Miami was officially incorporated as a city on July 28, 1896, with a population of just over 300. The area was first inhabited for more than a thousand years by the Tequest Indians, and was claimed for Spain in 1566 by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés. A Spanish mission was established a year later in 1567.
Miami prospered during the 1920s but weakened after the collapse of the Florida land boom of the 1920's, the 1926 Miami Hurricane and the Great Depression in the 1930s. When World War II began, Miami, well-situated due to its location on the southern coast of Florida, played an important role in the difficult battle against German submarines. The war helped increase Miami's population to almost half a million. After Fidel Castro rose to power in 1959, many Cubans emigrated to Miami, expanding the population even further.