La Pampa is a sparsely populated province of Argentina, located in the Pampas in the center of the country. Neighboring provinces are from the north clockwise San Luis, Córdoba, Buenos Aires, Río Negro, Neuquén and Mendoza.
In 1604 Hernandarias was the first European explorer to reach the area; it was later explored by Jerónimo Luis de Cabrera in 1662. But it was not until the 18th century that Spanish colonists established permanent settlements here.
Resistance of the local indigenous people prevented much expansion until the government ofJuan Manuel de Rosas. It did not cease until Julio Roca's conquest of the desert in the 19th century. The territory was divided between the officers, and they erected the first Spanish settlements.
The Territorio Nacional de La Pampa Central was created in 1884, containing the Río Negro Province and parts of other surrounding provinces. It had around 25,000 inhabitants. By 1915 there were 110,000 residents, a reflection of movement to that area. In 1945 the territory was divided and La Pampa became a province.
In 1952 its constitution was indited and the province was renamed after Eva Perón. In 1955 after the government changed and the Peróns went into exile, both La Pampa and Chaco, which had been named for Juan Perón, were reverted to their original names.
Situated in the middle of the pampas, the low, flat steppe receives 500 mm of rain a year, diminishing towards the West. The low humidity and temperate weather result in high contrast in temperature between day and night, which is reflected in the vegetation of the region.
Summers are warm throughout the province, with warmer days in the west (about 32°C, or 90F) than in the east (30°C, or 86F) and cool nights, ranging from 16°C (61F) in the north to 14°C (57F) in the south: the thermal amplitude is thus quite remarkable. Heat waves are frequent, and temperatures reach over 30°C (86F) sometimes. These are often followed by severe storms and much colder periods, where nights can be below 10°C (50F). By early March nights are already noticeably cooler, and April usually brings the first frosty nights. Averages range from 10°C (50F) to 20°C (68F) during the day, and 0°C (32F) to 7°C (44F) at night, with dryer conditions than in the summer. Winters in La Pampa are usually dry and sunny, with cool days and quite cold nights, and some marked variations between warmer and colder periods. Daytime temperatures range from 10°C (50F) in the north and west, to about 5°C (5F) in the southernmost areas. Nighttime lows range from about 0°C (32F) in the northeast corner to around -5°C (23F) or slightly below freezing in many southern and western areas. That being said, northerly winds occasionally bring days of up to 25°C (77F), while southern winds can keep daytime highs below 0°C (32F). Nights below -7°C (19F) are quite common everywhere, with temperatures below -10°C (14F) possible in most areas. Spring is marked by wide variations and periods of drought followed by severe thunderstorms: it is the season of hail, and it is not uncommon to see temperatures reach 30°C (86F) on one day, and then fail to reach 12°C (53F) two days later, with frost possible until October and perhaps later.
Overall, precipitation ranges from about 700 mm in the east/northeast, to 500 mm in the centre (agricultural frontier), and values below 400 mm in the south and west. Snow is quite common almost everywhere, although frost can be more common and happen anytime from March to October.
There are only two major rivers in the province: the Colorado ("Red River") on the border with the Province of Río Negro, and the Salado ("Salty River") crossing it. The Salado's level has been dropping, as its tributaries in the Province of Mendoza are diverted for irrigation.
The province is divided in 22 departments (Spanish: departamentos).