La Rioja

/lah rddyaw"hah/
a city in W Argentina. 66,826.

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Autonomous community (pop., 2001: 276,702), province, and historical region, north-central Spain.

Covering 1,944 sq mi (5,035 sq km), it was known until 1980 as Logroño; its capital is Logroño city. Historically belonging to old Castile, La Rioja's population is concentrated in the irrigated farmland (grapes, cereals, horticultural produce) along the Ebro River and its affluents. Upper Rioja produces some of Spain's finest wines. A highway runs through Lower Rioja linking Bilbao, Zaragoza, and Barcelona.

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      city, capital of La Rioja provincia (province), northwestern Argentina, on La Rioja River at the foot of the Velasco Mountains. Founded in 1591 by explorers for gold and silver, it long remained a small commercial and administrative centre close to intermittently worked deposits of copper, silver, and lead ores in the high Andes to the west. Its destruction by earthquake in 1894 led to its reconstruction along modern lines. Contemporary commercial activities are based on agriculture (including cultivation of grapes, olives, apples, and pears), wine making, and elementary industries. The nearby dam on La Rioja is a source of power and irrigation. Notable landmarks include the ruins of a 16th-century Jesuit church and regional museums of archaeology and folklore. Pop. (2001) 143,684.

      provincia (province), northwestern Argentina, extending southeastward from Chile. The province's southeastern half is an arid to semiarid plain, while the northwestern section is crossed north to south by alternating mountain ranges and semiarid valleys associated with the Andean cordillera. Saline marshes and lakes of the southeast are formed by intermittent streams flowing out of the mountains.

      Like the rest of northwestern Argentina, the region was conquered by Inca armies in the late 15th century and was settled by Spaniards exploring for gold and silver in the late 16th century. The capital, La Rioja, was founded in 1591 by the governor of Tucumán, and the area remained part of Tucumán province and under the control of the viceroyalty of Peru until 1782, when it came under the jurisdiction of the viceroyalty of Río de la Plata as part of the intendencia (intendency) of Córdoba. After separating from Córdoba in 1816 and achieving the rank of province in 1820, La Rioja experienced 50 years of civil war and unrest. The establishment of an effective national government in Buenos Aires in the 1860s contributed to the province's stability.

      Water supply is the major problem of La Rioja. The small streams do not provide adequate volume, and both agriculture and mining have been seriously restricted for this reason. Dams erected on the Anzulón and La Rioja watercourses provide irrigation and electric power for the immediate area. The small-scale irrigated cultivation includes grapes, olives, and alfalfa. Cattle and sheep are generally grazed at lower elevations. There are significant copper and molybdenum reserves in the Famatina Mountains. A game reserve protecting diminishing herds of vicuña was created in 1980 near Laguna Brava in the high Andes. Area 34,626 square miles (89,680 square km). Pop. (2001) 289,983.

      comunidad autónoma (autonomous community) and historical region of Spain coextensive with the north-central Spanish provincia (province) of La Rioja (until 1980 called Logroño). La Rioja is bordered by the autonomous communities of the Basque Country to the north, Navarra to the northeast, and Castile-León to the south and west. La Rioja was part of the historic region of Old Castile. As Logroño, the province was first organized in 1833. The autonomous community was established by the statute of autonomy of June 9, 1982. The capital is Logroño. Area 1,942 square miles (5,029 square km). Pop. (2007 est.) 308,968.

      The folds of the Obarenes Mountains rise in the northwest corner of La Rioja, marking the border with the province of Burgos. The Ebro River flows northwest to southeast, skirting the provinces of Álava and Navarra to the north. The Ebro basin rises southward into the hills of the upper Rioja. The Iberian Cordillera, dominated by the Demanda and Urbión mountain ranges, rises in the south and extends into the province of Soria. The southern sector, Cameros, also mountainous, is crossed by the Glera (Oja), Najerilla, Iregua, Leza, Cidacos, and Alhama rivers. A continental climate modified by Atlantic influences prevails. Temperatures are highest near the Ebro River; precipitation increases from east to west and south to north. Annual precipitation is moderate, ranging from about 15 to 30 inches (380 to 760 mm).

      The population is concentrated in the irrigated farmland (producing grapes, cereals, and horticultural produce) along the Ebro River and its affluents. The latter were easily channeled and were tapped for traditional irrigation. The Canal of Lodosa, initiated in 1930, has channeled the Ebro River itself and greatly expanded the land under irrigation. The population of the lower Rioja tends to cluster in towns with 2,000 or more inhabitants, while the settlements of the Iberian Cordillera, where dry farming and animal husbandry predominate, have been steadily losing population. The Iberian Cordillera has traditionally been a transhumant zone, but the number of livestock has declined sharply since the dissolution of royal grazing privileges in 1836. Emigration has centred on the city of Logroño and on the provinces of Vizcaya, Guipúzcoa, Zaragoza, Barcelona, and Madrid.

      The upper Rioja produces some of Spain's finest red wines. Basque capital financed the specialization of vineyards in the late 19th century; 12 were established between 1867 and 1900. The vineyards of the lower Rioja are noted for their slightly sweet red table wine. The introduction of quality control has favoured large vintners over small ones, though small producers in the lower Rioja have survived by forming cooperatives. The proximity of the Basque market has led to the diversification of agricultural production; new crops include gherkins, carrots, leeks, potatoes, alfalfa (lucerne), and asparagus.

      Before the Industrial Revolution a modest textile industry centred on the towns of Cameros, Ortigosa, Munilla, Enciso, and Cervera del Río Alhama. Food processing has been the leading industry since the mid-19th century, but factories (mostly family-owned) suffered from low capital investment and offered only seasonal employment. The food-processing industry, which had been stagnant since the Spanish Civil War (1936–39), revived in the late 20th century. The manufacture of textiles has also increased. Oil was discovered at Nájera in 1980. The leading commercial centres are Logroño, Haro, Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Arnedo, and Calahorra.

      Various popular festivals held throughout the region celebrate viticulture. The Vendimia Riojana is held during the third week of September in the city of Logroño to celebrate the grape harvest; festivities include a parade of carts and bullfights.

Vicente Rodriguez
 

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Universalium. 2010.

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