Salsa dancing was originally a fusion of the music and dancing styles the islands of the Caribbean. These tropical islands were invaded and occupied by many different people. While most of the Caribbean was ruled by the Spanish, there were other European nations as well. One of the more successful colonies was Haiti which was run by the French. The Spanish also imported African slave labor to work their plantations on these islands. Combining all these groups provided the fusion to create salsa music and dance.
While salsa music is generally credited with getting its start in Cuba, it did have influences from many sources. Cuba was a Spanish held island, and it relied heavily on African slaves to run the sugar plantations and contribute their music to Spanish styles. The French from Haiti contributed to salsa as well. Those that were out of favor on their Caribbean island often chose Cuba to set up new homes where they influenced salsa dancing.