Salt, essential for life, mined and traded since prehistoric times, has long been a valuable commodity and medium of exchange over which governing officials have exerted their authority. This monograph focuses on the dynamics of the salt monopoly in Colombia’s Cordillera Oriental as a way of understanding how Colombia as a nation-state was built in the course of the nineteenth century. The Cordillera climbs up between the Magdalena River to the west and the Llanos to the east as it sweeps northeast past Bogotá, then bifurcates as one spur continues into Venezuela. Within the Cordillera Oriental salt production was significant in three different areas. The first and by far the most important was just outside of Bogotá at Zipaquirá, which Alexander von Humboldt brought to the world’s attention in his published writings subsequent to his visit there in 1801. The second and least...

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