Córdoba (kôrˈdōvä) [key], city (1991 pop. 1,197,926), capital of Córdoba prov., central Argentina, on the Río Primero. It is the second largest city in Argentina, a cultural and commercial center, and a transportation hub. Near the city on the Primero is one of the first dams in South America; it provides hydroelectric power to Córdoba. Irrigation has transformed the surrounding countryside, formerly devoted to cattle ranches, into orchards, grain fields, and vineyards. Córdoba exports wheat, cattle, lumber, and minerals. An automobile assembly plant is there, as are a number of small industries. The city is also a popular tourist and health resort.
Córdoba was founded in 1573 and prospered during colonial times as a link on the commercial route between Buenos Aires and Chile. The advent of the railroad in the 19th cent. increased prosperity. Many buildings in the city date from colonial times. Most notable are the cathedral and the former city hall. The university (founded 1613) made Córdoba an early intellectual center of South America. The city also has an observatory and several museums.