Cuba's History in Brief
Currently, the Republic of Cuba is the most populated island in the Caribbean with over 11 million people. Christopher Columbus stumbled on the island back in 1492 and immediately claimed it in the name of Spain.
It stayed under Spain's rule until the Spanish-American war ended in the late 1800s. It broke off from the US in 1902 to form its own nation. By the mid-1900s, the US-supported dictator, Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar, was overthrown after a successful six-year revolution. That revolution, appropriately dubbed the "Cuban Revolution," was led by Fidel Castro and aided by the ever-famous Ernesto "Che" Guevara. Che didn't make it, but Castro stuck around for quite some time.
With Castro leading first as prime minister and then president for the some five decades that followed, the country's global and economic ranking as a communist nation has been less than stellar. Cited as a nation that violates human rights and restricts basic freedoms, Cuba's relationship with the "free world" has been strained to say the least.
In early 2008, Raúl Castro, Fidel's brother, took over and relations between the Cuban government, its people and the world has been changing ever since. President Barack Obama's administration has worked to reduce restrictions and ease relations between the two countries, but, so far, the embargoes remain. Obama, however, has made talk of a "new beginning."