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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Guide to the Province of San Juan

Map of San JuanThe Province of San Juan is located in the western part of Argentina, and forms part of the Cuyo region. It has a population of 620,023, and its capital is the city of San Juan.

History: Huarpes, Olongastas, and Capayanes inhabited the lands before the arrival of the Spanish. The capital city, founded in 1562, had to be rebuilt after an earthquake tore down the city in 1944.

Geography: San Juan province has a mountainous relief, with mountain peaks and valleys between them. Tectonic movements are very frequent in the zone.

Climate: the weather of the region is arid. It has the lowest precipitation average of the country: 83 mm. The local wind, called Zonda, is very hot and dry, because it loses its humidity when it passes through the Andes Mountains. Average temperatures are 79 F on summer, 50 F on winter, and 65 F on autumn and spring.

Economy: the economy of the province is based on agriculture, especially viticulture. San Juan is the second wine producer after Mendoza. Since the year 2000, the mining industry began to grow, with the extraction of gold in Veladero as the biggest project.


  • Ischigualasto Provincial Park (Valley of the Moon): it is located in the north-east of the province. It contains Triassic deposits with some of the oldest known dinosaur remains. The antiquity of the formations is estimated in 230 million years. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2000. There are guided tours of the park.
  • Birth house of Sarmiento, in the city of San Juan, transformed into a museum.
  • El Leoncito Astronomic Complex: inside El Leoncito Reserve lies the biggest reflector telescope of the country, with 2215 cm of aperture.
  • Adventure tourism: in this province you can do sport fishing; windsurf in Ullum and Cuesta del Viento dams; rafting and kayaking in San Juan river; cavalcades in Ullum and Zonda valleys; mountaineering and trekking along the mountainous region. A popular route is the one that San Martín followed to cross the Andes Mountains during the independence war, travelling to Chile.

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