In 1825 Spain lost most of its overseas possessions except for Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines (lost in 1898). In 1833 provincial division was established to facilitate government administration. But Spain lacked good roads or an extensive rail network to facilitate the movement of goods or people, a major hindrance to the development of a national economy.
Most people were peasants. Some earned their living as labourers, a few owned the land they worked on and very few, the nobility and the Church, owned large tracts of land. Lack of water was the main resource that limited increases in the production of crops. The government sold not only Church lands but also mining rights, and many foreign companies came to exploit this throughout the country. Catalonia developed a textile industry to export to the colonies and foundries were established in the Basque country. Anarchists preached first to peasants and then to miners and industrial workers. Socialists followed and both began to mobilise against patrons and the government.