Argentina Country Facts

Argentina
Capital city Buenos Aires
Surface 2,766,890 km²
Population 44,939,000
Road network length 230,000 km
Length of highway network 1,530 km
First highway 1948
Motorway name autopista
Traffic drives Right
License plate code RA

Argentina (Spanish: República Argentina) is a large country in South America. The country is approximately 70 times the size of the Netherlands and has 45 million inhabitants. The capital is Buenos Aires. Argentina is the seventh largest country in the world and the largest Spanish-speaking country with an area of ​​2,766,890 km².

Geography

Fitz Roy in Patagonia.

Argentina occupies much of the southern part of the continent of South America, with a long coastline on the Atlantic Ocean. The country has a very long land border with Chile, and further borders Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil and Uruguay. The country measures approximately 3,700 kilometers from north to south and a maximum of 1,250 kilometers from east to west. Due to the vast size of the country, Argentina has a very diverse landscape.

The west of the country is dominated by the Andes, a high mountain range with many peaks of more than 5,000 meters in the border area with Chile. The 6,962 meter high Aconcagua is the highest point in both Argentina and all of South America. A large part of the high mountains is limited to the vicinity of the border with Chile, only in the northwest is the mountain range wider, the mountain range covers more than 400 kilometers east-west within Argentina. The northern part of the Andes is desert-like, to the south it becomes subarctic.

East of the Andes, the country is mainly flat to very flat, with hardly any other hill areas. This area is called the Pampas. The northern part of this is formed by part of the Gran Chaco, a tropical to subtropical savanna area that also has a lot of forest. To the south this area turns into endless agricultural areas. The southern half of Argentina is formed by the wild and desolate Patagonia. The southernmost part of Argentina is formed by the Tierra del Fuego (Fireland). This is not the southernmost part of South America, the islands of Chile stretch a little further south to Cape Horn (Cape Horn).

Major rivers flow eastward from the Andes to the Atlantic Ocean. Argentina’s largest rivers flow north-south, such as the río Paraná and its many major tributaries, most prominently the río Paraguay. These eventually flow into the Río de la Plata, a large bay between Argentina and Uruguay. Large lakes are mainly found in the northern half of the country, including some salt lakes such as the Mar Chiquita. There are several reservoirs in Patagonia. In the southern Andes in particular, there are many spectacularly located mountain lakes, in which some glaciers open. Some large mountain lakes are partly located in Chile.

Argentina’s climate ranges from subtropical to subpolar and everything in between, including a cold desert climate in the plateaus of the northwestern Andes. Large parts of Argentina are relatively dry. Most residents of Argentina live in a region with a temperate continental climate. Extreme weather such as tornadoes and blizzards are common in Argentina. The average maximum temperature in Buenos Aires ranges from 15°C in winter in July to 30°C in summer in January. In southern Ushuaia this is between 4°C and 14°C.

Economy

Argentina is a relatively developed economy, with a sizeable middle class. The country has a lot of raw materials, with a developed industrial sector. Exports are largely determined by agricultural products, but also mining products, machines and vehicles. The service sector accounts for 60% of GDP, manufacturing industry 15%, agriculture about 10% and mining about 5%.

A problem in Argentina is the inefficient public sector, protectionism and stagnation due to a constant alternation of fast-growing years and economic crises. At the beginning of the 20th century, Argentina was one of the most prosperous countries in the world. Although the country has developed further since then, it has fallen behind many western countries. The Argentine government structurally spends more than it generates in income, as a result of which the country has experienced several economic crises in the 20th century. The economy recovered strongly from the 2001-2002 crisis, but ran into difficulties again in 2018. Poverty has decreased significantly in the 21st century. High inflation remains an ongoing problem in the country. Income inequality in Argentina is lower than in many other Latin American countries. The Gini coefficient that measures inequality is the lowest in South America. The country is more developed than Brazil and roughly comparable to Chile.

Demographics

City Population (2015)
Buenos Aires 13,834,000
Cordoba 1,519,000
Rosario 1,429,000
Mendoza 1,082,000
Tucuman 868,000
La Plata 836,000
Mar del Plata 633,000
Salta 625,000
Santa Fe 530,000
San Juan 513,000

Argentina is the third largest country in South America in terms of population, after Brazil and Colombia. Argentina’s population growth rate is one of the lowest in Latin America. The population grew strongly between 1950 and 2000, when it grew from 17 to 37 million inhabitants. Since then, growth has been slower. Between 1960 and 2010, the population doubled from 20 to 40 million inhabitants.

The country is highly urbanized, a large part of the Argentines lives in one of the major cities. By far the largest city is Buenos Aires, which has nearly 14 million inhabitants and is almost 10 times the size of the country’s second largest city; Córdoba, which has 1.5 million inhabitants. Rosario (1.4 million) and Mendoza (1.1 million) also have more than 1 million inhabitants. There are more than 20 cities with more than 200,000 inhabitants.

Argentina is divided into 23 provinces and one metropolitan province. The city of Buenos Aires is separate from the much larger province of Buenos Aires, which is also the largest province in the country in terms of area and population. Nearly a third of Argentinians live in the province of Buenos Aires.

The country is made up of immigrants. From the second half of the 19th century, many Europeans migrated to Argentina. Between 1857 and 1950, 6.6 million Europeans moved to Argentina. The largest group of immigrants was the Italians, they now make up a majority of the inhabitants of Argentina, with approximately 25 million Italian Argentines. The French are the second largest group of European migrants, but they are less visible due to the lack of French settlements. French-Argentines make up 17% of the population, but unlike in North America they are highly assimilated. German migrants came not only from Germany, but from Russia in large numbers, the so-called Volga Germans. The German-Argentines make up 8% of the population. Spaniards traditionally formed the largest group of Europeans until the mid-19th century, but then merged into the larger group of European migrants.

The other groups are varied. There are relatively many migrants from the western Middle East, especially Christians and Eastern Orthodox from what is now Syria and Lebanon. Argentina has the largest Jewish population in South America. The Asians are a growing group and mostly live in Buenos Aires. Initially these were mainly Japanese, later Chinese, Koreans and migrants from Southeast Asia. The Japanese-Argentine population is strongly assimilated and mixed with European-Argentineans, the later Asian migrants have retained their own culture more than the Japanese.

The original Indigenous population today makes up over 1% of the population, although about 20% of Argentinians are Mestizo, a mix between Indigenous people and later immigrant groups. Most of the indigenous people live in the north of Argentina.

The official language of Argentina is Spanish and is spoken by practically the entire population. Many Argentines also speak the European language of their ancestors, such as Italian, German and French.

History

The first European in Argentina was the Italian Amerigo Vespucci in 1502. In the early 16th century, some Spanish expeditions to the coast of Argentina followed, but most colonization came from the interior, from Paraguay and Chile. Several larger Argentine cities were founded in the mid-16th century and built according to the Spanish grid model. The region was then part of the Spanish Empire, like much of South America. In the early 19th century, a conflict broke out between independence fighters and Spanish army units. The declaration of independence followed in 1816, but was followed by a series of civil wars throughout the rest of the 19th century. In 1831 the Argentine Confederation was proclaimed. After 1850, European immigration to Argentina began to increase sharply. The country grew strongly and prosperity reached a very high level in the early 20th century. In 1908 Argentina was the 7th richest country in the world, per capita income was significantly higher than in Europe at the time.

A coup followed in 1930 after which the country experienced economic difficulties and economic development began to lag behind Europe and North America. Argentina initially remained neutral during World War II, but after a coup, Argentina declared war on the Axis powers in Europe, only a month before the war in Europe ended. In 1946, Juan Domingo Perón was elected president, who founded a political movement called Peronism, based on nationalization. One problem, however, was a continuing budget and trade deficit in the 1950s and 1960s. Peronism was the policy until the 1966 coup. After this, a military regime, supported by the CIA, came to power. At this time, the Dirty War was conducted by the military regime in the period 1976-1983.

In 1982, the Falklands War was fought between Argentina and Britain, which Argentina lost. After this, Argentina’s transition to democracy began. At the time, the country was dealing with an economic crisis and hyperinflation. The nationalization of the previous 35 years was gradually reversed, with increasing privatization. The economy normalized, but from 1995 it returned to a recession, which lasted until 2002. In 2003, Néstor Kirchner was elected president, who reintroduced protectionist measures. His presidency was succeeded by that of his wife, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who was elected in 2007 and re-elected in 2011. In 2015, Mauricio Macri was elected president, the first non-radical and non-Peronist president since 1916. He saw it as his task to reform Argentina’s government and economy, after more than half a century of crises, budget deficits and inefficiency. Macri wanted to gradually implement reforms and called this gradualism. Due to the ongoing economic slump, he lost re-elections in 2019 and in 2020 the new government withdrew $5.4 billion worth of contracts from road construction projects.

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