Cuban Sugar Railroads

Few NATIONS REMAINED UNTOUCHED by the railroad boom of the 19th century, and many were affected in remarkably different ways. Cuba was the first country in Latin America to build railroads, but their purpose was very different from those of the US and Europe. Their chief role was to transport sugar—a crop that was grown in vast plantations to satisfy the sweet teeth of the developed world—and so they did little to help the general population. Cuba had become a sugar economy somewhat by accident, after an increase in the price of sugar in the late 18th century made its cultivation highly profitable. Relying heavily on slave labor, the industry grew rapidly in the early 19th century, but transporting the cane to the mills ...

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