The Province of Santa Fe is a province of Argentina, located in the center-east of the country. Neighboring provinces are from the north clockwise Chaco (divided by the 28th parallel south), Corrientes, Entre Ríos, Buenos Aires, Córdoba, and Santiago del Estero. Together with Córdoba and Entre Ríos, the province is part of the economico-political association known as the Center Region.
Santa Fe's most important cities are Rosario (population 908,000), the capital Santa Fe (369,000), Rafaela (100,000), Villa Gobernador Gálvez (74,000), Venado Tuerto (69,000), Reconquista (66,000), and Santo Tomé (58,000).
The adult literacy rate in the province is 96.3%
The first European settlement was established in 1527, at the confluence of the Paraná and Carcarañá rivers, when Sebastián Gaboto, on his way to the north, founded a fort named Sancti Spiritus, which was destroyed two years later by the natives.
In 1812 the lawyer and general Manuel Belgrano created and displayed for the first time the Argentine flag on the banks of the Paraná River, at Rosario (by that time a small village), south of Santa Fe.
In 1815, while Alvear's central government felt due to Ignacio Álvarez Thomas' rebellion (at that time commander of an army sent to Santa Fe against Artigas), Francisco Candioti, the local militia chief, took over, peacefully, of government, thus starting the era of Santa Fe as an autonomous province. This period was short lived, since that same year Candioti died and central government reestablished the dependent government. However, in 1816, the caudillos Mariano Vera and Estanislao López deposed the governor delegate and proclaimed the sovereignty of the province and its membership into Artigas's Free Peoples League (Liga de Pueblos Libres).
López drew, in 1818, a provincial constitution of a strongly conservative flavour, after rejecting a project proposed by a provincial assembly; Santa Fe was the first province to have its constitution. During the civil strifes of 1820, Santa Fe troops were decisive in the defeat of Buenos Aires' centralist army. So, in time, López gradually became the Federation's Patriarch, establishing himself as the central figure of the Federal Party until his death in 1838.
After López's death it was his secretary and right hand, José María Cullen the one elected governor. However, being Cullen a potential rival of Buenos Aires governor and Confederation's Foreign Affairs Representative, Juan Manuel de Rosas, he sought and got Cullen's capture and execution, naming pro-Rosas Juan Pablo López as governor. The new governor maintained in power, alterning with Pascual Echagüe, until the province invasion by Justo José de Urquiza's Great Army in 1851, and during his term the province adopted a new constitution in 1841.
After the organization of the nation, the province entered an era of peace and prosperity; in 1872 the railways already connected many points of the province, as well as the telegraph lines, and in 1889 the Provincial University of Santa Fe was founded.
The political hegemony of the conservative groups was challenged by the new ideas brought by the European immigrants gave birth to the Radical Civic Union (UCR) and the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP), and the creation of the Argentine Agrarian Federation. These two parties had many strong electoral contests with the province's conservative parties.
After the Electoral Reform of Roque Sáenz Peña in 1912, the UCR reached the government and stayed until the coup of 1930. During this time, more precisely in 1919, the National University of the Littoral was founded. In 1932 it was the PDP who got the governor's seat.
The contentious 1958 elections (from which Peronist candidates were barred) brought an ally of President-elect Arturo Frondizi to power in Santa Fe, Dr. Carlos Sylvestre Begnis. Gov. Begnis quickly steered budgets into sorely needed public works, most notably the construction of the Hernandarias Tunnel, a -long connection between the city of Santa Fe and neighboring Paraná. The tunnel, most of which runs under the massive Paraná River, is the longest in Argentina.
Forced to resign after conservative pressure drove Pres. Frondizi from office in 1962, Begnis had the satisfaction of seeing Hernandarias open in 1969 and voters overwhelmingly return him to office in 1973 (this time, as a Peronist).
Santa Fe suffered the violence of the late '70s and the depression of the 1980s more than most other provinces. It continued to languish economically during the prosperous 1990s, as the revalued Argentine peso put pressure on its productive sectors. Touching bottom around 2002, its economy has grown by 7% a year since then. The heart of Argentina's lucrative soy harvest, the province's importance has continued to grow, now rivaling Buenos Aires Province as the nation's leading agricultural producer, with Rosario as one of the most important ports in Argentina.