Stamps issued: 1902-PRESENT
The largest island of the West Indies, located south of Florida. Under Spanish rule from 1511-1898, Cuba was the scene of intense revolutionary activity after 1868. In 1898, the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana harbor precipitated the Spanish-American War, which ended with the U.S. assuming trusteeship of the island. In 1902, the Cuban republic became independent, although the United States actively intervened in Cuban affairs until the 1930s. In 1959 a liberal guerrilla movement, led by Fidel Castro, overthrew the repressive government of Fulgencio Batista, who had ruled Cuba since 1952. Castro, influenced by his brother Raul and Che Guevera, soon began to purge the revolution of its non-Marxist elements. The regime nationalized foreign holdings and began the program of collectivization that took most of the agricultural sector out of private hands. A large number of Cubans preferred exile to the new order, and many hundreds of thousands have fled the island, most settling in the United States.