Other manufacturers followed, and Key West became another important cigar manufacturing center.In 1885, Ybor moved again, buying land near the then-small city of Tampa, Florida and building the largest cigar factory in the world at the time in the new company town of Ybor City.Friendly rival and Flor de Sánchez y Haya owner Ignacio Haya built his own factory nearby in the same year, and many other cigar manufacturers soon followed, especially after an 1886 fire that gutted much of Key West.
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A cigar is a tightly-rolled bundle of dried and fermented tobacco leaf, rolled in a series of types and sizes, that is ignited so that its smoke may be drawn into the mouth.
Cigar tobacco is grown in significant quantities in Brazil, Cameroon, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Indonesia, Mexico, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Panama, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Canary Islands (Spain), Italy and the Eastern United States. In Guatemala, a ceramic pot dating back to the tenth century features a Mayan smoking tobacco leaves tied together with a string.
Sikar, the term for smoking used by the Maya, may have inspired the name cigar.
The word cigar originated from the Spanish cigarro, which in turn probably derives from the Mayan sicar ("to smoke rolled tobacco leaves" – from si'c, "tobacco"). Three of Columbus's crewmen during his 1492 journey, Rodrigo de Jerez, Hector Fuentes and Luis de Torres, are said to have encountered tobacco for the first time on the island of Hispaniola, in what is present day Haiti and the Dominican Republic, when natives presented them with dry leaves that spread a peculiar fragrance.
There is also a possible derivation, or at least an influence, from the Spanish cigarra ("cicada"), due to their similar shape. Tobacco was widely diffused among all of the islands of the Caribbean and therefore they again encountered it in Cuba where Columbus and his men had settled.
His sailors reported that the Taínos on the island of Cuba smoked a primitive form of cigar, with twisted, dried tobacco leaves rolled in other leaves such as palm or plantain.
In due course, Spanish and other European sailors adopted the hobby of smoking rolls of leaves, as did the Conquistadors, and smoking primitive cigars spread to Spain and Portugal and eventually France, most probably through Jean Nicot, the French ambassador to Portugal, who gave his name to nicotine.
Later, the hobby spread to Italy and, after Sir Walter Raleigh's voyages to the Americas, to Britain.
Smoking became familiar throughout Europe—in pipes in Britain—by the mid-16th century and, half a century later, tobacco started to be grown commercially in America.