|Department||General San Martín|
|Founded||September 27, 1867|
|Founded by||Anselmo Manuel Ocampo|
|• Mayor||Eduardo Accastello (Unión por Córdoba)|
|Elevation||196 m (643 ft)|
|Time zone||ART (UTC-3)|
|Dialing code||+54 353|
Villa María is a city in Córdoba Province, Argentina, and the head town of the General San Martín Department. It is located in the center of rich agricultural land. The area leads the country in production of milk. The city has a population of 72,162 per the 2001 census [INDEC] (Greater Villa María: 119,000), which makes it the third city in the province.
The city lies 137 km southeast from the provincial capital, on the left bank of the Tercero River, near the geographical center of Argentina, at the intersection of National Routes 9 and 158, and right next to the Cordoba-Buenos Aires Highway, one of the nation's most important communication arteries.
Villa María was founded on 27 September 1867 by Manuel Anselmo Ocampo, a young Porteño belonging to a wealthy family that then went on to become a Buenos Aires provincial senator and minister, founded by Italians (170 families), Germans (57 families), and English (10 families) immigrants. The town grew up around the railway station on the Central Argentine Railway's line between Rosario and Cordoba which was completed 1870. In 1875 it became an important railway junction when the Ferrocarril Andino opened a line linking it to Villa Mercedes, and later to San Juan and Mendoza.
In 1871 the city was even declared Capital of the Republic by the National Congress, but the law was vetoed by President Domingo Faustino Sarmiento on the grounds that the site was subject to attacks by aboriginal tribes and therefore unsafe for the authorities.
The town became officially a municipality in 1883. Its first mayor was Pedro Viñas. It only had 825 inhabitants, but it grew so fast that by 1915 it had more than 10,000. Villa María became the seat of a Catholic diocese under Pope Pius XII, in 1957.
Geography and Climate
Villa Maria lies on a very flat portion Pampa, at an altitude of about 200 meters above sea level, with a gradient northwest to southeast. The Tercero river (also known as Ctalamochita river) separates the city from neighbouring Villa Nueva; due to treacherous currents and varying depth, it is not suitable for navigation (except for canoes and kayaks). The climate has four marked seasons: summers are long (from late November to early March), hot, and humid, with average high temperatures ranging from 28°C to 32°C (82F to 90F) and lows of 15°C to 20°C (59F to 68F). Heat waves are common and may bring temperatures of up to 38°C (100F) and possibly higher for a few days; however, southerly Pampero winds often bring brisk, comfortable weather following storms. Thunderstorms are common as precipitation ranges from 95 mm to 125 mm per month in the summer. Fall runs from early March to late May, and the change in temperature is progressive: nights are noticeably cooler by March, in April, daytime temperatures are usually between 20°C and 25°C (68F to 77F) and nights between 8°C and 14°C (46F to 57F). By late April, the weather is already very dry, and in May the frost is to be expected. Winter in Villa Maria runs from late May to late August; daytime temperatures are usually in the range of 12°C to 20°C (53F to 68F) and nighttime lows range from 0°C to 7°C (32F to 45F). Due to the wind, humidity and fog, it often feels much colder than that. Freak variations occur frequently, as temperatures might reach 28°C (82F) for a few days in the winter (but with cool nights) and then fall and stay below 5°C (41F) a few days later. Light frost is very frequent, and moderate frost also occurs. Rain is uncommon, snow even more so. In 2007, an unusual snowstorm brought over 10 cm (4 in) of snow to the city, and temperatures plummeted to -9°C (16F)once and descended below -5°C (23F)every night for an entire week. Spring is known for being windy with pleasant days and cool nights well into November; however, precipitation is most variable then: sometimes, the normal winter drought can last longer than expected; on other years, very severe thunderstorms bring hail and over 100 mm (4 inches) of rain in a few hours. Temperatures often change extremely quickly at this time: heat waves with 38°C (100F) might be followed by windy days and highs of 15°C (59F) and much colder nights. Frost is frequent until mid-September, but can occur even in early November. Annual precipitation ranges between 760 mm and 800 mm, and falls mostly in the summer.
Villa Maria sits in one of the country's most prosperous regions: it is located along the Buenos Aires-Rosario-Cordoba axis which concentrates most of the population, industry and transportation in the country, on the longest national highway, and on a cross-road with a vital road going from most of Western Argentina to Brazil. The distance to Cordoba, with 1.5 million inhabitants and famous for its educational institutions, is about 145 km, whereas the distance to Rosario (1.4 million inhabitants) and the main ports of the Parana river is 300 km. Buenos Aires is 550 km away.
The business sector or of Villa María, consists of 516 industrial enterprises (which represent about 9% of economic activity), 3,476 commercial enterprises (about 63% of activity) and 1,551 service businesses (about 28%).
The principal raw materials produced in Villa María are milk, cereals, meat, fodder, orchard fruits, oils, skins and leather, clay and organic material, sand, and stone. The area is in the middle of the nation's most important milk-producing area, with over 1.5 million litres a day, and several dairy factories are located in Villa Maria, Villa Nueva and neighbouring towns (James Craik, Arroyo Cabral, etc.), producing cheese, butter, yoghurt and "dulce de leche". Furthermore, the area is known for its agricultural production, especially soybeans, but also maïze, peanuts, etc. The strong, productive agricultural sector contributes to the economic strength of the city, as many businesses offer services and products (machinery, chemicals and fertilisers, etc.) catered to the sector. Furthermore, inhabitants from rural areas and small towns around Villa Maria often use the city's health, banking, social, commercial and educational services, in addition to shopping in the city during weekends, and investing in real estate. The presence of two university campuses and other higher education institutions attracts large numbers of students from neighboring areas, and ensures a good supply of skilled workforce in various disciplines. All in all, the city is the hub of one of the most prosperous regions in the country.
Since September 2011, regular flights are operated by AeroChaco from Villa Maria's newly inaugurated airport to Aeroparque Jorge Newbery in Buenos Aires city, three times a week both ways. There are also infrequent train services, and a very well-developed bus service, with several private companies competing on quality and fares to main cities as well as regional routes.
The city has several institutions of higher education: the National Technological University (founded 1970, known as UTN), the National University of Villa María (1997, known as UNVM) and, for distance learning, the Catholic University of Salta (1998).
The UTN offers undergraduate degrees in Mechanical, Chemical and Electronics Engineering, in Information Systems, in Rural BAdmin, English and Education Technologies, and masters in Food Technologies, Quality Engineering, Hygiene and Security, as well as an MBA program and several technical certificates. The school also runs a business school called Escuela de Gestión (EDG).
The UNVM has some 3,000 students and offers undergraduate degrees in Design and Multimedia Production, Music, Education, Phys Ed, Education Management, Psycopedagogy, Nursing, Mathematics, English, Spanish and Literature, Occupational Therapy, Sociology, Local and Regional Development, Political Science, Accounting, Economics, Business, Communication, Social Work, Security, Food Engineering, Information Systems, Veterinary School and Ophtalmology.
The Universidad Catolica de Salta only offers distance learning. The programs include technical certificates in a few fields including Bank and Financial Management, undergraduate degrees in Law, Accounting, B.Admin (B.Comm), International Relations, Education Management and Retail Management, and a masters degree in Ophtalmology.
Furthermore, since 2000, there is a gastronomy school called Capacitar, dedicated to forming chefs, bakers and event managers, offering 2-year careers and short courses as well. Finally, the ESIL-Centro Universitario Mediterraneo also offers university-level education accredited by the National University of Villa Maria. The courses offered are Food Engineering, Agricultural Engineering and Physical Education.
Tertiary education is widely available in the city, with 9 institutions granting degrees. Among these, the Colegio Universitario-IES has part-time classes leading to university degrees in fields such as International Business, Multimedia and Graphics Design, Environmental Management, Financial Management, Information Systems, Logistics, Marketing, Human Resource Management, Virtual Simulations and Videogame Design, Tourism, etc. The Leibniz institute offers university degrees in Computer Science, and technical degrees in different fields related to Computer Sciences. Several other institutions offer technical degrees.
The variety and quality of university education is remarkable for a city of the size of Villa Maria, and attracts hundreds of students from smaller cities in the province and in the region, making Villa Maria a center for student activities and nightlife. The UNVM has seen continuous growth since its creation in 1997, with a whole neighbourhood of student residences being created around the campus.
Villa María is the seat of the Intermunicipal Entity for Regional Development (Ente Intermunicipal para el Desarrollo Regional, ENINDER), consisting of 29 municipalities associated to effectively project their productive potential; by this means, these municipalities have achieved the highest gross domestic product of the provincial interior.
An airport was inaugurated in late 2010. The infrastructure and the equipment are adequate for commercial airliners such as Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 to operate from the runway, and AeroChaco has begun flying to the city three times a week from Buenos Aires using BA Jetstream 32 airplanes.
- Sol Gabetta, cellist (1981)
- Ruben Magnano, basketball TD (1954)
- Semilla Bucciarelli, musician (Patricio Rey y sus Redonditos de Ricota) (1959)
- Mauro Rosales, soccer player (1981)
- Yayo Guridi, humorist (1965)
- Karina Jelinek, model (1981)
- José Aricó, writer (1931-1991)
- Amadeo Sabattini, politician (1892-1960)
- Juan Cruz Gill, soccer player (1983)
- Sebastián Brusco, soccer player (1974)
- Franco Jara, soccer player (1988)
- Albano Bizzarri, soccer player (1977)
- Marcelo Ingaramo, tennist (1965)
- Miguel Ángel López, soccer player and TD (1942)
- Magalí Romitelli, model (1987)
- H.R.Stones, British Railways in Argentina 1860-1948, P.E.Waters & Associates, Bromley, Kent, England, 1993.
- Municipal information: Municipal Affairs Federal Institute (IFAM), Municipal Affairs Secretariat, Ministry of Interior, Argentina. (Spanish)
- Official website
- Daily Newspaper
- Villa Maria Portal
- Study Centres Addresses in English in Villa María
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