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of the name Argentina
||It comes from the
Latin term "argentum", which means silver. The origin of this
name goes back to the first voyages made by the Spanish conquerors to
the Río de la Plata. The survivors of the shipwrecked expedition
mounted by Juan Díaz de Solís found indigenous people in the region
who gave them silver objects as presents. The news about the legendary
Sierra del Plata - a mountain rich in silver - reached Spain around
1524. As from this date, the Portuguese named the river of Solís, Río
de la Plata (River of Silver). Two years later the Spanish used the same
name. The National Constitution adopted in 1853 included the name
"República Argentina" (Argentine Republic) among the official
names to designate the government and the country’s territory.
on each link below to learn more about the symbols.
- Capital -
- National Bird -
- Coat of Arms
Day - July 9, 1816
Motto - En unión y libertad
(English: In Union and Liberty)
consists of 23 States and a Federal District
(Click on map to see it in detail)
Argentina is divided into 23
provincias (provinces) and a distrito federal (federal district).
Federal - Buenos Aires
Fernando del Valle de Catamarca
Salvador de Jujuy
SANTIAGO DEL ESTERO
TIERRA DEL FUEGO, ANTARTIDA E ISLAS DEL ATLANTICO SUR
Miguel de Tucumán
Spanish is the official language and is spoken by the great majority of
Argentinians. English, French and Italian are, in lesser or greater
degree, widespread languages within the country.
Human habitation of the Americas is generally accepted
to have begun 30,000 years ago. Ancestors of the Amerindians reached
southern South America around 10,000BC. One of the oldest and most
impressive archaeological sites in Argentina is Cueva de las Manos in
Patagonia where cave paintings, mostly of left hands, date
from 7370 BC.
The Pampas was later inhabited by the Querandi, who
were hunters and gatherers, and by the Guarani, who were
agriculturalists. In the northwest, there were several indigenous
groups, who practiced agriculture in the
valleys of the eastern Andean foothills. In the Lake District and
Patagonia, the Pehuenches and Puelches were hunter-gatherers and the
Mapuche who entered the region from the west as the Spanish pushed
The Spanish came in the mid 1500’s looking
for silver. The country’s oldest permanent settlement is Santiago del
Estero, which was founded in 1551 and Buenos Aires was established in
1580. The Spanish continued their march southward, establishing cities
and enslaving or decimating the native population through warfare and
Despite its location on the Rio de Plata, the
city of Buenos Aires was barred from direct contact with Europe by Spain’s
mercantile bureaucracy. The city survived on the resources of the pampas
grasslands and the proliferation of the horses and cattle that were left behind by
previous expeditions. A contraband trade arose to take advantage of the meat and
hides available and Spain finally took notice of Buenos Aires' ideal
location and lifted the trade restrictions. Reflecting its growing
significance, Buenos Aires population grew and reached nearly 50,000
people by the early 19th century. Increasing political autonomy and
economic success paved the way for the end of Spanish rule.
In the early 19th century, Napoleon invaded Spain,
which eventually lead to Argentine independence. The South American
independence movement was led by figures like Argentina’s Jose de San
Martin, Venezuela’s Simon Bolivar and Chile’s Bernardo O’ Higgins
and the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata declared formal
independence on July 9, 1816. Despite achieving independence, the
provinces were united in name only. Two decades of conflict left
the countries nearly exhausted.
Juan Manuel de Rosas came to prominence in
Buenos Aires and represented the interests of rural elites and
landowners. He centralized political power in Buenos Aires and reigned
for over 20 years. Finally in 1852, a rival strongman named Justo Jose
de Urquiza organized a powerful army and forced Rosas from power.
Urquiza’s first task was to draw up a Constitution which was
formalized on May 1, 1853 and made Urquiza Argentina’s first
president. The Constitution is still in force today despite its frequent
After surviving a war with Paraguay from 1865-1870,
Argentina began to boom and immigrants poured in from Spain, Italy,
Germany and eastern Europe. Basque and Irish refugees became the first
shepherds. By the turn of the 20th century, Argentina was doing well,
but instability loomed. Industry could not absorb all the
immigration. Labor unrest grew, and as imports surpassed exports, the
economy showed signs of stress. Finally with the onset of the Great
Depression, the military took power. Juan Domingo Peron was the first leader to try to come to grips with the
country’s economic crisis.
Juan Peron emerged in the 1940’s to become Argentina’s
most revered, as well as most despised, political figure. He first came
to prominence as head of the National Department of Labor following the
1943 military coup. It was in this post that he met Eva (Evita) Duarte,
who would become his second wife and make her own major contribution to
Argentine history. With the help of Evita, Peron ran for and won the
presidency in 1946. Although the Perons ruled
with an iron fist, they legitimized the trade union movement, extended rights to working-class people, secured voting rights for women and made
university education available.
Economic problems and rising inflation undermined
Juan Peron’s second presidency in 1952, and Evita’s death the same
year dealt a blow to both the country and the president’s popularity.
In late 1955 a military coup sent him into exile in Spain and initiated
nearly three decades of catastrophic military rule.
During the period between 1976 and 1983, often
referred to as the "Dirty War", human rights groups
estimate that some 30,000 people were "disappeared" by the
disappear meant to be abducted and probably killed, never to be seen
again. This period in Argentine history ended only after the military
underestimated the response to their 1982 invasion of the British-ruled
Falkland (Malvinas) Islands; after a decisive defeat, the military
returned control to civilians. In 1983 Argentines elected civilian
Raul Alfonsin to the presidency who vowed to find and prosecute those
responsible for the Dirty War. Human rights organizations still campaign
for justice and information but most of the
criminals remain unpunished.
In May 2003, Néstor Kirchner, the former governor of
Santa Cruz, became Argentina's president. Kirchner has vowed
to aggressively reform the courts, police, and armed services and to
prosecute the perpetrators of the dirty war. Argentina's economy has been
rebounding since its near collapse in 2001, with a growth
rate of about 8% since President Kirchner took office. In March 2005,
Kirchner announced that the country's debt had been successfully
Source: Moon Handbooks Argentina
by Wayne Berhardson 2005
Argentina has modern infrastructure, is rich in natural resources and its
people are well-educated. But despite this, for most of the last seventy years, it has
gone from crisis to crisis. In
late 2001, it defaulted on part
of its US$141 billion foreign debt, triggering political and economic chaos.
With the devaluation of the peso, Buenos Aires went from
the world’s 22nd most expensive city (of 131 surveyed) to 120th and
unemployment rose dramatically.
Tourism as an industry profited from the devaluation however and accounts
for about 10 percent of the economy. As prices dropped, visitors from neighboring countries
travelers from around the world began to arrive, and more affluent travelers
Agriculture accounts for about 10 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, and
since the 19th century, Argentina has produced
corn, wheat, oats, sorghum, soybeans, potatoes, onions, carrots, squash, beans
and tomatoes as well as apples, pears and grapes. Argentina is also the world’s fifth-largest wine producer.
Other commercial crops include sugar cane, olives, tea, yerba mate and
During the post-World War II boom, Juan Peron invested large sums of money in manufacturing products such as steel,
chemicals and petrochemicals. But much of Argentina's industry is still inefficient and unable to compete without state
assistance. Other industrial products include food processing, motor vehicles
and consumer goods.
The official Argentine currency is the
Peso. There are bills of 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 pesos, and coins of 1 peso
and 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 cents.
Source: Moon Handbooks Argentina
by Wayne Berhardson 2005
Geography and Climate
Argentina is located in the southern extreme of South America.
It is the second largest country in South America and the eighth largest in the
world. Argentina has an area of almost 3.8 million square kilometers, 2.8 on the
continent – approximately 54% are plains (grasslands and savannahs), 23%,
plateaus and the other 23%, mountains - and the remainder in the Antarctic.
It is bounded by Bolivia and Paraguay on the
north, Brazil, Uruguay and the Atlantic Ocean on the east, and by the
Atlantic Ocean and Chile on the west and south.
Argentina’s main geographic characteristic is the contrast between the
eastern plains and the Andes
mountain range to the west. This is the frontier with Chile and includes the
highest peak in the Western hemisphere: the 6,962m (20,841ft) high Mt.
Between the Paraná and Uruguay rivers, Argentine Mesopotamia
(the provinces of Entre Ríos, Corrientes and Misiones) is formed by low hills.
In some places within the subtropical rain forest, there are fissures which
provide such spectacular waterfalls as the Iguazú Falls.
The Pampas, in the center of Argentina, is the largest and
best-known area of plains. Agricultural and livestock activities are performed
in this area, which includes the province of Buenos Aires, the northeast of La
Pampa, the south of Córdoba and the south of Santa Fe.
Towards the south, from the Andes to the sea, there are the plateaus of Patagonia, swept by the wind during most of the
year. The Atlantic coast, lined with high cliffs, forms massive indentations
like the Peninsula Valdés, with its colonies of sea
The country’s territory offers a
wide variety of climates: subtropical in the North, sub-Antarctic in the
southern Patagonia, and mild and humid in the Pampas plains. The median
temperature from November to March is 23° C, (73° F) and 12° C (54°F) from
June to September.
climate, its colorful mountains, the Puna high plateau, gorges and
forested area, subtropical climate, swampy lands and ponds.
northern part subtropical climate prevails and in the south the conditions
are more temperate. Rich in flora and fauna. The land consists
of slopes, ponds and swampy areas cut by important rivers.
the Aconcagua is found here. An arid temperate climate.
central sierras of Córdoba and San Luis have a dry temperate climate.
Numerous rivers and lakes.
Pampa with its temperate climate contains the most productive lands in the
country for the agriculture and cattle. The flat landscape is broken by
Tandil and Ventania Sierras. In the East are the popular beaches of
the Atlantic coast.
largest region with the coldest climate. The west is consists mainly mountainous
containing with spectacular forests, lakes and glaciers. The centre offers
sterile plateau and in the east are vast beaches with spectacular colonies
of marine animals. The southern extreme of this region makes up the
southernmost point of the world.
What is the weather
like in the Region today? Follow this link to The Weather
Underground for the forecast
for the cities visited by our explorers. Or check out this satellite
map from Weather.com.
Try converting the
temperature in your town from Fahrenheit to Celsius.
Most of South America
is in the same time zone. What time is it in different cities in the
region as compared to the time in your home town? Check
Source: Moon Handbooks
Argentina by Wayne Berhardson 2005
Ethnic Groups, Culture and Religion
Argentina’s current population is more than 36 million
inhabitants, almost half of which live in the city and the province of Buenos
Aires. Population density calculated on a national basis is 13 inhabitants per
85% of the population is white and most are descendants of
Italians and Spaniards. As a result of the massive European immigration,
mestizos (white and Indian) were slowly reduced and at the present they amount
to only 4.5% of the population. The pure indigenous populations - Mapuches,
Collas, Tobas, Matacos and Chiriguanos - amount to 0.5% of the population.
There is complete religious freedom in Argentina, although the official
religion is Roman Catholic. Other religions practiced in the country are
Protestant, Jewish, Islam, Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox and others.
Argentina's cultural roots are mainly European and that is reflected in its architecture, music, literature and lifestyle.
There is intense cultural activity seen in the festivities, expositions,
cinemas, theatres and concerts that take place in the cities.
The characteristic music of the city of Buenos Aires is
the world-famous tango. Folklore includes several and varied rhythms and styles
according to the different regions of the country.
The typical Argentine food is asado (barbecue: meat cooked
over live coals), apart from empanadas (a sort of turnover meat pie or pastry
that comes with a variety of other stuffings), tamales (a dish made of corn
meal, chicken or meat wrapped in corn husks), humita (dish made of grated corn,
sweet peppers and tomatoes wrapped in the green leaves of corn) and locro (a
dish made of meat, potato, pumpkin, corn and sweet pepper).
However, due to the important migrating
current that populated the country, there exists a quite varied international
cuisine: Spanish, Italian, French, German, Scandinavian, Greek, English,
Swedish, Hungarian, Dutch, Chilean, Mexican, Basque, Jewish, Russian, Ukrainian,
Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Arabian.
The quality of Argentine wines and meats is known worldwide
and the new Argentine cuisine has reached a high international standing.
The word mate comes from the quechua "mathi", which
means "small pumpkin". The "tea" is prepared with an herb
called mate, which is a traditional plant. The tradition is shared with Uruguay,
Brazil and Paraguay. Water is added to the herb and sugar and you can add thin
orange slices or lemon, modifying its taste. The mate container may be made of
different materials such as wood, plastic, metal or the pumpkin itself and the
liquid is drunk through a thin metal straw. You can drink mate alone, but
traditionally it is shared with friends.
Fauna and Flora
Argentine vegetation varies according to the climate and the topographic
region of the country. In the northeast region, where the climate is wet and hot
there is tropical vegetation; like the palm trees, quebracho Colorado, palo de
rosa, palosanto, jacaranda and ceibo. In the Pampean region there are short
herbs, gramineous and others. In this area there are practically no trees,
except some imported varieties that can exist with little rainfall such as
eucalyptus, sicomoros, poplars and acacias. In the Patagonian Andean Region
there are forests of Northofagues (coihues, lengas, ñires), conifers, (larches,
araucarias, and cypresses) and other trees like myrtles, maitenes, and radales.
In Tierra del Fuego there are thick conifers forests, especially firs,
cypresses, pines, cedars and myrtles. Cactus and other thorny plants thrive in the arid Andean regions of the northwest.
In the north, the fauna is abundant and diverse. Among the
mammals, you can find several species of monkey, fox, puma, jaguar, ocelot,
tapir, pecari and zorrino. Among the native birds are: the flamingo, several
calibú species and parrots. In the Pampas there are also armadillos, hares, deer,
ñandus, eagles, hawks, garzas, chorlitos and
partridges. The coldest Andean regions are the habitat of llamas, guanacos,
vicuñas, alpacas, and condors. For information on sea life, see the Patagonia
Argentina suffers from various types of pollution.
Diesel buses contribute to poor air quality, but private vehicles and taxis contribute
also. Factories are another source. Just as motor vehicles cause urban air pollution,
they also produce most of its noise pollution. Buses
and motorcycles are the worst offenders.
Cities also produce huge amounts of
garbage. In 2001 for example, Buenos Aires generated more than 400,000 tons of
solid waste per month. All of this garbage has to be dealt with and the city
government is seeking to create a landfill near the city of Olavarria, 400km to
Soil conservation and deforestation
Centuries of livestock activities, both grazing and trampling
have caused serious erosion problems. Even today, some national parks have been unable to eliminate grazing within their boundaries.
The biggest problems though, are in the northern
subtropical forests. In Misiones Province, commercial farms have cut down much of the
rainforest. In Jujuy and Salta Provinces, the cloud forest on the
edge of the Andes is also in danger from commercial interests.
Source: Moon Handbooks Argentina
by Wayne Berhardson 2005
Good interactive maps
Good variety of maps
Regional info & maps
Excellent interactive info on Argentina
- Basic Information
Tourism site with good regional info
Argentina On ViewArgentina
Guide to Camping
Esteros del Iberá|
Antarcticconnection.com - penguins
Peter and Barbara Barham's Penguin page
Fun & Facts about Penguins
Southern Elephant Seals
- elephant seals
the free Encyclopedia, InfoPlease.com,
Government of Argentina, Moon Handbooks Argentina
by Wayne Bernhardson 2005,
Lonely Planet Publications Argentina, www.argentinaonview.com, www.Argentinaturistica.com
Kim and Don Greene,
Contributors; publication date December 1, 2005