At the time of the Dominican Sisters’ arrival there was already a deep historical connection between the U.S. and Cuba. The island is one of several that had been claimed for Spain by Christopher Columbus in October 1492. Cuba had been a colony of Spain until the end of the Spanish-American War in 1898 when Spain ceded the territories of Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Guam to the United States. Cuba was temporarily administered by the United States when the first Dominican Sisters arrived in 1901 to open an orphanage in Havana. The following year the U.S. granted Cuba its independence.