Santa Cruz is a province of Argentina, located in the southern part of the country, in Patagonia. It borders Chubut province to the north, and Chile to the west and south, with an Atlantic coast on its east. Santa Cruz is the second-largest province of the country, and the least densely populated in mainland Argentina. The indigenous people of the province are the Tehuelches, who despite European exploration from the 16th century onwards, retained independence until the late 19th century.