The city was founded on September 1, 1879, by Coronel Lorenzo Vintter during the Conquest of the Desert. It was destroyed in 1899 by a flooding of the Río Negro, and had to be rebuilt 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) west in higher lands.
Its present population is approximately 86,000 (per the 2010 census[INDEC]), making it the second most populated city in the province after Bariloche, and the second most important in the Alto Valle after Neuquén.
The main activity around the city is the intensive agriculture under irrigation, which made possible an intense agro-industrial activity. The main crops are pears and apples. The city hosts the annual National Festival of the Apple.
General Roca, named after Julio A. Roca, is located 1,200 kilometres (750 mi) from Buenos Aires, 505 kilometres (314 mi) from Bahía Blanca, 513 kilometres (319 mi) from Viedma and 400 kilometres (250 mi) from the deepwater port of San Antonio Este. The city is connected to the east by Argentine National Route 22, and is also crossed by provincial routes 6 and 65, which connect it to other cities in the Alto Valle, with the south of the province, and with the La Pampa Province. Through the centre of the city drives the wide rail train lane that joins Zapala with Bahía Blanca and Buenos Aires. The local airport connects General Roca with other points of the country, mainly with Buenos Aires and Mendoza.
Together with Villa Regina, Allen, Cinco Saltos, Cipolletti, Neuquén and many other smaller towns, they constitute the lineal urbanisation of the Alto Valle of the Negro River. The city is surrounded by a patchwork of irrigated land totaling 100,000 hectares (250,000 acres). Besides apple and pear orchards, there are vineyards and other establishments producing peaches and a variety of other fruits and vegetables. Within the industrial sector highlight the fabrication of refrigerating storehouses, fruit and vegetable packaging, and other agricultural related industries.