“Cuba is an ajiaco” is an old Cuban saying that refers both to Cuba’s national dish, a stew made with many different vegetables and meats, and to the diverse cultures that came together to forge the Cuban character.
The name Cuba derives from the Ciboney word itiba cahubaba, which means “Mother Earth.” The Ciboney and the Guanahatabey are the first known human inhabitants of Cuba. The Ciboney were fishermen and seafarers. Shell mounds, remnants of their civilizations, are still found throughout the islands of the Caribbean. They are thought to have originated on the North American mainland. The Guanahatabey were hunter-gatherers. Some anthropologists believe that they migrated to Cuba from the Yucatán Peninsula. What is known for sure is that Ciboney and Guanahatabey settlements in Cuba date back several thousand years.