In this episode of 80 Days: an exploration podcast, we’ll be talking about Cuba, an island in the Caribbean Ocean, just 90 miles south of the US state of Florida (Full shownotes at: https://80dayspodcast.com/2017/06/10/cuba-1/). Cuba is home to over 11 million inhabitants, and is the second-largest island in the Caribbean after Hispanola. The country has been subject to numerous territorial disputes and conflicts throughout its long and complex history, but finally emerged into independence in 1902. Following a turbulent revolution which spanned almost the entire 1950s, the Communist Party of Cuba, under the leadership of Fidel Castro, took control of the country in 1965. Although poverty is widespread, modern Cuba has an outstanding health care and education system and relations with the US are currently beginning to thaw after a protracted embargo that has been in place since the 1960s. Since Cuba has an awful lot of history, particularly in the 20th Century, we decided to split this episode into two parts: this is the first part. Your hosts are Luke Kelly @thelukejkelly in Hong Kong, Mark Boyle @markboyle86 in the UK, Joe Byrne @anbeirneach in Switzerland and - as a new voice for regular listeners - we're joined in this episode by Erin Barclay in the USA. (Theme music by Thomas O’Boyle). Remember to support our sponsor by visiting http://www.hairybaby.com and using our promo code "80DAYS" to get 10% off any purchase. *Topic list* [03:28] Early History - Taíno and others [05:50] In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue... and stuff happened [09:25] Spanish Colony, 'serfdom' and Hatuey's Uprising [12:25] Slavery, Slave Rebellions and Pirates [13:55] Trade monopolies and disputes [19:00] Sugar boom and population imbalance, and Haitian influx [20:39] Break [21:10] "What could go wrong?" - just six revolutions [27:52] Leopoldo O'Donnell and 'The Year of the Lash' [29:00 ] The Cuban Wars of Independence [34:33] Sinking of the USS Maine and US entry into the war [35:57] Break [36:22] The Spanish-American War (and Teddy Roosevelt's 'Rough Riders') [39:49] An independent Cuba, the Banana Wars and US Interventions [43:45] World War 1 and, inter-war years and President Muchado [46:42] Batista leads the Uprising of the Sergeants [47:25] World War 2 ,Ernest Hemingway's 'Crook Factory', and the 'St Louis Affair' [50:58] America's Playground and a handful of boring presidents [53:52] Return of Batista: who needs democracy?