Chaco Province

Chaco (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈtʃako]; Wichi: To-kós-wet[3]), officially the Province of Chaco (Spanish: provincia del Chaco [pɾoˈβinsja ðel ˈtʃako]), is one of the 23 provinces in Argentina. Its capital and largest city, is Resistencia.[4] It is located in the north-east of the country.

Provincia del Chaco
Province of Chaco
Palm trees in Resistencia City
Palm trees in Resistencia City
Coat of arms of Chaco
Location of Chaco within Argentina
Location of Chaco within Argentina
Country Argentina
Official LanguagesSpanish, Kom, Moqoit and Wichí
Capital and largest cityResistencia
 • GovernorJorge Capitanich (PJ)
 • Vice GovernorAnalía Rach Quiroga (PJ)
 • Legislature32
 • National Deputies7
 • National SenatorsInés Pilatti Vergara (FDT)
Antonio José Rodas (FDT)
Víctor Zimmermann (JXC)
 • Total99,633 km2 (38,469 sq mi)
 • Total1,055,259
 • Rank10th
 • Density11/km2 (27/sq mi)
Demonym(s)Chacoan, chaqueño
Time zoneUTC−3 (ART)
ISO 3166 codeAR-H
HDI (2019)0.820 Very High (24th)[2]

It is bordered by Salta and Santiago del Estero to the west, Formosa to the north, Corrientes to the east, and Santa Fe to the south.[4] It also has an international border with the Paraguayan Department of Ñeembucú. With an area of 99,633 km2 (38,469 sq mi), and a population of 1,055,259 as of 2010, it is the twelfth most extensive, and the ninth most populated, of the twenty-three Argentine provinces.

In 2010, Chaco became the second province in Argentina to adopt more than one official language. These languages are the Kom, Moqoit and Wichí languages, spoken by the Toba, Mocovi and Wichí peoples respectively. Chaco has historically been among Argentina's poorest regions, and currently ranks last both by per capita GDP and on the Human Development Index.


Chaco derives from chaku, the Quechua word used to name a hunting territory or the hunting technique used by the people of the Inca Empire.

Annually, large groups of up to thirty thousand hunters would enter the territory, forming columns and circling their prey.[5]Jesuit missioner Pedro Lozano wrote in his book Chorographic Description of the Great Chaco Gualamba, published in Cordoba, Spain in 1733: "Its etymology indicates the multitude of nations that inhabit that region. When they go hunting, the Indians gather from many parts the vicuñas and guanacos; that crowd is called chacu in the Quechua language, which is common in Peru, and that Spaniards have corrupted into Chaco".[6]

However, the earliest known mention of the term in a document was in a letter written to Fernando Torres de Portugal y Mesía, Viceroy of Peru, dated in 1589, by the then Governor of Tucumán, Juan Ramírez de Velasco, who referred to the region as Chaco Gualamba.[7] (The term Gualamba is of uncertain origin and has since fallen into disuse.[7])


Dock on a southeastern wetland close to Paraná River

The province of Chaco lies within the southern part of the Gran Chaco region, a vast lowland plain that covers territories in Argentina, Paraguay, and Bolivia.

Chaco Province covers an area of 99,633 km2 (38,469 sq mi) and ranks as the twelfth largest Argentinian province. The highest ground in the province is also the most western, near the municipality of Taco Pozo, at an elevation of 272 m (892 ft) above sea level.[8]

The Paraná and Paraguay rivers separate Chaco province from Corrientes Province and the Republic of Paraguay. To the north, the river Bermejo forms another natural border, dividing Chaco Province from Formosa Province.

In the south, the border follows the 28th parallel south, separating the region from Santa Fe Province, while in the west it borders Salta and Santiago del Estero.

Other important rivers include: the Negro, Tapenagá, Palometa, and Salado, all tributaries or anabranches of the river Paraná.


Köppen climate map of Chaco, Argentina

The province has a subtropical climate.[9] It is divided in two different climate zones: a more humid one in the east and a drier subtropical climate in the center and west.[10] The eastern parts of the province have a humid subtropical climate (Cfa under the Köppen climate classification) with no dry season.[11] In the west where precipitation is lower, it has a subtropical climate with a dry winter and is classified as a semi-arid climate (BS under the Köppen climate classification) due to potential evapotranspiration exceeding precipitation.[11]


In the most humid (eastern) parts of the province, precipitation falls throughout the year with no dry season.[11] These areas receive around 1,400 millimetres (55 in) of precipitation per year.[11] Precipitation decreases westwards and become more concentrated in the summer months.[9][11]


Mean annual temperatures range between 21 to 23 °C (70 to 73 °F) which decreases from north to south.[11] Summers are hot with temperatures that can reach up to 38 to 41 °C (100 to 106 °F) in the eastern parts of the province.[11] The western parts experience more variation in temperatures due continental influences;[9] extreme temperatures in summer are more extreme with temperatures that frequently exceed 40 °C (104 °F).[11] During winters, incursions of cold, polar air from the south can lead to frosts and temperatures that fall below freezing.[11] Being under an area of high solar radiation during summer, a consequence is that a low pressure system forms over the province during summer.[11]


Humidity in the province is high due to its climate, particularly in the north, the wettest portion of the province.[11] Most of the winds that transport humid air come from the north and east.[11] Winters are the most humid seasons (high humidity) due to this season being characterized by frequent fogs.[11]


La Sabana and its new railway station in 1899
Territorial Governor's House

The area was originally inhabited by various hunter-gatherers speaking languages from the Mataco-Guaicru family. Native tribes including the Toba, and Wichí survive in the region and have important communities in this province as well as in Formosa Province.

In 1576, the governor of a province in Northern Argentina commissioned the military to search for a huge mass of iron, which he had heard that natives used for their weapons. The natives called the area Heavenly Fields, which was translated into Spanish as Campo del Cielo. This area is now a protected region situated on the border between the provinces of Chaco and Santiago del Estero where a group of iron meteorites fell in a Holocene impact event some four to five thousand years ago. In 2015, Police arrested four alleged smugglers trying to steal over a ton of legally protected meteoric iron.[12]

The first European settlement was founded by Spanish conquistador Alonso de Vera y Aragón, in 1585, and was called Concepción de Nuestra Señora. It was abandoned in 1632. During its existence, it was one of the most important cities in the region, but attacks from local Indians forced the residents to leave. In the 17th century, the San Fernando del Río Negro Jesuit mission was founded in the area of the modern-day city of Resistencia, but it was abandoned fifteen years later.

The Gran Chaco region remained largely unexplored, and uninhabited, by either Europeans or Argentines until the late 19th century, after numerous confrontations between Argentina and Paraguay during the War of the Triple Alliance. San Fernando was re-established as a military outpost, and was renamed Resistencia in 1876.

The Territorio Nacional del Gran Chaco was established in 1872. This territory, which included the current Formosa Province and lands presently inside Paraguay, was superseded by Territorio Nacional del Chaco upon its administrative division, in 1884.

20th centuryEdit

The Provincial Government House. Designed in 1955, political disputes delayed its completion until 1972.

Between the end of the nineteenth and the first decades of the twentieth centuries, the province received a variety of immigrants, among them Volga Germans and Mennonites from Russia, Germany, and Canada. They, alongside other immigrants, transformed Chaco into a productive farming region known for its dairy and beef production.

Political structureEdit

In 1951 the territory became a province, and its name was changed to Provincia Presidente Perón. The province was renamed again in 1955 when the government of President Juan Perón was overthrown, returning to the historical name of Chaco. Chaco voters, however, continued to support Peronist candidates in subsequent elections, notably Deolindo Bittel whose three terms as governor in the 1960s and 1970s were each cut short by military intervention. Bitell subsequently ran for vice-president in the 1983 Argentine Presidential elections and later served as mayor of the provincial capital, Resistencia.


With few paved highways, and thus an overdependence on passenger rail services, Chaco was adversely impacted by the national rail privatizations and line closures of the early 1990s. In 1997, the services that had been previously run by the state-owned company Ferrocarriles Argentinos since railway nationalization in 1948, were taken over by the Servicios Ferroviarios del Chaco S.A. (SEFECHA) (Chaco Railway Services), making SEFECHA, at the time, the only publicly owned commuter rail service in Argentina. SEFECHA currently carries nearly a million passengers a year and has contributed to the province's vigorous recovery from the 2002 crisis.[13]


Chaco Province continues to suffer from the worst social indicators in the country with 49.3% of its population living below the poverty line by income and with 17.5% of children between the ages of two and five in a state of malnutrition in 2009.[14] Among Argentine provinces, it ranks last by GDP per capita and 21st by Human Development Index, only above its neighbors Formosa and Santiago del Estero.

Official languagesEdit

In 2010, Chaco became the second province in Argentina to declare indigenous languages official within the province, after Corrientes.[15] Three local languages gained official status in Chaco besides Spanish: Kom, Moqoit, and Wichí.[16]


Chaco's economy, like most in the region, is relatively underdeveloped, yet has recovered vigorously since 2002. It was estimated to be US$4.397 billion in 2006, or US$4,467 per capita (half the national average and the third-lowest in Argentina).[17] Chaco's economy is diversified, but its agricultural sector has suffered from recurrent droughts over the past decade.

Tannin factory in Puerto Tirol.

Agricultural development in Chaco is predominantly associated with the commercial growing of quebracho wood and cotton. Chaco currently produces 60% of Argentina's national cotton production. Agricultural food production accounts for 17% of Argentina's output. This includes crops such as soy, sorghum, and maize. Sugarcane is also cultivated in the south, as well as rice and tobacco to a lesser degree.

Cattle breeds consisting of crosses with zebu are regarded as better adapted to the high temperatures, grass shortage and occasional flooding than intensively reared pure-breeds.

Industrial contributes approximately 10% to the provincial economy and includes textiles produced from local cotton, oil and coal production, and sugar, alcohol and paper, all derived from sugar cane.

Chaco is home to the Chaco National Park, but tourism is not a well-developed industry in the province. The province's main airport, Resistencia International Airport, serves around 100,000 passengers annually.


The provincial government is divided into the usual three branches: the executive, headed by a popularly elected governor, who appoint the cabinet; the legislative; and the judiciary, headed by the Supreme Court and completed by several inferior tribunals.

The Constitution of Chaco Province forms the formal law of the province.

In Argentina, the most important law enforcement organization is the Argentine Federal Police but the additional work is carried out by the Chaco Provincial Police.

Political organizationEdit

The province is divided into 25 departments (Spanish: departamentos).

Department Seat Area
Almirante Brown Pampa del Infierno 17,276 34,075 29,086 1.97
Bermejo La Leonesa 2,562 25,052 24,215 9.77
Chacabuco Charata 1,378 30,590 27,813 22.19
Comandante Fernández Presidencia Roque Sáenz Peña 1,500 96,944 88,164 64.63
12 de Octubre General Pinedo 2,576 22,281 20,149 8.65
2 de Abril Hermoso Campo 1,594 7,432 7,435 4.66
Fray Justo Santa María de Oro Santa Sylvina 2,205 11,826 10,485 5.36
General Belgrano Corzuela 1,218 11,988 10,470 9.84
General Donovan Makallé 1,487 13,490 13,385 9.07
General Güemes Juan José Castelli 25,487 67,132 62,227 2.63
Independencia Campo Largo 1,871 22,411 20,620 11.98
Libertad Puerto Tirol 1,088 12,158 10,822 11.17
Libertador General San Martín General José de San Martín 7,800 59,147 54,470 7.58
Maipú Tres Isletas 2,855 25,288 24,747 8.85
Mayor Luis J. Fontana Villa Ángela 3,708 55,080 53,550 14.85
9 de Julio Las Breñas 2,097 28,555 26,955 13.61
O'Higgins San Bernardo 1,580 20,131 19,231 12.74
Presidencia de la Plaza Presidencia de la Plaza 2,284 12,499 12,231 5.47
Primero de Mayo Margarita Belén 1,864 10,322 9,131 5.53
Quitilipi Quitilipi 1,545 34,081 32,083 22.05
San Fernando Resistencia 3,489 390,874 365,637 112.03
San Lorenzo Villa Berthet 2,135 14,702 14,252 6.88
Sargento Cabral Colonia Elisa 1,651 15,899 15,030 9.63
Tapenagá Charadai 6,025 4,097 4,188 0.68
25 de Mayo Machagai 2,358 29,215 28,070 12.39

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "República Argentina por provincia o jurisdicción". Censo 2010. INDEC. 28 February 2012. Archived from the original on 1 September 2012. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
  2. ^ "Información para el desarrollo sostenible: Argentina y la Agenda 2030" (PDF) (in Spanish). United Nations Development Programme. p. 155. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 August 2017. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  3. ^ "Lengua Wichi (Mataco). Diccionario Mataco - Español". Retrieved Oct 4, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Chaco" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 5 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 786.
  5. ^ "Chaco". Fundación para el Desarrollo Sustentable del Chaco. Archived from the original on 3 September 2009. Retrieved 7 April 2012.
  6. ^ Lozano, Pedro (1989). Descripción corográfica del Gran Chaco Gualamba. San Miguel de Tucumán: Universidad Nacional de Tucumán. p. 486.
  7. ^ a b Edelmiro Porcel. "Chaco Gualamba". Periodico Domine. Archived from the original on 24 November 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2012.
  8. ^ "23 Cumbres - Chaco". 23 Cumbres. Archived from the original on 24 September 2009. Retrieved 8 April 2012.
  9. ^ a b c "El cultivo del algodón en la cuenca media del Tapenaga. Fechas de siembra, rendimiento y precipitaciones" (PDF) (in Spanish). Universidad Nacional del Nordeste. 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 November 2016. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  10. ^ "Provincia de Chaco" (PDF) (in Spanish). Administración Nacional de Laboratorios e Institutos de Salud. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 November 2016. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Provincia de Chaco–Clima y Meteorologia" (in Spanish). Secretaria de Mineria de la Nacion (Argentina). Archived from the original on 13 September 2004. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  12. ^ "Four arrested in Argentina smuggling more than ton of meteorites". Retrieved Oct 4, 2020.
  13. ^ "Argentinien - Friends of Latin American Railways". Retrieved Oct 4, 2020.
  14. ^ "Capitanich admitió que Chaco tiene los peores indicadores sociales de la Argentina pero culpó a la Nación". 26 July 2009. Archived from the original on January 27, 2013. Retrieved 6 April 2012.
  15. ^ Ley No. 5598 de la Provincia de Corrientes, 22 de octubre de 2004
  16. ^ Ley No. 6604 de la Provincia de Chaco, 28 de julio de 2010, B.O., (9092), Link Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ "El déficit consolidado de las provincias rondará los $11.500 millones este año" (in Spanish). Instituto Argentino para el Desarrollo de las Economías Regionales. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  18. ^ a b "Cuadro P1-P. Provincia del Chaco. Población total y variación intercensal absoluta y relativa por departamento" (PDF). INDEC. 2010. Retrieved 16 April 2012.[permanent dead link]

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 27°27′05″S 58°59′12″W / 27.45139°S 58.98667°W / -27.45139; -58.98667