak; and the Sierra Maestra, on the southeast coast, approximately 150 miles long and containing the island's highest peaks, with Real del Turquino Peak at 6,476 feet (1,974 metres) preeminent. Cuba possesses an irregular 3,570-mile coastline, made picturesque by many bays, sandy beaches, mangrove plantations, swamps, coral reefs, and rugged cliffs. There are also some spectacular caverns in the interior, notably the Cave of Santo Toms of the Quemado ridge region, which has a linear extension of 16 miles. The island of Cuba is surrounded by a submerged platform that is an additional 30,000 square miles (75,000 square kilometres) in area. Drainage and soils Cuba's supply of groundwater is utilized throughout the island but especially in La Habana province. The rivers are generally short, with very meagre flow; of the nearly 600 watercourses classified as rivers, two-fifths discharge to the north, the remainder to the south. The island's heaviest rainfall and therefore its largest rivers are in the southeast, where the Cauto (at 230 miles the country's longest) and its tributaries, notably the Salado, drain the Sierra Maestra and the uplands to the north. Other major rivers in this region include the Guantnamo, Sagua de Tnamo, Toa, and Mayar. To the west the most important southward-flowing rivers are the Sevilla, Najasa, San Pedro, Jatibonico del Sur, Zaza, Agabama, Arimao, Hondo, and Cuyaguateje; northward-flowing rivers include the Saramaguacn, Caonao, Sagua la Grande, and La Palma. Cuban lakes are small and more properly classified as freshwater or saltwater lagoons. The latter include the 26-square-mile Leche Lagoon (Milky Lagoon), which is technically a sound, being connected to the sea by several natural channels. Sea movements generate disturbances in the calcium carbonate bottom deposits to produce the milky appearance. The complicated Cuban topography and geology have produced soils of no fewer than 13 different major groups, the majority of which are fertile and amenable to year-round cultivation. Highly fertile red limestone soil extends from west of Havana to near Cienfuegos on the southern coast and lies in extensive patches in western Camagey province, providing the basis for Cuba's main agricultural output. Another area of fertile soil is north of Cienfuegos between Sierra de Sancti Spiritus and the Caribbean coast. Camagey province and the Guantnamo basin have some arable land, although of lower fertility. Areas of sandy soil in Pinar del Ro, Villa Clara, and portions of Ciego de vila and Camagey cannot hold moisture and are of low fertility, as are the soils of the mangrove-dotted coastal swamps and cays. The people Ethnic distribution For more than four centuries, diverse ethnic groups have been settling in Cuba. Not only Spaniards and Africans (the predominant elements) but also Chinese, Jews, and Yucatecans (from the Yucatn in Mexico) have all superimposed their cultural and social characteristics on those of the earliest settlers. Contemporary Cuban society exhibits a remarkable diversity as a result. Cuba's original inhabitants probably came to the island from South America. They were the Guanahatabey and the Ciboney, the former living in the extreme west of the island, the latter in various places in the island and particularly on the cays to the south. Both were hunter-gatherers. The Taino (Arawakan Indians), who arrived later and who spread over not only Cuba but also the rest of the Greater Antilles and the Bahamas, lived in villages and had rudimentary agriculture; they also made simple pottery. The Taino constituted 90 percent of the island's population at the time of the Spanish conquest. At the beginning of the 16th century the total indigenous population was estimated at about 112,000, very unequally distributed, with density decreasing westward. Half a century after the Spanish invasion, however, only about 3,000 scattered individuals remained. Harsh treatment by the invaders, hard labour in the gold mines, hunger resulting from low agricultural productivity, suicides, and contagious diseases introduced by Europeans had all taken their toll. A few families with Taino physical characteristics living in the Sierra del Purial of easternmost Cuba are perhaps the only surviving descendants. White Cubans, who constitute about two-thirds of the total population, are almost entirely of Spanish origin. Throughout Cuban history the dominant classes were primarily the Europeans and their descendants, white and mestizo (the latter being of particular importance in the 20th century), who monopolized not only the direction of the economy but also access to education and culture. The Spaniards soon imported African slaves (approximately 760,000 in all, most of them for work on the sugar plantations) as a substitute for the rapidly disappearing Indians. The Africans came mainly from Senegal and the Guinea Coast, with diverse origins that included Yoruba and Bantu tribal backgrounds. Between 1919 and 1926 some 250,000 black Antillean labourers, 90 percent from Haiti and Jamaica, arrived under labour contract; nearly all remained. By the 1980s blacks and mulattoes made up one-third of the population. Their cultural influence has been considerable, especially in music and dance. In order to supplement the interrupted slave trade, the Hispano-Cuban landholders imported 125,000 indentured Chinese labourers, nearly all of them Cantonese, between 1853 and 1874 to work under contract for eight years. Bad living conditions reduced their numbers to 14,000 by the census of 1899. In the 1920s an additional 30,000 Cantonese and small groups of Japanese also arrived; both immigrations were exclusively male, and there was rapid intermarriage with white, black, mulatto, and mestizo populations. In contemporary Cuba the Asian element makes up less than 1 percent of the total population. Linguistic composition Spanish is the Cuban national language; there are no local dialects, although the diversity of ethnic origins has influenced speech patterns. Some words are of native Indian origin, and a few (such as hamaca ) have passed into other languages. Africans have also enriched the vocabulary and contributed the soft, somewhat nasal accent and the rhythmic intonation that distinguish contemporary Cuban speech.

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