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Neuquen Province


Neuquen is a province of Argentina, located in the west of the country, at the northern end of Patagonia. It borders Mendoza Province to the north, Rio Negro Province to the southeast, and Chile to the west. It also meets La Pampa Province at its northeast corner.

History

The Neuquen Province receives its name from the Neuquen River.

The term "Neuquen" derives from the Mapudungun word "Nehuenken" meaning drafty, which the aborigines used to refer to this river. The word, without accentuation, is a palindrome.

Inhabited by Pehuenches, Tehuelches and Mapuches, the territory was not explored by the Conquistadores until late in the 17th century. In 1670 another priest, Nicolas Mascardi, founded the Jesuit mission Nuestra Senora de Nahuel Huapi.

In 1879 Julio Argentino Roca started the infamous Conquest of the Desert (Conquista del Desierto) that finally broke the aboriginal resistance. In 1884 the Patagonia's political division was restructured and the Government of Neuquen acquired its current boundaries. The capital of the province moved several times to Norquin (1884-1885), Campana Mahuida (current Loncopue) (1885-1888), Chos Malal (1885-1901), and finally Confluencia currently known as Neuquen.

At the beginning of the 20th century the railway reached the city of Neuquen, and a new irrigating system was finished facilitating the production and later transportation of crops. Petroleum was found in Plaza Huincul in 1918, giving to Neuquen a new push forward.

The territory was named province in June 15 1955, and its constitution is declared in November 28 1957. The Universidad del Neuquen ("University of Neuquen") was founded in 1964, and the Universidad del Comahue ("University of Comahue") in 1971.

Geography and climate

The province's limits are set by the Colorado River to the Northeast, separating it from the Mendoza Province, the Limay River to the Southeast facing the Rio Negro Province, and the Andes mountain range to the west, separating it from Chile.

There are two main distinctive landscapes; the mountainous fertile valleys with forest on the West, and the arid plateau with fertile land only near the basins of the rivers on the East, mainly the Limay River and Neuquen River.

The lacustrine system includes other less important rivers such as Alumine River, Malleo, and Picun Leufu River, and a series of lakes including the Nahuel Huapi Lake (550 km), shared with the Rio Negro Province, the Alumine Lake (58 km), Lacar Lake (49 km), Huechulaufquen Lake (110 km), Lolog (35 km), Traful, Hermoso, Quillen, Norquinco, Tromen and Falkner.

The weather is continental and cold, with temperate summers, and in the arid regions a wide difference in temperature between day and night. There is also a big contrast in humidity, with regular precipitations of up to 4.000 mm in some regions of the Andean part of the province.

The province is home of the magnificent Arrayanes (Luma apiculata) forest at the Los Arrayanes National Park. Other National parks include Lanin National Park and the Lanin extinct volcano, the Nahuel Huapi National Park shared with the Rio Negro Province, and the Laguna Blanca National Park.

Economy

The main economic activity is the exploitation of hydrocarbon and petroleum derivatives, the most important in Argentina. The province generates a significant part of Patagonia's electric power through the hydroelectric plants of Piedra del Aguila, El Chocon, Pichi Picun Leufu, Planicie Banderita (in the Cerros Colorados Complex), and Alicura. The town of Arroyito hosts the only heavy water plant in the country.

Another important activity is the production of apples, pears, peaches and others, specially in the Alto Valle area, shared with Rio Negro.

The piquetero movement (organizations of unemployed workers) was born in Neuquen in the 1990s, during the presidency of Carlos Menem.

Tourism

See also Tourism in Argentina article

Destination of many Argentineans and foreigners, the province has many and varied options for winter and summer; San Martin de los Andes, Villa La Angostura, Camino de los Siete Lagos, Los Arrayanes National Park, Lanin National Park, Nahuel Huapi National Park, Laguna Blanca National Park, and the Copahue hot baths are just some of them.

For the winter season, there are the ski centres of Chapelco, Cerro Bayo and Caviahue.

Many explore the lake district region of Southwestern Neuquen that stretches into Rio Negro and Chubut Provinces. Another form of tourism is the fishing excursions of mainly the trout, where spinning, trolling and fly casting in the Limay and Neuquen rivers, but also in different smaller streams.

There were a number of dinosaurs in the area, of which the bones of a 95 million years old Argentinosaurus are in dispay at the Carmen Funes Museum in Plaza Huincul.

Political division

The province is divided in 16 departments .

External links

Neuquen Province Official Website

Argentour Neuquen Province

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Neuquen Province


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