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Sugar is the principal export of Cuba, but the Cuban economy, by most accounts, is weak.The Cuban people are descendants of Spanish colonizers and of African slaves once employed in the sugar industry.

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In the years before the breakup of the Soviet Union, Cuba maintained a close political and economic relationship with that nation.

Cuba has had a distant and antagonistic relationship with the United States.

While the demand for African slaves grew, Spain signed a treaty with Britain agreeing to prohibit the slave trade after 1820.

The number entering the area did decrease, but the treaty was largely ignored.

In the next 60 years, trade increased, as did immigration from Europe and other areas of Latin America.

The introduction of the steam-powered sugar mill in 1819 hastened the expansion of the sugar industry.

Cuba is an island nation located on the northern rim of the Caribbean Sea. To Cuba's east is the island of Hispaniola, shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Off the southeastern coast of Cuba lies Jamaica, and to the north is the state of Florida.

Two-fifths of the Cuban population is Roman Catholic. Many of those who call themselves Catholics are also adherents of an Afro-Cuban religious tradition known as santeria.

The official language of Cuba and the language spoken by nearly all Cubans is Spanish.

In New York City, he strategized with other Cuban opposition leaders and planned their return to Cuba as liberators.