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Santiago del Estero is the capital of Santiago del Estero Province in northern Argentinamarker. It has a population of 244,733 inhabitants ( ) and a surface of 2,116 km². It lies on the Dulce Rivermarker and on National Route 9, at a distance of 1,042 km north-northwest from Buenos Airesmarker. Santiago del Estero is the oldest city founded by Spanish settlers in Argentina that still exists as such, estimated to be 455 years old, according to historical sources of Argentina. As such, it is nicknamed "Madre de Ciudades" (Mother of Cities), as it is the first city founded in the actual territory of Argentina. It was officially declared "Mother of cities and Cradle of Folklore"

The city houses the Universidad Nacional de Santiago del Estero, founded in 1973, and Universidad Católica, founded in 1960. Other points of interest include the city's Cathedral, the Santo Domingo Convent, and the Provincial Archeology Museum.
Cathedral of Santiago del Estero.
The Santiago del Estero Airportmarker at coordinates is located 6 kilometres north of the city, and has regular flights to Buenos Airesmarker and Tucumánmarker.

The climate is subtropical with dry season — usually winter, and sometimes fall. It receives an average annual precipitation of 300 mm, and the climate is warm and dry

Santiago del Estero and it's a region were home to about 100,000 speakers of the local variety of Quechua, making this the southernmost outpost of the language of the Incas. This is one of the few indigenous languages surviving in modern Argentina.

History

After a series of exploratory expeditions from Chile since 1543, Santiago del Estero del Nuevo Maestrazgo was founded on July 25 1553 by Francisco de Aguirre (although some historians consider that its real foundation was in 1550). It is the oldest city in Argentina, but except for several churches, it preserves little of its former colonial architecture.

The city was the capital of the Intendency of Tucumán during the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, and first seat of its bishop; those were later moved to Salta and Córdobamarker respectively.

Santiago del Estero stands in the middle of an extensive but largely semi-arid agricultural region. Originally a forest area, their forests were exhausted by timber industries of Britishmarker capital during the 19th century.

The province, in 1948, elected a young Peronist activist by the name of Carlos A. Juarez Governor of the province. Santiago del Estero's central political figure during the late 20th Century, Carlos Juarez was as energetic as he was ambitious and he soon became indispensable to local politics (even out of power). A true Caudillo (strongman), his amiable demeanor belied a profound ruthlessness and, meanwhile, Santiago del Estero remained one of the poorer provinces in Argentina, falling further behind.

In 1993, the city made international headlines when rioting erupted around the governor's mansion. What began as a protest by government workers who had not been paid in 3 months, soon grew to 4,000 demonstrators who burned cars, sacked and burned government buildings and even invaded the homes of prominent politicians.

Juarez, by the 1990s, was readily ordering his opponents' deaths, notably that of former Governor Cesar Iturre in 1996 and of Bishop Gerardo Sueldo in 1998. The 2002 deaths of two local young ladies, however, were traced to Juarez's assassin, Antonio Musa Azar and in an attempt to retain power, Juarez resigned (appointing his wife Nina Aragonés de Juarez, governor).

The bid failed, however, as President Nestor Kirchner signed an executive order removing Mrs. Juarez from her post, in March, 2004. The Juarez couple, in their nineties, now live under house arrest in the city of Santiago del Estero.

Culture

The Abalos Brothers, whose folklore records have sold well across South America, since 1952.
Some important figures related to the history of Santiago del Estero are Colonel Juan Francisco Borges, leader of the Independence War (ancestor of writer Jorge Luis Borges), the 19th-century painter Felipe Taboada, as well as the revolutionary leaders Mario Roberto Santucho|Mario Roberto and Francisco René Santucho, founders of the Partido Revolucionario de los Trabajadores (Workers' Revolutionary Party, PRT) and the Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo (People's Revolutionary Army, ERP).

In the field of the arts, the town has provided important representatives, such as Ramon Gómez Cornet, Carlos Sánchez Gramajo, Alfredo Gogna, Ricardo and Rafael Touriño in plastic arts and Jorge Washington Ábalos, Bernardo Canal Feijóo, Clementina Rosa Quenel, Alberto Tasso, Carlos Virgilio Zurita and Julio Carreras in literature.

Santiago's musical heritage is one of the most important cultural aspects of the city, with typical folklore chacarera and zamba. Some renowned artists and groups include the Manseros Santiagueños, the Abalos Brothers (particularly Adolfo and Alfredo Ábalos), Jacinto Piedra and Raly Barrionuevo.

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