Bahía Blanca, city at the southern edge of the Argentine province of Buenos Aires (2001 census population of 276,546) located on a natural bay. Founded in 1828 as a military outpost against roaming Pampa Indians, it was used by Juan Manuel de Rosas as a stronghold against the Indians in 1833. Following the Campaign of the Desert (1879–1883), a concerted effort by the Buenos Aires government to clear the Indians from the Pampa to make room for agrarian colonists, and the completion of a railway link with Buenos Aires in 1885, it became an important center of colonization and the end station of the General Roca railway. The hinterland was settled predominantly by families of Italian ancestry who managed successful farmsteads and cattle ranches and founded urban enterprises in the city. Nearby Puerto Galván is the site of an oil refinery that processes crude oil brought from Plaza Huincul, at the foot of the Andes. Packing plants, tanneries, transportation workshops, grain-processing mills, and a large chemical plant that uses petroleum derivatives dominate the economic activities of the city, which has also developed into a cultural center of the southern pampa. The Universidad Nacional del Sur, founded in 1956, has more than 15,000 students. Bahía Blanca is connected by major highways with Mar del Plata and Buenos Aires. Puerto Belgrano is an important strategic base for the navy and the air force.
See alsoArgentina, Geography .
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CÉsar N. Caviedes