Bayamo is the capital of Granma province. The city has a rich tradition of Cuban national pride and is often referred to as "the Birthplace of Cuban Nationality" and "the Cradle of Cuban Revolution." Additionally, Bayamo has always been a center of philosophy and maintains a rich intellectual and artistic tradition.
With a population of 130,000 people, Bayamo has experienced considerable growth since it was founded by the Spanish in 1513 as one of the original seven Spanish cities in Cuba. Today, its major commercial importance is in sugar refining.
Bayamo was a valuable hub in the Spanish slave trade, especially as sugarcane crops became the area's predominant economic asset. As a result, there is a strong base of Afro-Cuban culture in the area.
During the 1800's, the emerging upper-middle class of sugarcane farm owners began to be dissatisfied from their lack of representation and influence in the Spanish colonial government. They resented the governors' tactics of continually ensuring that most power, and therefore economic benefit, remained in the hands of European-born Spaniards.
Bayamo was the stronghold of early revolutionary Carlos Manel de Céspedes, who freed his slaves and declared war against colonialist Spain. During the ensuing battles, Bayamo exchanged hands several times and was once burned to the ground by Cuban rebels as the city was being sacked by the Spanish.