Cuba Emigration and Immigration

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Online Sources[edit | edit source]

Emigration and Immigration[edit | edit source]

"Emigration" means moving out of a country. "Immigration" means moving into a country.
Emigration and immigration sources list the names of people leaving (emigrating) or arriving (immigrating) in the country. These sources may be passenger lists, permissions to emigrate, or records of passports issued. The information in these records may include the emigrants’ names, ages, occupations, destinations, and places of origin or birthplaces. Sometimes they also show family groups.

Immigration[edit | edit source]

  • The native white population are nearly all descendants of the Spaniards and most non-white Cubans also have Spanish ancestry.
  • Other prominent immigrant groups included French, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, Dutch, Greek, British, and Irish, as well as small number of descendants of U.S. citizens who arrived in Cuba in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. [1]

Spanish Immigration to Cuba[edit | edit source]

  • In 1514, the Spanish founded a setttlement in what was to become Havana.
  • Between the 18th and early 20th century, large waves of Canarian, Catalan, Andalusian, Galician, and other Spanish people immigrated to Cuba.
  • Between 1899 and 1930 alone, close to a million Spaniards entered the country, though many would eventually return to Spain.
  • For four years, between 1916 and 1920, Cuba was the first major destination of Spanish migrants to Latin America (about 60%), and the second major destination, after Argentina, between 1900 to 1930.
  • According to current statistics, there are over 9,566 Canarians, 23,185 Andalusians and 11,114 Galicians living in Cuba.[2]

French Immigration to Cuba[edit | edit source]

  • French immigration to Cuba began in Cuba already in the eighteenth century, to be strengthened significantly since the nineteenth century. The majority of French people settled in eastern Cuba.
  • The first wave of French immigrants to arrive in Cuba were fleeing the Haitian Revolution and the new governmental administration of Haiti after independence was declared. This immigration reached its peak between 1800 and 1809, when more than twenty-seven thousand French of all social classes arrived in the eastern part of Cuba. Many of them emigrated to the city of Santiago de Cuba.
  • Many French-Haitian migrants were used for work in the coffee fields, especially those white French who were considered "solvent and reliable". By 1804 there were three thousand men cultivating the land, and agricultural lands were bought, sold and resold while Creole and French investors provided capital for new business ventures that became the economic engine of Santiago.
  • The beginning of the Peninsular War (1807–1814) between France and Spain caused the Captaincy General of the island to expel Franco-Haitian and French residents, and only those French who were naturalized Spanish citizens and had assimilated into the Spanish culture were allowed to remain. The exact number of French persons expelled from Santiago de Cuba is unknown, most of them moved to the southern United States, especially Louisiana.
  • In 1814, when peace between France and Spain was restored, the French immigrants who had left Cuba were allowed to return to the island. They, together with new French immigrants, formed a second wave of French immigration to Santiago de Cuba.
  • Between 1818 and 1835 a third wave of immigration to Santiago de Cuba occurred, prompted by a royal order from the Spanish Crown intended to increase the proportion of whites in the Cuban population.
  • The fourth and final wave of French immigrants to Santiago de Cuba occurred between 1836 and 1868. In this period over 2200 French settlers emigrated, most of them coming from the Atlantic coast of France. [3]

Afro-Cubans[edit | edit source]

  • Afro-Cubans are Cubans who are of West or Central African ancestry.
  • According to a 2012 national census which surveyed 11.2 million Cubans, 1 million Cubans described themselves as Afro-Cuban or Black, while 3 million considered themselves to be "mulatto" or "mestizo".
  • A fair number of people still locate their origins in specific native African ethnic groups or regions, particularly the Yoruba (or Lucumí; see Olukumi people), Akan, Arará and Kongo, but also Igbo, Carabalí, Mandingo, Kissi, Fula, Makua and others.
  • Although Afro-Cubans can be found throughout Cuba, Eastern Cuba has a higher concentration of Afro-Cubans than other parts of the island and Havana has the largest population of Afro-Cubans of any city in Cuba.
  • Recently, many native African immigrants have been coming to Cuba, especially from Angola. Also, immigrants from Jamaica and Haiti have been settling in Cuba, most of whom settle in the eastern part of the island, due to its proximity to their home countries.

Emigration[edit | edit source]

  • The Cuban diaspora is the exodus of over one million displaced Cubans (the largest community is in Miami and its metropolitan area in the United States) following the Cuban Revolution of 1959. Other preferred countries include Spain, Mexico, Venezuela, Ireland, Australia, and Nicaragua.
  • The Cuban exodus is the mass emigration of Cubans from the island of Cuba after the Cuban Revolution of 1959. Throughout the exodus millions of Cubans from diverse social positions within Cuban society became disillusioned with life in Cuba and decided to emigrate in various emigration waves.
  • The first wave of emigration occurred directly after the revolution, followed by the Freedom Flights from 1965 to 1973. This was followed by the 1980 Mariel boatlift and after 1994 the flight of balseros emigrating by raft to The Bahamas, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and, most commonly, the United States. [4]

Cuban Americans[edit | edit source]

  • Cuban immigration to regions that would eventually form the United States have a long history, beginning in the Spanish colonial period in 1565 when the settlement of St. Augustine was established by hundreds of Spanish soldiers and their families.
  • Thousands of Cuban settlers also immigrated to Louisiana between 1778 and 1802 and Texas during the period of Spanish rule. Since 1820, the Cuban presence was more than 1,000 people.
  • In 1870 the number of Cuban immigrants increased to almost 12,000, of which about 4,500 resided in New York City, about 3,000 in New Orleans and 2,000 in Key West. The causes of these movements were both economic and political, which intensified after 1860, when political factors played the predominant role in emigration, as a result of deteriorating relations with the Spanish metropolis.
  • 1869 marked the beginning of one of the most significant periods of emigration from Cuba to the United States, again centered on Key West. The exodus of hundreds of workers and businessmen was linked to the manufacture of tobacco. The reasons are many: the introduction of more modern techniques of elaboration of snuff, the most direct access to its main market, the United States, the uncertainty about the future of the island, which had suffered years of economic, political and social unrest during the beginning of the Ten Years' War against Spanish rule. It was an exodus of skilled workers, precisely the class in the island that had succeeded in establishing a free labor sector amid a slave economy. The manufacture of snuff by the Cuban labor force, became the most important source of income for Key West between 1869 and 1900.
  • Tampa was added to such efforts, with a strong migration of Cubans, which went from 720 inhabitants in 1880 to 5,532 in 1890.
  • However, the second half of the 1890s marked the decline of the Cuban immigrant population, as an important part of it returned to the island to fight for independence. The War accentuated Cuban immigrant integration into American society, whose numbers were significant: more than 12,000 people.
  • In the mid- to late 19th century, several cigar manufacturers moved their operations to Key West. Many Cuban cigar workers followed.
  • In 1885, Vicente Martinez Ybor moved his cigar operations to Tampa, Florida, and designed Ybor City as a modified company town, and it quickly attracted thousands of Cuban workers from Key West and Cuba. West Tampa, founded nearby in 1892, also grew quickly. Between these communities, the Tampa Bay area's Cuban population grew from almost nothing to the largest in Florida.
  • Several other small waves of Cuban emigration to the U.S. occurred in the early 20th century (1900–1959). Most settled in Florida and the northeast U.S., an estimated 100,000 Cubans arriving in that time period.
  • The Cuban population officially registered in the United States for 1958 was around 125,000 people including descendants. Of these, more than 50,000 remained in the United States after the revolution of 1959.[5]
  • During the Cuban exile many refugees were granted special legal status by the US government, but these privileges began to be slowly removed in the 2010s.
  • The emigrants in the exodus known as "Cuban exiles" have come from various backgrounds in Cuban society, often reflected in the wave of emigration they participated in.
  • The majority of the 1,172,899 current Cuban exiles living in the United States live in Florida (917,033 in 2014), mainly in Miami-Dade County, where more than a third of the population is Cuban.
  • Other exiles have relocated to form substantial Cuban communities in New York City (16,416); Louisville, Kentucky (6,662); Houston, Texas (6,233); Los Angeles (6,056); Union City, New Jersey (4,970) and others.[4]

Afro-Cuban Descendants in Africa[edit | edit source]

  • African countries such as Nigeria, the home of the Yoruba and Igbo cultures, and Spanish Guinea experienced an influx of ex-slaves from Cuba brought there as indentured servants during the 17th century, and again during the 19th century. In Spanish Guinea, they became part of the Emancipados; in Nigeria, they were called Amaros. Despite being free to return to Cuba when their tenure was over, they remained in these countries marrying into the local indigenous population.
  • Angola also has communities of Afro-Cubans, Amparos. They are descendants of Afro-Cuban soldiers brought to the country in 1975 as a result of the Cuban involvement in the Cold War. Fidel Castro deployed thousands of troops to the country during the Angolan Civil War. As a result of this era, there exists a small Spanish-speaking community in Angola of Afro-Cubans numbering about 100,000.[6]

Haitian-Cubans[edit | edit source]

  • The final years of the 1791–1804 Haitian Revolution brought a wave of French settlers fleeing with their Haitian slaves to Cuba.
  • Later, Haitians continued to come to Cuba to work as braceros (Spanish for "manual laborers") in the fields cutting cane. Although they planned to return to Haiti, most stayed on in Cuba. [6]

Records of Italian Emigrants in Their Destination Nations[edit | edit source]

Dark thin font green pin Version 4.png One option is to look for records about the ancestor in the country of destination, the country they immigrated into. See links to immigration records for major destination countries below.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Cuba", in Wikipedia,, accessed 17 June 2021.
  2. "Spanish Immigration to Cuba", in Wikipedia,, accessed 16 June 2021.
  3. "French immigration to Cuba",, accessed 16 June 2021.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Cuban exodus", in Wikipedia,, accessed 16 June 2021.
  5. "Cuban Americans", in Wikipedia,, accessed 16 June 2021.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Afro-Cubans", in Wikipedia,, accessed 16 June 2021.