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For the fictional character, see Rafaera.
Pano 1 raf.jpg
Coat of arms of Rafaela
Coat of arms
Rafaela is located in Argentina
Location of Rafaela in Argentina
Coordinates: 31°16′S 61°29′W / 31.267°S 61.483°W / -31.267; -61.483Coordinates: 31°16′S 61°29′W / 31.267°S 61.483°W / -31.267; -61.483
Country Argentina
Province Santa Fe
Department Castellanos
Founded by Guillermo Lehmann (colonist)
 • Mayor Luis Castellano (Justicialist)
 • Total 156 km2 (60 sq mi)
Elevation 90 m (300 ft)
Population (2012)
 • Total 103,699
 • Density 660/km2 (1,700/sq mi)
Demonym rafaelino
Time zone ART (UTC-3)
CPA base S2300
Dialing code +54 3492
Website Official website

Rafaela (Spanish pronunciation: [rafaˈela]) is a city in the province of Santa Fe, Argentina, about 96 km from the provincial capital. It is the head town of the Castellanos Department. It has a population of 99,150 per the 2010 census [INDEC].

The town was established in 1881 by Guillermo Lehmann, and officially became a city in 1913. The city has grown 22.2% between 1991 and 2001, and 18.6% in the last census period (2001-2011) according to the official data of the Population Census (INDEC). This increment in the population has led to a fast process of urban development of the city.


Zoning of the city[edit]

The city is located in the western-center area of Santa Fe Province and has an area of 156 km2 (60.2 sq mi). The design of most of the urban area of the city has a shape of a checkerboard with the main plaza (Plaza 25 de mayo) in the middle of the city and four main boulevards coming from there, as most of the urban structures of the cities hat were settled around 1800. The street grid of the city is composed by square blocks in most part of the neighborhoods, mainly in the historical and older part of the city.

The city has 37 neighborhoods and the downtown area (called Microcentro in Spanish) as the map of the city shows.[1]

Urban Code[edit]

In 2008 the government approved the Urban Code of Rafaela, and since that the planning of the city became more organized and institutionalized.[2] The Urban Code of Rafaela is the regulation that manages and controls the development of the city. One of the main changes was the transition from a zoning approach, that was based on the classification of the land use, to an approach that evaluates the levels of complexity and impact of the economic activities in the city and the environment.

Framework of the Urban Code[edit]

The Urban Code was declared by the Ordinance N 4170,[3] in May 2008 but it is a tool that is revised and updated once a year. The Municipal Executive Government of Rafaela is the institution with the capability to regulate the zoning and the economic activities that are allow in each zone. In order to do that, the Executive and the departments involved has elaborated an evaluation system and a classification of the activities. The Urban Code is applied in the entire District of Rafaela.[4]

Objectives of the Urban Code[edit]

The objectives of the regulation are to control the growth of the city and improve the quality of life of inhabitants of the different neighborhoods, pursuing a sustainable development of the city. The code consists in a classification and regulation of the land uses regarding the different levels of complexity and impact of the economic activities in the population. This zoning approach allows the presence of mixed-uses and congruent coexistence of different activities and their relation with the environment.

Zones of the city[edit]

The city is divided into four main zones: Urban Area, Complementary Area, Rural Area and Restricted building Area.[5][6]

Cathedral of Rafaela

Urban area: this area is delimited for human settlements, and it land uses include residential, some primary economic activities that are compatible, and economic activities in the second and third sector (commercial). The urban area is composed by two different categories:

  • Urbanized land: zones defined by the presence of blocks and parcels where the buildings are continuous or discontinuous, with infrastructure and basic services (at least drinkable water, electric power, drain, and paving streets and sidewalks) and community equipment.
  • Sub-urbanized land: those zones that have parcels or blocks, but with lack of some basic infrastructure and services that guarantee good standards or quality of life. This category includes those areas where the infrastructure and services are being implementing.

Complementary Area: area of the city where the urban development is expected to be extended. This category includes also some areas that have projects that will be implement in the future.

Rural area: includes all the land that is not included in the Urban and Complementary areas. It covers the land that is used for agriculture and forest, as well as some residential uses and equipment for the rural life. The rural area is divided into:

  • Rural land: the land that is used to perform rural activities.
  • Extra-urban land: includes areas that are fit to recreation and sports facilities.
  • Programed land: zones of the Rural Area that are protected from not desire development. The uses of that land must be specify before any development, being affected by projects and uses for the development of the whole and/or part of the city.

Restricted building Area: includes the land where the any kind of development is allowed because of the presence of wires with high and medium voltage, flooding conditions, or other aspects that are not recommended for human settlements.

Complementing this general zoning and land uses, the regulation includes a more detail classification and description of each area, including activities that are allow as well as some standards for developments.

Role of citizen participation in planning[edit]

In 2008 the municipality of Rafaela created the Department of Administration and Participation (Secretaria de Gestión y Participación, SGP) and after that the government started implementing a process of Participatory budgeting,[7] based on the successful case of Porto Alegre. The main goal of this process is to consolidate and strengthen the importance of citizen participation in the public agenda. The government of the city has implemented the method for three consecutive years. The first one in 2009 was completed; the one for 2010 is now in the stage of implementing the public works that resulted from the participation process; and the third project is in process (SGP, Municipalidad de Rafaela, 2011).[8]

Notable natives[edit]

Sister cities[edit]

Rafaela has two sister cities:


  1. ^ Map 1: Neighborhoods of the city (In Spanish)[dead link]
  2. ^ Código Urbano. Municipalidad de Rafaela, Santa Fe. Argentina.(In Spanish)
  3. ^ Ordenanza N 4170. Decreto 30216. Municipalidad de Rafaela. Mayo de 2008. (In Spanish)
  4. ^ A District is a political subdivision that forms the department, which at the same time form the provinces of the nation. Each district has an urban center and a surrounded rural area.
  5. ^ Map 2: Land uses division in Rafaela (In Spanish)
  6. ^ Map 3: Classification of land uses in Rafaela (In Spanish)
  7. ^ Program of Citizen Participation (In Spanish)
  8. ^ SGP - Secretaría de Gestión y Participación, Municipalidad de Rafaela (2011) “Presupuesto Ciudadano de Gestión Participativa. Oportunidad para los vecinos, desafío para la gestión municipal y crecimiento equitativo de la ciudad”. Prepared by Municipalidad de Rafaela, Argentina.


  • Inforama — Municipal information at the official website of the Santa Fe provincial government.
  • Municipal information: Municipal Affairs Federal Institute (IFAM), Municipal Affairs Secretariat, Ministry of Interior, Argentina. (Spanish)

Local sites[edit]