152 years after the first national census: curiosities and surprise of Argentina

However, before starting, one must go further back in time, to the first attempts to census the country, shortly after Argentina became independent from the Spanish troops. According to him official census document, which has a total of 756 pages, it was made in 1869 and directed by Diego de la Fuente, on the existing antecedents “There are only census attempts, or partial works, without uniformity, or general plan.”

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Background of population censuses in Argentina

Who had for The first time the idea to carry out this research was Mariano Moreno in 1810, when he ordered an analysis of the provinces that were part of the viceroyalty. But due to poor implementation data were only obtained from Buenos Aires and they were not even accurate. Something similar happened three years later, Since the General Constituent Assembly ordered the “formation of a neat registration of all peoples”, although it was not concluded either.

In turn, between the years 1854 and 1860, when Justo José de Urquiza was president of the Argentine Confederation, Santiago Derqui, who served as his Minister of the Interior, decreed a general census. Again, it was only an attempt because the way it was organized it did not cover the places it should have and only eight of the thirteen provinces were surveyed that were part of what was then the Confederacy.


Since the first official census made in the Argentine Republic in 1869 another nine were carried out, in 1895, 1914, 1947, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1991, 2001 and 2010. It was from the Statistics and Census Law, Law No. 17,622, enacted on January 25, 1968, that the creation of a National Institute of Statistics and Censuses, known as the INDEC, so that it is this who is in charge of surveying the population every 10 years and its magnitude, structure, growth, distribution, as well as economic, social and demographic characteristics.

The last relay, according to the period of a decade that must pass between one and the other, should have been done in 2020, however on the occasion of the coronavirus pandemic the process was delayed. This means that in the current year the next National Census will be carried out, which, according to Indec, is expected to be between November 2021 and May 2022. In addition, it was known that it will have a mixed format, so it will have virtual and face-to-face instances.

A day like today, the first

Finally, after working for a good organization the September 15, 1869, began the work in charge of who was the superintendent of the census, the previously mentioned Diego De La Fuente, commissioned by then-president Domingo Faustino Sarmiento. Of process more than 3000 citizens participated to tour the homes of the entire territory and they were constituted 700 census commissioners, “appointed two or three by each department, section or provincial party”, which were under the control and direction of 15 provincial commissars.

The main idea had been leave the forms in each of the houses they passed through, and then remove them. However, this did not seem feasible, Therefore, it was returned to the initial idea that the volunteers complete them when interviewing the residents of each house.

So those who were still states of Argentina were divided into five groups for better data management: east, center, west, north and territories. In the region of this were Buenos Aires, Santa Fe, Entre Ríos and Corrientes, which reached a total of 847,518 inhabitants; at center They were Córdoba, San Luis and Santiago del Estero, adding up 396,700 inhabitants; the grouping West they constituted it Mendoza, San Juan, La Rioja and Catamarca, with 254,440 people; from North they participated Tucumán, Salta and Jujuy with 238,265; and the Chaco, Misiones, La Pampa and Patagonia territories gathered 93,291 inhabitants.

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In turn, also Argentines who at that time made up the river population were included, that is, who were browsing on the day of the census. The head of the Central Harbor Master complied with the orders given to him and carried out his work to include them in the registry. In the meantime, who were in the army of operations in Paraguay were counted by their bosses, being a total of 6.276; while the Argentines abroad were also taken into account and returned a sum of 41,000.

In conclusion, the “sum of the Argentine population in 1869 inside and outside the territory” it was of 1.877.490.

Division between sex, age and marital status

Making the comparison between sexes, a total of 897,780 men and 843,572 women, but Without taking into account the immigrant population, the female sex “won” by the wide difference of 49,351 inhabitants. With the exception of Santa Fe and Entre Ríos, all the other provinces are mostly inhabited by women.

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Meanwhile, as for ages, in the territory a total of 729,287 children from 1 to 14 years old inclusive, 840,888 young people and adults between 16 and 50 years old inclusive and 110,834 over 51 years. However, it is worth highlighting another section that was carried out, which was the adults over 100 years old, who were 231 people, among which were 147 women and only 87 men.

According to the official document, in addition, a result of 385,119 married people, “slightly more than a sixth of the total population.” The data also revealed 88,902 inhabitants who had been widowed, 27,478 men and 61,424 women.

Education and formation

At the time of the first population census, the children of school age were 413,465, but to the surprise and disappointment of the nation, only 82,671 could access education, leaving more than 330 thousand children without learning opportunities. These data, at first, were taken until the age of 14, but considering one year older, a total of 386,318 males and females unable to attend school. In turn, it was found that 36070 people could not read and 37003 could not write.

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Secondly, interviewed about professions of each of the people living in the homes, showing low number of training and a big difference between men and women. De La Fuente clarified in the document that despite the fact that some mistakes may have been made in writing, most could be taken with credibility. A) Yes, 9,602 men were military, 8,653 farmers, 2,307 they were dedicated to school trades What professors, teachers, preceptors, 1781 were miners, 1047 were healers and curanderas and alone 458 were doctors. What’s more, 439 they performed as lawyers, 240 What surveyors, 194 What engineers and 70 What architects.

The women, for its part, They worked in housework and a total of 140,000 worked as seamstresses, laundresses, weavers, ironers, cigarette makers, kneading machines, among others, what worried and alarmed about the “uncertainty” in the “livelihood, often difficult and precarious.”

It was thanks to these results that Domingo Faustino Sarmiento began the path of education for the country, creating schools, and leaving when he finished his function twice as many children in school.

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