Comodoro Rivadavia (Spanish pronunciation: [komoˈðoɾo riβaˈðaβja]) is a city in the Patagonian province of Chubut in southern Argentina, located on the San Jorge Gulf, an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean, at the foot of the Chenque Hill. Comodoro Rivadavia is the most important city of the San Jorge Basin, and the largest city south of the southern 45th parallel.
The city is often referred to simply as Comodoro. It was at one time the capital of the Comodoro Rivadavia Territory, which existed from 1943 to 1955. The territory was a part of Chubut before and after its creation, and the city became the capital of the Escalante Department. It had a population of 137,061 at the 2001 census [INDEC], and grew to 182,631 by the 2010 census.
Comodoro Rivadavia is a commercial and transportation center for the surrounding region, the largest city of Chubut, and an important export point for a leading Argentine petroleum district. A 1,770 km pipeline conveys natural gas from Comodoro Rivadavia to Buenos Aires.
Founded by decree on February 23, 1901, as a port for the inland settlement of Sarmiento, the first settler was Francisco Pietrobelli. Early settlers included Boers escaping British rule in South Africa, as well as Welsh settlers.
The town was named in honour of shipping minister Martín Rivadavia, a proponent of the development of Southern Argentina. It has been prosperous since 1907, when a drilling crew searching for water struck oil at a depth of 539 m.
The city is the home of the main faculty of the National University of Patagonia San Juan Bosco. The Cathedral is the seat of the Diocese of Comodoro Rivadavia, of which the Bishop is, since 2005, Virginio Domingo Bressanelli. The Cathedral is dedicated to San Juan Bosco, the only cathedral in the world dedicated to the founder of the Salesian Order. It was inaugurated in 1979, although the crypt itself had been dedicated in 1949.
Rada Tilly is a beach resort and now suburb 12 km south of Comodoro. The National Museum of Petroleum is located in the General Mosconi neighbourhood 3 km north of central Comodoro Rivadavia. It was opened in 1987 by the state-owned oil company YPF.
Comodoro Rivadavia is served by General Enrique Mosconi International Airport (Airport Code CRD/SAVC) with daily flights to Buenos Aires and many other Patagonian cities, as it is the main hub of LADE.
The urgency to define short routes to transport products from Colonia Sarmiento and bring them to that village created the necessity of a port in the area of San Jorge Gulf. This necessity made possible the foundation of Comodoro Rivadavia, today capital of petroleum in Argentina. The first governor of Gobernación Nacional del Chubut was Colonel Luis Jorge Fontana, who traveled around the whole extension attributed to Chubut commanding a numerous group of Welsh immigrants in 1885. American researcher Junius Bird and Finnish geographer Väinö Auer confirmed the existence of the Tehuelche people, who lived in the area of Rada Tilly some 9000 years ago. This information was confirmed by Father Brea, who some years ago contributed to this theory with the discovery of utensils and human remains near Rada Tilly.
It is widely known that the Tehuelche, who came from the north of Patagonia during the warm summer, used to make camp where Rada Tilly is today. The English navigator Robert FitzRoy was the first to mention its existence in a navigation chart.
On March 10, 1889, Francisco Pietrobelli, accompanied by the Tehuelche man Sainajo and Marcelo Pereira, came to Rada Tilly following FitzRoy's navigation charts in search of an anchoring place to set up a deep-water port where deep-draft ships could stop to supply the flourishing Colonia Sarmiento.
The corvette La Argentina, commanded by Commodore Martín Rivadavia, arrived near Mount Chenque in an exploratory mission and settled an anchorage place now called Kilometro 5, Caleta Córdova or Punta Borjas. Pietrobelli completed the construction of the first storage shed on June 26 in the place indicated years before by a Schinus molle trunk. Commodore Rivadavia became the first Argentine marine to anchor his corvette in Rada Tilly in March 1891, while he was reconnoitering the area to control the displacement of the Chilean Army in the Argentine south. The village was named after the Spanish marine Francisco Everardo Tilly y Paredes, who during 1794 and 1795 gave combat and defeated the Portuguese army at the Rio Plata.
The settlement was renamed Comodoro Rivadavia on February 23, 1901 by decree of the national government, in homage to the illustrious marine, grandson of the great statesman and first Argentine president, Bernardino Rivadavia.
In 1903 six hundred Afrikaner families arrived in Argentina following the loss of the Second Boer War. They were given farming land in the lands around Comodoro Rivadavia but due to a shortage of water had to bring water in by ox wagon. The lack of water was a big impediment to the development of the settlement. At the Afrikaners' insistence drilling began in 1907 in an effort to look for water but instead they struck oil. Although much of the oil was discovered on land given to Afrikaans settlers, they could not benefit directly from the discovery due to Argentinian law which decrees that all mineral deposits belong to the state. Therefore, most of the town's Afrikaans settlers moved on to Sarmiento and surrounding regions to set up farms there.
The discovery of oil in 1907 boosted economic growth in Comodoro Rivadavia. By the end of 1919, most of the 1719 workers were given accommodation in small metal sheet houses without any heating or electric light with temperatures below zero and winds near 100 km/h. The establishment of Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales (YPF) in 1922 led to the development of the town, further accelerated afterand the end of the 1950s by President Arturo Frondizi's oil campaign to foster the installation of numerous foreign companies. The city evolved around this industry, and even today when this panorama has changed substantially, it is still called the "National Oil Capital."
The beach village Rada Tilly was founded on July 24, 1948, and today is an important hub for tourism in Argentina. Oil production has begun to decline in quantity but the area has been turning its attention to wind power. Windmills on Cerro Chenque and surrounding hills comprise South America's largest wind farm and provide 20% of Comodoro's energy needs.
Comodoro Rivadavia features a cold semi-arid climate (Köppen BSk). According to the Trewartha climate classification, it has a subtropical climate and is one of the southernmost locations in the world to have one. While the city receives less than 250 mm of rain annually, its relatively low evapotranspiration rate causes it to fall under this climate category. Summer is relatively hot and dry with an average temperature of 19.9 °C (67.8 °F) in January. Winter is mild with an average temperature of 6.8 °C (44.2 °F) in July. Precipitation is low, though the winter months receive more precipitation than in summer.