The term "Oriente" is still used to refer to the eastern part of the country, which currently is divided into five different provinces.
The origins of Oriente lie in the 1607 division of Cuba into a western and eastern administration.
The eastern part was governed from Santiago de Cuba and it was subordinate to the national government in Havana.
In 1807, Cuba was divided into three departamentos: Occidental, Central and Oriental.
This arrangement lasted until 1851, when the central department was merged back into the West.
In 1878, Cuba was divided into six provinces.
Oriente remained intact but was officially renamed to Santiago de Cuba Province until the name was reverted back to Oriente in 1905.
This administrative change was proclaimed by Cuban Law Number 1304 of July 3, 1976, and remains in place to this day.
Diego Velazquez founded the capital of Oriente province in 1514 and named it Santiago de Cuba.
The province comprises 22 municipalities and is Cuba's largest province containing about one third of the country's population.
Oriente Province is in the most eastern region of Cuba with a population of 1,797,606.
It stretches across 14,641 square miles (37,920 km) and consists of various mountain ranges with the Sierra Maestra region having Cuba's highest mountain peak and elevation in Pico Turquino.
Oriente Province is the cradle of much of Cuba's history being the place of Fidel and Raul Castro's birth.
Cuba's first guerilla-style war was in 1523. against the advancing Spaniards in the Sierra Maestra Mountains.
Some of Cuba's oldest cities are in Oriente Province (such as Baracoa) and carry a rich history of Cuba's struggle for independence and racial equality.
Throughout the 1800s.
a significant amount of African slaves were brought to Cuba to work at the sugar mills, although some were brought from Haiti and other neighboring islands because they were also cheap and efficient labor.
Open warfare broke out after an independence movement and lasted from 1867 to 1878.
Slavery was finally abolished in 1886, but life for many Afro-Cubans remains a struggle, especially in Oriente Province.
After the occupation of the Spanish ended in 1899, Oriente Province became a refuge for Afro-Cubans.
Oriente had the highest number of individual land owners and renters with 96% of the population being native-born.
Afro-Cubans constituted as many as 26% of the land workers.
Of the total land owned by Afro-Cubans, 75% were in Oriente Province.
Even though Afro-Cubans fared better in Oriente, poverty was still rampant in the province and they remained oppressed by wealthy Cubans and foreign land owners.
Sugar and coffee were the main agricultural products produced.
And at the highest there were forty-one sugar mills spread throughout the region.
Foreign investors saw opportunity within the province and began to buy as much land as possible to increase sugar production.
As investors bought land, local farmers were pushed out and frustration increased.
Poverty grew and by May 1912 Cubans in Oriente Province had reached a boiling point.
Massive demonstrations erupted and Afro-Cubans began to loot and burn businesses and property owned by foreign investors.
In response, the Cuban government sent in the army to burn the property of the Afro-Cubans and slaughtered many.
Within two years, half of the sugar mills in Oriente were owned by U.S. investors.
For Cubans working within the province, life had become near unbearable.
Cuba's national hero, José Martí called for a multiracial republic.
List of governors
Present day municipalities that were part of Oriente include:
In Granma Province:
In Guantánamo Province:
In Holguín Province:
In Las Tunas Province:
In Santiago de Cuba Province:
- Timeline of Santiago de Cuba (city)
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oriente Province.