Catamarca Province

Catamarca Province

name = Catamarca
other_name =

symbol_type = Coat of arms
symbol = Stemma catamarca.gif
coordinates_type = adm1st
lat_d = |lat_m = |lat_NS = S
long_d = |long_m = |long_EW = W
part_type = Divisions
part = 16 departments
capital = San Fernando del Valle de Catamarca
area = 102602
population = 334568
population_as_of = 2001
population_density = 3.3
leader_type = Governor
leader = Eduardo Brizuela
leader_party = UCR
leader1_type = Senators
leader1 = Oscar Castillo, Ramon Saadi, María Colombo de Acevedo

iso_code = AR
iso_subcode = K
website =

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 census-ar|2001, and covers an area of 102,602 km². Its literacy rate is 95.5%. Neighbouring provinces are (clockwise, from the north): Salta, Tucumán, Santiago del Estero, Córdoba, 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 Calchaquí tribe. In 1558 "Juan Pérez 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 Río 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 "Nicolás Avellaneda y Tula" (grandfather of Nicolás 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 "Catán" ("small") and "marca" ("town or moose") resulting in "Small town or moose".

Catamarca remained isolated from the rest of Argentina by its monutains until 1888, when the rapidly expanding railways first appeared in the province. Attracting immigrants with its spacious, fertile valleys and dry, agreeable weather, Catamarca was soon favored by immigrants from Lebanon and Iran, who found Catamarca reminiscent of the fertile, orchard-lined mountain valleys of the homes they left behind.

One such family, the Saadis, became prominent in local commerce and politics (much as the Syrian Menems in neighboring La Rioja Province). In 1949, the newly designated province elected Vicente Saadi governor. Eventually, Saadi, a Peronist, would become indispensable to local politics (a "Caudillo"), exerting influence mostly by proxy. Passing away in 1988, he was succeeded by his son, Ramon. In 1990, however, close friends of the Saadis were involved in a brutal murder involving a local, 15-year-old girl. Quickly becoming a "cause cèlebre", the death of cost Gov. Saadi much of his popularity and, in 1991, his office, when Catamarca (for the first time) voted in a Radical Civic Union (UCR) candidate, . Elected by his still considerable following to the Senate, Saadi is today an ally of Pres. Cristina Kirchner, though the governor's seat remains in the UCR's column.


Catamarca's economy is Argentina's smallest, though not its least developed. Its 2006 economy was estimated at US$1.7 billion, or, US$5,280 per capita, 40% below the national average. [ [ I.A.D.E.R ] ] Less diversified than most in Argentina, agriculture has never played an important role in the Catamarca economy (contributing less than 5% to its output). 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. Fact|date=August 2007

Mining, however, has been unusually relevant in the past and, after becoming somewhat inactive in the early 1990s, grew to prominence again by the year 2000 (now accounting for over 20% of the economy). 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.

Its agriculture focuses on wood (walnut), vineyards, olive, citrus, cotton and tobacco, to which the government gives tax cuts to facilitate economic growth Fact|date=August 2007 so far with failing results and no oversight. Fact|date=August 2007 Tourism is a surging economy in Catamarca, Fact|date=August 2007 with more than 3,465 beds in hotels and other types of accommodation. Although high hopes are focused in this industry, lack of infrastructure, Fact|date=August 2007 service oriented and trained businesses and an overall endemic corruption culture, Fact|date=August 2007 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 Administrations (1991-2003) at a tremendous cost to public funds Fact|date=August 2007 has failed to bring trade and tourism to underdeveloped Tinogasta county. Fact|date=July 2007 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. Fact|date=August 2007 Cultural attractions include the city of Catamarca, the archaeological park "Las Huellas del Inca", prehistoric petroglyphs, local music, handcrafts and wines.


Highest point: Nevada Ojos del Salado (Salt Springs Peak) 6908 meters.

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 Cañas. There is an airport at Catamarca.

Political division

The province is divided into sixteen departments ( _es. departamentos).

Department (Capital)

# Ambato Department (La Puerta)
# Ancasti Department (Ancasti)
# Andalgalá Department (Andalgalá)
# Antofagasta de la Sierra Department (Antofagasta de la Sierra)
# Belén Department (Belén)
# Capayán Department (Huillapima)
# Capital Department (San Fernando del Valle de Catamarca)
# El Alto Department (El Alto)
# Fray Mamerto Esquiú Department(San José)
# La Paz Department (Recreo)
# Paclín Department (La Merced)
# Pomán Department (Saujil)
# Santa María Department (Santa María)
# Santa Rosa Department (Bañado de Ovanta)
# Tinogasta Department (Tinogasta)
# Valle Viejo Department (San Isidro)


External links

* [ Official site] (Spanish)
* [ History] (Spanish)
* [ Important Historical Dates] (Spanish)
* [ CatamarcaWeb Portal] (Spanish)
* [ Guide to Catamarca] (Spanish)
* [ Hospital Interzonal de Niños Eva Peron] (Spanish)

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