San Miguel de Tucumán (usually referred to as simply Tucumán) is the largest city in northern Argentina, with a population of 525,853 per the . The metropolitan area totals 806,000, making it the fifth-largest in the country. It is the capital of the province of Tucumán. It was founded in 1565 by Spanish Diego de Villarroel travelling south from Peru and was moved to the present site in 1685.
The city sits on the slopes of the Aconquija mountains, the easternmost mountain range before the large Chaco-Pampean flats. It is the commercial center of an irrigated area that produces large quantities of sugarcane, rice, tobacco, and fruit, and provides the province with its nickname, the Garden of the Republic. The National University of Tucumán (1914) and the Saint Thomas Aquinas University of the North (1965) are in the city.
On July 9, 1816 a congress gathered in Tucumán declared the independence from Spain, which did not officially recognize it until 1862. The meeting place of the congress, the House of Tucumán, has been reconstructed as a national monument.
For decades, San Miguel de Tucumán has been one of the most outstanding cultural spots in the country, in part, due to the influence of the prestigious National University of Tucumán. It has been the birthplace and/or the home of well-known personalities such as folk singer Mercedes Sosa, Rutgers University literature professor and noted author Tomas Eloy Martínez, musician Miguel Ángel Estrella, botanist Miguel Lillo, painter Luis Lobo de la Vega, and many others.
Two large theaters (San Martín and Alberdi) and several smaller and independent theaters offer a wide array of events, including plays, concerts, operas, and ballet, all year round. The Septiembre Musical is by far the most important cultural event during the year. This music festival, generally held at the Independencia Square, brings together several local and national artists who perform different musical styles ranging from folk music to rock.
There are two public universities in the city, the National University of Tucumán and the National Technological University, and two private one, the Saint Thomas Aquinas University of the North and the Saint Paul T University.
Tucumán football has experienced an upturn in recent years. The two major football clubs were both promoted in the 2007-08 season. In 2008-09, San Martin now plays in Argentine football´s premier league while Atlético plays in the National "B" league. This is San Martin's first appearance in the premier league since 1992 and Atlético is at its highest point in the last 100 years and appears primed for its own ascension to Argentina's major league in the next few years. For the 2008-09 season, all games (both Atlético's and San Martin's) will be played at Estadio Monumental (Atlético's home pitch) while San Martin's grand old stadium at Bolívar and Pellegrini receives much-needed renovations.
San Martin´s ascension has provided a major-league feel to the city. In addition to that, Tucumán has made many advancements over the last five years. In 2006, las garritas (women who stand on platforms in the center of the city and direct traffic) were replaced by stoplights. In 2007, a giant shopping mall, Portal Tucumán, with a six-screen cinema complex was opened in suburban Yerba Buena. 2008 saw the opening of a second major shopping center in Yerba Buena which also boasts a cinema complex, Solar de Cerro. In 2009, Abasto tucumano will open. This will be the most ambitious of the new shopping complexes. Located in the middle-class neighborhood of Abasto, it will be one block from Alem Avenue and four blocks from San Martin's aforementioned refurbished stadium. Abasto tucumano will feature underground parking and another cinema complex.
In addition, roads and highways have improved dramatically over the last five years. These improvements can be attributed to the progressive leadership of second-term provincial governor José Alperovich. Alperovich is currently negotiating with Aerosur, a Bolivian airline to bring direct flights to and from Miami to Tucumán. If he can accomplish that feat, many tourists can come directly to Tucumán without having to enter the country through Buenos Aires. Such a move will further enhance the city's major-league image and infuse much more capital into the city.
The most quaint and charming of all Latin-american customs still remains--the siesta. All businesses except for restaurants and the post office close from 1 PM to 5 PM on weekdays. Tucumán has been long nicknamed the "Garden of the Republic." Some 30 years ago, city planners decided to flaunt it by planting orange trees around the city. Today, another unique and charming feature of the provincial capital is its orange-bearing trees which line many of its streets.
The city is served by several bus lines that have routes within the city limits and some others that connect it to the neighboring cities of Yerba Buena, El Manantial, Tafi Viejo, Las Talitas, Banda del Rio Salí and Alderetes.
The Benjamín Matienzo International Airport is the city's airport (though located 12 km east of the city, in the neighboring department of Cruz Alta) serving over 250,000 passengers a year. There are daily flights to Buenos Aires, Jujuy and Santiago del Estero. The Mauricio Gilli Aerodrome is a Private Airport, located 16km West from the city, for Private Aviation. It's mostly known as Aeroclub.
There are two weekly railway service to the Retiro station in Buenos Aires departing from the Bartolomé Mitre station located near downtown (in Plaza Alberdi).
San Miguel de Tucumán boasts one of the largest bus stations in Argentina. The 30,000 m² "Terminal del Tucumán" (opened in 1994) is the point from where hundreds of bus services arrive from and depart to almost all of the largest and mid-size cities throughout the country.
San Miguel de Tucumán is home to two free-to-air television stations (Channel 8 and Channel 10), five newspapers (La Gaceta, El Siglo, El Periódico, El Tribuno and La Ciudad), three cable television companies (CCC, ATS, and TCC) and several radio stations.