Tobacco countries - Growing Regions
The native Amerindian population of Cuba began to decline after the European discovery of the island by Christopher COLUMBUS in 1492 and following its development as a Spanish colony during the next several centuries.
Large numbers of African slaves were imported to work the coffee and sugar plantations, and Havana became the launching point for the annual treasure fleets bound for Spain from Mexico and Peru. Spanish rule, marked initially by neglect, became increasingly repressive, provoking an independence movement and occasional rebellions that were harshly suppressed. It was US intervention during the Spanish-American War in 1898 that finally overthrew Spanish rule. The subsequent Treaty of Paris established Cuban independence, which was granted in 1902 after a three-year transition period. Fidel CASTRO led a rebel army to victory in 1959; his iron rule has held the regime together since then. Cuba's Communist revolution, with Soviet support, was exported throughout Latin America and Africa during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. The country is now slowly recovering from a severe economic recession in 1990, following the withdrawal of former Soviet subsidies, worth $4 billion to $6 billion annually. Cuba portrays its difficulties as the result of the US embargo in place since 1961. Illicit migration to the US - using homemade rafts, alien smugglers, air flights, or via the southwest border - is a continuing problem. The US Coast Guard intercepted 2,810 individuals attempting to cross the Straits of Florida in fiscal year 2006.
Tobacco in Cuba
Cuban tobacco is acknowledged as among the finest in the world. Cuba's best tobacco-growing area is in the Vuelta Abajo, part of the Pinar Del Rio region area in western Cuba. In general, Cuban tobacco is strong and full-bodied, with spicy and aromatic flavors. It is also renowned for its suppleness. Most factories of premium hand-rolled cigars are located in or near Havana, the capital city.
About the Dominican Republic
Explored and claimed by Christopher COLUMBUS on his first voyage in 1492, the island of Hispaniola became a springboard for Spanish conquest of the Caribbean and the American mainland. In 1697, Spain recognized French dominion over the western third of the island, which in 1804 became Haiti. The remainder of the island, by then known as Santo Domingo, sought to gain its own independence in 1821, but was conquered and ruled by the Haitians for 22 years; it finally attained independence as the Dominican Republic in 1844. In 1861, the Dominicans voluntarily returned to the Spanish Empire, but two years later they launched a war that restored independence in 1865. A legacy of unsettled, mostly non-representative rule followed, capped by the dictatorship of Rafael Leonidas TRUJILLO from 1930-1961. Juan BOSCH was elected president in 1962, but was deposed in a military coup in 1963. In 1965, the United States led an intervention in the midst of a civil war sparked by an uprising to restore BOSCH. In 1966, Joaquin BALAGUER defeated BOSCH in an election to become president. BALAGUER maintained a tight grip on power for most of the next 30 years when international reaction to flawed elections forced him to curtail his term in 1996. Since then, regular competitive elections have been held in which opposition candidates have won the presidency. Former President (1996-2000) Leonel FERNANDEZ Reyna won election to a second term in 2004 following a constitutional amendment allowing presidents to serve more than one term.
Tobacco in the Dominican Republic
The quality and variety of cigar tobacco from the Dominican Republic has improved enormously in the past 20 years. The primary growing region is near the city of Santiago in the northern half of the country; located in an agricultural region, this small city is also home to the majority of Dominican cigar makers. Most Dominican tobacco is derived from Cuban seed varieties. Although not as strong, it is quite full-flavored and lends itself to the creation of unusually complex blends.
What is now Ecuador formed part of the northern Inca Empire until the Spanish conquest in 1533. Quito became a seat of Spanish colonial government in 1563 and part of the Viceroyalty of New Granada in 1717. The territories of the Viceroyalty - New Granada (Colombia), Venezuela, and Quito - gained their independence by 1819 and formed a federation known as Gran Colombia. When Quito withdrew in 1830, the traditional name was changed in favor of the "Republic of the Equator." Between 1904 and 1942, Ecuador lost territories in a series of conflicts with its neighbors. A border war with Peru that flared in 1995 was resolved in 1999. Although Ecuador marked 25 years of civilian governance in 2004, the period has been marred by political instability. Protests in Quito have contributed to the mid-term ouster of Ecuador's last three democratically elected Presidents.
Tobacco in Ecuador
Ecuador produces quantities of high-quality tobacco, both filler and wrapper, shade- and sun-grown. Growers there have been using both Connecticut- and Sumatra-seed varieties. In each case, the tobacco usually seems milder and less robust in strength and flavor than the originals. Its wrapper colors fall between Connecticut and Cameroon, and its silky texture has visual appeal.
Once part of Spain's vast empire in the New World, Honduras became an independent nation in 1821. After two and a half decades of mostly military rule, a freely elected civilian government came to power in 1982. During the 1980s, Honduras proved a haven for anti-Sandinista contras fighting the Marxist Nicaraguan Government and an ally to Salvadoran Government forces fighting leftist guerrillas. The country was devastated by Hurricane Mitch in 1998, which killed about 5,600 people and caused approximately $2 billion in damage.
Tobacco in Honduras
Honduras produces high-quality Cuban-seed and Connecticut-seed tobaccos, including shade-grown wrapper. Honduras has suffered from periodic blue mold infestations in recent years;
The Pacific coast of Nicaragua was settled as a Spanish colony from Panama in the early 16th century. Independence from Spain was declared in 1821 and the country became an independent republic in 1838. Britain occupied the Caribbean Coast in the first half of the 19th century, but gradually ceded control of the region in subsequent decades. Violent opposition to governmental manipulation and corruption spread to all classes by 1978 and resulted in a short-lived civil war that brought the Marxist Sandinista guerrillas to power in 1979. Nicaraguan aid to leftist rebels in El Salvador caused the US to sponsor anti-Sandinista contra guerrillas through much of the 1980s. Free elections in 1990, 1996, and 2001, saw the Sandinistas defeated, but voting in 2006 announced the return of former Sandinista President Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra. Nicaragua's infrastructure and economy - hard hit by the earlier civil war and by Hurricane Mitch in 1998 - are slowly being rebuilt.
Tobacco in Nicaragua
The Somoza government heavily subsidized the tobacco industry in Nicaragua, seeing an economic opportunity to fill the vacuum left by Castro's revolution and the U.S. embargo.NICARAGUA produces high-quality Cuban-seed and Connecticut-seed tobaccos; including shade-grown wrapper. Nicaragua's tobacco region is still recovering from a 10-year civil war that was primarily fought in the area between the northwestern town of Esteli and the Honduran border. Both countries produce a full-bodied tobacco with strong, spicy flavors and heady aromas.
The site of advanced Amerindian civilizations, Mexico came under Spanish rule for three centuries before achieving independence early in the 19th century. A devaluation of the peso in late 1994 threw Mexico into economic turmoil, triggering the worst recession in over half a century. The nation continues to make an impressive recovery. Ongoing economic and social concerns include low real wages, underemployment for a large segment of the population, inequitable income distribution, and few advancement opportunities for the largely Amerindian population in the impoverished southern states. Elections held in July 2000 marked the first time since the 1910 Mexican Revolution that the opposition defeated the party in government, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Vicente FOX of the National Action Party (PAN) was sworn in on 1 December 2000 as the first chief executive elected in free and fair elections.
Tobacco in Mexico
The San Andres Valley is world-famous for a sun-grown variant of Sumatra-seed tobacco. Mexican leaves are used widely as binder and filler in cigars. The variety also serves widely as a maduro wrapper because it can stand up to the cooking and sweating process that creates the darker leaf colors. Cigars manufactured in Mexico are usually made with 100-percent local tobacco.
About the United States
Britain's American colonies broke with the mother country in 1776 and were recognized as the new nation of the United States of America following the Treaty of Paris in 1783. During the 19th and 20th centuries, 37 new states were added to the original 13 as the nation expanded across the North American continent and acquired a number of overseas possessions. The two most traumatic experiences in the nation's history were the Civil War (1861-65) and the Great Depression of the 1930s. Buoyed by victories in World Wars I and II and the end of the Cold War in 1991, the US remains the world's most powerful nation state. The economy is marked by steady growth, low unemployment and inflation, and rapid advances in technology.
Tobacco in the United States
North of Hartford, Connecticut, the Connecticut River Valley produces some of the finest wrapper leaf tobacco in the world--Connecticut Shade. The fine brown to brownish-yellow leaf has a high degree of elasticity, and it creates a mild- to medium-bodied smoke; it is widely used on premium cigars. Another variety, Connecticut Broadleaf, produces a dark, almost black leaf that is used on maduro-style cigars. It is heavier and veinier than shade-grown.
The former French Cameroon and part of British Cameroon merged in 1961 to form the present country. Cameroon has generally enjoyed stability, which has permitted the development of agriculture, roads, and railways, as well as a petroleum industry. Despite a slow movement toward democratic reform, political power remains firmly in the hands of an ethnic oligarchy headed by President Paul BIYA.
Tobacco in Cameroon
This area of West Africa is known for a high-quality wrapper leaf. In recent years, production has suffered from management changes and bad weather. The Cameroon leaf originated from Sumatra seed imported from Indonesia. It is prized for its neutral characteristics, which make it an ideal wrapper for full-flavored filler tobaccos. Cameroon wrappers generally are greenish-brown to dark brown, with a distinct grain, called "tooth."
The Dutch began to colonize Indonesia in the early 17th century; the islands were occupied by Japan from 1942 to 1945. Indonesia declared its independence after Japan's surrender, but it required four years of intermittent negotiations, recurring hostilities, and UN mediation before the Netherlands agreed to relinquish its colony. Indonesia is the world's largest archipelagic state and home to the world's largest Muslim population. Current issues include: alleviating poverty, preventing terrorism, consolidating democracy after four decades of authoritarianism, implementing financial sector reforms, stemming corruption, holding the military and police accountable for human rights violations, and controlling avian influenza. In 2005, Indonesia reached a historic peace agreement with armed separatists in Aceh, which led to democratic elections in December 2006. Indonesia continues to face a low intensity separatist guerilla movement in Papua
Tobacco in Indonesia
Sumatra-variety tobacco comes from this series of islands that make up Indonesia. The tobacco may be referred to as Java or Sumatra. Sumatra wrapper leaves are often dark brown and have neutral flavors. The majority of wrapper leaf grown there is used in the manufacture of small cigars.
About the Philippines
The Philippine Islands became a Spanish colony during the 16th century; they were ceded to the US in 1898 following the Spanish-American War. In 1935 the Philippines became a self-governing commonwealth. Manuel QUEZON was elected president and was tasked with preparing the country for independence after a 10-year transition. In 1942 the islands fell under Japanese occupation during WWII, and US forces and Filipinos fought together during 1944-45 to regain control. On 4 July 1946 the Republic of the Philippines attained its independence. The 20-year rule of Ferdinand MARCOS ended in 1986, when a "people power" movement in Manila ("EDSA 1") forced him into exile and installed Corazon AQUINO as president. Her presidency was hampered by several coup attempts, which prevented a return to full political stability and economic development. Fidel RAMOS was elected president in 1992 and his administration was marked by greater stability and progress on economic reforms. In 1992, the US closed its last military bases on the islands. Joseph ESTRADA was elected president in 1998, but was succeeded by his vice-president, Gloria MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, in January 2001 after ESTRADA's stormy impeachment trial on corruption charges broke down and another "people power" movement ("EDSA 2") demanded his resignation. MACAPAGAL-ARROYO was elected to a six-year term as president in May 2004. The Philippine Government faces threats from three terrorist groups on the US Government's Foreign Terrorist Organization list, but in 2006 and 2007 scored some major successes in capturing or killing key wanted terrorists. Decades of Muslim insurgency in the southern Philippines have led to a peace accord with one group and an ongoing cease-fire and peace talks with another.
Tobacco in the Philippines
The Philippines' people have made a success of one of the country's oldest continuous industries, that of tobacco cultivation. As it was in many Spanish colonies of the 16th to 19th centuries, tobacco was introduced in the Philippines from the New World early on.
The Philippines grows a mild tobacco that is used for cigars. The hybrid strain produced there is very aromatic.
Following three centuries under the rule of Portugal, Brazil became an independent nation in 1822 and a republic in 1889. By far the largest and most populous country in South America, Brazil overcame more than half a century of military intervention in the governance of the country when in 1985 the military regime peacefully ceded power to civilian rulers. Brazil continues to pursue industrial and agricultural growth and development of its interior. Exploiting vast natural resources and a large labor pool, it is today South America's leading economic power and a regional leader. Highly unequal income distribution remains a pressing problem.
Tobacco in Brasil
Today Brazil is the biggest producer of tobacco in the world (700K tons). The biggest quantity is produced in the south of Brazil, the best quality in Bahia.
The Bahiano tobacco competes equally with the Cubans as the most aromatic of the world.
Tobacco from Brazil tends to be dark, rich and smooth with slightly sweet flavor. Brazilian tobacco leaves are a deep brown after fermentation.