Neuquen - Encyclopedia

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NEUQUEN, an inland territory of Argentina on the Chilean frontier, between the Colorado and Limay rivers, with the province of Mendoza on the N. and the territory of Rio Negro on the E. and S. Area, 42,345 sq. m. Pop. (1895) 14,517; (1904, estimate) 18,022. The greater part of the territory is mountainous, with fertile, well-watered valleys and valuable forests. The eastern part, however, contains large barren plains, showing some stunted vegetation, and having numerous saline deposits. Long drouths prevail in this region and there is no inducement for settlement, the nomadic Indians visiting it only on their hunting expeditions. Guanacos and Argentine hares are found in abundance in Neuquen, and to a lesser degree the South American ostrich. The Neuquen, which unites with the Limay near the 68th meridian to form the Rio Negro, is the principal river of the territory. The largest of a group of beautiful lakes in the higher Andean valleys is the celebrated NahuelHuapi (Lion Grass), which is nearly 50 m. long from E. to W. and about 20 m. from N. to S. at its widest part, and which lies partly in the S.W. angle of the territory, partly in Rio Negro, and partly in the republic of Chile. It is the source of the Rio Limay and receives the overflow from two smaller neighbouring lakes. The temperature of the Andean region is cold even in summer, but on the lower plains it is hot in summer, and only moderately cold in winter. The principal industry is the raising of stock for the Chilean markets, as there is little cultivation. Cereals, forage crops, vegetables and fruits of the cold temperate zone can be produced easily, but distance from markets and lack of transport have restricted their production to local needs. The territory is reached by a light-draft river steamer which ascends the Rio Negro to Fort Roca at the confluence of the Limay and Neuquen, and by a branch of the Great Southern railway from Bahia Blanca to the same point. The population is concentrated in a few small towns on the rivers and in some colonies, established by the national government to check Chilean invasions, in the fertile districts of the Andes. A majority of the population, however, is of Chilean origin. The capital is Chos Malal, a small town on the upper Neuquen, in the mountainous district in the northern part of the territory.

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