Cuba is a multi-ethnic nation, with people of varying racial and national backgrounds. Cuba at different times has seen immigrants arrive who were Amerindian, European, African, and Asian. The genetics of Cubans will reflect one or more of these various genetic inputs.
The island of Cuba first became known to Europeans following Christopher Columbus's sighting in 1492. At that time, Cuba was populated by 4 groups of indigenous peoples. The first group is thought to have migrated from North America 10,000 years ago and were hunter gatherers. The second and third groups were the Guanahatabeyes and Siboneys (although some sources say these are one and the same), and the final group was theTainos, who mainly lived in the eastern side of the Island, and were by far the most advanced and numerous. During the Spanish conquest, the vast majority of the indigenous people were enslaved, and subsequently succumbed either to European brought diseases, (mainly measles and small pox), brutal working conditions, died at the hands of conquistadores, or committed suicide. Through historical records we know that a small number, particularly women, mixed with the incoming Spaniards, and small traces can be seen in many Cuban's genetic makeup. A small number also escaped to the mountains, especially those of Oriente, in eastern Cuba. The Amerindians were essentially destroyed as a cultureand as a people by the mid-16th century. Efforts to bring slaves from neighboring islands and the mainland was also largely unsuccessful.
Early Colonial Spanish migration to Cuba consisted of settlers from Extremadura and Andalucía. During the 16th and 17th Centuries a large number of Canarians migrated to Cuba. These Spanish settlers had a different accent then their more northern countrymen, and imparted a different dialect, which is what grew in Cuba. Today Cuban Spanish is most reminiscent of that spoken in the Canary Islands. The Canarians themselves were primarily a mixture of Spanish, indigenous Canary Island dwellers (collectively referred to as "Guanche"), Portuguese, Genoese, and Flemish, and North African and Subsaharan slaves. Spanish migration by far accounted for the European ancestry in Cubans. This was driven by economic and political considerations. However in the late 18thcentury, following the slave revolt of Haiti, a large influx of French men immigrated to Cuba. During the 19th and 20th centuries, there were other Europeans, including British, German, and Italians, as well as Americans migrating to Cuba. But the Spanish migration was the largest by far. Much of the immigration was sought after to help populate unpopulated portions of the island, as well as to counter the growing number of African slaves. In the early part of the 19th century Cuba witnessed the arrival of many Catalans as laborers. In the middle of the century the influx of Gallegos began, and proved to be the largest single group of Iberians to Cuba, and the largest exodus of Galicians to the New World. Later many others from Asturias, Cantabria, and the Basque lands also emigrated to Cuba, as well as continued immigration from Canarians and Galicians. A much smaller percent of Jewish and Middle-Eastern (especially Lebanese) immigrants also immigrated to Cuba in the 20th century.
AfroCubans are found throughout the island, but their highest concentration is in the eastern part known as Oriente. These are Cubans who mostly have sub-Saharan ancestry. Africans were brought to Cuba as slaves soon after the initial colonization, and following the demise ofthe indigenous population. They were brought from various tribes of western African, such as the Yoruba, Carabali, Mandinga, Congo, Igbo, and Fula, amongst others, as well as from south east Africa such as Madagascar and Mozambique. The number of slaves dramatically increased in the 19th centuryas the importance of sugarcane production rose in Cuba.
The last ethnic group to come to Cuba were Asians, and by far these were Chinese of Cantonese and Hakka descent, although other ethnicities such as Japanese, Koreans, and Philipino also immigrated. The Chinese were mainly imported as indentured servants in the mid-19thcentury. There are estimates that up to 1% of Cuban DNA is Chinese.
Fidel Castro's communist revolution caused the largest exodus of Cubans from the island. For the first time in Cuba's history, the last half of the 20th century had more Cubans leaving the islands, than others immigrating to the island. In the last 50 years there has been a dramatic shift in the demographics of Cuba. First because of the exodus of primarily white Cubans during the 1960's and 1970's; and second due to the increased race mixing since the communist revolution. The effects of political and economic policies by the Spanish government and later by Cuban governments has yielded the following various census:
1841- 41.5% white, 58.5% non-white
1899- 67.9% white, 32.1% non-white
1953- 72.8% white, 27.2% non-white
2002- 65.0% white, 35.0% non-white
Although the veracity of these census records cannot be adequately evaluated, in actuality, the most recent estimates places Cubans as 37% white, 51% mixed race, 11% black, and 1% Asian. Although the Amerindian genetic input is thought to average 6%, there is not a significant percent of Amerindian identified individuals. The Cuban diaspora in the US, reflecting a political and economic diaspora, is estimated to be 85% white, and 15% non-white.
This project will be a database of DNA (only markers relating to genealogy are reported)of people with ancestors from any part of Cuba. The project welcomes, indeed, begs, participants with any roots based in Cuba.
A little explanation on the DNA test: It is a simple cheek swab on the inside of the mouth. For a male, the lab can test for the Y DNA pattern, which will show the distant ancestry of a person's father's father's paternal line way back in time, possibly hundreds of years.
A similar test can be done on a female line.
This test will also help those of us who have common similiar names in our trees (ie Is my Angelo Reyes the same person as your Jesus Angelo de los Reyes y Pupo?). If we both show the same Most Recent Common Ancestor, our question may be answered and both of our research will benefit with the addition of volumes of information!