Gauchos were nomadic South American cowboys in the pampas (great plains) of Argentina, Uruguay, and the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul.

About the Gaucho

Gaucho culture arose from Indigenous traditions during the colonial period when the land was still open. Later the land was managed as large ranches (estancias) left over from colonial times.

Gauchos fought in the wars of independence from Spain of 1810-1820. In the remainder of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th, the pampas of South America were a gaucho paradise. After 1852, several decades of civil war, fences, railroads, and the imposition of modernity destroyed the lifestyle. Gauchos still exist as cowboys, but not in the old free way. A similar process took place in the American west.

A short documentary about gaucho life in Patagonia today

The photo is an Argentine gaucho photographed in Peru in 1868.

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