People from Cuba are primarily of Spanish (colonizers) and African (slaves) descent. However, there is a rich multi-ethnic mix of peoples, including descendants of the original Taino natives who lived on this island and many other islands in the Caribbean when Europeans first arrived. There are even traces of ancestry from some United States Native Americans, as there was a practice by the Spanish to sell their Indian captives into slavery, and many of these were sent to Cuba. However, there are few pure Native Americans left on the island. It wasn't only "Spaniards" who settled here, but also an unusually large number of people from Spain's Canary Islands.
Regardless of where they came from, these people have left a large mark on Cuban culture in the form certain words and dialects and traditions, and cuisine. For instance, some of the dishes you will enjoy while dining out are purely Canarian. The people from the Canary Islands were also instrumental in tobacco farming and the development of the famous Cuban cigars.
The African influence on people from Cuba can be seen in many different ways, just as on other Caribbean islands. The music has many African components, as does the food. While Cuba is primarily a Catholic country, the blending of different beliefs has produced Santeria, brought to the New World by slaves; the term was first used to explain the blending of African spirits with Catholic saints. Santeria now thrives on many Caribbean islands. After Castro took power in 1959, many restrictions were placed on freedom of religion. During the last decade of the 20th century and first decade of the 21st, these restrictions have become looser and the Cuban people remain quite devout.
The rich mix of ethnicities to be found in Cuban culture can be seen and heard in its music and dance. Many of the popular Latin styles like cha cha, rumba, mambo, salsa, and son originated here. There is also a large American influence that occurred especially from the 1920s until 1959. This is when big bands with large brass sections and big classic old cars showed up. In recent years, Cuban musicians have worked in rock and reggae styles, and Cuban hip-hop has become the latest popular genre among the youth.