Many tribal groups had inhabited this small island for hundreds of years until the great explorer Christopher Columbus discovered Cuba for Spain in 1492. Spain ruled the island for the next four centuries, which was cut short for a brief period by British rule. Spain took great wealth with Cuba, which was at one time recognized as the hub for international commerce and trade. The seaports were very crucial in the development of the island nation. The seaports of Cuba, particularly Havana, had helped the country develop into a big trade centre. It was also responsible for the unstable population and pirates that constantly overwhelmed the city up until the late 1600s. Over half the population of the island inhabited Havana alone during these years.
Britain had ruled Cuba for two years after it had succeeded in capturing Havana in the year 1762. Havana was such an important city for the entire Spanish empire that Spain gave Florida to Britain in order to reclaim control of Havana. During the British rule, many significant changes were made: first, they set up a free trade and, second, they increased agricultural production thus bringing in more slaves into the population. Until then, the whole of Cuba was a slave society under the Spanish rule. An interesting point to note was that huge numbers of African slaves had been imported from Hispaniola to work the tobacco fields and on sugar plantations. This made Cuba develop into an agricultural society and sugar soon became the number one commodity in Cuba and the number of black slaves increased to meet the high demand for labor.
Until the 1780s, there were a huge number of slaves that made up almost half of the Cuban population. Soon the British rule recognized the fear of slave rebellions due to an increase in the black population. Even there was a successful slave rebellion in Haiti that was a benchmark and the start of the independence war in Cuba. In Cuba, almost every body owned their own small sugar mills. When these mills grew in size, became larger, a hierarchy was raised among the sections of the society. The citizens and the other development groups in Cuba tried to abolish slavery in the late 1860s after mounting pressure from the US, Spain and Britain. Slavery was actually abolished in 1886 from Cuba and the British rule played an important role in it.
When Cuba got its independence, it adopted its new constitution in 1901. Great Britain, United States and other countries were present at the summit where the US added the Platt Amendment which stated that Cuba has only a limited right to conduct its own foreign policy and the US has the right to intervene in Cuban affairs. However, Britain was in opposition to the move but it was unable to do anything. Although Britain ruled Cuba for many years, apart from the curse of slavery, it had helped the country to develop into a self-sufficient agricultural state that led the economy for several years.