Spanish Florida (Spanish: La Florida) was the first major European land claim and attempted settlement in North America during the European Age of Discovery. La Florida formed part of the Captaincy General of Cuba, the Viceroyalty of New Spain, and the Spanish Empire during Spanish colonization of the Americas. While its boundaries were never clearly or formally defined, the territory was much larger than the present-day state of Florida, extending over much of what is now the southeastern United States, including all of present-day Florida plus portions of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina (see Fort San Juan), South Carolina, and southeastern Louisiana. Spain's claim to this vast area was based on several wide-ranging expeditions mounted during the 16th century. A number of missions, settlements, and small forts existed in the 16th and to a lesser extent in the 17th century; eventually they were abandoned due to pressure from the expanding English and French colonial projects, the collapse of the native populations, and the general difficulty in becoming agriculturally or economically self-sufficient (which also affected some early English colonies). By the 18th century, Spain's control over La Florida did not extend much beyond its forts, all located in present-day Florida: near St. Augustine, St. Marks, and Pensacola. Florida was never more than a backwater region for Spain. In contrast with Mexico and Peru, there was no gold to be found. There was insufficient native population to set up the encomienda system of forced agricultural labor, and Spaniards did not set up plantations in Florida. The missions did supply St. Augustine with maize, and were required to send laborers to St. Augustine every year to work in the fields and perform other labor. Spanish officials established cattle ranches which supplied both the local and the Cuban markets. It provided ports where ships needing water or supplies could call, and it had strategic importance as a buffer between Mexico (New Spain), whose undefined northeastern border was somewhere near the Mississippi River, Spain's Caribbean colonies, and the expanding English colonies to the north.