Facts about Argentina
Argentina is the second-largest country in South America and the eighth-largest country
in the world.
It occupies a continental surface area of 2,791,810 km² (1,078,000 sq mi) and is located
between the Andes mountain range 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.
The country is formally named the Argentine Republic (Spanish: República Argentina,
but for purposes of legislation, the form Nación Argentina (Argentine Nation) is used.
The Argentine Republic is located at the southernmost part of the American Continent.
Its area is 3.7 million sq. km, including 964,000 sq. km of the Antartic Continental
area and South Atlantic Islands.
The South American Continental area extends along 3,700 km between south latitudes 22 and 55.
The variety of climates is the result of said great extension ranging from
subtropical in the extreme north to the cold climate of Patagonia, prevailing
template climates in the greatest part of the country. Humid areas cover one
third of the territory, 30% approx. of which corresponds to northeast woods and
subtropical "montes" and the rest to the Pampean plain which covers an
area of 600,000 sq. km. The latter is the main farming, livestock and industrial
region of the country, gathering almost the 70% of the population, the 80% of
farming and livestock output value of the industrial activity.
The remaining two thirds of the land area correspond to arid zones, semiarid zones
or long lasting dry seasons.
The first signs of human presence in Argentina are located in the Patagonia
(Piedra Museo, Santa Cruz), and date from 11,000 BC. Around 1 AD, several corn-based
civilizations developed in the western and northwestern Andean region (Ansilta,
Condorhuasi, Ciénaga, Aguada, Santa María, Huarpes, Diaguitas, Sanavirones, among
others). In 1480 the Inca Empire, under the rule of emperor Pachacutec, launched an
offensive and conquered present-day northwestern Argentina, integrating it into a
region called Collasuyu. In the northeastern area, the Guaraní developed a culture
based on yuca and sweet potato. The central and southern areas (Pampas and Patagonia)
were dominated by nomadic cultures, unified in the 17th century by the Mapuches,
and never conquered by the Europeans.
Population and Government
At present, the total population of the country is 40 million of inhabitants and
it is made up of 23 provinces and of the Federal Capital City which is set up in
the city of Buenos Aires. Spanish is the official language.
Argentina has a representative, republican and federal government.
The Argentine Constitution passed on 1853, was lastly modified in 1994. The new
Constitution maintains the federal government division into three powers:
executive, legislative and judicial. The Executive Power is vested by the
President and the Vice-President of the Argentine Republic, holding offices for
a four-year term. They are directly elected by the people and may be reelected
for only one consecutive term. The Legislative Power is vested in the Congress
which consists of two powers: the Senate, composed of three senators elected for
each province and three senators for Buenos Aires city. The House of Deputies
consists of representatives elected by the people in a direct and proportional
way to the number of inhabitants of each district. The Judicial Power is
exercised by the Supreme Court of Justice and by other lower courts.
Each province passes its own constitution in compliance with the federal government system.
Argentina is nearly 3,700 km long from north to south, and 1,400 km from east to west
(maximum values). It 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 located in the province of Mendoza. Cerro Aconcagua, at 6,960 metres (22,834 ft),
is the Americas' highest mountain.
The plains west and south from Buenos Aires are among the most fertile in the world.
The western part of La Pampa province and the province San Luis also have plains, but
they are drier. The Gran Chaco region in the north of the country is semi-arid.
The steppes of Patagonia, in the provinces of Neuquen, Rio Negro, Chubut and Santa Cruz,
are of Tertiary origin. The first human settlement in this area dates back to the 10th
century. The first European to reach this zone was Ferdinand Magellan and the first to
traverse the Patagonian plain was Rodrigo de la Isla.
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 Río de la Plata. The land between these both is called Mesopotamia and
that land is shared by the provinces of Misiones, Corrientes and Entre Ríos. The
Argentine climate is predominantly temperate with extremes ranging from subtropical in
the north to arid and sub-Antarctic in the far south.
The country has a claim over Antarctica, where it has maintaned a constant occupied
presence for more than a century.
Argentine culture has been primarily informed and influenced by its European roots.
Buenos Aires is undeniably the most European city in South America and considered by
many its cultural capital, due both to the prevalence of people of European descent and
to conscious imitation.
Argentina has a rich history of world-renowned literature, including one of 20th
century's most critically acclaimed writers, Jorge Luis Borges.
Argentine cinema has achieved international recognition with films such as The Official
Story, Nine Queens or Iluminados por el Fuego, although they only rarely rival
Hollywood-type movies in popularity. Even low-budget productions, however, have
earned prizes in cinema festivals (such as Cannes). The city of Mar del Plata organizes
its own festival dedicated to this art.
Argentine food is influenced by cuisine from Spain, Italy, Germany, France and other
European countries. Argentina has a wide variety of staple foods, which include
empanadas, a stuffed pastry; locro, a mixture of corn, beans, meat, bacon, onion,
and gourd; and chorizo, a meat-based spicy sausage. The Argentine barbecue, asado,
is one of the most famous in the world and includes various types of meats, among them
chorizo, sweetbread, chitterlings, and blood sausage. A common custom among Argentines
is drinking mate.
Football is the most popular sport, although the national sport of the country is pato.
Argentina has a number of highly-ranked polo players.
Argentine culture is exemplified by its music and dance, particularly tango. To
foreigners, tango refers to a particular dance, but the music together with the
lyrics (often sung in a kind of slang called lunfardo) are what most Argentines
primarily mean by tango. In modern Argentina, tango music is enjoyed by itself,
particularly since the radical Ástor Piazzolla redefined the music of Carlos Gardel.
Since the 1970s, rock and roll has been widely popular in Argentina. Rock and roll and
pop music have experienced periodic bursts of popularity, with many new bands (such as
Soda Stereo and Sumo) and composers (such as Charly García and Fito Páez) becoming
important referents of national culture. Argentine rock is the most listened-to music
Buenos Aires is considered the techno and electronica capital of Latin America, and
hosts a variety of events including local raves, the South American Music Conference,
and Creamfields (which has the world record of 65,000 people).
European classical music is well-represented in Argentina. Buenos Aires is home to the
world-renowned Colón Theater. Classical musicians, such as Martha Argerich and Daniel
Barenboim, and classical composers like Alberto Ginastera have become internationally