Cuba, in the Rio Puerco Valley, is a trade center for ranching and the Navajo Reservation and Jicarilla Apache Reservation. It's also a stopping place for travelers on NM-550 and has the closest business district to Chaco Canyon National Monument.
Cuba, NM, was first settled in 1769. Originally known as Nacimiento, it was located on the northwestern edge of the then-Spanish Colonial Empire. The town takes its name, not for the Caribbean island, but from the Spanish word for trough, tank or sink, which probably refers to the broad basin of the Rio Puerco valley.
Cuba was very isolated and the people who settled here seldom travelled to other areas due to the lack of roads and long distances between settlements. As a consequence, Cuba retained many of the traditions, practices and archaic language of the early Colonial Period until the mid-twentieth century.
Only after World War II did this village emerge from its Colonial traditions and begin to acquire more modern amenities and practices. Different from many other small towns, it did not change because of outside forces but mostly because of the actions of people who had been away during World War II and came back wanting what they had experienced elsewhere.
Present population of Cuba is around 750.