Neuquén is the capital city of the Argentine province of Neuquén, located in the east of the province, at the confluence of the Limay and Neuquén rivers. The city has a population of more than 265,000, making it the largest city in Patagonia.
Neuquén is both an important agricultural center, surrounded by fertile lands irrigated by the waters of the Limay and Neuquén rivers in the otherwise arid province, and a petrochemical industrial center that receives the oil extraction of different points of the province. It belongs economically and geographically to the Alto Valle region that produces apples, pears, and other fruits.
National Route 22 divides the city into two halves. The Presidente Perón Airport , at , is eight kilometers away from the city and serves regular flights to Buenos Aires, San Carlos de Bariloche, Comodoro Rivadavia, Río Gallegos, Río Grande, Ushuaia, and San Martín de los Andes.
In 1885, the lands of what was at that time called Confluencia (i.e., "confluence," referring to the two rivers) were auctioned to a few people. Shortly after the Conquest of the Desert campaign conducted by the military over Patagonia, the Mapuche and Tehuelche tribes that inhabited the province of Neuquén were either killed or pushed out of these lands.
Since there was no defined border with Chile, the Argentine government reached an agreement with the British-owned Buenos Aires Great Southern Railway company that was constructing a railway network, mainly in Buenos Aires Province, to build an extension to the town in exchange for lands, in order to populate it. In 1899, the railroad reached Cipolletti in Río Negro province, and three years later, after the construction of the bridge, arrived at Neuquén.
Neuquén was officially founded on September 12, 1904, and the capital of the territory was transferred from Chos Malal to the young town. The name "Neuquén" derives from the Mapudungun word nehuenken, meaning drafty, which the native people used in reference to this river.
By 1930, the town had only 5000 inhabitants. In the 1960s, it acquired a new importance when oil deposits were found in the province by the state company YPF. The 1970s and 1980s saw massive demographic growth, accompanied by improvements such as the creation of the Comahue National University in 1970.