Argentina - Provincia de Santa Cruz

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Santa Cruz is a province of Argentina, located in the south of the country, in the Patagonia. It borders the province Chubut to the north, and Chile to the west and south. To the east is the Atlantic Ocean.


* 1 History
* 2 Geography and climate
* 3 Economy
* 4 Tourism


The Tehuelches inhabited these lands before the arrivals of the Spanish colonisation. In 1520 Ferdinand Magellan arrived to what is currently known as San Julián Bay. 15 years later Martín de Alcazaba explored the area near the Chico River, which he named Gallegos River. Because of the attacks of British pirates, and specially after the visit of Francis Drake in 1538, the Spaniards sent Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa to fortify the Strait of Magellan and avoid the pirates to reach the Pacific Spanish posts.

In the middle of the 18th century, the Jesuits settled in the area, establishing a few missions. When the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata was created in 1776, the region was set under the rule of Buenos Aires. Antonio de Biedma founded the Nueva Colonia in 1780 near present Puerto Deseado, later shut down by Viceroy Vertíz.

Between 1825 and 1836 there were a series of explorations of the regions, including that of Charles Darwin in 1834. In 1860 commander Luis Piedrabuena established a base at the Pavón Island on the estuary of Puerto Deseado.

In 1878 the Government of Patagonia was created, with capital in Viedma, but six zears later it was split into smaller entities, with the territory declared National Government of Santa Cruz, whose capital was the city of Santa Cruz. In 1901 the capital was moved to its current location at the city of Río Gallegos.

At the beginning of 20th century, a large European immigration began to arrive to the almost uninhabited zone; Spanish, Germans, British and Slavs were the most numerous among them. They came mainly to escape the growing conflicts of World War I, and were attracted by the wool industry of the area. The end of the war meant a sharp reduction in the amount of exports, bringing a serious economic crisis to Santa Cruz.

The idea of anarchism, brought by the Spanish immigrants, grew among the workers who started a strike. The strike was severely and harshly repressed by the government, culminating in the events of the Patagonia Trágica ("Tragic Patagonia"), the execution of tens of strikers.

In 1944 the Military zone of Comodoro Rivadavia was created, which encompassed the northern part of the National Government of Santa Cruz and the southern part of Chubut Province. This jurisdiction lasted until the abolition of the measures in 1955. The Government of Santa Cruz acquired province status in 1957.

Geography and climate

To the west, the Andes at these latitudes is lower than at the centre and north of Argentina, but still has yearly snow peaks. There is the immense ice sheet that feeds the numerous glaciers.

From the centre to the Atlantic coast on the east, plateaus of descending height dominate the landscape. The beaches of the Atlantic coast are a mixture of long beaches with cliffs. In Gran Bajo de San Julián, the Laguna del Carbón is 105 meters below the sea level, and is the lowest point in the Western and Southern Hemispheres.

The average temperatures are 13°C during the summer, and 3° in winter with temperatures of down to -25°. Even though precipitations on the ice-sheet area at the west are common, rain is scarce in the entire province, with an average of 200 mm per year. Strong winds blow all year around.

The cold weather-arid steppe is crossed by a few rivers that produce fertile valleys; Deseado River, Santa Cruz River, Gallegos River, Coyle River, Chico River and Pinturas River.

The lakes of Buenos Aires Lake (2,240 km², 881 km² in Argentina), Cardiel Lake (460 km²), Viedma Lake (1082 km²), Argentino Lake (1560 km²), Pueyrredón Lake, Belgrano Lake and San Martín Lake (1.013 km²) are all on the west, product of thaw of the glaciers, but due to the low temperatures, their shores are not used for agriculture.


The main province's product is linked to the hydrocarbons with an annual production of 4.5 million m3 of petroleum and 3 million m3 of gas, mainly in the Pico Truncado, Cañadón seco and Cerro Redondo extracting facilities.

The coal production at Río Turbio is of around one million m3 per year. Mining includes gold (Cerro Vanguardia), clay, gypsum, salt and others.

The second most important activity is that associated with sheep. With 7 million heads, Santa Cruz is the main producer of wool and meat, most of which is designated for exportation. Livestock includes cattle, and in lesser numbers pigs and horses.

Sea fishing, and its later industrialisation at the fishing ports of Puerto Deseado, Puerto San Julián, Puerto Santa Cruz and Río Gallegos produces prawn, squid, hake and dozens of other fishes. Most of the production is froze and exported.

There is little agriculture due to the arid nature of the soil, and a small timber industry both feed by forests and planted trees, of which the wood of the lenga is the most exploited.


Santa Cruz's most visited destination is the Los Glaciares National Park and a number of glaciers of which the Perito Moreno Glacier is the most famous. Nearby El Calafate has an airport that connects the area with Buenos Aires and Trelew.

Some 200 kilometres north of El Calafate is the El Chaltén village, at the feet of the Cerro Torre and Mount Fitz Roy. Still not very developed, El Chaltén serves as hub for different trekking routes include excursions to walk on the Viedma Glacier.

600 kilometres further north of El Chaltén, by the dirt Route 40, the Cueva de las Manos near the town of Perito Moreno offers the few tourists that adventures to this point to see the prehistoric wall paintings of the caves near the Pinturas River.

The Perito Moreno National Park and its lakes, north Los Glaciares, is rarely visited. Besides trekking, other sports practiced on the west side of the province are sport fishing, rafting and climbing.

On east, the Route 3 follows the Atlantic coastline, by which several buses connect the coastal cities, and take passengers both south to Tierra del Fuego and north to Chubut Province and Buenos Aires. The most visited places are the cities of Río Gallegos, the Bosques Petrificados National Monument petrified forest, and the depresion of Laguna del Carbón near San Julián.



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