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Mendoza, Province Of

MENDOZA, PROVINCE OF, a province of western Argentina, bounded N. by San Juan, E. by San Luis and the territory of La Pampa, S. by the territories of La Pampa and Neuquen, and W. by the republic of Chile. Area, 56,502 sq. m.; pop. (1895), 116,136; (1904, estimate), 159,780. The Andes form the western boundary, and a considerable part of the territory is covered by the great Cordillera, its foothills and flanking ranges. The eastern part is an arid, sandy, level plain, with extensive saline basins, having no vegetation other than coarse grasses and thickets of low, spiny mimosas and " chanar " (Gourliaea decorticans) . The fertile, populated districts of the province border on the Cordillera, particularly in the north where numerous streams from the snow-clad summits supply water for irrigation. The secondary ranges in this part of Mendoza are the Sierra de los Paramillos, which encloses the Uspallata Valley, and the Sierra del Tunuyan, which encloses a number of populous valleys drained by the Tunuyan river and its tributaries. One of the largest of these is the Yuco Valley. Farther south the country becomes more arid and sparsely populated, and unsubdued tribes of Indians for a long time prevented its exploration. In this region the Sierra de Payen and Sierra del' Nevado (otherwise known as the Sierra Quero Matro Pellon) extend in a north-easterly direction. With the exception of the Rio Grande in the south-west part of the province, which forms the principal source of the Colorado, all the rivers of the province flow easterly and southerly into the great saline depression of western Argentina, which includes a great part of Mendoza, San Luis and La Pampa. The -Andean streams rise in the higher snow-clad elevations, but their waters become impregnated with saline matter soon after reaching the plain, and are eventually lost in the saline marshes and lagoons of southern Mendoza and La Pampa. These Andean rivers are the Mendoza, Tunuyan, Diamante and Atuel, with their numerous tributaries, all of which discharge into the sluggish river which flows from the Huanacache lagoons, on the San Juan frontier, southward to the marshes and lagoons of La Pampa. The upper part of this brackish, swampy stream is called the Desaguadero, and the lower the Salado. It forms the eastern boundary line of the province down to the 36th parallel. With the exception of the elevated districts of the Andes, the climate of Mendoza is hot and dry. On the plains the rainfall is insignificant, but on the slopes of the Cordillera rains are frequent and winter cold is severe. Agriculture is the principal occupation where irrigation can be used, the province having a high reputation for its raisins and wines. Alfalfa is an important product, being grown for fattening the cattle driven through the province to the Chilean markets. The mineral resources of the province are said to be good, but receive little attention. Petroleum is found in the vicinity of San Rafael, on the Diamante river, and it is claimed that coal exists in the same region. Although Mendoza was settled by Spanish colonists from Chile as far back as 1559, its development has been hindered by its isolated position. This isolation was broken in 1884 by the completion of the Argentine Great Western railway to the provincial capital. Since then a railway has been built northward to San Juan, and another line was in 1908 under construction through the Andes to connect with the Chilean railway system. In addition to Mendoza, the capital of the province, the principal towns (hardly more than villages) are Guaymallen, Maipu, San Martin, Lujan and San Rafael. The provinces of Mendoza, San Juan and San Luis, which were settled from Chile and were for a long time governed from Santiago, were at first called the province of Cuyo, and are still spoken of as the " Cuyo provinces."

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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