Entry on Corrientes Province

in "Geography or first division of " The English Cyclopaedia" conducted by Charles Knight. Published in 1866.

The following entry is interesting because of the background information it contains about the province of Corrientes in the middle of the last century.

CORRIENTES, one of the riverine provinces of the Argentine Confederation, South America, comprehends the northern portion of the peninsula, formed by the rivers Paraná and Uruguay; the southern portion of the peninsula being occupied by the province of Erntre Rios. The population is about 35,000.

The southern and eastern parts of the province are somewhat hilly, but the remaining and by far the greater part is low. About half of the surface is covered with timber-trees, much of the wood being available for house and ship-building. Some thousand square miles are covered with palm-trees, which are used for a great number of purposes. In the northern part of the province is the Laguna Ybera, which is in fact a vast marsh overflowed during the periodic risings of the Paraná. It feeds all or nearly all the rivers, which ride in the interior of the province and fall into the Paraná on the one side or the Uruguay on the other.

The soil of Corrientes is generally sandy, but produces excellent crops. Cotton, tobacco, rice, sugar, indigo, and other tropical productions flourish. Besides these, maize and barley, arrow-root, melons, sweet potatoes, and various tropical fruits are raised. The sugar cane is at present only grown in order to extract molasses for distilling; the sugar consumed in the province is imported from Brazil. All kinds of crops suffer at times from visitations of enormous swarms of ants and locusts, which entirely devastate the district in which they appear. The chief employments of the inhabitants are the rearing of cattle and horses, there being considerable extent of good pasture land; sheep however do not thrive very well. Large numbers of hides are exported.

The province is well adapted for commerce, there being on the Paraná four places, which serve as good ports, and three on the Uruguay. The opening of these rivers will doubtless prove of great benefit to Corrientes, but the traffic can only be fairly developed when the rivers are navigated by steam-vessels.

The inhabitants are for the most part a mixed race of Indians and Spanish. The language spoken, according to Mr. Woodbine Parish, is "more Guarini than Spanish". Most of the peasantry possess 40 or 50 mares, 30 or 40 cows, and from 100 to 200 sheep. The women do a good deal of the agricultural labour, as ploughing, hoeing and attending to the crops, and reaping; make cheese for sale as well as home consumption; act as shepherds; and spin and weave both cotton and woollen cloths for summer and winter garments.

The government is almost entirely in the hands of a governor, who is elected by the Congress for a term of three years. The Congress consists of 15 deputies, - one from each of the 14 departments, except that of the capital, which returns two deputies. The revenue is derived chiefly from customs duties, and the church property which was seized by government during the civil wars. The army consists in time of peace of' 1000 men, but during war all males between the ages of 14 and 60 are liable to serve. Indeed during the late war with Buenos Ayres, a reserve corps was formed of 900 or 1000 women mounted on horseback, who are said to have proved of great service in some engagements with the army of Rosas.

As was mentioned under ARGENTINE CONFEDERATION, Corrientes took a leading part in the revolt of the other provinces against the supremacy of Buenos Ayres, and entered into the engagements with foreign powers which led to the downfall of Rosas. The main incitement to these measures on the part of Corrientes was the determination of Rosas to enforce the closing of the Paraná and Uruguay against all foreign vessels; and Corrientes made the opening of the navigation of these rivers a leading object in all negotiations. The war between Buenos Ayres and the other provinces under General Urquiza, the governor of Corrientes still continues (February 1854), but there appears to be a growing desire on both sides to bring it to a friendly termination.

Corrientes, the capital, population about 5000, is situated in 27° 27' S. lat.,58°50' W long., below the confluence of the Rio Paraná and the Paraguay; and stands on a considerable elevation. It is rather a well-built town, but contains few buildings of any consequence. The situation of the town is admirable adapted for commercial purposes, affording on the one hand every facility for inland intercourse; and on the other for carrying on the export and import trade with Buenos Ayres and with foreign states by the navigation of the Paraná. Santa Lucia, also on the Paraná, 29° S. lat.,58°55' W long., is the next important town in the province. It has some trade, but contains less than 3000 inhabitants.

The Missiones , which , according to the treaty between Brazil and Buenos Ayres, in 1828, was to constitute an independent republic, extend eastward from Corrientes, between the Paraná and Paraguay to the confines of Brazil. This fertile tract, which was very populous under the sway of the Jesuits, is now filled with depopulated ruins. It contained only about a thousand inhabitants in 1825; many of them perished in the following war and others emigrated, and it is now almost entirely depopulated.

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 " Naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurret "

( If you drive out nature with a pitchfork, she will soon find a way back)

Horace (65-8 BC)