Eighteenth-century Nueva Granada witnessed transformations in the political, economic, social, and environmental realms. The transition from the Austrian Habsburg to the French Bourbons produced so-called Bourbon Reforms, a set of policy changes aimed at retaining Spain’s control over its domains. The Bourbons wanted to modernise the administration of the Spanish Empire through a series of administrative reforms and social engineering in order to increase land production and trading. Some of these changes were related to the patterns of land ownership, land uses, and access to resources. Such changes were determined by the administrative structure, the accumulation patterns of the Spanish crown, and by the changing ideas of the enlightened elites of Nueva Granada (an area that corresponds to modern Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela). This article offers an analysis of property systems, congregation policies, land uses, and conflicts over lands in Nueva Granada during the eighteenth century. Based on a review of secondary sources, it analyses the property structure of the Virreinato (Viceroyalty) and its political economy. The article presents a comparison between processes in the central region and those that happened in the Pacific coastal provinces. It makes a contrast between the emergence and destruction of resguardos (reserved lands) and the effects of gold mining. It also explains the transition, influenced by the botanic studies, towards an export economy of forest resources.
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