Cuba is well-known as the land of the best tobacco all over the world. Historians affirm that the first plantations arose in the 18th century, by the East of the Island, and progressively extended to the West. For many years, tobacco was the second exportable production of the nation, after sugar.
The country's higher and most recognized tobacco production is located in Pinar del Río province. The tobacco plant comes from South America, although the moment of its arrival to Antilles is not accurately established yet. It certainly was between 3000 or 2000 years B.C.
For Cuban natives "who named it Cohiba" tobacco was a miraculous medicine, the essential element in religious, politic and social ceremonies; it was also an important factor in their agriculture. The tobacco plant was usually grown in small conucos in the middle of cassava sown fields, a tubercle very used by natives. The encounter between both cultures during the conquest discovered this plant to the world. Very quickly, a true passion for tobacco was aroused in Europe, mainly in Spain, where the smoking habit gained a lot of followers. The fury soon extended to Persia, Japan, Turkey and Russia, where the cruellest punishments were established. Peculiarly, together with this prohibition the use of tobacco with medicinal aims grew. In April 11th, 1717, King Felipe V arranged the royal monopoly of Cuban tobacco. This decision got into history as "Tobacco Monopoly", and was the death cause of honest planters who were against such onerous law. This restrictive period lasted up to June 23rd, 1817, when the monopoly was countermanded by Royal Decree, which allowed the free trade between the Island and the known world, always through Spanish ports.
Its farming was exclusive occupation of free men. While the roughness of sugar production allowed the use of working slaves, the tobacco plant requires the treatment for a delicate lady, as the Apostle Jose Martí said. So, thousands of Canary Islands' immigrants, who arrived to Cuba by the end of 19th century, worked in the growing of tobacco.
With the reorganization of the Cuban economy during the last years, tobacco has been displaced from the second position of exportable productions, regarding the incomes it provides, but it is still between the first ones because of its world-wide recognized quality.