Catamarca is a province of Argentina, located in the northwest of the country. The capital is San Fernando del Valle de Catamarca, usually shortened to Catamarca. The province has a population of 334,568 as per the , and covers an area of 102,602 km. Its literacy rate is 95.5%. Neighbouring provinces are : Salta, Tucuman, Santiago del Estero, Cordoba, and La Rioja. To the west it borders Chile.
Before the arrival of the Spanish conquest, most of today's Catamarca was inhabited by the Diaguitas indigenous people, including the fierce Calchaqui tribe. In 1558 Juan Perez de Zurita founded San Juan de la Ribera de Londres, but since it was constantly under attack of the indigenous people it was not very populated, it was re-founded, changed its locating, and renamed several times. For its 6th foundation, on July 5 1683, Fernando de Mendoza Mate de Luna founded the city of San Fernando del Valle de Catamarca.
When the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata was created in 1776, Catamarca obtained the title of Subintendencia under the Salta intendency. In 1821 the province claims its autonomy, and Nicolas Avellaneda y Tula (grandfather of Nicolas Avellaneda) is elected as the first governor of the province.
There are two versions of the origin of the name. The quichua version form words "cata" ("slope") and "marca" ("fortress") forming "Fortress on the slope", and the aymara version from words "Catan" ("small") and "marca" ("town or moose") resulting in "Small town or moose".
Mining and cattle are the main activities of the province. The province's livestock includes around 200,000 bovine heads of cattle, 100,000 bovine, and 150,000 goats, with an annual production of 7,000 tonnes of beef, 5 tonnes of sheep meat, and 10 tonnes of pork, although outbreaks of foot and mouth disease has kept at times the production from reaching full potential.
Catamarca is home to one of the largest copper gold mines in the world, Bajo de la Alumbrera which produces approximately 600,000 ounces of gold and 190,000 tonnes of copper annually. The mine directly employs over 1,000 people and contributes hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes and royalties to the federal and provincial governments.
The agriculture of the province focuses on wood (walnut), vineyards, olive, citrus, cotton and tobacco, to which the government gives tax cuts to facilitate economic growth so far with failing results and no oversight.
Tourism is a surging economy in Catamarca, with more than 3.465 beds in hotels and other types of accommodation. Although high hopes are focused in this industry, lack of infrastructure, service oriented and trained businesses and an overall endemic corruption culture, tourism has yet to become a real option for the local economy. Mountains and geological formation are the main attraction, with sights such as Antofagasta de la Sierra, Balcones del Valle, the Snow-Covered Summits of Aconquija, and the Pass of San Francisco. The San Francisco Pass, an endeavor developed during the Castillo (Senior and son's) administration at a tremendous cost to public funds has failed tremendously to bring trade and tourism to impoverish and underdeveloped Tinogasta county .
Large numbers of cattle, fattened in the alfalfa fields of Pucara, Tinogasta and Copacabana, were driven into northern Chile across the San Francisco pass and mules were bred for the Bolivian market in 1910's. Cultural attractions include the city of Catamarca, the archaeological park Las Huellas del Inca, prehistoric petroglyphs, local music, handcrafts and wines.
Catamarca is one of the poorest provinces of Argentina with an unemployment rate of 16.2% according to the local office of statistic and census. Unemployment hits every family regardless of education level; an important percentage of the population between 21-40 years old has never held a job for most of their adults lives, sustenance comes in the for of government handouts and subsidies, creating a culture of welfare.
Highest point: Nevada Ojos del Salado (Salt Springs Peak) 6908 m?
Transport: Major highways include Ruta 33 from Catamarca 98 km south to San Martin, 38 from Catamarca north via San Pedro 228 km to Tucuman, 60 north-west from Cordoba province 577 km from La Guardia north-west (partly through La Rioja) to Chile by the Passa de San Francisco (4722 m), 64 west from Santiago del Estero to join 38 and 157 north from La Guardia 103 km to Frias where it connects with 89 west from Villa San Martin (Santiago del Estero), and north to Tucuman province at San Pedro, connecting with 64 near Las Canas.
There is an airport at Catamarca.
The province is divided into sixteen departments .
Ambato Department (La Puerta)
Ancasti Department (Ancasti)
Andalgala Department (Andalgala)
Antofagasta de la Sierra Department (Antofagasta de la Sierra)
Belen Department (Belen)
Capayan Department (Huillapima)
Capital Department (San Fernando del Valle de Catamarca)
El Alto Department (El Alto)
Fray Mamerto Esquiu Department(San Jose)
La Paz Department (Recreo)
Paclin Department (La Merced)
Poman Department (Saujil)
Santa Maria Department (Santa Maria)
Santa Rosa Department (Banado de Ovanta)
Tinogasta Department (Tinogasta)
Valle Viejo Department (San Isidro)
Official site (Spanish)
Important Historical Dates (Spanish)
CatamarcaWeb Portal (Spanish)
Guide to Catamarca (Spanish)
Hospital Interzonal de Ninos Eva Peron (Spanish)
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Catamarca Province