The Port of Santa Fe is the capital of Argentina's Santa Fe province. It lies near the junction of the Rivers Salado and Paraná some 260 nautical miles up the River Paraná from Buenos Aires. The Port of Santa Fe is the most inland seaport in the world, and it handles commerce for Argentina and the landlocked countries of Paraguay and Bolivia (Spanish). The Port of Santa Fe is connected to the Port of Colastiné by canal. The ninth largest metropolitan area in Argentina, almost 369 people called the Port of Santa Fe home in 2001.
The Port of Santa Fe boasts a diverse economy, and it is the transportation and commercial center for the surrounding rich agricultural lands that produce meats, grain, and vegetable oils. The Port of Santa Fe is home to dairy plants, flour mills, mineral smelters, automobile manufacturers, and plants that process forest products.
Before the invasion by Spanish conquerors, the Toba and Wichi peoples lived in the area that would become the Port of Santa Fe. The Toba were nomadic hunter-gatherers in northeast Argentina and parts of Paraguay until the Spanish arrived. After the European invasion, they became horsemen and resisted missionization and colonialization for several centuries. It was the 1880s before the Argentine government defeated the last organized resistance of the Toba.
The Wichi were a large tribe in northwest Argentina and Bolivia. Father Alejandro Corrado reported in the early days of Spanish conquest that the Wichi were a nomadic people living on fish, fruit from the forests, any honey-locust. He noted that they had no personal property, and that the community shared in everything. In the early 20th Century, Swedish Pentecostal missionaries converted most of the Wichi to Christianity, where common ownership of property made the transition easy.
The Port of Santa Fe was established next to the River Quiloazas (today the River San Javier) in 1573 by Juan de Garay. The first settlement was near Cayastá, where the first American-born governor of South America, Hernandarias (Spanish), is buried.
In 1653, the settlement was moved to avoid the unending flooding of the river and frequent attacks by the native peoples. Europeans envisioned the Port of Santa Fe as a commercial trade center when it was founded. Named Santa Fe de la Vera Cruz, the Port of Santa Fe was operating as a commercial and trade port by 1660. In 1720, construction began on the Capilla del Rosario.
In 1813, the Battle of San Lorenzo occurred in the surrounding area when soldiers led by General Jose de San Martin defeated the realistas. In 1814, the Port of Santa Fe became a capital when the province of Santa Fe was split from the province of Buenos Aires by an act of the National Constituent Assembly.
The Port of Santa Fe de la Vera Cruz was made seat of the National Constituent Assembly in 1852. The next year, the constitution of the Argentine Nation was established in the Port of Santa Fe. Due to the city's importance to the development of Argentina's Constitution, it was selected by lawmakers for the Constitutional Conventions in 1949, 1957, and 1994.
The area of the Port of Santa Fe has long been prone to flooding. In 2003, the River Salado rose almost two meters within two hours after a heavy rain, bringing a catastrophic flood. At least 100 thousand people had to be evacuated, and large areas in the Port of Santa Fe remained flooded for over a week.
The Port of Santa Fe has a busy cultural and commercial life, with an enthusiastic sports audience, many arts and music events, a lively nightlife, and a substantial tourism industry. Nested in a picturesque landscape, the Port of Santa Fe offers many attractions and activities, both urban and rural. Outdoor activities include fishing, hunting, excursions on the river, and water sports. The Space Observation Centre and the Zoo-Experimental Station at La Esmeralda Farm are among the most popular attractions.