The Conquest of the Desert (Spanish: Conquista del desierto) was an Argentine military campaign directed mainly by General Julio Argentino Roca in the 1870s with the intention of establishing dominance over the Patagonian Desert, inhabited primarily by indigenous peoples. Under General Roca, the Conquest of the Desert extended Argentine power into Patagonia and ended the Chilean expansion there.
Argentine troops killed more than 1,000 Mapuche and displaced over 15,000 more from their traditional lands. White settlers moved in and developed the lands through irrigation for agriculture, turning the territory into a breadbasket that made Argentina an agricultural superpower in the early 20th century. The conquest was paralleled by a similar campaign in Chile called the Pacification of Araucanía.
The Conquest is highly controversial. Apologists describe it as a civilising mission, while revisionists label it a genocide.