1 Cordoba rivals Rosario de Santa Fe for the title of Argentina's second city but slightly outnumbers it in terms of population. Rosario has seen more of a boom in recent times, however, and likes to think of itself as Argentina's number two city. The jury is still out.
2 The site was inhabited long before the arrival of the Spanish by native tribes known collectively as the Comechingones. They resisted the European presence for many decades before the Jesuits dominated the land through a series of estancias (farmsteads), where native peoples where employed as effectively slaves, though the colonizers liked to think of themselves as educating civilizers. These estancias, fine examples of colonial architecture, are now preserved as museums and like the Jesuit buildings in the city itself enjoy UNESCO World Heritage status.
3 Cordoba has a long tradition as a tourist centre and the nearby mountains and valleys, of outstanding beauty, are home to some of the country's most venerable resorts. These include loud and brash Villa Carlos Paz, curled around a reservoir, Germanic Villa General Belgrano, famed for its tearooms, and genteel La Cumbre, still the most aristocratic of all holiday resorts.
4 The people of Cordoba can often come across as a rough and ready bunch, with a noteworthy working class supported by heavy industry – several international automobile companies have factories here, which have been given a new lease of life thanks to the national economic boom. Yet the mix of Italian immigrants with communities from all over Europe and the Middle East have resulted in a vibrant society, known for its elegance and cultural prowess.
5 Another special feature of the Cordobeses, as locals are called, is their wicked sense of humour, based on sarcasm and exchanges of politically incorrect insults. Extra spice is provided by the characteristic lilting accent, with drawling vowels and a rollercoaster intonation – the letter r is often slurred, resulting in speech that can often be incomprehensible to the outsider.
6 Climate: Cordoba enjoys four seasons, with a hot and sultry summer broken by frequent thunderstorms in normal years. Fall is a mix of warm and noticeably cooler weather, as days grow shorter and cold breezes blow from the southern plains and the surrounding mountains, where snow is not infrequent in the sharp winters (it can get bitterly cold at night in Cordoba in July and August). In the spring trees jump back to life – the central Plaza San Martin is ablaze with the pink and white blossom of native trees and bougainvilleas.
7 City transport is somewhat antiquated but one special feature is the use of trolley-buses along major routes – they are all driven by women (whereas buses tend to have male drivers).
8 The nation's third largest airport, Ingeniero Ambrosio L.V. Taravella, is located in Pajas Blancas, 9 km (5.6 miles) northwest of the city centre. There are frequent flights to Buenos Aires, Salta and other destinations, as far away as Brazil.
9 A long-distance railway passenger service run by Ferrocentral takes people twice weekly overnight to Retiro station in the capital. Plans – currently frozen – have been laid to build a high-speed rail link to Buenos Aires via Rosario, cutting the journey time by more than half (to only three hours or so).
10 On December 10, 2007 it was announced that a consortium of companies would build a multimillion dollar metro system in Cordoba, the country's second such network. The works, however, are currently on hold.
11 Cordoba has a very strong sporting tradition, with focus on soccer, basketball, hockey, rugby and tennis (David Nalbandian is a native). The main football teams are Talleres, Belgrano and Instituto.
12 The most traditional music in Cordoba is the cuarteto – several venues around the city regularly feature local bands playing this upbeat sound, a mixture of Spanish and Italian genres.
13 The nearby mountains are known for their pure air – Che Guevara's family spent many summers in nearby Alta Gracia in the hope of curing his chronic asthma. There is a museum dedicated to the revolutionary hero in the town.
14 In the 1960s Cordoba was a hotbed of student unrest and working class turmoil, as protests against the military regimes saw conflicts with the police and army that resulted in much loss of life. The Cordobazo – big Cordoba event, literally – is still commemorated. Cordoba is also at the cutting edge of post-junta reconciliation , with several centers dedicated to human rights, stable democracy and the abolition of the death penalty around the world (the death penalty was abolished in Argentina decades ago).
15 For such a large city Cordoba is lacking in really good hotels and restaurants, though this is being put right. There is one good boutique hotel, several excellent hostels and a growing crop of top notch restaurants.