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pampas (pămˈpəz, Span. pämˈpäs), wide, flat, grassy plains of temperate S South America, c.300,000 sq mi (777,000 sq km), particularly in Argentina and extending into Uruguay. Although the region gradually rises to the west, it appears mostly level. Precipitation decreases from east to west. Trees are found only along watercourses. Covered by grasses whose height varies with the amount of rainfall received, the soil of the pampas is very fertile and supports a thriving pastoral and farming economy. The Pampa, c.250,000 sq mi (647,500 sq km), of central and N Argentina embraces parts of the provinces of Buenos Aires, Santa Fe, Córdoba, and La Pampa. Cattle was first introduced to the region by the Portuguese in the 1550s. Throughout the colonial period under Spain, only a small part of the Pampa was used; economic activity was practically restricted to primitive stock raising for the exportation of hides, tallow, and jerked beef. Herds of cattle roamed freely over the Pampa, and the gaucho, the Argentine cowboy, was the region's dominant figure in the 18th and early 19th cent. A new economic era was initiated in the second half of the 19th cent., when a growing European market for agricultural products (along with new technology for the shipment of food products) brought immigrant farmers (mostly Italian, Spanish, French and German) to the Pampa. They spread westward with the expansion of the railroad that was built to link the increasing number of ranches with the coast. Settlement spread into the interior, and land was brought under the plow as unfriendly Native Americans were driven out of the region and the gaucho yielded to the farmer. In the 20th and 21st cent. agriculture has remained the chief economic activity of the Pampa; livestock grazing and wheat growing are found in the drier W Pampa while corn and other grains along with dairying and truck crops are found in the more humid E Pampa. In the seaboard cities of Buenos Aires, La Plata, and Bahía Blanca and in the river ports of Rosarío and Santa Fe are the only considerable industries; meatpacking and food processing are important. The region has a dense transportation network focused on Buenos Aires. The Pampa contains most of Argentina's population.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Spanish term derived from a Quechua Indian word).

(1) The name of several grassy plains in South America. The Pampas proper are a natural region in Argentina extending from 29°–39° S lat. to the Sierra de Córdoba in the west. In the east the pampas are low-lying (30–150 m) with flat sinkholes and ancient valleys. Sandy hills are found in the west, and in the southeast are the Sierra del Tandil and Sierra de la Ventana, rising to 1,250 m. The climate is subtropical, becoming more continental to the west. The average January temperature ranges from 19° to 24°C, and the average July temperature varies from 6° to 10°C. In the east the precipitation falls evenly throughout the year, averaging 800–950 mm annually; the west receives 300–500 mm of rain, falling in summer. Strong southerly winds, called pamperos, are typical.

The region’s main rivers are the Paraná and its tributaries, the Carcaraña and Salado. In the east the Pampas are marshy and crossed by drainage canals; the west has no surface waters, and groundwater is used. The eastern section of the plain was once covered with forb and grassy vegetation growing on reddish black soils (like the prairies of North America). The west was a dry scrub steppe on gray-brown soils. Now the Pampas are cultivated (wheat and corn) or used for pasture. They are Argentina’s main economic region.

(2) Subtropical steppe vegetation growing on plains in the southern part of South America and consisting of grasses and other herbaceous plants. The most typical grasses are meadow grass, feather grass, Aristida, oniongrass, brome, quaking grass, fescue, and koeleria; other common herbaceous plants are campions, sandworts, lupines, vetches, and red verbenas. The family Compositae is represented by ragwort, and there are many plants of the iris, myrtle, and nightshade families. Animals include white-tailed deer, pumas, Pampas cats, armadillos, and vizcachas.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a. the extensive grassy plains of temperate South America, esp in Argentina
b. (as modifier): pampas dwellers
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
This ordinate accounted for the minimum soil carbon level when residue inputs were null and possibly represents stable soil organic matter fractions in Pampean soils.
For example, repeated references to the "interior," Santa Fe, and the pampean region assume some basic understanding of Argentina's geography.
Cohen, "Natural contamination with arsenic and other trace elements in ground waters of Argentine Pampean Plain," Science of the Total Environment, vol.
Hashimoto, "Impact of grazing on soil nutrients in a Pampean grassland," Journal of Range Management, vol.
Use of epipelic diatoms for evaluation of water quality in the Matanza-Riachuelo (Argentina), a Pampean Plain River.
The balance sheet method as a conceptual framework for nitrogen fertilization of wheat in pampean agroecosystem.