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Since the European conquest, the western third of the island has exercised military, political, economic, and cultural dominance.The capital is Havana on the northern coast of the western third of the island.The peninsulares' privileges and wealth evoked the resentment of the creoles, who outnumbered them.There were creole elites, especially merchants in Havana, whose privilege was dependent on the colonial status of the island, but most eastern creoles increasingly saw their interests as opposed to those of Spain.In 1862 the African population was larger than that of whites.Although the larger slave-holding plantations were in the west, escaped and emancipated slaves often fled east, where they could more easily hide or establish themselves on small unclaimed plots of land in Oriente. The dialect is similar to that in the other Hispanic Caribbean islands, although the rhythmic speaking and the use of highly expressive hand gestures are distinctly Cuban.Thus, it is there that Afrocuban art, religion, and music were most strongly expressed and the cultural movement "afrocubanismo" began. Languages spoken by the indigenous population are extinct.French was spoken for a short time by slave-holding European refugees from the 1791 Haitian revolution but this has since died out. The three major symbols of national identity have arisen from the three struggles for independence.
Afrocuban music and dance were also appropriated as symbols of the nation beginning in 1898, when the United States invaded the island, and especially after the triumph of the Revolution in 1959. The Cuban nation has arisen from a history of colonial and imperial domination.After the Haitian revolution of 1791, creoles and peninsulares thought that only the presence of the Spanish army could maintain order and their privilege.