Florida is only 90 miles from the island of Cuba, but since the Cuban Revolution of 1959 this distance has seemed far greater. The two nations were once very close. For many Americans and Cubans alike, Cuba before the revolution seemed like an extension of the United States.
The Cuban cigar industry first came to Florida in the 1830s. Large Cuban communities developed in Ybor City and Key West by the late 1800s. During the Spanish-American War, Florida served as the base of operations for the Cuban exile community. After Cubans achieved independence from Spain in 1898, the culture, politics and economies of the United States and Cuba became closely intertwined.