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Argentina is a country in South America, situated between the Andes in the west and the southern Atlantic Ocean in the east and south. It is bordered by Paraguay and Bolivia in the north, Brazil and Uruguay in the northeast, and Chile in the west and south. It also claims the British overseas territories of the Falkland Islands (known in Spanish the Islas Malvinas ) and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. Under the name of Argentine Antarctica, it claims around 1,000,000 km² of Antarctica, overlapping other claims by Chile and the United Kingdom. By area, it is the second largest country of South America after Brazil and the 8th largest country in the world.

The country is formally named República Argentina Template:Audio (Argentine Republic), while for purposes of legislation the form Nación Argentina (Argentine Nation) is used.


Origin and history of the name

Main article: Origin and history of the name of Argentina

The name Argentina derives from the Latin argentum (silver) and the first Spanish conquerors to the River Plate. Indigenous people gave silver gifts to the survivors of the shipwrecked expedition, who were led by Juan Díaz de Solís. The legend of Sierra del Plata — a mountain rich in silver — reached Spain around 1524. The Spaniards named the river of Solís, Río de la Plata (River of the Silver). The name Argentina was first used in Ruy Diaz de Guzman's 1612 book Historia del descubrimiento, población, y conquista del Río de la Plata (History of the discovery, population, and conquest of the River Plate), naming the territory Tierra Argentina (land of silver).


Main article: History of Argentina

The area of present Argentina was relatively sparsely populated until it was colonised by Europeans. The Diaguita lived in northwestern Argentina on the edge of the expanding Inca Empire; the Guaraní lived farther east.

Europeans arrived in 1502. Spain established a permanent colony on the site of Buenos Aires in 1580, and the Viceroyalty of the River Plate in 1776. Independence from Spain was declared on 9 July 1816. Centralist and federationist groups were in conflict, until national unity was established and the constitution promulgated in 1853.

Foreign investment and immigration from Europe aided the introduction of modern agricultural techniques and integration of Argentina into the world economy in the late 19th century. In the 1880s the "Conquest of the Desert" subdued or exterminated the remaining native tribes throughout Patagonia.

From 1880 to 1930 Argentina became one of the ten wealthiest nations. Conservative forces dominated Argentine politics until 1916, when their traditional rivals, the Radicals, won control of the government. The military forced Hipólito Yrigoyen from power in 1930 leading to another decade of Conservative rule.

Political change led to the presidency of Juan Perón in 1946, who aimed at empowering the working class and greatly expanded the number of unionised workers. The Revolución Libertadora of 1955 deposed him.

In the 1950s and 1960s, military and civilian administrations traded power. When military governments failed to revive the economy and suppress escalating terrorism in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the way was open for Perón's return to the presidency in 1973, with his third wife, María Estela Isabel Martínez de Perón, as Vice President. During this period, extremists on the left and right carried out terrorist acts with a frequency that threatened public order.

Perón died in 1974. His wife succeeded him in office, but a military coup removed her from office in 1976, and the armed forces formally exercised power through a junta in charge of the self-appointed National Reorganisation Process, until 1983. The armed forces repressed opposition using harsh illegal measures (the "Dirty War"); thousands of dissidents were "disappeared", while the SIDE cooperated with DINA and other South American intelligence agencies in Operation Condor.

Economic problems, charges of corruption, public revulsion in the face of human rights abuses and, finally, the country's 1982 defeat in the Falklands War discredited the Argentine military regime.

Democracy was restored in 1983. Raúl Alfonsín's Radical government took steps intending to account for the "disappeared", establishing civilian control of the armed forces and consolidating democratic institutions. Failure to resolve endemic economic problems and an inability to maintain public confidence caused his early departure.

President Carlos Menem imposed peso-dollar fixed exchange rate in 1991 to stop hyperinflation, and adopted far-reaching market-based policies, dismantling protectionist barriers and business regulations, and implementing a privatisation program. These reforms contributed to significant increases in investment and growth with stable prices through most of the 1990s.

The Menem and de la Rúa administrations faced diminished competitiveness of exports, massive imports which damaged national industry and reduced employment, chronic fiscal and trade deficits, and the contagion of several economic crises. The Asian financial crisis in 1998 precipitated an outflow of capital that mushroomed into a recession, which led to a total freezing of the bank accounts (the corralito), and culminated in a financial panic in November 2001. Next month, amidst bloody riots, President de la Rúa resigned.

Several new presidents followed in quick succession. Argentina defaulted on its international debt obligations. The peso's almost 12-year-old link with the dollar was abandoned, resulting in massive currency depreciation and inflation, in turn triggering a spike in unemployment and poverty. In 2003, Néstor Kirchner became the president, and started implementing new policies based on re-industrialisation, import substitution, increased exports, consistent fiscal surplus, and high exchange rate.


File:Buenos Aires Congreso stock xchng 214239.jpg
Congress building in Buenos Aires
Main article: Politics of Argentina

The Argentine constitution of 1853, as revised in 1994, mandates a separation of powers into executive, legislative, and judicial branches at the national and provincial level. The president and vice president are directly elected to 4-year terms. Both are limited to two consecutive terms; they are allowed to stand for a third term or more after an interval of at least one term. The president appoints cabinet ministers, and the constitution grants him considerable power as both head of state and head of government, including authority to enact laws by presidential decree under conditions of "urgency and necessity" and the line-item veto.

Argentina's parliament is the bicameral National Congress or Congreso de la Nación, consisting of a Senate (Senado) of 72 seats and a Chamber of Deputies (Cámara de Diputados) of 257 members. Since 2001, senators have been directly elected, with each province, including the Federal Capital, represented by three senators. Senators serve 6-year terms. One-third of the Senate stands for reelection every 2 years via a partial majority system in each district. Members of the Chamber of Deputies are directly elected to 4-year term via a system of proportional representation. Voters elect half the members of the lower house every 2 years. See also Argentinian Legal System

Administrative Divisions

File:Argentina provinces.png
Provinces of Argentina. Argentine Antarctica and Southern Atlantic Islands (23) not shown.
Main article: Provinces of Argentina

Argentina is divided into 23 provinces (provincias; singular: provincia), and 1 autonomous city (commonly known as capital federal), marked with an asterisk:

  1. Buenos Aires (City)*
  2. Buenos Aires (Province)
  3. Catamarca
  4. Chaco
  5. Chubut
  6. Córdoba
  7. Corrientes
  8. Entre Ríos
  9. Formosa
  10. Jujuy
  11. La Pampa
  12. La Rioja
  1. Mendoza
  2. Misiones
  3. Neuquén
  4. Río Negro
  5. Salta
  6. San Juan
  7. San Luis
  8. Santa Cruz
  9. Santa Fe
  10. Santiago del Estero
  11. Tierra del Fuego, Antártida e Islas del Atlántico Sur
  12. Tucumán

* The current official name for the federal district is "Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires".

Buenos Aires has been the capital of Argentina since its unification, but there have been projects to move the administrative centre elsewhere. During the presidency of Raúl Alfonsín a law was passed ordering the move of the federal capital to Viedma, a city in the Patagonic province of Río Negro. Studies were underway when hyperinflation, in 1989, killed off the project. Though the law was never formally repealed, it has become a mere historical relic, and the project has been forgotten.


File:Buenos Aires-Center-P3050007.JPG
European and Modern styles in Buenos Aires

About 2.7 million people live in the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, and roughly 11.5 million in Greater Buenos Aires (2001), making it one of the largest urban conglomerates in the world. Together with their respective metropolitan areas, the second and third largest cities in Argentina, Córdoba and Rosario, each comprise about 1.3 million inhabitants.

Most European immigrants to Argentina (coming in great waves especially around the First and the Second World Wars) settled in the cities, which offered jobs, education, and other opportunities that enabled newcomers to enter the middle class. Since the 1930s many rural workers have moved to the big cities.

The 1990s saw many rural towns become ghost towns when train services were abandoned and local products manufactured on a small scale were replaced by massive amounts of imported cheap goods, in part because of the monetary policy which kept the U. S. dollar exchange rate fixed and low. Many slums (villas miseria) sprouted in the outskirts of the largest cities, inhabited by empoverished low-class urban dwellers and migrants from smaller towns in the interior of the country.

Argentina's urban areas have a European look, reflecting the influence of their European settlers. Many towns and cities are built like Spanish cities around a main square called a plaza. A cathedral and important government buildings often face the plaza. The general layout of the cities is called a damero, that is, a checkerboard, since it is based on a pattern of square blocks, though modern developments sometimes depart from it (for example, the city of La Plata, built at the end of the 19th century, is organised as a checkerboard plus diagonal avenues at fixed intervals).

In descending order by number of inhabitants, the major cities in Argentina are Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Rosario, Mendoza, La Plata, Tucumán, Mar del Plata, Salta, Santa Fe, and Bahía Blanca.

For a more comprehensive list, see List of cities in Argentina.


Map of Argentina
Main article: Geography of Argentina

Argentina can roughly be divided into three parts: the fertile plains of the Pampas in the central part of the country, the centre of Argentina's agricultural wealth; the flat to rolling plateau of Patagonia in the southern half down to Tierra del Fuego; and the rugged Andes mountain range along the western border with Chile, with the highest point being the Cerro Aconcagua at 6,960 m.

Major rivers include the Paraguay, Bermejo, Colorado, Uruguay and the largest river, the Paraná. The latter two flow together before meeting the Atlantic Ocean, forming the estuary of the River Plate. The Argentine climate is predominantly temperate with extremes ranging from subtropical in the north to arid/sub-Antarctic in far south.

Enclaves and exclaves

There is one Argentine exclave: the island of Martín García (co-ordinates Template:Coor dm). It is situated near the confluence of the Paraná and Uruguay rivers, a mere kilometre inside Uruguayan waters, about 3.5 km from the Uruguayan coastline, near the small city of Martín Chico (itself about halfway between Nueva Palmira and Colonia).

An agreement reached by Argentina and Uruguay in 1973 reaffirmed Argentine jurisdiction over the island, ending a century-old dispute between the two countries. According to the terms of the agreement, Martín García is to be devoted exclusively to a natural preserve. Its area is about 2 km², and the population about 200 people.


Main article: Economy of Argentina

Argentina benefits from rich natural resources, a highly literate population, an export-oriented agricultural sector, and a diversified industrial base. The country historically had a large middle class, compared to other Latin American countries, but this segment of the population was decimated by a succession of economic crises. Today, while a significant segment of the population is still financially well-off, they stay in sharp contrast with millions who live in poverty or on the brink of it.

Since the late 1970s the country piled up public debt and was plagued by bouts of high inflation. In 1991, the government pegged the peso to the U. S. dollar and limited the growth in the monetary base. The government then embarked on a path of trade liberalisation, deregulation, and privatisation. Inflation dropped and GDP grew, but external economic shocks and failures of the system diluted its benefits, causing it to crumble in slow motion, from 1995 and up to the collapse in 2001.

By 2002 Argentina had defaulted on its debt, its GDP had shrunk, unemployment was over 18%, the peso had devalued 75% after being floated, and inflation was hitting again. However, careful spending control and heavy taxes on now soaring exports gave the state the tools to regain resources and conduct monetary policy.

In 2003, import substitution policies and soaring exports, coupled with a lower inflation and expansive economic measures, triggered a surge in the GDP, which was repeated in 2004, creating jobs and encouraging internal consumption. Capital flight decreased, and foreign investment slowly returned. The influx of foreign currency from exports created such a huge trade surplus that the Central Bank was forced to buy dollars from the market, which it continues to do at the time, to be accumulated as reserves.

The situation in 2005 is much improved, but there are still large numbers of unemployed people that beg for some money or food, especially in the outskirts of Buenos Aires. Some of them are homeless, and there is at least one small non-profit humanitarian organisation which distributes free food to some of them most days of the week.


File:Piqueteros against Rato.jpg
A demonstration of piqueteros
File:Subte Retiro.jpg
One of the entrances to the Retiro Subway Station, Buenos Aires
Main article: Demographics of Argentina

Unlike most of its neighbouring countries, Argentina's population descends overwhelmingly from Europeans. The basic demographic stock (85% of the population) is made up of descendants of the Spanish colonists, augmented by descendants of later Italian, Spanish and other European settlers. Around 56% of Argentinians, however, possess at least some indigenous Amerindian ancestry (as discovered by genetic research). Those who claimed their ancestry as Spanish — or Spanish and another ancestry, such as Spanish-Italian — were most likely to have some remnant Amerindian ancestry; a legacy of the almost complete absorption of colonial Argentina's mestizo majority by the post-colonial mass migratory influx of Europeans.

The indigenous Amerindian (poorly estimated between 1.5% and 5%) and identifiably mestizo populations (estimated at around 13%) are concentrated in the provinces of the north, northwest and south. As of 2001, 2.8% of Argentine households host a person that identifies as belonging to an indigenous group.

Waves of immigrants from European countries arrived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Patagonian Chubut Valley has a significant Welsh-descended population and retains many aspects of Welsh culture. Other important immigrant groups came from Germany (German colonies were settled in the provinces of Entre Ríos, Misiones, Formosa, Córdoba and the Patagonian region, as well as in Buenos Aires itself), France (mostly settled in Buenos Aires city and province), Scandinavia (especially Sweden) the United Kingdom and Ireland (Buenos Aires and the Patagonia) and Eastern European nations, such as Poland, Russia, Ukraine and the Balkans region (especially Croatia and Serbia) and others. The Jewish community in Argentina is comprised predominantly of Ashkenazi Jews of Northern and Eastern European origin, and numbers about 395,379, which is the largest in Latin America and fifth largest in the world.

Syrian, Lebanese, and other Middle Eastern immigrants number about 500,000, mainly in urban areas.

Small numbers of people from East Asia have settled Argentina, mainly in Buenos Aires. The first Asian-Argentines were of Japanese descent, but Koreans, Vietnamese, India and Chinese soon followed.

There was a substantial immigration from other Latin American countries during the 1990s from Bolivia, Paraguay and Chile number about 2,000,000 and 4,000,000.


Main article: Culture of Argentina

See also the articles on the cuisine, the music, and the football of Argentina. For a prevalent custom among Argentines, see mate. For the traditional Buenos Aires dance, see tango.

Also see the list of people from Argentina.


The only official language is Spanish, although some immigrants and indigenous communities have retained their original languages in specific points of the country.

Argentina is the largest Spanish-speaking community that employs voseo (the use of the pronoun vos instead of , associated with some alternate verb conjugations). The most prevalent dialect is Rioplatense, with most speakers located in the basin of the River Plate.


Estancia Jesuitica in Alta Gracia, Argentina
Main article: Religion in Argentina

Most of Argentina's population is at least nominally Roman Catholic (80%, though regular church attendance is much lower). Roman Catholicism is supported by the Argentine state, as stated in the Constitution. Evangelical churches gained a place in Argentina especially since the 1980s and now number more than 3.5 million or 10%. The country also has the largest Jewish population in Latin America, about 300,000 strong, and is home to one of the largest Islamic mosques in Latin America. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) number over 330,300, the seventh largest concentration in the world[1]. Traditional Protestant communities are also present.

See also

For important topics not covered in this article, see:

For lists and other useful reference data, see:



External links

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