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For a long time Mendoza and its surrounding areas were considered a peripheral region, due to the fact that they were largely unpopulated by Europeans. Although Mendoza was very close to the bustling city of Santiago, Chile, it was difficult for Spanish settlers to make the rough journey across the Andes to the border. For centuries the region was mainly home to three groups of Indigenous peoples: the Incas, the Puelches, and the Huarpes. Even though the city of Mendoza was founded in 1561, only about 80 Spanish settlers lived there until the 1600s. The arrival of the Jesuits and forcing unpaid labor from the natives changed this, allowing for Spanish prosperity in the fifteen and sixteenth centuries. By expanding an irrigation system originally devised by the Huarpes, the Spanish managed to increase agricultural production, setting the stage for the vineyards that the region would come to be known for. The addition of a railroad in the early 1800s created a direct trade route with Buenos Aires, making Mendoza an important contributor to Argentina┬┤s economy.

In the years that followed, Mendoza would experience severe developmental setbacks caused a series of earthquakes, the worst one killing more than 5,000 people in 1861. Although a lot of the old colonial architecture was lost, the modern infrastructure that replaced it was better designed to withstand the occasional assault from Mother Nature.

Today Mendoza and its vicinities are economically stable, due mainly to the fact that it produces more than three quarters of Argentina┬┤s world-famous wine. This, and the close proximity of the Chilean border, has also attracted crowds of tourists in recent years. Despite its rocky periods, Mendoza is now one of the most well-visited and prosperous regions in the country.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Mendoza and Wine Country: Alive,

14 Sep 2010

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