La Boca is a neighborhood, or barrio of the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires. It retains a strong European flavour, with many of its early settlers being from the Italian city of Genoa.
In fact the name has a strong assonance with the Genoese neighborhood of Boccadasse (or Bocadaze in Genoese dialect), and some people believe[who?] that the Buenos Aires barrio was indeed named after it. The conventional explanation is that the neighborhood sits at the mouth ("boca" in Spanish) of the Matanza-Riachuelo River.
As one of Buenos Aires's 48 barrios, La Boca is located in the city's south-east near its old port. The barrio of Barracas is to the west; San Telmo and Puerto Madero are to the north.
In 1882, after a lengthy general strike, La Boca seceded from Argentina, and the rebels raised the Genoese flag, which was immediately torn down personally by then President Julio Argentino Roca.
Among sports fans, Boca is best known for being the home of world-renowned football club Boca Juniors. The club plays their home matches in the Estadio Alberto J. Armando, popularly known as La Bombonera (Spanish for "the bonbon box").
La Boca is a popular destination for tourists visiting Argentina, with its colourful houses and pedestrian street, the Caminito, where tango artists perform and tango-related memorabilia is sold. Other attractions include the La Ribera theatre, many tango clubs and Italian taverns. The actual area visited by tourists is only a few blocks long and has been built up for tourism very actively over the last few years. Outside this tourist area, it is a fairly poor neighborhood that has had many regular occurrences of petty crimes reported.
It has also been a centre for radical politics, having elected the first socialist member of the Argentine Congress (Alfredo Palacios in 1935) and was home to many demonstrations during the crisis of 2001.
As of 2016, the health of over 1,000 La Boca citizens is threatened by the pollution of the Matanza-Riachuelo River (which contains high levels of arsenic and lead due to centuries of unstopped pollution).