The Province of Mendoza is a province of Argentina, located in the western central part of the country in the Cuyo region. It borders to the north with San Juan, the south with La Pampa and Neuquén, the east with San Luis, and to the west with the republic of Chile; the international limit is marked by the Andes mountain range. Its capital city is the homonymous city of Mendoza.
Covering an area of 148.827 km², it is the seventh biggest province of Argentina with 5.35% of the country's total surface. The population for 2010 is 1,741,610 inhabitants, which makes it the fourth largest populated province of the country, or 4.35% of the total national population.
Archeological studies have determined that the first inhabitants in the area date from the Holocene, but there are few remains of those people to know their habits. The earliest sites of human occupation in Mandoza Province, Agua de la Cueva and Gruta del Indio, are 12-13,000 years old. On the basin of the Atuel River, in 300 BC lived a group of people that lived from hunting, and the cultivation of maize, pumpkins and beans. Those valleys saw the rise of the Agrelo culture, antecesor of the Huarpes. They received influences of the Inca empire during the 15th century. Oral tradition sets the arrival of the Inca Túpac Yupanqui to Coquimbo by 1470.
Spanish colony (1550-1810)
The first Spanish conquerors came around 1550 from the Viceroyalty of Peru. In 1561 Mendoza was founded by the conquistador Pedro del Castillo. Until the creation of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata in 1776 the area of what is now Mendoza Province belonged to the Captaincy General of Chile.
With the creation of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, its 30,000 inhabitants became part of the intendency of Cuyo de Córdoba del Tucumán, but in 1813 the intendency was separated and the Province of Cuyo created, with José de San Martín as its first Governor. He received important support from Mendoza when he led his Army of the Andes from Plumerillo to the 1817 crossing of the Andes, in his campaign to end Spanish rule in Chile.
The 1861 earthquake nearly destroyed the city of Mendoza, which had to be almost entirely reconstructed. In 1885 the railways reach the Province, allowing for easy transport for the region's wines to the port of Buenos Aires.
Following the development of wine industry in the province around 1900, Mendoza began to grow quickly attracting tens of thousands of European immigrants, particularly Spaniards. In 1939 the National University of Cuyo, one of the most important of the country, was founded.
Partly in reaction to President Juan Perón's populist policies, some of which taxed agriculture heavily to finance urban development and public works, Mendoza landowners formed the conservative Democratic Party, which secured the Vice Governor's post in 1958. Increasing their presence in the Mendoza Legislature, the Democrats became an obstacle to progressive Governor , an ally of president Arturo Frondizi's. With majorities in both houses by 1961, they had Gov. Ueltschi removed and Democrat Vice-governor appointed in his stead. Elected governor in his own right in 1963, Gov. Gabrielli was deposed following the June 1966 coup against President Arturo Illia; but still benefiting from conservative credentials, he was appointed de facto governor by the same military regime in 1970.
In contrast to the pragmatism that had distinguished his 1963–66 term, Gabrielli governed with a hard line, freezing state salaries and ordering large utility rate increases, used the Mendoza police to repress dissent and took foreign policy prerogatives like collaborating with Chilean saboteurs opposed to their country's new Marxist president, Salvador Allende. These events came to a head in April, 1972, however, when forced the newly unpopular Gabrielli to resign.
Upon the return to democracy in March 1973, Mendoza voters turned to a left-leaning Peronist, Alberto Martínez Baca. Quickly enacting needed labor and land reforms, Martínez Baca, however, made the mistake of appointing affiliates of the extreme-left Montoneros movement, an organization whose armed wing had perpetrated a string of violent crimes since 1970 (and would continue to do so). Alarmed by this move from the otherwise pragmatic Martínez Baca, President Perón had him removed in June 1974.
Becoming more politically independent-minded following these two disappointments, Mendoza voters elected centrist Radical Civic Union as well as populist Justicialist Party lawmakers since Argentina's return to democracy in 1983. Though Mendoza has generally prospered since then, its critical wine industry was left reeling from the 1983 collapse of state-owned vintner Bodegas GIOL, whose dictatorship-era receivers had run the wine conglomerate (then the world's largest outside Europe), and accumulated over US$6 billion of debt; GIOL closed in 1991.
On July 16, 2008, Vice President Cobos stunned observers by casting the tie-breaking vote against a presidentially-sponsored measure in the Senate that would have raised export taxes on an array of agricultural goods. His faction of the UCR won a significant victory in the 2009 mid-term elections in Mendoza.