1000 B.C.E.-1492: approximately 250,000 indigenous Taino Arawak and Ciboney people live in Cuba as does their areito music

1492: Christopher Columbus arrives in Cuba and claims it for the Spanish crown


1511: Diego Velázquez arrives near present-day Guantánamo with 300 Spanish soldiers and instigates a series of bloody battles against indigenous Cubans, finally executing their leader and forcing them to convert to Catholicism and work as slaves

1513: African slaves first known to be present in Cuba

1514: Diego Velázquez founds Cuba's first capital, Santiago de Cuba

1519: early Spanish colonists establish Havana on the north coast of the island after a failed attempt to establish a city of the same name on the south coast

1523: Pope Leo X mandates the construction of a Catholic Church in Santiago de Cuba, thereby transplanting Spanish church music on the island

1526: first known shipment of slaves intended for sale in Cuba carries 145 Africans from Cabo Verde to the island

1534: more than 1,000 Africans live as slaves in Cuba, most of them laboring on sugar plantations and in copper mines
1543: all except 3,000 indigenous people in Cuba are dead from European illnesses or starvation, have been killed by the Spanish or have committed suicide rather than endure life under Spanish rule
1550s: several hundred colonists arrive in Cuba to establish Spanish presence on the island and defend it from French attackers; along with the colonists come such European dances as the fandango, zapateo, zampado and retambico, song forms like canción and theatrical music like the zarzuela
1570s: Spanish law of manumission allows African slaves to buy their freedom

1570s: "Son de la Má Teodora," the oldest known Cuban son, is composed in Santiago de Cuba province

1580s: lack of skilled white musicians in Cuba encourages orchestras to enlist black and mulatto musicians

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