From the Very Beginning...
Cigars have a long history of nearly 2000 years. There's a belief that they descend from Central America where smoking habits were very popular among such ancient cultures as Mayans and Aztecs. Cigars which they smoked somewhat resembled modern stogies and had the shape of tubes of not tightly rolled tobacco.
The Europeans had no idea of such plant as tobacco till the glorious Columbus' discovery of America in 1492. Namely Ramon Pane who was priest during the second Columbus voyage habituated European society to tobacco culture. With time the smoking habit became very popular in Spain and Portugal thanks to sailors and in France with the help of Jean Nicot - the French ambassador to Portugal - whose name was given to nicotine. Britain and Italy got acquainted with tobacco a little later.
Already by the middle of the 16th century the entire Europe got accustomed to smoking and afterwards America began cultivating the plant for trading purpose. Though the majority believed tobacco had medical qualities, even at that time there where people who considered it to be a bad thing and it was criticized by James I of England and Philip II of Spain.
The cigar in its current shape came to us after the year of 1762 with American general Putnam's return from Cuba. The general brought a large collection of Havanas and Cuban tobacco.
In Europe, namely, the north of the Pyrenees the cigar manufacture appeared not until the 1790, when small enterprises were established in Germany and France. In Britain cigar making appeared only in 1820 when imported cigars were considered as something of luxury because of high taxes. But smoking cigars itself gain popularity in France and Britain solely after the Peninsular War of 1808-1814.
Strange as it may seem, the majority of the United States citizens were accustomed to cigar smoking only after the Civil War of 1860s. A little later cigar became a symbol of belonging to upper classes here.
At about the same time, smoking cigars became such a popular habit in Europe that special smoking coaches in trains appeared and smoke rooms - in clubs and hotels. Also at that period there was introduced the custom of smoking cigars after dinner with a glass of brandy or port.
In 1920's first machines making cigars appear in Cuba, in response to the invention of cigarette making mechanism. As a result, both the smoking and the manufacture of hand rolled cigars fell gradually into decay.
In 1960's it was announced that smoking is harmful for people's health. This report by American Surgeon General led to considerable decline in tobacco consumption. However, in 1990's it recovers its former glory.
With the Cuban Revolution and U.S. embargo, many Cuban cigar manufacturers moved their factories to the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Mexico and some other regions. Nowadays these countries are the main cigar suppliers for the United States.
As regards Cuban cigar production, it now has to compete with the countries listed above, however Cuba is still considered the World's best cigar manufacturer and is highly appreciated for the best soil for growing tobaccos.