Coastal city (pop., 2001: 541,733), east-central Argentina. It was the site of a Spanish mission (1746–51). In 1856 Portuguese explorer Jose Coelho Mierelles founded the fishing village La Peregrina. Mar del Plata was established in 1874 and promoted as a seaside resort; it became a city in 1907. It is famous for its luxurious casino. In addition to tourism, its economy is based on construction, textiles, and commercial fishing and canning. It is the seat of the National University of Mar del Plata.