Argentina Argentina Flag

In 1816, the United Provinces of the Rio Plata declared their independence from Spain. Eventually, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay went their own way, but the area that remained became Argentina. The country's population and culture were subsequently heavily shaped by immigrants from throughout Europe, but most particularly Italy and Spain, which provided the largest percentage of newcomers from 1860 to 1930. Up until about the mid-20th century, much of Argentina's history was dominated by periods of internal political conflict between Federalists and Unitarians and between civilian and military factions. After World War II, an era of Peronist authoritarian rule and interference in subsequent governments was followed by a military junta that took power in 1976. Democracy returned in 1983, and has persisted despite numerous challenges, the most formidable of which was a severe economic crisis in 2001-02 that led to violent public protests and the resignation of several interim presidents. The economy has since recovered strongly since bottoming out in 2002. The government renegotiated its public debt in 2005 and paid off its remaining obligations to the IMF in early 2006.



Great dive locations in Argentina :

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Understand


Argentina is the second-largest country in South America, and the eighth-largest in the world. It is also the highest and the lowest of the continent; at 6.960m Cerro Aconcagua is the tallest mountain in the whole American continent, while Salinas Chicas, at 40m below sea level, is the lowest point.

At the southern tip of Argentina there are several routes between the South Atlantic and the South Pacific Oceans including the Strait of Magellan, the Beagle Channel, and the Drake Passage as an alternative sailing around Cape Horn in the open ocean between South America and Antarctica.

Climate
Buenos Aires and the Pampas are temperate; cool in the winter, hot and humid in the summer.

The deserts of Cuyo are extremely hot and dry in the summer and moderately cold and dry in the winter. Spring and fall often exhibit rapid temperature reversals; several days of extremely hot weather may be followed by several days of cold weather, then back to extremely hot.

The Andes are cool in the summer and very cold in the winter, varying according to altitude.

Patagonia is cool in the summer and cold in the winter. Extreme temperature shifts within a single day are even more common here; pack a variety of clothes and dress in layers.

Don't forget that seasons are reversed from those of the Northern Hemisphere.

Terrain
The central region of Argentina is mostly the rich plain known as La Pampa. There is jungle in the extreme northern areas, especially on the east. The southern half of Argentina is dominated by the flat to rolling plateau of Patagonia. The western border with Chile is along the rugged Andes mountains, including the Aconcagua, the highest mountain outside of the Himalayas. The western Cuyo regions at the base of the Andes are mostly rocky desert.

History
Following independence from Spain in 1816, Argentina experienced periods of internal political conflict between conservatives and liberals. In the first decade of the 20th century, Argentina became the richest nation in Latin America, its wealth symbolized by the opulence of its capital city.

European immigrants flowed into Argentina, particularly from Italy; by 1914 nearly 6 million people had come to the country.

After World War II, a long period of Peronist rule in subsequent governments was followed by a military junta that took power in 1976.

Democracy returned in 1983 after the abortive attempt to wrest the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) from United Kingdom sovereignity.

A painful economic collapse at the turn of the 21st century devalued the Argentine peso by a factor of three and ushered in a series of weak, short-lived governments along with social and economic instability. As of 2006, the country has stabilized under President Nestor Kirchner, and the economy has begun to recover.

Language
The official language is Spanish. The regional dialect, Rioplatense Spanish, is subtly different from both the language of Spain and that of Central America; most notably, the pronoun "tu" is replaced by "vos" (with separate verb conjugations, sometimes significantly different for irregular verbs); "y" and "ll" are pronounced ranging from an English "sh"...



Argentina (official name Argentine Republic) is a large, elongated country in the southern part of South America, neighbouring countries being Bolivia, Brazil, and Paraguay to the north, Uruguay to the north east and Chile to the west. In the east Argentina has a long South Atlantic Ocean coastline.

Regions


The National Presidential Office and the National Census Agency uses several regions to perform statics tasks; according to this, the most visited are:
  • Andean Northwest
  • Chaco
  • Cuyo
  • Mesopotamia
  • Pampas
  • Patagonia
  • Province of Tierra del Fuego


  • Note: The Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) are claimed by Argentina but administered by the United Kingdom.

    Cities


    The largest cities are:
  • Buenos Aires or "Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires", usually called Capital Federal to distinguish it from the province of Buenos Aires.
  • Córdoba, second largest.
  • La Plata, capital of the most important state, and known as "the perfect city" for its tracing (see map).
  • Mendoza, fourth largest, well known for its extensive and high quality wine production.
  • Rosario, third largest city.
  • San Juan, the tenth largest city, capital of the province of San Juan, and a center of quality wine production.


  • There are also a lot of medium-sized towns, like
  • Bahía Blanca
  • Comodoro Rivadavia
  • Concepción del Uruguay
  • Mar del Plata
  • Necochea
  • Río Gallegos
  • Salta
  • Santa Fe
  • Tucuman
  • Ushuaia
  • Villa Gesell


  • More information is available at the Buenos Aires official tourism website.

    Other destinations


    According to the National Tourism Agency, the favourite places outside the important cities are
  • The awesome Iguazú Falls, right in the north-east corner of the country.
  • The Nahuel Huapi National Park, in Patagonia in the foothills of the Andes mountains and its main city San Carlos de Bariloche
  • The beautiful Mar del Plata, world-wide called The Pearl of the Atlantic.
  • El Calafate, the main destination when visiting the Glaciers National Park and the advancing Perito Moreno Glacier.
  • The Perito Moreno Glacier, really a must when visiting Argentina.


  • Many ski centers operate in the Andes during the winter; Las Leñas and San Carlos de Bariloche are particularly well-known.

    There are two important nature preserves around Puerto Madryn, Punta Tombo, and Peninsula Valdes where one can see guanacos, rheas, penguins, sea lions, birds, and whales at certain times of the year.

    The wine regions of Mendoza and Salta are also very popular tourist destinations.

    Understand


    Argentina is the second-largest country in South America, and the eighth-largest in the world. It is also the highest and the lowest of the continent; at 6.960m Cerro Aconcagua is the tallest mountain in the whole American continent, while Salinas Chicas, at 40m below sea level, is the lowest point.

    At the southern tip of Argentina there are several routes between the South Atlantic and the South Pacific Oceans including the Strait of Magellan, the Beagle Channel, and the Drake Passage as an alternative sailing around Cape Horn in the open ocean between South America and Antarctica.

    Climate
    Buenos Aires and the Pampas are temperate; cool in the winter, hot and humid in the summer.

    The deserts of Cuyo are extremely hot and dry in the summer and moderately cold and dry in the winter. Spring and fall often exhibit rapid temperature reversals; several days of extremely hot weather may be followed by several days of cold weather, then back to extremely hot.

    The Andes are cool in the summer and very cold in the winter, varying according to altitude.

    Patagonia is cool in the summer and cold in the winter. Extreme temperature shifts within a single day are even more common here; pack a variety of clothes and dress in layers.

    Don't forget that seasons are reversed from those of the Northern Hemisphere.

    Terrain
    The central region of Argentina is mostly the rich plain known as La Pampa. There is jungle in the extreme northern areas, especially on the east. The southern half of Argentina is dominated by the flat to rolling plateau of Patagonia. The western border with Chile is along the rugged Andes mountains, including the Aconcagua, the highest mountain outside of the Himalayas. The western Cuyo regions at the base of the Andes are mostly rocky desert.

    History
    Following independence from Spain in 1816, Argentina experienced periods of internal political conflict between conservatives and liberals. In the first decade of the 20th century, Argentina became the richest nation in Latin America, its wealth symbolized by the opulence of its capital city.

    European immigrants flowed into Argentina, particularly from Italy; by 1914 nearly 6 million people had come to the country.

    After World War II, a long period of Peronist rule in subsequent governments was followed by a military junta that took power in 1976.

    Democracy returned in 1983 after the abortive attempt to wrest the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) from United Kingdom sovereignity.

    A painful economic collapse at the turn of the 21st century devalued the Argentine peso by a factor of three and ushered in a series of weak, short-lived governments along with social and economic instability. As of 2006, the country has stabilized under President Nestor Kirchner, and the economy has begun to recover.

    Language
    The official language is Spanish. The regional dialect, Rioplatense Spanish, is subtly different from both the language of Spain and that of Central America; most notably, the pronoun "tu" is replaced by "vos" (with separate verb conjugations, sometimes significantly different for irregular verbs); "y" and "ll" are pronounced ranging from an English "sh" (in Buenos Aires and Patagonia) through a soft "zh" sound, to a sound like English "j" in Cuyo. The interjection "che" is extremely common, and means approximately the same as English "hey!".

    The Argentine accent evinces heavy Italian influence from the large influx of Italian immigrants. Hand gestures derived from Italian are extremely common, and many slang expressions are borrowed from Italian. Most locals can readily understand most Spanish dialects, and Portugese or Italian if spoken slowly. English is usually understood on at least a basic level in tourist-oriented places. German and French can be understood and to some extent spoken by small fractions of the population. A few places in Patagonia near Rawson have native Welsh speakers.

    Visitors who speak Spanish should be aware that many words and expressions which are considered obscene or insulting in other Spanish-speaking places are considered a normal part of everyday speech in Argentina. For instance, it is common to refer to one's friends as boludo ("big balls") or hijo de puta ("son of a whore") in Argentina, expressions that would be considered extremely rude in many other Spanish-speaking places.

    The concept of political correctness does not exist in Argentina. Fat people are unapologetically addressed as "gordo", blacks as "negro", people who appear to be of American Indian descent as "Peruano" or "Boliviano" (regardless of their actual ancestry), etc. Visitors should be aware that this sort of blunt address is considered normal in Argentina, and no insult is implied.

    Time
    Argentinians generally take a very relaxed attitude towards time. This can be unsettling to visitors from North America and non-Latin parts of Europe where punctuality is highly valued. You should expect that your Argentine contacts will be at least 10 to 15 minutes late for any appointment, even to a business meeting. Tardiness of 30 to 45 minutes is not unusual. This is considered normal in Argentina and does not signify any lack of respect for the relationship.

    If you are invited to a dinner or party at, say, 9 PM. It does not mean that you should be present at 9 PM, but instead that you should not arrive before 9 PM. You'll be welcomed anytime afterwards. Arriving to a party 2-3 hours late is normally OK and sometimes expected. This is normally difficult to understand for Northern hemispherians.

    This attitude extends to any scheduled activity in Argentina. Plays, concerts usually get going around half an hour after their scheduled times. Long distance buses usually leave on time. Short-distance public transportation like city buses and the subway do not even bother with time estimates; they arrive when they arrive. Factor these elements into your calculations of how long things will take.

    Unannounced bus or train departures ahead of the schedule are not uncommon, especially in big cities. This is normally not a problem, as in general no one will expect you to be on time anyway.

    Electricity
    Argentine electricity is officially 220V 50Hz, with slanted plugs similar to those used in Australia. Adapters and transformers for European and North American equipment are readily available.

    The best way to use imported electrical equipment in Argentina is to purchase an adapter once there. These are available in the Florida shopping area in Buenos Aires for around US$2, or less in hardware stores outside the city center. Buildings use a mix of European and Australian plug fittings. However, the live and neutral pins in the Australian fittings are reversed so as to prevent cheap imports into Australia. Therefore an Australian adapter may be incompatible.

    Many sockets have no earth pin. Laptop adapters should have little problem with this for short term use.

    Argentina's outlets are their own standard, the IRAM-2073, which are physically identical to the Australian AS-3112 standard (two blades in a V-shape, with or without a third blade for ground).

    Some Argentine sockets accept North American plugs, particularly ones on power strips. Beware - this does not mean that these sockets deliver 110 volts. Make sure that your equipment can handle 220 volts! Simply changing the shape of the plug with a US$2 adapter will not allow 110 volt equipment to operate on 220 volt Argentinian current; unless the device is specifically designed to work on both 110 and 220 volts, irreperable damage and even fire can result. Most laptop power adapters and many portable electronics chargers are designed to work on dual voltage; check the specifications for your equipment to be sure. If your equipment cannot accept 220 volt current, you can purchase a 220->110 volt transformer for approximately US$6 in most Argentinian electronics shops. This is much heavier and bulkier than a small adapter.

    European standard CEE-7/7 "Schukostecker" or "Schuko" outlets and the non-grounded, but compatible, European CEE-7/16 "Europlug" outlets may still be found in some older buildings. U.S. and Canadian travelers may want to pack adapters for these outlets as well.

    Sports
    The most popular sport in Argentina is futbol (soccer). If you come to Argentina, you shouldn't miss the chance to experience a professional match live. Argentina's fans are very passionate.

    Football teams
    There are five teams called "Los 5 grandes" and are the elite of the argentinian football tournaments:
  • Boca Juniors - famous stadium "La Bombonera" where Diego Maradona played.
  • River Plate - Stadium "El monumental de Nuñez"
  • Independiente - Stadium "Libertadores de America"
  • San Lorenzo
  • Racing Club

  • Other Teams
  • Velez Sardfield (European SouthAmerican Cup Champion in Tokyo 1994)
  • Estudiantes de La Plata
  • Rosario Central
  • Union de Santa Fe
  • Ferro Carril Oeste

  • Rugby and basketball (basquet) are also popular. Polo is popular among the upper classes. Tennis has been growing in popularity with the country's steady production of top player over the past three decades.
    Field hockey has also became a popular sport, especially among women. The National Women's Field Hockey Team, Las Leonas (The Lionesses), has grown in the past years and developed into a high-level team, competing against the best in the world.
    Car Racing are popular too, the main categories are Turismo Carretera (Ford vs Chevrolet), TC2000 (Touring Cars) and TopRace. The most important racetrack in Argentina is in Buenos Aires: "Autódromo Oscar Alfredo Gálvez "

    Get in


    By plane
    Aerolíneas Argentinas and LAN Argentina Offer connections between Buenos Aires' international airport Ezeiza and many cities throughout South America, as well as North America and Europe.

    If you plan on visiting Buenos Aires you will fly into the Ezeiza International Airport (EZE); if you're traveling to another location in Argentina you may have to travel from Ezeiza to the Aeroparque Jorge Newbery (AEP). One problem is that these airports are located on opposite sides of the city, making transportation from one to the other with some time to consider. There are cheap shuttlebusses which take you there in about an hour, but travel time varies greatly depending on traffic.
    Keep in mind while flying out of Aeroparque that recently there have been many workers strikes at the airport and service has been notably unreliable. (updated 17/6/07)

    You should be able to ride a motorcoach or hire a service taxi from one of the booths after you clear customs. The fixed rate for a taxi from Ezeiza international airport to Buenos Aires is 74 pesos, the rate from the Jorge Newbery domestic airport to town is 23 pesos. (prices 04/05/07)
  • Ezeiza International Airport (EZE): (011) 5480-6111

  • If visiting another city there are a number of airports located throught the country. Many find it far easier to travel to a neighboring country and then take a short distance hop to the smaller airport. All major cities in Argentina and major tourist destinations like Perito Moreno and Iguazu Falls have airports nearby. There are several national airlines, with different levels of service. In general flying gets you everywhere fast and relatively cheap.

    Passengers leaving Ezeiza Airport must pay a "Departure tax" of US$ 18 (US$ 8 to Uruguay and domestic flights) after check-in, on top of any boarding taxes already paid. Argentine pesos or US dollars are accepted.

    By train
    There are currently no international services to Argentina. A connection between Chile and Argentina is under construction.

    By car
    You can enter to Argentina from the borders shared with Brazil (north), Chile, (west), Paraguay and Uruguay.

    By bus

    International coaches run from all the neighbouring countries.
  • Retiro Bus Terminal: (011) 4310-0700

  • Retiro is enormous, more like an airport than the typical bus terminal. For long distance buses it is advisable to buy a ticket several days in advance of your trip. Be sure to arrive about 45 minutes before your departure and always ask at an information counter if your gate number is the same as printed on your ticket. You will be given a range of possible gate numbers (for example 17-27). Watch your belongings carefully at Retiro as it is always very crowded.

    By boat
    Regular hydrofoils routes link Buenos Aires with Montevideo and Colonia in Uruguay.
    The company Buquebus has both a slow (3 hours) and rapid (1 hour) ferry service that departs several times a day to Colonia. Ferries depart from the downtown Buenos Aires neighborhood Puerto Madero.

    Get around

    By train
    During the last years the Argentinian government promoted the re-establishment of long distance passenger trains. Most lines still operate on a low frequency (one or two departures weekly). The rail network is very limited, intercity buses offer better service and faster rides. Trains fare are very cheap - often only a fourth of the bus fare.

    One of the major operators is Ferrobaires. See also Satélite Ferroviario for up-to-date information on trains and services (in Spanish). ferrocentral departes from buenos aire weekly to tucuman and twice per week to cordoba.

    An amazing train ride is the Tren a las Nubes (Train to the Clouds) in the northwestern province of Salta, but some people get altitude-sick. In addition, this train has currently not running. It should start running sometime in 2007 after proper repairs.

    By plane
    Domestic flights are available within Argentina, but tickets are pricey, and most domestic flights pass through Buenos Aires' domestic airport Aeroparque Jorge Newbery. The main carriers are Aerolíneas Argentinas LAN Argentina . Aerolíneas Argentinas' subsidiary Austral, which shares its parents fleet, and tickets of the two can be booked at the same office.

    If you fly on your international trip to Argentina with Aerolíneas you always get discounts on domestic flights. Sometimes you even get free flights with your international ticket but keep in mind that you pay it with your international ticket...

    By bus
    Argentina boasts an outstanding short and long-distance bus network. Since regional train service is limited and plane tickets are expensive, bus travel is the most common way to travel from city to city within Argentina. In Buenos Aires, a city bus is called a colectivo while a long distance, city-to-city bus is called a micro; usage varies somewhat in provincial areas. The hub of this network is definitely Buenos Aires' Terminal de Omnibus Retiro; it has 2,000 bus arrivals and departures every day, and multiple companies serve most destinations.

    The buses generally offer high-quality service, and for distances longer than 200km, it is common to have food served on board. There is generally a good amount of legroom, and many buses have seats that recline horizontally into beds (camas) making them a lot like traveling business class on a plane. Somewhat cheaper seats only recline partially (semi-camas), or not at all (servicio comun).

    A great deal more information on buses, bus companies, and schedules, is available here.

    By car
    Car rental is readily available throughout Argentina, though it is a bit expensive compared to other forms of transportation. Argentina generally recognizes valid drivers' licenses from foreign jurisdictions. Drivers must be over 21. The rental companies will charge the renters card arg$6000 to be used in the event of an accident. They cancel this charge when the car is returned. Be aware that the driving style in Argentina is much more aggressive and chaotic than in North America and non-Latin European countries. Speed limits and lane markings, for example, are universally ignored, and running red lights is common. Most drivers treat stop signs, octagonal red signs reading PARE, as though they were "yield" signs, though some drivers ignore them completely. Right of way is determined somewhat haphazardly by a combination of vehicle size and who arrives first. Make sure you are thoroughly confident in your driving skills before attempting to drive in Argentina.

    Highways are limited to the areas around large cities. Most of the country is connected by paved unlit two-lane roads (rutas) shared by buses, cars, and large trucks. Some places are accessible only by gravel or dirt roads -- indeed, some main roads in southern Argentina are unsealed, leading to 4WD vehicles being more popular in the south.

    On the rutas, in the provinces bordering other countries, the police frequently stop cars at controles policiales ("police checkpoints") to check insurance and registration papers and drivers' licenses. They do not stop all cars, though; when you come to a control policial, drive slowly and you will usually be waved through without stopping. Near provincial borders, these controles may also involve inspection of the trunk for contraband and a mandatory two peso fee for "disinfection" or "de-insectifying" the car's underside by driving it over a a mechanical sprayer that either sprays water or does nothing. The police have been known to set up roadblocks and demand bribes for passage, particularly around the city of Buenos Aires. Minor traffic infractions (though rarely enforced) can usually be handled by paying the fine on the spot to the police officer in cash.

    The current cost of fuel in central and southern Argentina is approximately 2 pesos per litre, and 1.6 pesos per litre in the north (prices 04/05/2007). Be aware that in many small towns, particularly in the north, they may ration fuel to ensure they have enough to sell until the next refuelling truck arrives, in which case you will only be allowed to buy 30 pesos worth of fuel at a time. It's advisable to fill your tank at regular intervals when the opportunity arises.

    By thumb
    The hitchhiking club Autostop Argentina began in Argentina in 2002, inspired by clubs in France, Italy and the United States. As a result, hitchhiking has become more acceptable among the younger generation, and raising a thumb at a highway is a symbol most people understand.

    Buy

    The fashion and art scenes are booming. Buenos Aires' signature European-South American style overflows with unique art pieces, art deco furniture, and antiques. Creative and independent, local fashion designers - who are becoming a source of inspiration for the U.S. and European high-end markets - compose their collections based on lots of leather, wools, woven fabrics, and delicate laces with a gaucho twist. The dollar and the euro are very strong in Argentina as of early 2006, so this has indeed become a shopping paradise for tourists from these regions.

    Fashionable clothing and leather products can be found in most commercial areas; jackets, boots and shoes are easily available. However, Buenos Aires has a relatively mild climate, so truly cold-weather gear is harder to find here. Long coats or heavy gloves may not be in stock; similarly, jeans and other basics, are thinly constructed compared to those in cooler countries. The Andes regions and Patagonia are considerably colder in the winter, so heavy clothing is much easier to find here.

    Electronics will not be a bargain, as they are imported from elsewhere; music, books, and movies will be discounted by the weak peso, though.

    Most freestanding shops in Buenos Aires are open 10 am - 8 pm weekdays, and some of them also Saturdays and Sundays, depending on what area of the city they are in. Enclosed malls, however, set their own hours, and are also open on the weekends.

    Most places outside of the city of Buenos Aires still observe a siesta from approximately 12 until 4 PM; almost all businesses are closed during this time. The precise closing hours vary from store to store, according to the preferences of the owner. Shops and offices generally open again in the evening until 9 or 10 PM.

    Eat

    Argentinian breakfast is somewhat light compared to what travellers from English-speaking countries are accustomed to. Hotels typically provide a free buffet consisting of coffee, tea, drinkable yogurt, assorted pastries and toast, fruit, and perhaps cereal. These kinds of breakfasts are also readily available in the many cafes.

    Lunch is a big meal in Argentina, typically taken in the early afternoon. Lunch is so big because dinner is not until late: 8:30 PM at the earliest, more commonly at 9 PM or even later. Most restaurants do not serve food until then except for pastries or small ham-and-cheese toasted sandwiches (tostados), for afternoon tea between 6 and 8 PM. A few cafes do offer heartier fare all day long, but don't expect anything more substantial than pizza or a milanesa or a lomito (steak sandwiches) outside of normal Argentine mealtimes.

    Dinner is usually eaten at 8:00 PM, but no one dines out before 9:00 PM.
    This consists of appetizers, entrees, and desserts. Be aware that, similarly to the European "entree", (entrada) refers to the appetizers. The north american "entree" is refered to as "main dish" or "plato principal". For an appetizer there are empanadas (meat pastries), chorizo or morcilla (pork or blood sausage), and assortments of achuras (sweetbreads). For an entree there is usually bife de chorizo (T-bone steak) and various types of salads. Then for dessert, there is flan (custard) topped with dulce de leche and whipped cream.

    Beef is the central component of the Argentine diet, and Argentine beef is world-famous for good reason. Definitely check out Argentine barbecue: asado, sometimes also called parrillada, because it is made on a parrilla, or grill. There is no way around it - foodwise Argentina is virtually synonymous with beef. The beef is some of the best in the world, and there are many different cuts of meat. Lomo (tenderloin) and bife de chorizo are excellent. Having a parrillada dinner is one of the best ways to experience it, preferably with a bottle of wine from Mendoza. In some popular areas, parrilladas are available from small buffets, or sidewalk carts and barbecue trailers. Skewers and steak sandwiches can then be purchased to go.

    Given that a large portion of Argentines are of Italian and Spanish descent, Italian and Spanish fare is very widespread and of high quality; pizzerias and specialized restaurants are very common. Take note that a convention observed in Argentina is to treat the pasta and sauce as separate items; more than one traveller has found what they thought was cheap pasta only to find that they were not getting any sauce. You will see the pastas for one price and then the sauces for an additional charge.

    Cafes, bakeries, and ice-cream shops (heladerías) are very popular. Inexpensive and high-quality snacks can be found in most commercial areas, and many have outdoor seating areas. Empanadas (turnovers) containing meats, cheeses, or many other fillings can be bought cheaply from restaurants or lunch counters.

    Many inexpensive and mid-market restaurants and cafes do not stock any toilet paper or soap in the bathrooms (though some do.) It is a good idea to carry both with you.

    Smoking is now prohibited in restaurants.

    Drink

    Yerba mate (pronounced in two syllables, 'MAH-tae') is a traditional Argentinian tealike drink, prepared in a hollowed-out gourd which is passed around in a social setting and drunk through a metal straw. Though usually drunk hot, mate can also be served cold, usually known as "tereré". Mate contains less caffeine than coffee, but contains other vitamins and minerals that give it a stimulating effect, particularly to those who are not used to it. It is naturally rather bitter, so it's not uncommon to add sugar. The drinking of mate with friends is an important social ritual in Argentina.

    Argentina is world-renowned for the wines produced in Mendoza. Inexpensive, high-quality wine is readily available throughout Argentina. Many restaurants offer single-serving bottles. Wine-tasting events are common; check around. The many small bodegas (wineries) in Mendoza province also offer tours.

    Most restaurants serve a broad range of liquors. Beer is offered in draft form in a chopp (small glass) or served in bottles or cans, and is typically a light, easily drinkable lager. The most popular locally made brands of beer are Quilmes, Isenbeck, and Brahma. Widely-available imports include Warsteiner, Heineken, and Budweiser. There are now many small pubs in Buenos Aires that brew beer on premises, but most of these offer a poor quality product compared to what is widely available in parts of the USA and Europe. In the Buenos Aires area, the Buller Brewing Company in Recoleta and the Antares Brewery in La Plata offer excellent handcrafted English/American style ales.
    If you ask if there are "cervezas artesanales" you will be able to find out if there are local handcrafted beers.

    Cafes often have fresh-squeezed fruit juices, which is otherwise hard to find. The legal drinking age is officially 18, although most establishments will serve anyone approximately 16 or older.

    Sleep


    A wide range of accommodation possibilities are available in Buenos Aires and the rest of the country, from student hostels to homey bed and breakfasts to trendy boutique hotels in the city to luxurious palaces and modern five-star hotels. There are also many beautiful lake-side lodges in Patagonia, and fabulous regional farms (estancias) outside the cities.

    Many vacation cabañas (cabins or weekend houses) are available for short-term rent directly from the owners in the mountains, seaside, and in rural areas. Drive around and look for signs saying alquiler ("rental"), or check the classified section of any major newspaper.

    Bear in mind that except in the 5-star hotels, usually the rooms are not as large as in hotels around the world.

    Learn

    There are a lot of public and private quality institutes who give Spanish lessons, and many more for Tango lessons.

    Stay safe

    There is plenty of activity and foot traffic throughout the night. Nice areas have a very thorough police presence, perhaps one officer per 3 blocks, plus store security and auxiliary patrols. Public security in all major cities like Buenos Aires, Córdoba and Rosario is handled by the Federal Police, the Urban Guard, and the National Gendarmerie or the Naval Prefecture, especially in the Puerto Madero area of Buenos Aires.

    As in any large city, certain particular neighborhoods in Buenos Aires and other cities are very dangerous. Ask trusted locals, such as hotel desk staff or police officers, for advice. Pay attention to your environment and trust your instincts. If an area seems questionable, leave.

    Many people in the street hand out small cards with horoscopes, lottery numbers, or cute drawings on them. If you take the card, the person will ask for payment. You can simply return the card along with a no, gracias. Persistent panhandlers are usually not dangerous; a polite but firm no tengo nada ("I don't have anything") is usually enough.

    Most robberies are not violent; in most cases, if your wallet is stolen, you won't even notice until hours later. In the unlikely event that you are confronted by a mugger, simply hand over your valuables - they are replaceable. Watch out for pickpockets in the subway and on crowded city streets. Never hang your purse or bag from the back of your chair in a cafe or restaurant - stealthy theft from such bags is common. Keep your purse or backpack on the floor between your legs while you eat.

    Popular demonstrations (piqueteros) are very common in Buenos Aires, and are best avoided by tourists as these demonstrations usually grow into violent confrontations with the police or National Gendarmerie, particularly as they approach the government buildings in the city center.

    There are rogue taxis operating in Buenos Aires whose drivers kidnap and rob tourists and locals alike. If you take a taxi, it's best to have your hotel or business phone for a radio taxi. If you must hail one on the street, look for one with the lighted gear on the roof and the designation "Radio Taxi" next to a phone number. Try to have small bills ready, as you may receive counterfeits if you pay in large denominations.

    It is recommended that you carry some ID with you, but not your original passport. A copy of it (easily provided by your own hotel) should be enough.

    Emergency numbers
  • Ambulance (Inmediate Health Emergency Service, SAME): 107
  • Firemen (National Firemen Corps): 100
  • Police (Argentine Federal Police): 101 (currently Argentina is implementing a 911 service, but at the time of this writing it is available only in a few cities, which include Buenos Aires and Mar del Plata)
  • Tourist Police: (011) 4346-5748 / 0800-999-5000


  • Stay healthy

    Visiting Argentina doesn't raise any major health worries. Certain vaccinations may be necessary for visitors, depending on where in Argentina you plan to visit. Yellow Fever vaccinations are recommended for those visiting the Northern forests. Different climate conditions might take your body by surprise, so be aware of the weather before you arrive. A bout of travellers' diarrhoea is the most you're likely to have to worry about as your body adjusts to local micro-organisms in the food. It's also best to ease yourself gently into the local diet – sudden quantities of red meat, red wine, strong coffee and sweet pastries can be very unsettling for a stomach used to gentler repasts – and though tap water in Argentina is safe to drink, if sometimes heavily chlorinated, you may prefer to err on the side of caution in rural areas in the north of the country.

    Respect

    The 2001 peso crisis has left many Argentines bitter towards some authorities and institutions. While many shops will appreciate payment in US dollars or Euros and even offer you a better exchange rate than the banks, try to blend in elsewhere. Keep a supply of pesos on hand for those businesses that do not accept dollars.

    Traffic is nowhere near some Asian or European cities, but driving is still extremely competitive compared to North American cities or to the more sedate areas of Europe. Do not jaywalk if you do not feel comfortable, and always keep your eyes about you when crossing the street.

    Dogs are popular in Buenos Aires, but not dog curbing - watch your step.

    Swearing is very common in most parts of Argentina, and not seen as rude or insulting, so don't be offended if someone calls you a "boludo". Even though it's a swear word, to Argentines is means "pal", or "mate".

    Argentines are very engaging people who may ask very personal questions within minutes after first meeting someone. They will expect you to do the same. Failing to do so would signify lack of interest in the other person.

    Cheek kissing is very common in Argentina's big cities, among and between women and men. When two women, or opposite sexes first meet, it is not uncommon to kiss. Two men will first shake hands, but will probably kiss when departing, especially if they have spoken for a while. Trying to shake hands when offered a kiss will be considered odd, but never rude.

    Try not to compare "dulce de leche" disfavourably with anything else in the world, likewise for argentinian meat; doing it will be considered somewhat insulting.

    Contact

    By phone
    You can get a prepaid Movistar SIM card for free at phone shops, all you pay is about 20 Pesos (about 7 US-Dollars) for your initial credits. Inserting the SIM card into your American or European mobile phone should work - you then have your personal Argentinean phone number, which is very useful to keep in touch with other travellers, either by calling or by writing text messages. Your credits are used up at a rate of about 1 Peso per minute. To reload you can buy small cards with secret numbers at many kiosks. Dialing *444, pressing 2 followed by 1, and entering the secret number does the trick.

    Not related to mobile phones, there are similar cards with credits for international calls. You get them at so called 'locutorios', where you can also use the phone booths. You dial a free number to connect to the service, then your secret number for the credits, and then the international phone number you want to call. Using these cards, a one-hour call to Europe will cost about 10 Pesos (3 US-Dollars). Don't call without such cards or even from your hotel - it will be way more expensive.
    The phone numbering plan in Argentina is hopelessly complicated for unexpecting foreigners. Do check out the Wikipedia article about it to find out more.

  • Directory Listing (The White Pages): 110
  • International Operator: 000
  • National Operator: 19
  • Collect National Calls: 19 from regular phones, *19 from public phones
  • Mobile phone numbers start with 15
  • Regional code for Buenos Aires: 11


  • Other useful phone numbers include:
  • Official Time: 113
  • Consumer Defense: (011) 5382-6216/17


  • Note: All 2 and 3-digit numbers are free, except the official time service (113). All 0800 numbers are toll-free numbers.

    Long Distance Calls From Argentina:
    You may use calling card, 0.18 Peso/min or 5.90 ¢/min for calling from Argentine to USA.




    Argentina, officially the Argentine Republic (Spanish: República Argentina, , Nación Argentina (Argentine Nation) for many legal purposes), is a South American country, second in size in the continent to Brazil and eighth in the world. Argentina occupies a continental surface area of 2,766,890 km² (1,078,000 sq mi) 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 claims the British controlled territories of the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. Under the name of Argentine Antarctica, it claims 969,464 km² (374,312 sq mi) of Antarctica, overlapping other claims made by Chile and the United Kingdom.

    Etymology


    "Argentina" derives from the Latin argentum (silver). When the first Spanish conquistadors discovered the Río de la Plata, they named the estuary Mar Dulce ('Sweet Sea', as in a fresh water sea). Indigenous people gave gifts of silver 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, and the name was first seen in print on a Venice map from 1536. The source of the silver was the area where the city of Potosí was to be founded in 1546. An expedition that followed the trail of the silver up the Paraná and Pilcomayo rivers finally reached the source only to find it already claimed by explorers who reached it from Lima, the capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru.

    The name Argentina was first used extensively in the 1612 book Historia del descubrimiento, población, y conquista del Río de la Plata (History of the discovery, population, and conquest of the Río de la Plata) by Ruy Díaz de Guzmán, naming the territory Tierra Argentina (Land of Silver). Traditionally, the British English name for the country is "The Argentine", but this is no longer in common use.

    History

    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 maize-based civilizations developed in the Andean region (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 seventeenth century by the Mapuches.
    European explorers arrived in 1516. Spain established a permanent colony on the site of Buenos Aires in 1580; the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata was created in 1776. During the early part of this period, was largely a country of Spanish immigrants and their descendants, known as criollos, some of them gathered in the Buenos Aires and other cities, others living on the pampas as gauchos. Descendants of African slaves (See:Afro-Argentines} were present in significant numbers. Indigenous peoples inhabited much of the rest of Argentina. In 1806 and 1807 the British Empire launched two invasions to Buenos Aires, but the creole population repelled both attempts. On May 25, 1810, after confirmation of the rumors about the overthrow of King Ferdinand VII by Napoleon, citizens of Buenos Aires took advantage of the situation and created the First Government Junta (May Revolution). Formal independence from Spain was declared on July 9, 1816 in Tucumán.

    In 1817, General José de San Martín crossed the Andes to free Chile and Peru, thus eliminating the Spanish threat. Centralist and federalist groups (Spanish: Unitarios and Federales) were in conflict until national unity was established and the constitution promulgated in 1853.

    Foreign investment and immigration from Europe led to the adoption of modern agricultural techniques. In the 1880s, the "Conquest of the Desert" subdued or exterminated the remaining indigenous tribes throughout the southern Pampas and Patagonia.

    From 1880 to 1945, Argentina enjoyed increasing prosperity, prominence and became one of the top 10 richest countries in the world, through an export-led economy. The population of the country swelled sevenfold. 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 tried to empower the working class and greatly expanded the number of unionized workers. The Revolución Libertadora of 1955 deposed him.
    From the 1950s to 1970s, soft military and weak civilian administrations traded power. During those years the economy grew strongly and poverty declined (to less than 7% in 1975), but became increasingly protectionist. At the same time political violence continued to escalate. In 1973, Perón returned to the presidency, but he died within a year of assuming power. His third wife Isabel, the Vice President, succeeded him in office, but the military coup of March 24, 1976 removed her from office.

    The armed forces took power through a junta in charge of the self-appointed National Reorganization Process until 1983. The military government repressed opposition and terrorist leftist groups using harsh illegal measures (the "Dirty War"); thousands of dissidents "disappeared", while the SIDE cooperated with DINA and other South American intelligence agencies, and with the CIA in Operation Condor. Many of the military leaders that took part in the Dirty War were trained in the U.S.-financed School of the Americas, among them Argentine dictators Leopoldo Galtieri and Roberto Viola. The military dictatorship (1976-1983) greatly increased the extent of the country's foreign debt. From that point the economy of the country began to be controlled more and more by the conditions imposed on it by both its creditors and the IMF (International Monetary Fund) with priority given to servicing the repayment of the foreign debt. These and other economic problems, charges of corruption, public revulsion in the face of human rights abuses and, finally, the country's 1982 defeat by the British in the Falklands War discredited the Argentine military regime.

    Democracy was restored in 1983. Raúl Alfonsín's Radical government took steps to account for the "disappeared", established civilian control of the armed forces, and consolidated democratic institutions. The members of the three military juntas were prosecuted and sentenced to life terms. Failure to resolve endemic economic problems and an inability to maintain public confidence led to Alfonsín's early departure six months before his term was to be completed.

    The 1990’s began with hyperinflation. President Carlos Menem imposed a 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 privatization program. These reforms contributed to significant increases in investment and growth with stable prices through most of the 1990s. However, the peso was tied to the dollar at an artificially high rate that could only be maintained by flooding the market with dollars. As a result the foreign debt increased enormously and state companies and services were privatized. The total opening up of the market to foreign goods, which up until then were produced locally, resulted in the collapse of local industry. So while part of the population was saving in dollars, traveling overseas, and purchasing imported and luxury goods cheaply, the rest of the population was experiencing an increase in both poverty and unemployment. The IMF and the world economists praised the liberalization of the Argentine market, and the country was presented as a “model student”. Toward the end of the 1990s, large fiscal deficits and overvaluation of the pegged peso caused a gradual slide into economic crisis. In 1998 a period of profound economic recession began. This was a direct result of the economic measures which dominated the decade of the 90’s and which produced a false sense of stability and well being. By the end of his term in 1999, these accumulating problems and perceived corruption had made Menem unpopular.
    The Menem and de la Rúa administrations faced diminished competitiveness in exports, massive imports which damaged national industry and reduced employment, chronic fiscal and trade deficits, and the contagion of several economic crises. Unemployment reached as high as 25% of the economically active population, and another 15% had only part-time work. The Asian financial crisis in 1998 precipitated an outflow of capital that mushroomed into a recession, and culminated in economic crisis in November of 2001. The governing coalition was forced to undertake a series of measures including the freezing of bank accounts. This was done to halt the flow of capital out of the country and to stem the growing debt crisis. However a climate of popular discontent was unleashed as a result. On the 20th of December 2001 Argentina was thrown into its worst institutional and economic crisis for several decades. There were violent street protests, which brought about clashes with the police and resulted in several fatalities. The increasingly chaotic climate, amidst bloody riots, finally resulted in the resignation of President de la Rúa. The economic crisis accentuated the people’s lack of trust in their politicians. During this time street protests were accompanied by the cry “they all should go.” The "they" referred to the politicians, especially those involved in many reported acts of corruption. They were also accused of dealing fraudulently with public goods and money, without any judicial sanctions in place to curb the corruption.

    In two weeks, several presidents followed in quick succession, culminating in Eduardo Duhalde's being appointed interim President of Argentina by the Legislative Assembly on 2 January 2002. Argentina defaulted on its international debt obligations. The peso's near eleven year-old linkage to the United States dollar was abandoned, resulting in major depreciation of the peso and a spike in inflation.

    With a more competitive and flexible exchange rate, the country implemented new policies based on re-industrialization, import substitution, increased exports, and consistent fiscal and trade surpluses. By the end of 2002 the economy began to stabilize, mainly thanks to the soybean and other cereals' boom and dirty flotation of the exchange rates. In 2003, Néstor Kirchner was elected president. During Kirchner's presidency, Argentina restructured its defaulted debt with a steep discount (about 66 percent) on most bonds, paid off outstanding debts with the International Monetary Fund, renegotiated contracts with utilities, and nationalized some previously privatized enterprises. Currently, Argentina is enjoying a period of high economic growth and political stability.

    Politics

    Government
    Argentina's political framework is a federal presidential representative democratic republic, in which the President of Argentina is both head of state and head of government, complemented by a pluriform multi-party system. The current president (2007) is Néstor Kirchner, with Daniel Scioli as vice president.

    The Argentine Constitution of 1853 mandates a separation of powers into executive, legislative, and judicial branches at the national and provincial level.

    Executive power resides in the President and his cabinet. The President and Vice President are directly elected to four-year terms, limited to two consecutive terms, and the cabinet ministers are appointed by the president.

    Legislative power is vested in the bicameral National Congress or Congreso de la Nación, consisting of a Senate (Senado) of seventy-two seats, and a Chamber of Deputies (Cámara de Diputados) of 257 members.

    Senators serve six-year terms, with one-third standing for reelection every two years. Members of the Chamber of Deputies are directly elected to four-year term via a system of proportional representation, with half of the members of the lower house being elected every two years. A third of the candidates presented by the parties must be women.

    The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. The Argentine Supreme Court of Justice has seven members who are appointed by the President in consultation with the Senate. The rest of the judges are appointed by the Council of Magistrates of the Nation, a secretariat composed of representatives of judges, lawyers, the Congress, and the executive (see Law of Argentina).

    Foreign relations

    Argentina is a member of Mercosur, an international bloc which has some legislative supranational functions. Mercosur is composed of five full members: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela. It has five associate members without full voting rights: Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.
    Argentina was the only country from Latin America to participate in the 1991 Gulf War under mandate of the United Nations. It was also the only Latin American country involved in every phase of the Haiti operation. Argentina has contributed worldwide to peacekeeping operations, including in El Salvador-Honduras-Nicaragua, Guatemala, Ecuador-Peru, Western Sahara, Angola, Kuwait, Cyprus, Croatia, Kosovo, Bosnia and Timor Leste. In recognition of its contributions to international security, U.S. President Bill Clinton designated Argentina as a major non-NATO ally in January 1998. In 2005, it was elected as a temporary member of the UN Security Council.

    In 1977 – and again as recently as in 2006 – Argentina's Chamber of Deputies unanimously called for Puerto Rico's national independence .">Aimed at the United States, this demand has been particularly championed by ex-President Raúl Alfonsín, as well as the current President of Argentina,  .

    In 1993, Argentina launched the United Nations White Helmets indicative of humanitarian aid.

    On November 4-November 5 2005, the Argentine city of Mar del Plata hosted the Fourth Summit of the Americas. This summit was marked by a number of anti-U.S. protests. As of 2006, Argentina has been emphasizing Mercosur as its first international priority; by contrast, during the 1990s, it relied more heavily on its relationship with the United States.

    Argentina has long claimed sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), the South Shetland Islands, the South Sandwich Islands and almost 1 million km² in Antarctica, between the 25°W and the 74°W meridians and the 60°S parallel. For more than a century, there has been an Argentine presence at the Orcadas Base.

    Argentina is a founding signatory and permanent consulting member of the Antarctic Treaty System and the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat is established in Buenos Aires.
    Military

    Argentina's armed forces are controlled by the Defense Ministry, with the country's President as their Commander-in-Chief. Historically, Argentina's military has been one of the best equipped in the region (for example, developing its own advanced jet fighters as early as the 1950s), but has faced expenditure cutbacks in comparison to other regional militaries. The age of allowable military service is 18 years; there is no obligatory military service and currently no conscription.

    The armed forces are composed of a traditional Army, Navy, and Air Force. Controlled by a separate ministry (the Interior Ministry), Argentine territorial waters are patrolled by the Naval Prefecture, and the border regions by the National Gendarmerie; both arms however maintain liaison with the Defense Ministry. Argentina's Armed Forces are currently undertaking major operations in Haiti and Cyprus, in accordance with UN mandates.

    Provinces


    Argentina is divided into twenty-three provinces (provincias; singular provincia), and one autonomous city (commonly known as the capital federal, but officially Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires):

    Though declared the capital in 1853, Buenos Aires didn't become the capital of the country until 1880. There have been moves to relocate the administrative centre elsewhere. During the presidency of Raúl Alfonsín, a law was passed ordering the transfer of the federal capital to Viedma, a city in the Patagonian province of Río Negro. Studies were underway when economic problems halted the project in 1989. Though the law was never formally repealed, it is now treated as a relic.

    Provinces are divided into smaller secondary units called departamentos ("departments"), of which there are 376 in total. The province of Buenos Aires has 134 similar divisions known as partidos. Departamentos and partidos are further subdivided into municipalities or districts.
    In descending order by number of inhabitants, the major cities in Argentina are Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Rosario, Mendoza, Tucumán, La Plata, Mar del Plata, Salta, Santa Fe, San Juan, Resistencia, and Neuquén.

    Geography


    Main features
    The total surface area of Argentina (not including the Antarctic claim), is as follows:
  • Total: 2,766,890 km²
  • Land: 2,736,691 km²
  • Water: 30,200 km²


  • 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 four parts: the fertile plains of the Pampas in the center of the country, the source of Argentina's agricultural wealth; the flat to rolling, oil-rich plateau of Patagonia in the southern half down to Tierra del Fuego; the subtropical flats of the Gran Chaco in the north, and the rugged Andes mountain range along the western border with Chile.

    The highest point above sea level in Argentina is located in Mendoza. Cerro Aconcagua, at 6,962 meters (22,834 feet), is the highest mountain in the Americas, the Southern, and Western Hemisphere. The lowest point is Laguna del Carbón in Santa Cruz, −105 meters (−344 ft) below sea level. This is also the lowest point on the South American continent. Due to the higher gravity force in Laguna del Carbón, a pendulum clock, if not corrected, will advance 24 seconds a day . The geographic center of the country is located in south-central La Pampa province.

    The country has a territorial claim over a portion of Antarctica (unrecognized by any other country), where, from 1904, it has maintained a constant presence.

    Geographic regions

    The country is traditionally divided into several major geographically distinct regions:

    ; Pampas : The plains west and south from Buenos Aires. Called the Humid Pampa, they cover most of the provinces of Buenos Aires and Córdoba, and big portions of the provinces of Santa Fe and La Pampa. The western part of La Pampa and the province San Luis also have plains (the Dry Pampa), but they are drier and used mainly for grazing. The Sierra de Córdoba in the homonymous province (extending into San Luis), is the most important geographical feature of the pampas.

    ; Gran Chaco : The Gran Chaco region in the north of the country is seasonal dry/wet, mainly cotton growing and livestock raising. It covers the provinces of Chaco and Formosa. It is dotted with subtropical forests, scrubland, and some wetlands, home to a large number of plant and animal species. The province of Santiago del Estero lies in the drier region of the Gran Chaco.

    ; Mesopotamia : The land between the Paraná and Uruguay rivers is called Mesopotamia and it is shared by the provinces of Corrientes and Entre Ríos. It features flatland apt for grazing and plant growing, and the Iberá Wetlands in central Corrientes. Misiones province is more tropical and belongs within the Brazilian Highlands geographic feature. It features subtropical rainforests and the Iguazú Falls.

    ; Patagonia : The steppes of Patagonia, in the provinces of Neuquén, Río Negro, Chubut and Santa Cruz, are of Tertiary origin. Most of the region is semiarid in the north to cold and arid in the far south, but forests grow in its western fringes which are dotted with several large lakes. Tierra del Fuego is cool and wet, moderated by oceanic influences. Northern Patagonia (roughly Río Negro south of the homonymous river, and Neuquén) can also be referred as the Comahue region .

    ; Cuyo : West-central Argentina is dominated by the imposing Andes Mountains. To their east is the arid region known as Cuyo. Melting waters from high in the mountains form the backbone of irrigated lowland oasis, at the center of a rich fruit and wine growing region in Mendoza and San Juan provinces. Further north the region gets hotter and drier with more geographical accidents in La Rioja province.

    ; NOA or Northwest: This region is the highest in average elevation. Several parallel mountain ranges, several of which have peaks higher than 20,000 feet, dominate the area. These ranges grow wider in geographic extent towards the north. They are cut by fertile river valleys, the most important being the Calchaquí Valleys in the provinces of Catamarca, Tucumán, and Salta. Farther north the province of Jujuy near Bolivia lies mainly within the Altiplano plateau of the Central Andes. The Tropic of Capricorn goes through the far north of the region.

    Rivers and lakes

    Major rivers in Argentina include the Pilcomayo, Paraguay, Bermejo, Colorado, Río Negro, Salado, 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. Regionally important rivers are the Atuel and Mendoza in the homonymous province, the Chubut in Patagonia, the Río Grande in Jujuy, and the San Francisco River in Salta.

    There are several large lakes in Argentina, many of them in Patagonia. Among these are lakes Argentino and Viedma in Santa Cruz, Nahuel Huapi in Río Negro and Fagnano in Tierra del Fuego, and Colhué Huapi and Musters in Chubut. Lake Buenos Aires and O'Higgins/San Martín Lake are shared with Chile. Mar Chiquita, Córdoba, is the largest salt water lake in the country. There are numerous reservoirs created by dams. Argentina features various hot springs, such as those at Termas de Río Hondo with temperatures between 30 °C and 65 °C.

    Coastal areas and seas
    Argentina has 4,665 kilometers (2,899 mi) of coastline. The continental platform is unusually wide; in Argentina this shallow area of the Atlantic Ocean is called Mar Argentino. The waters are rich in fisheries and suspected of holding important hydrocarbon energy resources. Argentina's coastline varies between areas of sand dunes and cliffs. The two major ocean currents affecting the coast are the warm Brazil Current and the cold Falkland Current (Spanish: corriente antártica o corriente de las Malvinas). Because of the uneveness of the coastal landmass, the two currents alternate in their influence on climate and do not allow temperatures to fall evenly with higher latitude. The southern coast of Tierra del Fuego forms the north shore of the Drake Passage.

    Climate

    Because of longitudinal and elevation amplitudes, Argentina is subject to a variety of climates. As a rule, the climate is predominantly temperate with extremes ranging from subtropical in the north to subpolar in the far south. The north of the country is characterized by very hot, humid summers with mild drier winters, and is subject to periodic droughts. Central Argentina has hot summers with thunderstorms (in western Argentina producing some of the world's largest hail), and cool winters. The southern regions have warm summers and cold winters with heavy snowfall, especially in mountainous zones. Higher elevations at all latitudes experience cooler conditions.

    The hottest and coldest temperature extremes recorded in South America have occurred in Argentina. A record high temperature of 49.1°C (120.4 °F), was recorded at Villa de María, Córdoba on January 2 1920. The lowest temperature recorded was −39.0 °C (−38.2 °F) at Valle de los Patos Superior, San Juan, July 17 1972.

    Major winds in Argentina include the cool Pampero blowing on the flat plains of Patagonia and the Pampas after a cold front; the Viento Norte, a warm wind that can blow from the north in mid and late winter creating mild conditions; and the Zonda, a hot and dry wind (see also Föhn wind), affecting west-central Argentina. Squeezed of all moisture during the 6,000 meter descent from the Andes, Zonda winds can blow for hours with gusts up to 120 km/h, fueling wildfires and causing damage. When the Zonda blows (June-November), snowstorms and blizzard (viento blanco) conditions usually affect the higher elevations.

    The Sudestada (literally "southeaster") could be considered similar to the Noreaster, though snowfall is rarely involved (but is not unprecedented). Both are associated with a deep winter low pressure system. The sudestada usually moderates cold temperatures but brings very heavy rains, rough seas, and coastal flooding. It is most common in late autumn and winter along the coasts of central Argentina and in the Río de la Plata estuary.

    The southern regions, particularly the far south, experience long periods of daylight from November to February (up to nineteen hours), and extended nights from May to August. All of Argentina uses UTC-3 time zone. The country does not observe daylight saving time.

    Extremities
    Argentina's eastermost continental point is northeast of the town of Bernardo de Irigoyen, Misiones (), the westernmost in the Mariano Moreno Range in Santa Cruz (). The northernmost point is located at the confluence of the Grande de San Juan and Mojinete rivers, Jujuy (), and the southernmost is Cape San Pío in Tierra del Fuego ().

    Enclaves and exclaves
    There is one Argentine exclave, the Martín García Island (co-ordinates ). It is near the confluence of the Paraná and Uruguay rivers, a kilometer (0.62 mi) inside Uruguayan waters, and 3.5 kilometres (2.1 mi) from the Uruguayan coastline near the small town of Martín Chico (itself halfway between Nueva Palmira and Colonia del Sacramento).

    An agreement reached by Argentina and Uruguay in 1973 reaffirmed Argentine jurisdiction over the island, ending a century-old dispute. Under the terms of the agreement, Martín García is to be devoted exclusively as a natural preserve. Its area is about 2 square kilometres (500 acres), and its population is about 200 people.

    Flora and fauna

    Flora

    Subtropical plants dominate the north, part of the Gran Chaco region of South America. The genus Dalbergia of trees is well disseminated with representatives like the Brazilian Rosewood and the quebracho tree; also predominant are white and black algarrobo trees (prosopis alba and prosopis nigra). Savannah-like areas exist in the drier regions nearer the Andes. Acquatic plants thrive in the wetlands dotting the region.

    In central Argentina the humid pampas are a true tallgrass prairie ecosystem. The original pampa had virtually no trees; today along roads or in towns and country estates (estancias), some imported species like the American sycamore or eucalyptus are present. The only tree-like plant native to the pampa is the ombú, an evergreen. The surface soils of the pampa are a deep black color, primarily humus, known commonly as compost. It is this which makes the region one of the most agriculturaly productive on Earth. However, this is also responsible for decimating much of the original ecosystem, to make way for commercial agriculture. The western pampas receive less rainfall, this dry pampa is a plain of short grasses or steppe.

    Most of Patagonia in the south lies within the rain shadow of the Andes. The flora, shrubby bushes and plants, is well suited to withstand dry conditions. The soil is hard and rocky, making large-scale farming impossible except along river valleys. Coniferous forests grow in far western Patagonia and on the island of Tierra del Fuego. Conifers native to the region include alerce (Fitzroya cupressoides), ciprés de la cordillera (Austrocedrus chilensis), ciprés de las guaitecas (Pilgerodendron uviferum), huililahuán (Podocarpus nubigenus), lleuque (Prumnopitys andina), mañío hembra (Saxegothaea conspicua), and pehuén (Araucaria araucana), while native broadleaf trees include several species of Nothofagus including coigüe or coihue, lenga (Nothofagus pumilio), ñire (Nothofagus Antarctica). Other introduced trees present in forestry plantations include spruce, cypress, and pine. Common plants are the copihue and colihue (Chusquea culeou).

    In Cuyo, semiarid thorny bushes and other xerophile plants abound. Along the many river oasis, grasses and trees grow in significant numbers. The area presents optimal conditions for the large scale growth of grape vines. In the northwest of Argentina there are many species of cacti. In the highest elevations (often above 4,000mts), no vegetation grows due to the extreme altitude, and the soils are virtually devoid of any plant life.

    The ceibo flower, of the tree Erythrina crista-galli, is the national flower of Argentina.

    Fauna
    Many species live in the subtropical north. Big cats like the jaguar, cougar, and ocelot; primates (howler monkey); large reptiles (crocodiles), and a species of caiman. Other animals include the tapir, capybara, anteater, ferret, raccoon, and various species of turtle and tortoise. There are many birds, notably hummingbirds, flamingos, toucans, and parrots.
    The central grasslands are populated by the armadillo, pampas cat, and the rhea (ñandú), a flightless bird. Hawks, falcons, herons, partridges inhabit the region. There are also deer and foxes. Some of these species extend into Patagonia.

    The western mountains are home to different animals. These include the llama, guanaco, vicuña, among the most recognizable species of South America. Also in this region are the fox, Andean Cat, and the largest flying bird in the New World, the condor.

    Southern Argentina is home to the cougar, huemul, pudú (the world's smallest deer), and wild boar. The coast of Patagonia is rich in animal life: elephant seals, fur seals, sea lions, and species of penguin. The far south is populated by cormorant birds.

    The territorial waters of Argentina have abundant ocean life; mammals such as dolphins, orcas, and whales like the southern right whale, a major tourist draw for naturalists. Sea fish include sardines, argentine hakes, dolphinfish, salmon, and sharks; also present are squid and spider crab (centolla) in Tierra del Fuego. Rivers and streams in Argentina have many species of trout and the South American dorado fish. Outstanding snake species inhabiting Argentina include boa constrictors, and the very venomous yacará pit viper and South American rattle snake.

    The Hornero was elected the National Bird after a survey in 1928.

    Economy

    Contemporary developments
    Argentina benefits from abundant natural resources, a highly literate population, an export-oriented agricultural sector, and a diversified industrial base. The country once had a large middle class compared to other Latin American countries, but this segment of the population has been decimated by a succession of economic crises. Today, while a significant segment of the population is still financially well-off, they stand in sharp contrast with the millions who have seen their purchasing power drastically reduced. Since 2002, there has been an improvement in the situation of the poorer sectors and a strong rebound of the middle class.

    From 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 money supply. It then embarked on a path of trade liberalization, deregulation and privatization. Inflation dropped and gross domestic product grew, but external economic shocks and failures of the system diluted benefits, causing the economy to crumble slowly from 1995 until the collapse in 2001.

    By 2002, Argentina had defaulted on its debt, its GDP had shrunk, unemployment was more than 25%, and the peso had depreciated 75% after being devalued and floated. However, careful spending control and heavy taxes on then-soaring exports allowed the state to regain resources and conduct monetary policy.
    In 2003, import substitution policies and soaring exports, coupled with lower inflation and expansive economic measures, triggered a surge in the GDP. This was repeated in 2004 and 2005, creating millions of jobs and encouraging internal consumption. Capital flight decreased, and foreign investment slowly returned. An influx of foreign currency from exports created a huge trade surplus. The Central Bank was forced to buy dollars from the market, and continues to do so from time to time to prevent the Argentine peso from appreciating significantly and cutting competitiveness.

    The situation by 2006 was further improved. The economy grew 8.8% in 2003, 9.0% in 2004, 9.2% in 2005 and 2006 was on the same track (predictions are between 8.5% and 9.0%), though inflation, estimated at around 10 to 12%, has become an issue again, and income distribution is still considerably unequal.

    Sectors
    In 2004, agricultural output accounted for 11% of GDP, and one third of all exports. Soy and vegetable oils are major export commodities at 24% of exports. Wheat, maize, oats, sorghum, and sunflower seeds totalled 8%. Cattle is also a major industry. Beef, milk, leather products, and cheese were 6% of total exports. Sheep and wool industries are important in Patagonia, pigs and caprines elsewhere.

    Fruits and vegetables made up 3% of exports: apples and pears in the Río Negro valley; oranges and other citrus in the northwest and Mesopotamia; grapes and strawberries in Cuyo, and berries in the far south. Cotton and yerba mate are major crops in the Gran Chaco, sugarcane and tobacco in the northwest, and olives and garlic in Cuyo. Bananas (Formosa), tomatoes (Salta), and peaches (Mendoza) are grown for domestic consumption. Argentina is the world's fifth-largest wine producer, and fine wine production has taken major leaps in quality. A growing export, total viticulture potential is far from met. Mendoza is the largest wine region, followed by San Juan.

    Industrial petrochemicals, oil, and natural gas are Argentina's second group of exports, 20% of totals. The most important oil fields lie in Patagonia and Cuyo. An impressive network of pipelines send raw product to Bahia Blanca, center of the petrochemical industry, and to the La Plata-Rosario industrial belt. Coal is also mined.

    Mining is a rising industry. The northwest and San Juan Province are main regions of activity. Metals mined include gold, silver, zinc, magnesium, copper, sulfur, tungsten and uranium. In only ten years exports soared from US$ 200 million to 1.2 billion in 2004, 3% of total.. Estimates for 2006 are US$ 2bn, a 10 fold rise from 1996.

    In fisheries, argentine hake accounts for 50% of catches, pollack and squid follow. Forestry has expanded in Mesopotamia; elm for cellulose, pine and eucalyptus for furniture, timber, and paper products. Both sectors each account for 2% of exports.
    Manufacturing is the nation's leading single sector in GDP output, with 35% of the share. Leading sectors are motor vehicles, auto parts, and transportation and farming equipment (7% of exports), iron and steel (3%), foodstuffs and textiles (2%). Other manufactures include cement, industrial chemicals, home appliances, and processed wood. The biggest industrial centers are Buenos Aires, Rosario and Córdoba.

    The service sector is the biggest contributor to total GDP. Argentina produces energy in large part through well developed hydroelectric resources; nuclear energy is also of high importance. The country is one of the largest producers and exporters (with Canada and Russia) of Cobalt-60, a radioactive isotope widely used in cancer therapy. Telecommunications is extremely strong, with an important penetration of mobile telephony (75% of population) and internet (30%) and broadband services (3%) have been expanding rapidly. Regular telephone (85% of households) and mail are robust. Construction has led employment creation in the current economic expansion, and is 5% of GDP.

    Tourism is increasingly important, now providing 7% of economic output. Argentines are traveling more within their borders, and foreigners are flocking to a country seen as affordable, safe, and incredibly diverse: Cosmopolitan Buenos Aires and Rosario; the incomparable Iguazu Falls and colonial Salta; the South American indigenous Jujuy Province and fun-filled Córdoba; the wineries of Mendoza; the ski-suitable scenic Bariloche to the beaches of Pinamar; and Perito Moreno Glacier to legendary Tierra del Fuego. 3.7 million tourists visited in 2005.

    Transportation
    Argentina's highway system is well-developed and paved roads reach all corners of the country. There are nearly 640,000 kilometers of highways and roads (with many privatized roads as well). Multilane highways now connect several main cities and more are now under construction.

    The railway network was one of the largest in the world, at over 40,000 kilometers of tracks. After decades of decaying service and lack of maintenance, most passenger services shut down in 1992 when the rail company was privatized, and thousands of kilometers of track are now in disrepair. Railway services are currently being reactivated among several cities.

    The country has around 3,000 kilometers of waterways, the most significant among these being the Río de la Plata, Paraná, Uruguay, and Paraguay rivers.

    Water supply and sanitation
    Water supply and sanitation in Argentina faces five key challenges: (i) low coverage with higher levels of service provision for its income level; (ii) poor service quality; and (iii) high levels of pollution; (iv) low cost recovery; and (v) unclear allocation of responsibilities between institutions in the sector.

    Population

    Contemporary figures
    The National Institute of Statistics and Census of Argentina (INDEC) 2001 census showed the population of Argentina was 36,260,130. It ranks third in South America in total population and 30th globally. The 2005 estimate is for a population of 38,747,000. Argentina's population density is 14 inhabitants per square kilometer. However, the population is not evenly distributed: areas of the city of Buenos Aires have a population density of over 14,000 inhab./km², while Santa Cruz province has less than 1 inhab./km². Argentina is the only nation in South America with a net positive migration rate, of about +0.4 persons.

    Cities and metropolitan areas
    2005, Argentina's fifteen largest metropolitan areas are:
    References


    Notes
    Bibliography
  • Supreme Court of Justice of Argentina
  • Presidency of Argentina
  • Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, Comercio Internacional y Culto (official website of the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Relations, International Trade and Worship)
  • The Special Relationship between Argentina and Brazil
  • Historia de las Relaciones Exteriores Argentinas. History of Argentine foreign relations.


  • External links

    Government
  • Argentina.gov.ar - Official national portal
  • Gobierno Electrónico - Government website
  • Presidencia de la Nación - Presidential website
  • Honorable Senado de la Nación - Website of the Senate
  • Honorable Cámara de Diputados de la Nación - Website of the CHamber of Deputies
  • Secretaría de Turismo de la Nación - National Tourism Secretariat website
  • WikiTravel's Argentina Page


  • Directories
  • Library of Congress
  • Open Directory Project
  • Encyclopaedia Britannica - Argentina's Country Page
  • - Travel Advice & Recommendations From Local Experts
  • For links to online newspapers, see List of newspapers in Argentina.
  • Argentina Paper Money


















  • Introduction:
    In 1816, the United Provinces of the Rio Plata declared their independence from Spain. Eventually, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay went their own way, but the area that remained became Argentina. The country's population and culture were subsequently heavily shaped by immigrants from throughout Europe, but most particularly Italy and Spain, which provided the largest percentage of newcomers from 1860 to 1930. Up until about the mid-20th century, much of Argentina's history was dominated by periods of internal political conflict between Federalists and Unitarians and between civilian and military factions. After World War II, an era of Peronist authoritarian rule and interference in subsequent governments was followed by a military junta that took power in 1976. Democracy returned in 1983, and has persisted despite numerous challenges, the most formidable of which was a severe economic crisis in 2001-02 that led to violent public protests and the resignation of several interim presidents. The economy has since recovered strongly since bottoming out in 2002. The government renegotiated its public debt in 2005 and paid off its remaining obligations to the IMF in early 2006.

    Location: Southern South America, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean, between Chile and Uruguay

    Population: 39,921,833 (July 2006 est.)

    Languages: Spanish (official), English, Italian, German, French

    Country name: conventional long form: Argentine Republic
    conventional short form: Argentina
    local long form: Republica Argentina
    local short form: Argentina

    Capital: name: Buenos Aires
    geographic coordinates: 34 36 S, 58 27 W
    time difference: UTC-3 (2 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

    Economy - overview:
    Argentina benefits from rich natural resources, a highly literate population, an export-oriented agricultural sector, and a diversified industrial base. Although one of the world's wealthiest countries 100 years ago, Argentina suffered during most of the twentieth century from recurring economic crises, persistent fiscal and current account deficits, high inflation, mounting external debt, and capital flight. Beginning in 1998, with external debt equivalent to more than 400 percent of annual exports, economic growth slowed and ultimately fell into a full-blown depression, as investors' fears grew in the wake of Russia's debt default, political discord caused by then-President Carlos MENEM's unpopular efforts to run for a constitutionally prohibited third term, and Brazil's devaluation. The government of Fernando DE LA RUA, elected President in late 1999, tried several measures to cut the fiscal deficit and instill confidence and received large IMF credit facilities, but nothing worked to revive the economy. Depositors began withdrawing money from the banks in late 2001, and the government responded with strict limits on withdrawals. When street protests turned deadly, DE LA RUA was forced to resign in December 2001. Interim President Adolfo Rodriguez SAA declared a default, the largest in history, on Argentina's foreign debt, but he stepped down only a few days later when he failed to garner political support from the country's governors. Eduardo DUHALDE became President in January 2002 and announced an end to the peso's decade-long 1-to-1 peg to the US dollar. When the peso depreciated and inflation rose, DUHALDE's government froze utility tariffs indefinitely, curtailed creditors' rights, and imposed high taxes on exports. The economy rebounded strongly from the crisis, inflation started falling, and DUHALDE called for special elections. Nestor KIRCHNER was elected President, taking office in May 2003, and continued the restrictions imposed by DUHALDE. With the reemergence of double-digit inflation in 2005, the KIRCHNER administration pressured businesses into a series of agreements to hold down prices. The government also restructured its defaulted debt in 2005, convincing most bondholders to accept a large cut on the value of their holdings, and paid off its IMF obligations from reserves in full in early 2006, both of which have reduced Argentina's external debt burden. Real GDP has continued growing strongly, averaging 9 percent during the period 2003-2006, bolstering government revenues and keeping the fiscal accounts-a key vulnerability in the past-in surplus.



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