Cuba is an island country in the Caribbean, once most famous for its late long-serving bearded president and its revolutionary history, but latterly more famous not only for its beaches and, warm weather, but also for its rich culture of dance, music and arts. Here our brief Cuba Guide gives you the basic facts.
Discovered by Columbus in 1492, the Spanish didn’t wait long to establish themselves as colonial rulers, and within a century the indigenous population had been wiped out, preferring to fight to the death than be enslaved.
Cuba was an important military base for most of its colonial history, guarding the entrance to the Gulf of Mexico, acting as the gateway to the riches of the New World. Come the 1800s it was realised that money could be made by growing sugar cane in Cuba, and slaves were shipped from Africa to work the fields.
By the late 1800s Spanish power was on the wane, and a war of independence was fought on and off for 30 years. In 1898 the USA decided to step in, kick out the Spanish and take control of Cuba. Four years later they granted Cuba its independence, but made it clear they expected things to be run their way, or else.
In 1953 a charismatic lawyer called Fidel Castro persuaded some friends that he could run the country better than the corrupt military dictatorship. The plan didn’t go well at first but in 1959 the nasty President Batista scarpered leaving Fidel to take over.
In short order, the bearded rebels fell out with the USA, fell in with the Soviets, fought off the Bay of Pigs invasion, survived the Cuban Missile Crisis, and announced that they had really been Communists all along, despite not mentioning this to anyone before.
The collapse of the Soviet Union forced Cuba to encourage foreign tourism, and the world began to know of the island for its classic cars, rum, cigars, music and sunshine more than its revolution.
Guide to Our Cuba tour services
Young Pioneer Tours have been running trips to Cuba since 2012. We run a group tour every May which takes in the unforgettable May Day parade, and in November our group tour covers Cuba’s other famous revolutionary, Che Guevara. All our group tours take in a broad range of cultural and historic locations as well as giving visitors plenty of chances to sample the best local food and drink.
We can also run independent tours on demand at any time of the year, whether for individuals, or groups of friends and family. And we can help to arrange transport, accommodation and special interest day tours covering everything from arts and architecture through cuisine and communism!