Agricultural colonies in Argentina
Agricultural colonies in Argentina were a demographically and economically important part of the evolution of the country. The Argentine government, faced with large areas of fertile land that were unpopulated or settled by aboriginal tribes (unassimilated and considered undesirable for progress), encouraged European immigration, welcoming settling agreements with countries, regions and associations abroad.
Starting in 1853, President Justo José de Urquiza encouraged the establishment of agricultural colonies in the Littoral region (western Mesopotamia and north-eastern Pampas, the area of influence of the Paraná and Uruguay rivers). The national government signed a contract with an agency led by entrepreneur Aarón Castellanos.
The first immigrants brought by this colonization contract arrived in Rosario, Santa Fe, on March 24, 1854. The first formally organized agricultural colony was Esperanza, Santa Fe, formed by 200 families from Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy, Belgium and Luxembourg who arrived during January and February 1856.
Many other immigrants were Jews, fleeing pogroms in Europe and sponsored by Maurice de Hirsch's Jewish Colonization Association; they were later termed "Jewish gauchos". The first such Jewish colony was Moïseville (now the village of Moisés Ville, Santa Fe).
The production potential of these colonies can be measured by the fact that, in 1874, Argentina had to import wheat, while by 1880 the agricultural colonies were enough to supply the country's internal needs, and at the end of the 19th century Argentina was the world's first exporter.