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Santiago del Estero Province

Santiago del Estero is a province of Argentina, located in the north of the country. Neighbouring provinces are from the north clockwise Salta, Chaco, Santa Fe, Cordoba, Catamarca and Tucuman.


The autochthonous inhabitants of these lands were the Juries-Tonocotes, Sanavirones and other tribes. Intriguingly, Santiago del Estero is still home to about 100,000 speakers of the local variety of Quechua, making this the southernmost outpost of the language of the Incas. Quite when the language reached the area, and how, remains unclear, however - it may even have arrived only with the native troops that accompanied the first Spanish expeditions.

Diego de Rojas first reached this lands in 1542. Francisco de Aguirre founded the city of Santiago del Estero in 1553 as the most northerly city founded by Spanish conquistadores coming from the Pacific Ocean.

Santiago then belonged to different governments, passing from the intendency of Tucuman to the Audiencia de Charcas, then again to Tucuman, of which it was later to be named capital.

However, the bishop moved to Cordoba in 1699 and the government moved to Salta two years later. Furthermore, the silver route between Buenos Aires and the Viceroyalty of Peru passed through Tucuman rather than through Santiago. The combination of these circumstances drastically reduced the importance of the city and the territory and, by the beginning of the 19th century, the city had barely 5,000 inhabitants.

With the creation of the intendency of Salta, Santiago del Estero was transferred to the new intendency of Tucuman. In the middle of the national conflict, Santiago del Estero separated from Tucuman in 1820, coming under the control of pro-autonomy Governor Juan Felipe Ibarra. Among the new province's most effective advocates during its early decades was Amancio Jacinto Alcorta, a young composer of sacral music who, representing his province from 1826 to 1862, helped modernize commerce and its taxation in the unstable young nation and promoted domestic banking and credit. In 1856 the provincial constitution was formulated.

At the beginning of the 20th century Santiago del Estero acquired part of the lands that were the subject of a dispute with Chaco Province. By then the province had four cities and 35,000 inhabitants, most of whom lived in precarious conditions. The construction of the Los Quiroga dam in 1950 enabled the productivity of the otherwise arid land to be increased by irrigation.

During the 1890s, national policy makers were made aware of a little-publicized tourist route northwest of the city of Santiago del Estero, whereby, despite the abject lack of transportation or lodging amenities, a steady stream of visitors rode on horseback over craggy terrain for hours for the sake of enjoying a cluster of mineral springs rarely mentioned since Spaniards had first noticed them in 1543.

Becoming increasingly well-known, the Argentine Dept. of Agriculture commissioned University of Buenos Aires Chemistry Professor Hercules Corti to study the springs. Completing his report in 1918, Dr. Corti confirmed that the Rio Hondo Hot Springs were among the most therapeutic on earth and, coming at a time when mineral springs were becoming a leading destination for "health tourism", Rio Hondo quickly began attracting visitors from all over Argentina. Set aside as a public resort in 1932, the first formal hotel facilities were opened in the late 1940s and they are, today, the world's second-most visited mineral hot springs, after the ones in Reykjavik, Iceland.

The province, in 1948, elected a young Peronist activist named Carlos Juarez Governor of the province. Santiago del Estero's central political figure during the late 20th century, Juarez was as energetic as he was ambitious and he soon became indispensable to local politics (mostly by proxy). A true Caudillo (strongman), his amiable demeanor belied a profound ruthlessness and, meanwhile, Santiago del Estero remained one of the poorest provinces in Argentina, falling further behind. Juarez, by the 1990s, was readily ordering his opponents' deaths, notably those of former Governor Cesar Iturre in 1996 and of Bishop Gerardo Sueldo in 1998.

The deaths of two local young women, however, exposed Juarez's assassin, Antonio Musa Azar, and, faced with undeniable links to Musa Azar's litany of past murders and extortions, Juarez resigned in late 2002. His wife, [[w:es: Mercedes Aragones de Juarez|Nina Aragones de Juarez]], was hand-picked to replace him; but, she was herself removed from office by order of President Nestor Kirchner in March, 2004.

Geography and climate

The province is located almost completely in the flat lands of the Gran Chaco, with some depressions. In these depressions lagoons have formed, mainly at Banado de Figueroa, Banado de Anatuya, and those near the basin of the Salado and Dulce Rivers. The Sumampa and Ambargasta sierras are the result of the influence of the Pampas at the southwest.

The soil, rich in lime and salt, is arid and characterised by semi-deserts and steppes. The predominant weather is sub-tropical with a dry season and high temperatures during the entire year; the annual average is 21.5C, increased to 24C in the latest years, with maxima of up to 50C, with visible increases in temperature since 1970. Surprisingly, the maximum was of 38C before 1910; and minima of -5C, which has increased to -2C. The dry season, during the winter, receives an average of 120 mm of precipitation, but the annual average is 700 mm.


The province's economy, like most in northern Argentina, is relatively underproductive and, still, totalled an estimated US$2.9 billion in 2006; its per capita output, US$3,560, was the nation's lowest and a full 60% below the average. Santiago del Estero had long been very rural and fairly agricultural and nearly lacking in manufacturing; despite this, it should be noted that the humble province has grown just as quickly as many of its better-positioned fellow provinces, in the recovery that Argentina has enjoyed since 2002.

The economy of the province still leans toward primary production, specially in agriculture, about 12% of the province's output. Centred on the basins of the Salado and Dulce Rivers, the main crops include cotton (20% of the national production), soybean, maize and onion.

Cattle farming is also important, mainly in the east, where weather conditions make it possible, but goats, with 15% of the national production, adapt better to the rest of the province.

The wood industry of quebracho and algarrobo has also added implanted species totaling an annual average of over 300 thousand tons, of which around 100,000 tons are used for timber and the rest for firewood and vegetal coal.

There is little mining but in the salt flats in the southwest. Manufacturing (less than 10% of output) consisits of small industrial enterprises centred mainly on food, textiles and leather.

Tourism is somewhat developed, but only around the main tourist attractions. Tourists visit Santiago del Estero (the oldest city in Argentina) and its historical buildings and museums, Termas de Rio Hondo and the Rio Hondo hot springs with its 200 hotels, and the Frontal dam where water sports are practiced.

The province is home to the Copo National Park, and four protected areas: Banados de Figueroa, Sierras de Ambargasta, Sierra de Guasayan and Sierras de Sumampa.


[[Image:Adolfo abalos.gif|thumb|240px|Pianist [[w:es:Adolfo Abalos|Adolfo Abalos]], who from 1945 led the Abalos Brothers group, among the best-known folk musicians in South America.]]

Important figures connected to the history of Santiago del Estero include colonel Juan Francisco Borges, leader of the Independence War (and ancestor of writer Jorge Luis Borges), as well as the revolutionary leaders Mario Roberto and Francisco Rene Santucho, founders of the Partido Revolucionario de los Trabajadores and the Ejercito Revolucionario del Pueblo.

Among the province's most distinguished cultural figures since the 19th century have been painters Felipe Taboada, Ramon Gomez Cornet, Carlos Sanchez Gramajo, Alfredo Gogna, and Ricardo and Rafael Tourino, as well as writers Jorge Washington Abalos, Bernardo Canal Feijoo, Clementina Rosa Quenel and Julio Carreras (h). Amancio Jacinto Alcorta, a celebrated composer of flute concertoes and religious music, also represented Santiago del Estero in Congress through much of the mid-19th century with distinction.

Santiago del Estero's musical heritage is one of its most important cultural aspects, with typical folklore chacarera and zamba. Renowned artists and groups include the Manseros Santiaguenos, Alfredo Abalos, Leo Dan, Jacinto Piedra and Raly Barrionuevo. The province's best-known folk music ensemble is probably the Abalos Brothers, active in the genre since 1945 and recording since 1952. Though in their eighties and nineties, all five still perform and have become, over the decades, among the best-known folk musicians in Argentina.

Political division

The province is divided into 27 departments .

Department (Capital)

Aguirre Department (Pinto)

Alberdi Department (Campo Gallo)

Atamisqui Department (Villa Atamisqui)

Avellaneda Department (Herrera)

Banda Department (La Banda)

Belgrano Department (Bandera)

Capital Department (Santiago del Estero)

Choya Department (Frias)

Copo Department (Monte Quemado)

Figueroa Department (La Canada)

General Taboada Department(Anatuya)

Guasayan Department (San Pedro de Guasayan)

Jimenez Department(Pozo Hondo)

Juan Felipe Ibarra Department(Suncho Corral)

Loreto Department(Loreto)

Mitre Department(Villa Union)

Moreno Department(Quimili)

Ojo de Agua Department(Villa Ojo de Agua)

Pellegrini Department(La Fragua)

Quebrachos Department(Sumampa)

Rio Hondo Department(Termas de Rio Hondo)

Rivadavia Department(Selva)

Robles Department(Fernandez)

Salavina Department(Los Telares)

San Martin Department (Brea Pozo)

Sarmiento Department (Garza)

Silipica Department (Arraga)

See also

1817 Santiago del Estero earthquake

External links

Historia de Santiago del Estero

Official site: Santiago del Estero Province (in Spanish)

Santiago del Estero Culture, art, myths: in Spanish.

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

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