San Luis is a province of Argentina located near the geographical center of the country (on the 32° South parallel). Neighboring provinces are, from the north clockwise, La Rioja, Córdoba, La Pampa, Mendoza and San Juan.
In 1712 the city was severely damaged in an attack of the aboriginal malones and had to be rebuilt, along with a series of fortresses in that area.
Shortly after the creation of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata in 1776, the province was taken under the intendency of Córdoba and, in 1813, to the intendency of Cuyo. The province declared its autonomy in March 1820. Its first elected governor, Justo Daract, spurred modernization during his term in office from 1854 to 1859, and enacted the province's constitution in 1855.
Politics in San Luis have long been influenced by the descendants of the noted mid-19th century advocate for San Luis's integration into the rest of Argentina, Juan Saá. Since the return of Argentina to democratic rule in 1983, in particular, the Rodríguez Saá family (of Peronist affiliation) has occupied the governor's seat. This situation is, as in many smaller provinces in Argentina (and, indeed, elsewhere), partly explained by the customary use of a combination of nepotism, propaganda and generous social welfare legislation. This includes substantial allegations of illegal pressure, including the violent 1991 harassment of a local journalist and his neighbors. Since 1983, however, Governor (now Senator) Adolfo Rodríguez Saá has also overseen record investment by light manufacturers (mostly food-processors and bottling plants) and advances like the construction of Argentina's most extensive expressway network.
During the last week of 2001, Adolfo Rodríguez Saá was interim president of Argentina for 7 days, unsuccessfully presiding over the social instability inherited from the December 2001. His brief turn at the presidency is memorable for his having declared a cease in payments on US$93 billion of Argentina's public foreign debt, making it (then) the largest sovereign financial default in world history. Rodríguez Saá was succeeded by his brother, Alberto Rodríguez Saá, who continued investments in the province's infrastructure. Giving the latter a majority during his 2007 and 2011 bids for the presidency, San Luis became the only province President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner did not win during the 2011 presidential election.