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Mar del Plata

Mar del Plata is an Argentine city located on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in the Buenos Aires Province, south of Buenos Aires. Mar del Plata is one of the major fishing ports and the biggest seaside beach resort in Argentina.

With a population of 541,733 as per the , it's the 7th largest city in Argentina.


As part of the Argentine recreational coast, tourism is Mar del Plata's main economic activity with seven million tourists visiting the city in 2006. Mar del Plata has a sophisticated tourist infrastructure with countless hotels, restaurants, casinos, theatres and other tourist attractions. Mar del Plata is also an important sports centre with a multi-purpose Olympic style stadium (first used for the 1978 World Cup and later upgraded for the 1995 Pan American Games), 5 golf courses and many other facilities.

As an important fishing port, industry concentrates on fish processing and at least two large shipyards.

The area is also host to other light industry, such as textile and food manufacturing.

There is a well-developed packaging machines industry, its quality being recognized in international markets. One of these companies was one of the pioneers in tea bags automatic packaging, exporting its original machine-designs abroad. Another company also exports its products and sold royalties to other countries.

During the mid 1980s, Mar del Plata saw the birth of electronics factories, focused mostly on the telecommunications field, with two of them succeeding in the international market.

Located southwest of the city there are quartzite's stonemasons which are traditionally used in construction (see Architecture).

Although since the middle '90s until the first 2000s the area has been hit by a high rate of unemployment, Mar del Plata has the third largest activity rate by city in the country (around 45%).

History timeline

Pre-Spanish era: The region was inhabited by Gununa Kena nomads (also known as northern Tehuelches). They were later (after the 11th Century) strongly influenced by the Mapuche culture.

1577-1857: First European explorers. Sir Francis Drake made a reconnaissance of the coast; Don Juan de Garay explored the area by land a few years later. First colonization attempt by Jesuit Order ended in disaster (1751).

1857-1874: The Portuguese entrepreneur Coelho de Meirelles, taking advantage of the countrys abundance of wild cattle, built a pier and a factory for salted meat, but the business only lasts a few years.

1874-1886: Patricio Peralta Ramos acquired the now abandoned factory along with the surrounding terrain, and founded the town on February 10, 1874. Basque rancher Pedro Luro bought a part of Peralta Ramos land for agricultural production. First docks also erected around this time.

1886-1911: The railway line from Buenos Aires, built by the Buenos Aires Great Southern reached Mar del Plata in 1886; the first hotels started their activity. The upper-class people from Buenos Aires became the first tourist of the new born village. They also established a local government that reflected their conservative ideals. Build-up of a French style resort.

1911-1930: The residents, mostly new arrived immigrants from Europe, demanded and obtained the control of the Municipality administration. The socialist were the mainstream political force in this period, carrying out social reforms and public investment. The main port was also built and inaugurated in 1916.

1930-1946: A military coup reinstated the Conservative hegemony in politics through electoral fraud and corruption, but in the local level they were quite progressive, their policies viewed in some way as a continuity of the socialist trend. The seaside Casino complex opened in 1939, was designed by architect Alejandro Bustillo, and the Ruta 2 (Highway 2), the main road to Buenos Aires, also dates from this period.

1946-1955: Birth of the Peronist movement. A coalition between socialists and radicals defeated this new party by a narrow margin in Mar del Plata, but by 1948 the Peronism will dominate the local administration. The massive tourism, triggered by the welfare politics of Peron and the surge of the middle class marked a huge growth in the citys economy.

1955-1970: After the fall of Peron, the Socialism regained the upper hand in local politics; the city reached the peak in activities like construction business and building industry. Massive immigration from other regions of Argentina.

1970-1989: Slight decline of tourism demand, counterbalanced by the increasing of other industries such as fishing and machinery. General infrastructure renewal under the military rule. The radicals become the main political force after the return of Democracy in 1983.

1989-Present: Though the Peronism replaced the radicals in central government amid a national financial crisis, the latter party continued to rule in Mar del Plata. Some resurge of mass tourism in the early '90s was followed by a deep social crisis in town, with an increase of poverty, jobless rate and emigration. By contrast, the first decade of this Century shows an amazingly quick recovery in all sectors of the ailing economy.


Mar del Plata is the most popular destination for conventions in Argentina after Buenos Aires. Mar del Plata has a wide range of services in this sector. The summer season hosts over fifty theatrical plays.

These are the most important shows and festivals:

The Fiesta Nacional del Mar ("National Sea Festival") with the election and coronation of the Sea Queen and her princesses, which takes place in December as the official inauguration of the summer season.

The Premios Estrella de Mar ("Sea Star Awards") which honor the best stage plays and shows of the season.

The Valencian Falles week, a local reenactment of the Valencian event.

The Mar del Plata Fashion Show, along with a number of fashion parades that gathers the best haute couture designers.

The Fiesta Nacional de los Pescadores (National Fishermen's Festival), a colourful display of sea tradition and cuisine.

The Mar del Plata International Film Festival, the only Class-A film's festival in the Americas.

Mar del Plata has also hosted the 1995 Pan American Games, the 2005 FIBA Under-21 World Championship, and co-hosted the 1978 FIFA World Cup and the 2001 FIFA World Youth Championship.

Since 1987 Mar del Plata annually hosts the Mar del Plata Marathon, in early December.

The local Government sponsors a stable Symphonic Orchestra, as well as a Conservatorium and a School of Classical and Modern Dance.

The main museums are the following:

The Museum of Modern Art Juan Carlos Castagnino.

The Museum of the port of Mar del Plata Cleto Ciocchini.

The Museum of Natural Science Lorenzo Scaglia, specialized in Paleontology of the Quaternary species around the region.

The Museum of the Sea, which includes one of the most complete collections of sea snails of the World.

Villa Victoria, a vintage wooden house, the former residence of the late writer Victoria Ocampo, now a place for art expositions and classical music.

Culture and Sports Personalities:

Astor Piazzolla, composer and musician.

Juan Carlos Castagnino, painter.

Auro Tiribelli (1908-2006), architect.

Guillermo Vilas, top tennis star in the '70s.

Ines Arrondo, hockey player, winner along with the national team of an Olympic Silver medal in Sydney 2000 and a Bronze medal in Athens 2004.

Laura Echarte, agricultural engineer, researcher in crop physiology studies, winner of the 2007 L'Oreal-Unesco international fellowship for Women.

Maria Gabriela Palomo, marine biologist, also winner of the L'Oreal-Unesco junior award in 2003 for her works on port-areas environmental pollution.

Jorge Lanata, journalist and writer.

Ricardo Piglia, writer born in Adrogue but raised in Mar del Plata.

Alberto Bruzzone (1907-1994), painter, was born in San Juan but chose Mar del Plata as his home city.

Hector Babenco, movie director, who made Hollywood films like Kiss of the Spider Woman and Ironweed.

Homero Carpena (1910-2001), actor, playwriter and filmmaker.

Martin Donovan (not to be confused with actor Martin Donovan), Hollywood screenwriter and producer, co-author of the screenplay of the movie Death Becomes Her .

Gabriel Gaby Amato, former international soccer player.

Juan Eduardo Esnaider, international soccer player. Former forward of Espanyol, Atletico de Madrid, Juventus, River Plate.

German Mono Burgos, former goalkeeper. Played two World Cups. Currently, he is oriented to music.

The common linguistic and social background of the city is that

of the so called rioplatense culture.


The development of the city as a season resort in early 20 century led the upper class tourists from Buenos Aires to built-up a European-inspired architecture, based mainly on the picturesque and later on the art deco styles. This gave Mar del Plata the pompous nickname of the Argentine Biarritz. During the '30s and well beyond the '40s, local architects and builders, like Auro Tiribelli, Arturo Lemmi, Alberto Corsico-Picollini and Raul Camusso recreated and transformed the picturesque values into a middle-class scale, marking the beginning of the so called Mar del Plata Style, consisting in small samples of the luxury-laden summer residences of the high society, built for the summer visitor as well as for the local resident.

These chalets comprised basically a stone facade, a gable roof covert with Spanish or French tiles, prominent eaves and a front porch. This gives the town some distinctive urban character among the other Argentinean cities, even if the needs of the growing mass of tourists in the '60s imposed large apartment buildings and skyscrapers as the predominant landscape downtown.


The weather pattern for the region is that of an oceanic climate, with humid and moderate summers and relative cool winters, although polar air masses from Antarctica are frequent. The average temperatures for January reach 20C (68 Fahrenheit) and 8C for July (46 Fahrenheit). The West-Southwest winds bring down the temperature below 0C (32 Fahrenheit), while the Southeast ones (the so called Sudestada) are stronger, producing coastal showers and rough seas, as well as strong squalls, but the cold is much less intense.

There are about 20 days of frost each year, and almost 60 in the west hills area (some 300 mts above the sea level). Snowfall is not so uncommon, but snow accumulation on the ground is rare, a phenomenon that takes place every 6 years or so, according to the last 40 year's data.

Particularly remembered are the 1975 and 1991 snowstorms, but there was also some snow accumulated in 1994 and 1997 in the highest hills area of Sierra de los Padres, in 1995 along the southern coast, and the latest during the first hours of July 10, 2004. There were two low-intensity snowfalls in September 1986 and June 2007.Retrieved from the following editions of La Capital newspaper:

17 July 1975

17 September 1986

2 August 1991

5 August 1995

27 June 1997

11 July 2004

26 June 2007

Clarin newspaper edition, Buenos Aires, June 28 1994

Video files from Channel 8, Mar del Plata, TN news and Cronica TV

There is fog in the last days of fall, and springtime is often marred by sea winds and sudden temperature's changes.

There are some ten days of 30C (86 Fahrenheit) each summer,

certainly milder values than the rest of the pampas region. Usually, the summer nights are cool and pleasant, with values between 13 to 17C (55 to 63 Fahrenheit).


Mar del Plata is the head of the department (Partido) of General Pueyrredon. The current Mayor of the city and department is Gustavo Pulti, of the local party Accion Marplatense.

The Honorable Concejo Deliberante (the town council) has some legislative powers. The term of office for both the Mayor and council members is four years.

In 1919, Mar del Plata became the first town in South America to have a Socialist Mayor, a son of Italian Immigrants, Teodoro Bronzini. The Socialist Party would dominate the city political landscape for most of the 20th century.

The Government official page has a comprehensive listing

of all Mayors and Commissioners of Mar del Plata from 1881 to the present.

There is an extensive but interesting work by the American sociologist

Susan Stokesabout the democratic process in Mar del Plata since 1983 in comparison to other regions of Argentina: PDF-1.

You can also read the following paper: PDF-2.

One of the main thesis of her articles is that the social and economic development of Mar del Plata was quite atypical, with a strong prevalence of middle-class values that discouraged the policy of clientelism that is the common background in other urban environments of Argentina.

Curious data

Mar del Plata is mentioned in at least two B movies of

Hollywood's Directors:

The horror's trilogy Night Gallery (1969), a pilot for the homonymous series written by Rod Serling, of The Twilight Zone fame. It became one of the first telefilms in US. The third story of this movie depicts the life of a former Nazi camp commander on the run in Buenos Aires, played by Richard Kiley, whose memories and remorse put him to the brink of madness. In his desperation, he tries to escape elsewhere, and when he asks for a bus ticket, the answer of the booking office man is I only have tickets for Mar del Plata, Sir. The pilot marked also the debut of a young director; Steven Spielberg.

In the 1991's Comedy/Fantasy plot Truly, Madly, Deeply, starring Juliet Stevenson and Alan Rickman, the character of Stevenson, a widow which feels the presence of her defunct boyfriend (Rickman), receives a postcard from her daughter vacationing in Mar del Plata.

The city airport code for IATA (International Air Transport Association) is MDQ , even if the most logic and common sense determines it should be MDP. But the latter abbreviation is already in use for Mindip-Tanah (Indonesia). The initialism was adopted by a popular Surfboard fans TV show, also originated in Mar del Plata.

The so called Golf sauce (a type of Fry sauce) has its origin in the kitchens of the Golf Club Mar del Plata, in the very first decades of the 1900s.

Argentina's top soccer player, Diego Armando Maradona, scored his two first goals in Argentina First Division league in the old San Martin Stadium in Mar del Plata, on November 14 1976. Maradona played for Argentinos Juniors, which defeated San Lorenzo de Mar del Plata 5-2.

Sister Cities

Biarritz, France.

Fort Lauderdale, USA.

San Benedetto del Tronto, Italy.

Bari, Italy.

External links

Official Government website

Tourist Info (from the Official Government website)

Mar del Plata Web Directory, city videos and latest news

Mar del Plata WebCam Live

National University of Mar del Plata

La Capital newspaper

Gallery of Photos

Another Gallery of Photos

Sierra de los Padres page

Mar del Plata Portal

International Film Festival

Mar del Plata 1st Art Fair of Great Masters and Emerging Art

WikiTravel's Mar del Plata page

Mar del Plata marplatenses por el mundo

Penarol de Mar del Plata

Latest news about Mar del Plata


Unless otherwise indicated, all the sources are written in Spanish.

Cacopardo, Fernando A. & others: Mar del Plata, Ciudad e Historia. Alianza Editorial S.A./UNMDP, Madrid/Buenos Aires, 1997.

Rocatagliata, Juan A. & others: Mar del Plata y su Region. Sociedad Argentina de Estudios Geograficos, Buenos Aires, 1984.

Anniversary Editions of La Capital newspaper: 1955, 1980, 1985, 2005.

Barili, Roberto T.: Mar del Plata, Resena Historica. Published by the Municipality of Gral. Pueyrredon, Mar del Plata, 1964.

Zago, Manrique: Mar del Plata, Argentina. Manrique Zago Ed., 1997. (Bilingual Edition).

Stokes, Susan C.:Do Informal Institutions Make Democracy Work? Accounting for Accountability in Argentina. University of Chicago. Prepared for presentation at the conference, Informal Institutions in Latin America. University of Notre Dame, April 23-24, 2003. (English).

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