History, Early Settlements
capital of Paraguay, Irala, Plata region, Domingo Martinez, smuggled goods
Colonization of the region was begun in 1535 by the Spanish soldier Pedro de Mendoza. In February 1536, Mendoza, who had been appointed military governor of the entire continent south of the Rio de la Plata, founded Buenos Aires. In its efforts to establish a permanent colony, the Mendoza expedition encountered severe hardships, chiefly because of difficulties in obtaining food. Hostile natives forced the abandonment of this settlement five years later.
In 1537 Domingo Martinez de Irala, one of Mendoza’s lieutenants, founded Asuncion (now the capital of Paraguay), which was the first permanent settlement in the La Plata region. From their base at Asuncion, the Spanish gradually won control over the territory between the Parana and Paraguay rivers. The small herds of livestock brought from Spain had meanwhile multiplied and spread over the Pampas, creating the conditions for a stable agricultural economy.
Santiago del Estero, the first permanent settlement on what is now Argentine soil, was established in 1553 by Spanish settlers from Peru. Santa Fe was founded in 1573, and in 1580 the resettlement of Buenos Aires was begun. In 1620 the entire La Plata region was attached to the Viceroyalty of Peru for administrative purposes. Because of the restrictive commercial policies of the Spanish government, colonization of the La Plata region proceeded slowly during the next 100 years. Buenos Aires, the center of a flourishing trade in smuggled goods, grew steadily. By the middle of the 18th century, its population numbered close to 20,000. In 1776 the territory occupied by present-day Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay was separated from Peru and incorporated as the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata.
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