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The history of Cuba is characterized by dependence on outside powers—Spain, the US, and the USSR. The island of Cuba was inhabited by various Amerindian cultures prior to the arrival of the Genoese explorer Christopher Columbus in 1492. After his arrival on a Spanish expedition, Spain conquered Cuba and appointed Spanish governors to rule in Havana. The administrators in Cuba were subject to the Viceroy of New Spain and the local authorities in Hispaniola. In 1762–63, Havana was briefly occupied by Britain, before being returned to Spain in exchange for Florida. A series of rebellions between 1868 and 1898, led by Dominican General Máximo Gómez, failed to end Spanish rule and claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Cubans. However, the Spanish–American War resulted in a Spanish withdrawal from the island in 1898, and following three-and-a-half years of subsequent US military rule, Cuba gained formal independence in 1902.