Cuba is the jewel of the Caribbean, the largest island in the sea. First inhabited by tribes of indigenous peoples from the Americas, Cuba was claimed by Christopher Columbus for the Spanish crown in 1492. In the following centuries, Spanish colonization brought European tastes and sensibilities to the New World. Thousands of black slaves imported from Africa carried with them, and have preserved ever since, deep roots in
their tribal traditions, beliefs, music, and dance. Immigrants from other European nations and North America contributed to the businesses of sugar, rum, and, in the 20th century, entertainment, fashion, and the high life. Jews and others from the Ottoman Empire added their own unique customs to the mix. This resulted in the truly colorful conglomeration of peoples, cultures, languages, religious practices, costumes, and cuisine that is Cuba today.