The Spanish crown first administered present-day Colombia through the Audiencia of New Granada, a governing body based in Bogotá that served as a judicial court and an administrative council. As part of an effort to improve administrative efficiency, in 1717 Spain created the Viceroyalty of New Granada, which included present-day Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Panama. A viceroy, or royal governor, who was usually a member of a high-ranking Spanish noble family, oversaw the viceroyalty.
Throughout the colonial period, the Viceroyalty of New Granada remained a relatively poor, unimportant part of the Spanish Empire.
The core areas of the empire were the populous, silver-producing viceroyalties of New Spain (Mexico) and Peru. Although New Granada was the main producer of gold in the Americas, the value of the colony’s gold exports, even at their peak during the 18th century, amounted to much less than the value of Mexico’s silver exports. People of means imported luxury goods and some manufactures from Europe, but for the most part New Granada’s modest economy was self-contained and self-sufficient. When Spain raised taxes to finance wars with its European rivals, a major rebellion, the comunero revolt of 1781, broke out in New Granada. Spanish officials brutally repressed the revolt, but many people, rich and poor, were becoming increasingly discontented with Spanish rule.
Toward the end of the 18th century, the inhabitants of Spanish America grew receptive to the ideas from Europe’s Age of Enlightenment—ideas that questioned traditional beliefs and authority and introduced concepts such as limiting the power of monarchs. Members of the Creole elite (Spaniards born in the Americas) especially desired political independence and wanted to break the Spanish monopoly on foreign trade. They led the independence struggles that enveloped Spain’s American colonies in the early 19th century. "Colombia" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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