Catamarca (Spanish pronunciation: [kataˈmarka]) is a province of
Argentina, located in the northwest of the country. The province has a
population of 334,568 as per the 2001 census [INDEC], and covers an
area of 102,602 km2. Its literacy rate is 95.5%. Neighboring
provinces are (clockwise, from the north): Salta, Tucumán, Santiago
del Estero, Córdoba, and La Rioja. To the west it borders Chile.
The capital is San Fernando del Valle de Catamarca, usually shortened
to Catamarca. Other important cities include Andalgalá, Tinogasta,
7 Government and politics
8 Political division
9 Notable people
11 External links
Most of Catamarca’s territory of 102,602 square kilometers (2.7% of
the country total), is covered by mountains (80%), which can be
grouped into four clearly differentiated systems: the Pampean sierras,
in the east and center; the Narváez-Cerro Negro-Famatina system, in
the west; the cordilleran-Catamarca area of transition, in the western
extreme; the Puna, an elevated portion, in the northwest.
Located in an arid and semi-arid climate zone, the scarce water
resources determine the human settlement pattern. Agricultural
activities are concentrated in the pockets and valleys between the
mountains. In the east the population is concentrated around a number
of water courses, water being distributed by canals and irrigation
See also: Climate of
Argentina and Climatic regions of Argentina
The province is located with the semi–arid region of Argentina.
Mean annual precipitation of the province is around 400 to 500
millimetres (16 to 20 in) which decreases significantly to the
west. The province is characterized by the presence of different
microclimates based on variations in altitude. In general, there
are three different climatic zones found within the province.
The northeastern parts of the province has a subtropical highland
climate that is characterized by abundant rainfall and high
temperatures. Summers are hot while winters are mild with abundant
humidity. At the highest peaks of Sierra del Aconquija, snow cover
Most of the province and its intermontane valleys have an arid
climate.:68 Within these valleys which includes the provincial
capital, the climate is characterized by its extreme aridity, large
thermal amplitudes (different between day and night temperatures) and
strong northeastern winds.:68 The region is characterized by
abundant sunshine with winds predominantly coming from the northeast
and southeast.:68 Nonetheless, there is large variation between
different locations owing to differences in altitude and differences
in the relief and altitudes of the surrounding mountains that enclose
the valleys.:68 Mean annual precipitation ranges from 500 to 700
millimetres (20 to 28 in) in the eastern parts of the region
(some areas receive more than 1,000 millimetres (39 in)) to less
than 150 millimetres (6 in) in the west. In the arid valleys,
mean annual precipitation is around 160 millimetres (6 in).:68
Most of the precipitation occurs during summer, falling as short but
heavy bursts with the rest of the year being dry.:68 Mean annual
temperatures range between 16 to 18 °C (61 to 64 °F) with
eastern and central parts having mean annual temperatures of
20 °C (68 °F).:69 In summer, the mean temperature is
25 °C (77 °F) although they can reach up to 45 °C
(113 °F).:69 Winters, with a mean temperature of
10 °C (50 °F) are characterized by frequent frosts.:69
Locations in the west experience colder winters due to their higher
altitudes with temperatures that can decrease to −30 °C
(−22 °F). During winter, the
Zonda wind occasionally
occurs, leading to very dry conditions that can lead to dust
In the extreme west of the province is the Puna region, mostly located
Antofagasta de la Sierra
Antofagasta de la Sierra Department.:76 The region has a
desert climate with very low precipitation; most of it is concentrated
during summer.:76 This is due to the mountains that block moist air
from Pacific Ocean. Mean annual precipitation decreases from north
to south and from east to west; some areas receive an annual rainfall
of 50 millimetres (2 in).:76 Owing to its high altitude, the
climate is characterized by low temperatures.:76 The thermal
amplitude is large, reaching up to 40 °C (72 °F) due to
the combination of low humidity and high solar radiation.:76
Archaeological remains of the Pucará civilization, Santa Maria del
Loading fossil specimens on mules,
Field Museum paleontology
expedition, rural Catamarca, 1926
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 by
indigenous people its population remained small; it was re-founded
several times at new sites with new names. The sixth foundation was by
Fernando de Mendoza Mate de Luna on July 5, 1683, with the name San
Fernando del Valle de Catamarca.
Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata
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 claimed its autonomy, and Nicolás
Avellaneda y Tula (grandfather of Nicolás Avellaneda) was elected as
the first governor of the province.
The name is believed to come either from Quechua cata 'slope' and
marca 'fortress', or from Aymara catán 'small' and marca 'town'.
Catamarca remained isolated from the rest of
Argentina by its
mountains 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
One such family, the Saadis, became prominent in local commerce and
politics (much as the Syrian Menems in neighboring La Rioja). In 1949,
the newly designated province elected
Vicente Saadi as 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 the brutal murder of a
local teenager, Maria Soledad Morales; this cause cèlebre cost Gov.
Saadi much of his popularity and, in 1991, his office, when Catamarca
(for the first time) voted in a
Radical Civic Union
Radical Civic Union (UCR) candidate,
Arnoldo Castillo. Elected to the Senate by his still considerable
following, Saadi is today an ally of President Cristina Kirchner,
though the governor's seat remains in the UCR's column.
Annual growth rate is 2.35‰, while density amounts to 2.6
inhabitants per square kilometer. Urban population represents 70%.
Catamarca's economy is Argentina's smallest, though still developed.
Its 2006 economy was estimated at US$1.728 billion, or, US$5,284 per
capita, 40% below the national average. 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 head of cattle, 100,000
sheep, and 150,000 goats, with an annual production of 7,000 tonnes of
beef, 5 tonnes of mutton/lamb, and 10 tonnes of pork, although
outbreaks of foot and mouth disease has kept at times the production
from reaching full potential. Large numbers of
cattle, fattened in the alfalfa fields of Pucara,
Copacabana, were historically driven into northern
Chile across the
San Francisco pass and mules were bred for the Bolivian market in the
Mining was important in the past. After becoming less active in the
early 1990s, grew to now account 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 employs
over 1,000 people and contributes hundreds of millions of dollars in
taxes and royalties to the federal and provincial governments.
The agriculture of Catamarca focuses on wood (walnut), vineyards,
olive, citrus, cotton and tobacco, for which the government gives tax
cuts to facilitate economic growth, but so far with
poor results and no oversight.
Fruit orchards near Londres.
Campo de piedra pómez.
Tourism is a lesser contributor to the economy in Catamarca,[citation
needed] with more than 3,465 beds in hotels and other types of
accommodation. Although high hopes are focused in this industry, lack
of infrastructure, service-oriented and trained
businesses and an overall endemic corruption culture,
tourism has yet to become a strong element 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 San Francisco Pass. The
road over the San Francisco Pass, an endeavor developed during the
Castillo Administrations (1991–2003) at a high cost in public
funds has failed to bring trade and tourism to the
Tinogasta county. Cultural attractions
include the city of Catamarca, the archaeological park Las Huellas del
Inca, prehistoric petroglyphs, local music, handcrafts and wines.
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 Córdoba Province 577 km from La Guardia
north-west (partly through La Rioja) to
Chile by the Paso de San
Francisco (4722 m), 64 west from
Santiago del Estero
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.
Government and politics
Since its foundation in 1991 by the Catamarcan branch of the Radical
Civic Union and minor local parties the Civic and Social Front of
Catamarca has dominated state politics. It has held the governor's
house in Catamarca, first with
Arnoldo Castillo (1991–1999), then
with his son
Oscar Castillo (1999–2003), and now with the present
governor, Eduardo Brizuela del Moral.
Mount El Manchao.
San Francisco Pass, near the border with Chile.
The province is divided into sixteen departments (Spanish:
Ambato Department (La Puerta)
Ancasti Department (Ancasti)
Andalgalá Department (Andalgalá)
Antofagasta de la Sierra Department
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 Department (El Alto)
Fray Mamerto Esquiú Department
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
Valle Viejo Department (San Isidro)
Calu Rivero, first actress from Catamarca to appear in national
Emilio Caraffa - Post-impressionist painter
Daniel Díaz - Footballer
Mamerto Esquiú - Friar
Vicente Saadi -
Justicialist Party politician
^ "Censo 2010
Argentina resultados definitivos: mapas". 220.127.116.11.
^ "Información para el desarrollo sostenible:
Argentina y la Agenda
2030" (PDF) (in Spanish). United Nations Development Programme.
p. 155. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 August 2017.
Retrieved 25 August 2017.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Weather and Geography" (in Spanish).
Gobierno de Catamarca. Archived from the original on 2 November 2016.
Retrieved 1 November 2016.
^ a b "Clima" (in Spanish). Gobierno de Catamarca. Archived from the
original on 2 November 2016. Retrieved 1 November 2016.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Paoli, Héctor; Bianchi, Alberto;
Yanez, Carlos; Volante, José; Fernández, Daniel; Mattalía, María;
Noé, Yanina (September 2002). "Recursos Hídricos de la Puna, Valles
y Bolsones Áridos del Noroeste Argentino" (PDF) (in Spanish).
Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria. Retrieved 1 November
^ "El déficit consolidado de las provincias rondará los $11.500
millones este año" (in Spanish). Instituto Argentino para el
Desarrollo de las Economías Regionales. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article
Media related to
Catamarca Province at Wikimedia Commons
Official site (Spanish)
Important Historical Dates (Spanish)
Departments of Catamarca Province
Antofagasta de la Sierra
Fray Mamerto Esquiú
Provinces of Argentina
Santiago del Estero
Tierra del Fuego
Buenos Aires City
Coordinates: 28°28′S 65°47′W / 28.467°S 65.783°W /