People, Ethnic Groups and Languages
Chinese laborers, creole English, Spanish conquest, African languages, African slaves
The Spanish conquest eliminated the indigenous people in Cuba but introduced African slaves from the Congo, Guinea, and Nigeria. In the 19th century, Chinese laborers joined the working class. In the 20th century immigrants from the United States, Spain, and the USSR added to the ethnic mix. Today about two-fifths of Cuba’s population is made up of whites, and one-tenth is black. However, many people who record themselves as white have mixed ancestry. Almost all of the people are native born. Since 1959 racial distinctions have blurred as the Castro government has worked to eliminate race and class prejudices.
The official language is Spanish, but immigration has left pockets of Haitians and Jamaicans in Cuba who speak French patois and creole English (hybrid languages created by the mixture of European and African languages). Both English and Russian are spoken and understood in major cities.
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