Why did Spain lose its colonies in America?

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mrkirschner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Spain was the earliest European power to have colonies in the Americas, but was also the earliest to lose them.  There were many reasons that the Spanish lost colonies in America.  The decline of territories coincided with the loss of power and wealth in Spain itself.  Spain was on the losing end of a number of European wars with Great Britain and France.  The Spanish Armada was defeated by the English in 1588.  This was the beginning of the end for Spain’s dominance in world affairs.  The striking success of the American colonies over Great Britain inspired a number of independence movements in South America and the Caribbean that cost Spain territory.    In general, Spain was unable to overcome these insurrections because it no longer had the economic or political resources to do so.  Defeats at the hand of the French cost vast tracts of land in North America that Napoleon eventually sold to the United States.  The Spanish lost Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Philippines in its defeat in the Spanish-American War.