IN the eighteenth century, through the occupation of Texas and Alta California and for a time parts of Louisiana and even the western side of Vancouver Island on Nootka Sound, the Spanish Empire in North America and with it Spain's imperial expansion globally attained its greatest geographical extent. After a brief five-year occupation, the deliberate abandonment of Vancouver Island in 1795, largely as a result of compelling British finesse, initiated the retreat of the Spanish Empire that was soon to be dynamically accelerated by the revolutions and independence of the new Latin American states from Terra del Fuego to northern California and the Pecos and the Red Rivers in 1808-24. Nevertheless, the earlier advance of the frontier of New Spain further to the north and northeast was of particular and lasting importance. The Spanish-Mexican era still accounts for over half of the history of European presence in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California, and its heritage continues to be a vital part of the cultural identity and diversity of the North American Greater Southwest.
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