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Argentine Republic [A]
República Argentina (Spanish)
Argentine territory in dark green; claimed but uncontrolled territory in light green.
and largest city
|Official languages||Spanish |
|Recognised regional languages|
|Government||Federal presidential constitutional republic|
|Cristina Fernández de Kirchner|
|Chamber of Deputies|
|25 May 1810|
|9 July 1816|
|1 May 1853|
|2,780,400 km2 (1,073,500 sq mi)[B] (8th)|
• Water (%)
• 2019 estimate
• 2010 census
|14.4/km2 (37.3/sq mi) (214th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2019 estimate|
|$903.542 billion (25th)|
• Per capita
|GDP (nominal)||2019 estimate|
|$445.469 billion (30th)|
• Per capita
|Gini (2018)|| 41.4
|HDI (2018)|| 0.830
very high · 48th
|Currency||Peso ($) (ARS)|
|Time zone||UTC−3 (ART)|
|Date format||dd.mm.yyyy (CE)|
|ISO 3166 code||AR|
Argentina (Spanish: [aɾxenˈtina]), officially the Argentine Republic[A] (Spanish: República Argentina), is a country located mostly in the southern half of South America. Sharing the bulk of the Southern Cone with Chile to the west, the country is also bordered by Bolivia and Paraguay to the north, Brazil to the northeast, Uruguay and the South Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Drake Passage to the south. With a mainland area of 2,780,400 km2 (1,073,500 sq mi),[B] Argentina is the eighth-largest country in the world, the fourth largest in the Americas, the second largest in South America after Brazil, and the largest Spanish-speaking nation. The sovereign state is subdivided into twenty-three provinces (Spanish: provincias, singular provincia) and one autonomous city (ciudad autónoma), Buenos Aires, which is the federal capital of the nation (Spanish: Capital Federal) as decided by Congress. The provinces and the capital have their own constitutions, but exist under a federal system. Argentina claims sovereignty over part of Antarctica, the Falkland Islands (Spanish: Islas Malvinas), and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.
The earliest recorded human presence in modern-day Argentina dates back to the Paleolithic period. The Inca Empire expanded to the northwest of the country in Pre-Columbian times. The country has its roots in Spanish colonization of the region during the 16th century. Argentina rose as the successor state of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, a Spanish overseas viceroyalty founded in 1776. The declaration and fight for independence (1810–1818) was followed by an extended civil war that lasted until 1861, culminating in the country's reorganization as a federation of provinces with Buenos Aires as its capital city. The country thereafter enjoyed relative peace and stability, with several waves of European immigration, mainly Italians and Spaniards, radically reshaping its cultural and demographic outlook; 62.5% of the population has full or partial Italian ancestry, and the Argentine culture has significant connections to the Italian culture. The almost-unparalleled increase in prosperity led to Argentina becoming the seventh wealthiest nation in the world by the early 20th century.
Following the Great Depression in the 1930s, Argentina descended into political instability and economic decline that pushed it back into underdevelopment, though it remained among the fifteen richest countries for several decades. Following the death of President Juan Perón in 1974, his widow, Isabel Martínez de Perón, ascended to the presidency. She was overthrown in 1976 by a U.S.-backed coup which installed a right-wing military dictatorship. The military government persecuted and murdered numerous political critics, activists, and leftists in the Dirty War, a period of state terrorism that lasted until the election of Raúl Alfonsín as President in 1983. Several of the junta's leaders were later convicted of their crimes and sentenced to imprisonment.
Argentina is a prominent regional power in the Southern Cone and Latin America, and retains its historic status as a middle power in international affairs. Argentina has the second largest economy in South America, the third-largest in Latin America, and membership in the G-15 and G-20 major economies. It is also a founding member of the United Nations, World Bank, World Trade Organization, Mercosur, Union of South American Nations, Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and the Organization of Ibero-American States. Despite its history of economic instability, it ranks second highest in the Human Development Index in Latin America.
Name and etymology
In English the name "Argentina" comes from the Spanish language, however the naming itself is not Spanish, but Italian. Argentina (masculine argentino) means in Italian "(made) of silver, silver coloured", probably borrowed from the Old French adjective argentine "(made) of silver" > "silver coloured" already mentioned in the 12th century. The French word argentine is the feminine form of argentin and derives from argent "silver" with the suffix -in (same construction as Old French acerin "(made) of steel", from acier "steel" + -in or sapin "(made) of fir wood", from OF sap "fir" + -in). The Italian naming "Argentina" for the country implies Terra Argentina "land of silver" or Costa Argentina "coast of silver". In Italian, the adjective or the proper noun is often used in an autonomous way as a substantive and replaces it and it is said l'Argentina.
The name Argentina was probably first given by the Venetian and Genoese navigators, such as Giovanni Caboto. In Spanish and Portuguese, the words for "silver" are respectively plata and prata and "(made) of silver" is said plateado and prateado. Argentina was first associated with the silver mountains legend, widespread among the first European explorers of the La Plata Basin.
The first written use of the name in Spanish can be traced to La Argentina,[C] a 1602 poem by Martín del Barco Centenera describing the region. Although "Argentina" was already in common usage by the 18th century, the country was formally named "Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata" by the Spanish Empire, and "United Provinces of the Río de la Plata" after independence.
The 1826 constitution included the first use of the name "Argentine Republic" in legal documents. The name "Argentine Confederation" was also commonly used and was formalized in the Argentine Constitution of 1853. In 1860 a presidential decree settled the country's name as "Argentine Republic", and that year's constitutional amendment ruled all the names since 1810 as legally valid.[D]
In the English language the country was traditionally called "the Argentine", mimicking the typical Spanish usage la Argentina and perhaps resulting from a mistaken shortening of the fuller name 'Argentine Republic'. 'The Argentine' fell out of fashion during the mid-to-late 20th century, and now the country is simply referred to as "Argentina".
The earliest traces of human life in the area now known as Argentina are dated from the Paleolithic period, with further traces in the Mesolithic and Neolithic. Until the period of European colonization, Argentina was relatively sparsely populated by a wide number of diverse cultures with different social organizations, which can be divided into three main groups. The first group are basic hunters and food gatherers without development of pottery, such as the Selknam and Yaghan in the extreme south. The second group are advanced hunters and food gatherers which include the Puelche, Querandí and Serranos in the center-east; and the Tehuelche in the south—all of them conquered by the Mapuche spreading from Chile—and the Kom and Wichi in the north. The last group are farmers with pottery, like the Charrúa, Minuane and Guaraní in the northeast, with slash and burn semisedentary existence; the advanced Diaguita sedentary trading culture in the northwest, which was conquered by the Inca Empire around 1480; the Toconoté and Hênîa and Kâmîare in the country's center, and the Huarpe in the center-west, a culture that raised llama cattle and was strongly influenced by the Incas.
Europeans first arrived in the region with the 1502 voyage of Amerigo Vespucci. The Spanish navigators Juan Díaz de Solís and Sebastian Cabot visited the territory that is now Argentina in 1516 and 1526, respectively. In 1536 Pedro de Mendoza founded the small settlement of Buenos Aires, which was abandoned in 1541.
Further colonization efforts came from Paraguay—establishing the Governorate of the Río de la Plata—Peru and Chile. Francisco de Aguirre founded Santiago del Estero in 1553. Londres was founded in 1558; Mendoza, in 1561; San Juan, in 1562; San Miguel de Tucumán, in 1565. Juan de Garay founded Santa Fe in 1573 and the same year Jerónimo Luis de Cabrera set up Córdoba. Garay went further south to re-found Buenos Aires in 1580. San Luis was established in 1596.
The Spanish Empire subordinated the economic potential of the Argentine territory to the immediate wealth of the silver and gold mines in Bolivia and Peru, and as such it became part of the Viceroyalty of Peru until the creation of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata in 1776 with Buenos Aires as its capital.
Buenos Aires repelled two ill-fated British invasions in 1806 and 1807. The ideas of the Age of Enlightenment and the example of the first Atlantic Revolutions generated criticism of the absolutist monarchy that ruled the country. As in the rest of Spanish America, the overthrow of Ferdinand VII during the Peninsular War created great concern.
Independence and civil wars
Beginning a process from which Argentina was to emerge as successor state to the Viceroyalty, the 1810 May Revolution replaced the viceroy Baltasar Hidalgo de Cisneros with the First Junta, a new government in Buenos Aires composed by locals. In the first clashes of the Independence War the Junta crushed a royalist counter-revolution in Córdoba, but failed to overcome those of the Banda Oriental, Upper Peru and Paraguay, which later became independent states.
Revolutionaries split into two antagonist groups: the Centralists and the Federalists—a move that would define Argentina's first decades of independence. The Assembly of the Year XIII appointed Gervasio Antonio de Posadas as Argentina's first Supreme Director.
On 9 July 1816, the Congress of Tucumán formalized the Declaration of Independence, which is now celebrated as Independence Day, a national holiday. One year later General Martín Miguel de Güemes stopped royalists on the north, and General José de San Martín took an army across the Andes and secured the independence of Chile; then he led the fight to the Spanish stronghold of Lima and proclaimed the independence of Peru.[E] In 1819 Buenos Aires enacted a centralist constitution that was soon abrogated by federalists.
The 1820 Battle of Cepeda, fought between the Centralists and the Federalists, resulted in the end of the Supreme Director rule. In 1826 Buenos Aires enacted another centralist constitution, with Bernardino Rivadavia being appointed as the first president of the country. However, the interior provinces soon rose against him, forced his resignation and discarded the constitution. Centralists and Federalists resumed the civil war; the latter prevailed and formed the Argentine Confederation in 1831, led by Juan Manuel de Rosas. During his regime he faced a French blockade (1838–1840), the War of the Confederation (1836–1839), and a combined Anglo-French blockade (1845–1850), but remained undefeated and prevented further loss of national territory. His trade restriction policies, however, angered the interior provinces and in 1852 Justo José de Urquiza, another powerful caudillo, beat him out of power. As new president of the Confederation, Urquiza enacted the liberal and federal 1853 Constitution. Buenos Aires seceded but was forced back into the Confederation after being defeated in the 1859 Battle of Cepeda.
Rise of the modern nation
Overpowering Urquiza in the 1861 Battle of Pavón, Bartolomé Mitre secured Buenos Aires predominance and was elected as the first president of the reunified country. He was followed by Domingo Faustino Sarmiento and Nicolás Avellaneda; these three presidencies set up the bases of the modern Argentine State.
Starting with Julio Argentino Roca in 1880, ten consecutive federal governments emphasized liberal economic policies. The massive wave of European immigration they promoted—second only to the United States'—led to a near-reinvention of Argentine society and economy that by 1908 had placed the country as the seventh wealthiest developed nation in the world. Driven by this immigration wave and decreasing mortality, the Argentine population grew fivefold and the economy 15-fold: from 1870 to 1910 Argentina's wheat exports went from 100,000 to 2,500,000 t (110,000 to 2,760,000 short tons) per year, while frozen beef exports increased from 25,000 to 365,000 t (28,000 to 402,000 short tons) per year, placing Argentina as one of the world's top five exporters. Its railway mileage rose from 503 to 31,104 km (313 to 19,327 mi). Fostered by a new public, compulsory, free and secular education system, literacy quickly increased from 22% to 65%, a level higher than most Latin American nations would reach even fifty years later. Furthermore, real GDP grew so fast that despite the huge immigration influx, per capita income between 1862 and 1920 went from 67% of developed country levels to 100%: In 1865, Argentina was already one of the top 25 nations by per capita income. By 1908, it had surpassed Denmark, Canada and The Netherlands to reach 7th place—behind Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom and Belgium. Argentina's per capita income was 70% higher than Italy's, 90% higher than Spain's, 180% higher than Japan's and 400% higher than Brazil's. Despite these unique achievements, the country was slow to meet its original goals of industrialization: after steep development of capital-intensive local industries in the 1920s, a significant part of the manufacture sector remained labor-intensive in the 1930s.
Between 1878 and 1884 the so-called Conquest of the Desert occurred, with the purpose of giving by means of the constant confrontations between natives and Criollos in the border, and the appropriation of the indigenous territories, tripling the Argentine territory. The first conquest, consisted of a series of military incursions into the Pampa and Patagonian territories dominated by the indigenous peoples, distributing them among the members of the Sociedad Rural Argentina, financiers of the expeditions. The conquest of Chaco lasted up to fines of the century, since its full ownership of the national economic system only took place when the mere extraction of wood and tannin was replaced by the production of cotton. The Argentine government considered indigenous people as inferior beings, without the same rights as Criollos and Europeans.
In 1912, President Roque Sáenz Peña enacted universal and secret male suffrage, which allowed Hipólito Yrigoyen, leader of the Radical Civic Union (or UCR), to win the 1916 election. He enacted social and economic reforms and extended assistance to small farms and businesses. Argentina stayed neutral during World War I. The second administration of Yrigoyen faced an economic crisis, precipitated by the Great Depression.
In 1930, Yrigoyen was ousted from power by the military led by José Félix Uriburu. Although Argentina remained among the fifteen richest countries until mid-century, this coup d'état marks the start of the steady economic and social decline that pushed the country back into underdevelopment.
Uriburu ruled for two years; then Agustín Pedro Justo was elected in a fraudulent election, and signed a controversial treaty with the United Kingdom. Argentina stayed neutral during World War II, a decision that had full British support but was rejected by the United States after the attack on Pearl Harbor. A new military coup toppled the government, and Argentina declared war on the Axis Powers on March 27, 1945, a month before the end of World War II in Europe. The minister of welfare, Juan Domingo Perón, was fired and jailed because of his high popularity among workers. His liberation was forced by a massive popular demonstration, and he went on to win the 1946 election.
Perón created a political movement known as Peronism. He nationalized strategic industries and services, improved wages and working conditions, paid the full external debt and achieved nearly full employment. The economy, however, began to decline in 1950 because of over-expenditure. His highly popular wife, Eva Perón, played a central political role. She pushed Congress to enact women's suffrage in 1947, and developed an unprecedented social assistance to the most vulnerable sectors of society. However, her declining health did not allow her to run for the vice-presidency in 1951, and she died of cancer the following year. Perón was reelected in 1951, surpassing even his 1946 performance. In 1955 the Navy bombed the Plaza de Mayo in an ill-fated attempt to kill the President. A few months later, during the self-called Liberating Revolution coup, he resigned and went into exile in Spain.
The new head of State, Pedro Eugenio Aramburu, proscribed Peronism and banned all of its manifestations; nevertheless, Peronists kept an organized underground. Arturo Frondizi from the UCR won the following elections. He encouraged investment to achieve energetic and industrial self-sufficiency, reversed a chronic trade deficit and lifted Peronism proscription; yet his efforts to stay on good terms with Peronists and the military earned him the rejection of both and a new coup forced him out. But Senate Chief José María Guido reacted swiftly and applied the anti-power vacuum legislation, becoming president instead; elections were repealed and Peronism proscribed again. Arturo Illia was elected in 1963 and led to an overall increase in prosperity; however his attempts to legalize Peronism resulted in his overthrow in 1966 by the Juan Carlos Onganía-led coup d'état called the Argentine Revolution, creating a new military government that sought to rule indefinitely.
The "Dirty War" (Spanish: Guerra Sucia) was part of Operation Condor which included participation of the right-wing dictatorships of the Southern Cone. The Dirty War involved state terrorism in Argentina and elsewhere in the Southern Cone against political dissidents, with military and security forces employing urban and rural violence against left-wing guerrillas, political dissidents, and anyone believed to be associated with socialism or somehow contrary to the neoliberal economic policies of the regime. Victims of the violence in Argentina alone included an estimated 15,000 to 30,000 left-wing activists and militants, including trade unionists, students, journalists, Marxists, Peronist guerrillas and alleged sympathizers. Most were victims of state terrorism. The guerrillas' number of victims are nearly 500-540 between military and police officials and up to 230 civilians. Argentina received technical support and military aid from the United States government during the Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan administrations.
The exact chronology of the repression is still debated, however, as in some senses the long political war started in 1969. Trade unionists were targeted for assassination by the Peronist and Marxist paramilitaries as early as 1969, and individual cases of state-sponsored terrorism against Peronism and the left can be traced back to the Bombing of Plaza de Mayo in 1955. The Trelew massacre of 1972, the actions of the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance since 1973, and Isabel Martínez de Perón's "annihilation decrees" against left-wing guerrillas during Operativo Independencia (translates to Operation of Independence) in 1975, have also been suggested as dates for the beginning of the Dirty War.
Onganía shut down Congress, banned all political parties and dismantled student and worker unions. In 1969, popular discontent led to two massive protests: the Cordobazo and the Rosariazo. The terrorist guerrilla organization Montoneros kidnapped and executed Aramburu. The newly chosen head of government, Alejandro Agustín Lanusse, seeking to ease the growing political pressure, let Héctor José Cámpora be the Peronist candidate instead of Perón. Cámpora won the March 1973 election, issued a pardon for condemned guerrilla members and then secured Perón's return from his exile in Spain.
On the day Perón returned to Argentina, the clash between Peronist internal factions—right-wing union leaders and left-wing youth from Montoneros—resulted in the Ezeiza Massacre. Cámpora resigned, overwhelmed by political violence, and Perón won the September 1973 election with his third wife Isabel as vice-president. He expelled Montoneros from the party and they became once again a clandestine organization. José López Rega organized the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance (AAA) to fight against them and the People's Revolutionary Army (ERP). Perón died in July 1974 and was succeeded by his wife, who signed a secret decree empowering the military and the police to "annihilate" the left-wing subversion, stopping ERP's attempt to start a rural insurgence in Tucumán province. Isabel Perón was ousted one year later by a junta of the three armed forces, led by army general Jorge Rafael Videla. They initiated the National Reorganization Process, often shortened to Proceso.
The Proceso shut down Congress, removed the judges of the Supreme Court, banned political parties and unions, and resorted to the forced disappearance of suspected guerrilla members and of anyone believed to be associated with the left-wing. By the end of 1976 Montoneros had lost near 2,000 members; by 1977, the ERP was completely defeated. A severely weakened Montoneros launched a counterattack in 1979, which was quickly annihilated, ending the guerrilla threat. Nevertheless, the junta stayed in power.
In 1982, the then head of state, General Leopoldo Galtieri, authorised the invasion of the British territories of South Georgia and, on 2 April, of the Falkland Islands. This led to the Falklands War with the United Kingdom and an Argentine surrender on 14 June. Rioting on the streets of Buenos Aires followed the defeat and the military leadership responsible for the humiliation stood down. Reynaldo Bignone replaced Galtieri and began to organize the transition to democratic rule.
Raúl Alfonsín won the 1983 elections campaigning for the prosecution of those responsible for human rights violations during the Proceso: the Trial of the Juntas and other martial courts sentenced all the coup's leaders but, under military pressure, he also enacted the Full Stop and Due Obedience laws, which halted prosecutions further down the chain of command. The worsening economic crisis and hyperinflation reduced his popular support and the Peronist Carlos Menem won the 1989 election. Soon after, riots forced Alfonsín to an early resignation.
Menem embraced neo-liberal policies: a fixed exchange rate, business deregulation, privatizations and dismantling of protectionist barriers normalized the economy for a while. He pardoned the officers who had been sentenced during Alfonsín's government. The 1994 Constitutional Amendment allowed Menem to be elected for a second term. The economy began to decline in 1995, with increasing unemployment and recession; led by Fernando de la Rúa, the UCR returned to the presidency in the 1999 elections.
De la Rúa kept Menem's economic plan despite the worsening crisis, which led to growing social discontent. A massive capital flight was responded to with a freezing of bank accounts, generating further turmoil. The December 2001 riots forced him to resign. Congress appointed Eduardo Duhalde as acting president, who abrogated the fixed exchange rate established by Menem, causing many Argentines to lose a significant portion of their savings. By the late 2002 the economic crisis began to recede, but the assassination of two piqueteros by the police caused political commotion, prompting Duhalde to move elections forward. Néstor Kirchner was elected as the new president.
Boosting the neo-Keynesian economic policies laid by Duhalde, Kirchner ended the economic crisis attaining significant fiscal and trade surpluses, and steep GDP growth. Under his administration Argentina restructured its defaulted debt with an unprecedented discount of about 70% on most bonds, paid off debts with the International Monetary Fund, purged the military of officers with doubtful human rights records, nullified and voided the Full Stop and Due Obedience laws,[F] ruled them as unconstitutional, and resumed legal prosecution of the Juntas' crimes. He did not run for reelection, promoting instead the candidacy of his wife, senator Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who was elected in 2007 and reelected in 2011. Fernández de Kirchner's administration oversaw a positive foreign policy with good relations with other South American nations; however, relations with the United States and United Kingdom remained heavily strained. Jorge Rafael Videla, who had led the repression during the Dirty War, was sentenced to life in a civilian prison in 2010 under de Kirchner's administration; he later died in prison in 2013.
On 22 November 2015, after a tie in the first round of presidential elections on 25 October, Mauricio Macri won the first ballotage in Argentina's history, beating Front for Victory candidate Daniel Scioli and becoming president-elect. Macri is the first democratically elected non-radical or peronist president since 1916. He took office on 10 December 2015. In April 2016, the Macri Government introduced austerity measures intended to tackle inflation and public deficits.
With a mainland surface area of 2,780,400 km2 (1,073,518 sq mi),[B] Argentina is located in southern South America, sharing land borders with Chile across the Andes to the west; Bolivia and Paraguay to the north; Brazil to the northeast, Uruguay and the South Atlantic Ocean to the east; and the Drake Passage to the south; for an overall land border length of 9,376 km (5,826 mi). Its coastal border over the Río de la Plata and South Atlantic Ocean is 5,117 km (3,180 mi) long.
Argentina's highest point is Aconcagua in the Mendoza province (6,959 m (22,831 ft) above sea level), also the highest point in the Southern and Western Hemispheres. The lowest point is Laguna del Carbón in the San Julián Great Depression Santa Cruz province (−105 m (−344 ft) below sea level, also the lowest point in the Southern and Western Hemispheres, and the seventh lowest point on Earth)
The northernmost point is at the confluence of the Grande de San Juan and Río Mojinete rivers in Jujuy province; the southernmost is Cape San Pío in Tierra del Fuego province; the easternmost is northeast of Bernardo de Irigoyen, Misiones and the westernmost is within Los Glaciares National Park in Santa Cruz province. The maximum north–south distance is 3,694 km (2,295 mi), while the maximum east–west one is 1,423 km (884 mi).
Some of the major rivers are the Paraná, Uruguay—which join to form the Río de la Plata, Paraguay, Salado, Negro, Santa Cruz, Pilcomayo, Bermejo and Colorado. These rivers are discharged into the Argentine Sea, the shallow area of the Atlantic Ocean over the Argentine Shelf, an unusually wide continental platform. Its waters are influenced by two major ocean currents: the warm Brazil Current and the cold Falklands Current.
Argentina is a one of the most biodiverse countries in the world hosting one of the greatest ecosystem varieties in the world: 15 continental zones, 2 marine zones, and the Antarctic region are all represented in its territory. This huge ecosystem variety has led to a biological diversity that is among the world's largest:
- 9,372 cataloged vascular plant species (ranked 24th)[G]
- 1,038 cataloged bird species (ranked 14th)[H]
- 375 cataloged mammal species (ranked 12th)[I]
- 338 cataloged reptilian species (ranked 16th)
- 162 cataloged amphibian species (ranked 19th)
The original pampa had virtually no trees; some imported species like the American sycamore or eucalyptus are present along roads or in towns and country estates (estancias). The only tree-like plant native to the pampa is the evergreen Ombú. The surface soils of the pampa are a deep black color, primarily mollisols, known commonly as humus. This makes the region one of the most agriculturally 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.
The National Parks of Argentina make up a network of 35 national parks in Argentina. The parks cover a very varied set of terrains and biotopes, from Baritú National Park on the northern border with Bolivia to Tierra del Fuego National Park in the far south of the continent. The Administración de Parques Nacionales (National Parks Administration) is the agency that preserves and manages these national parks along with Natural monuments and National Reserves within the country.
In general, Argentina has four main climate types: warm, moderate, arid, and cold, all determined by the expanse across latitude, range in altitude, and relief features. Although the most populated areas are generally temperate, Argentina has an exceptional amount of climate diversity, ranging from subtropical in the north to polar in the far south. Consequently, there is a wide variety of biomes in the country, including subtropical rain forests, semi-arid and arid regions, temperate plains in the Pampas, and cold subantarctic in the south. The average annual precipitation ranges from 150 millimetres (6 in) in the driest parts of Patagonia to over 2,000 millimetres (79 in) in the westernmost parts of Patagonia and the northeastern parts of the country. Mean annual temperatures range from 5 °C (41 °F) in the far south to 25 °C (77 °F) in the north.
Major wind currents include the cool Pampero Winds blowing on the flat plains of Patagonia and the Pampas; following the cold front, warm currents blow from the north in middle and late winter, creating mild conditions. 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 central coast and in the Río de la Plata estuary. The Zonda, a hot dry wind, affects Cuyo and the central Pampas. Squeezed of all moisture during the 6,000 m (19,685 ft) descent from the Andes, Zonda winds can blow for hours with gusts up to 120 km/h (75 mph), fueling wildfires and causing damage; between June and November, when the Zonda blows, snowstorms and blizzard (viento blanco) conditions usually affect higher elevations.
In the 20th century, Argentina experienced significant political turmoil and democratic reversals. Between 1930 and 1976, the armed forces overthrew six governments in Argentina; and the country alternated periods of democracy (1912–1930, 1946–1955, and 1973–1976) with periods of restricted democracy and military rule. Following a transition that began in 1983, full-scale democracy in Argentina was reestablished. Argentina's democracy endured through the 2001–02 crisis and to the present day; it is regarded as more robust than both its pre-1983 predecessors and other democracies in Latin America.
Argentina is a federal constitutional republic and representative democracy. The government is regulated by a system of checks and balances defined by the Constitution of Argentina, the country's supreme legal document. The seat of government is the city of Buenos Aires, as designated by Congress. Suffrage is universal, equal, secret and mandatory.[J]
The federal government is composed of three branches:
The Legislative branch consists of the bicameral Congress, made up of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. The Congress makes federal law, declares war, approves treaties and has the power of the purse and of impeachment, by which it can remove sitting members of the government. The Chamber of Deputies represents the people and has 257 voting members elected to a four-year term. Seats are apportioned among the provinces by population every tenth year. As of 2014[update] ten provinces have just five deputies while the Buenos Aires Province, being the most populous one, has 70. The Chamber of Senators represents the provinces, has 72 members elected at-large to six-year terms, with each province having three seats; one third of Senate seats are up for election every other year. At least one-third of the candidates presented by the parties must be women.
In the Executive branch, the President is the commander-in-chief of the military, can veto legislative bills before they become law—subject to Congressional override—and appoints the members of the Cabinet and other officers, who administer and enforce federal laws and policies. The President is elected directly by the vote of the people, serves a four-year term and may be elected to office no more than twice in a row.
The Judicial branch includes the Supreme Court and lower federal courts interpret laws and overturn those they find unconstitutional. The Judicial is independent of the Executive and the Legislative. The Supreme Court has seven members appointed by the President—subject to Senate approval—who serve for life. The lower courts' judges are proposed by the Council of Magistracy (a secretariat composed of representatives of judges, lawyers, researchers, the Executive and the Legislative), and appointed by the President on Senate approval.
Argentina is a federation of twenty-three provinces and one autonomous city, Buenos Aires. Provinces are divided for administration purposes into departments and municipalities, except for Buenos Aires Province, which is divided into partidos. The City of Buenos Aires is divided into communes.
Provinces hold all the power that they chose not to delegate to the federal government; they must be representative republics and must not contradict the Constitution. Beyond this they are fully autonomous: they enact their own constitutions, freely organize their local governments, and own and manage their natural and financial resources. Some provinces have bicameral legislatures, while others have unicameral ones.[K]
During the War of Independence the main cities and their surrounding countrysides became provinces though the intervention of their cabildos. The Anarchy of the Year XX completed this process, shaping the original thirteen provinces. Jujuy seceded from Salta in 1834, and the thirteen provinces became fourteen. After seceding for a decade, Buenos Aires accepted the 1853 Constitution of Argentina in 1861, and was made a federal territory in 1880.
An 1862 law designated as national territories those under federal control but outside the frontiers of the provinces. In 1884 they served as bases for the establishment of the governorates of Misiones, Formosa, Chaco, La Pampa, Neuquén, Río Negro, Chubut, Santa Cruz and Tierra del Fuego. The agreement about a frontier dispute with Chile in 1900 created the National Territory of Los Andes; its lands were incorporated into Jujuy, Salta and Catamarca in 1943. La Pampa and Chaco became provinces in 1951. Misiones did so in 1953, and Formosa, Neuquén, Río Negro, Chubut and Santa Cruz, in 1955. The last national territory, Tierra del Fuego, became the Tierra del Fuego, Antártida e Islas del Atlántico Sur Province in 1990. It has three components, although two are nominal because they are not under Argentine sovereignty. The first is the Argentine part of Tierra del Fuego; the second is an area of Antarctica claimed by Argentina that overlaps with similar areas claimed by the UK and Chile; the third comprises the two disputed British Overseas Territories of the Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.
Foreign policy is handled by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship, which answers to the President.
A middle power, Argentina bases its foreign policies on the guiding principles of non-intervention,[need quotation to verify] human rights, self-determination, international cooperation, disarmament and peaceful settlement of conflicts.
The country is one of the G-15 and G-20 major economies of the world, and a founding member of the UN, WBG, WTO and OAS. In 2012 Argentina was elected again to a two-year non-permanent position on the United Nations Security Council and is participating in major peacekeeping operations in Haiti, Cyprus, Western Sahara and the Middle East.
A prominent Latin American and Southern Cone regional power, Argentina co-founded OEI, CELAC and UNASUR, of which the former President Néstor Kirchner was first Secretary General. It is also a founding member of the Mercosur block, having Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela as partners. Since 2002 the country has emphasized its key role in Latin American integration, and the block—which has some supranational legislative functions—is its first international priority.
Argentina claims 965,597 km2 (372,819 sq mi) in Antarctica, where it has the world's oldest continuous state presence, since 1904. This overlaps claims by Chile and the United Kingdom, though all such claims fall under the provisions of the 1961 Antarctic Treaty, of which Argentina is a founding signatory and permanent consulting member, with the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat being based in Buenos Aires.
Argentina disputes sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Spanish: Islas Malvinas), and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, which are administered by the United Kingdom as Overseas Territories.
The President holds the title of commander-in-chief of the Argentine Armed Forces, as part of a legal framework that imposes a strict separation between national defense and internal security systems:
The National Defense System, an exclusive responsibility of the federal government, coordinated by the Ministry of Defense, and comprising the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. Ruled and monitored by Congress through the Houses' Defense Committees, it is organized on the essential principle of legitimate self-defense: the repelling of any external military aggression in order to guarantee freedom of the people, national sovereignty, and territorial integrity. Its secondary missions include committing to multinational operations within the framework of the United Nations, participating in internal support missions, assisting friendly countries, and establishing a sub-regional defense system.
Military service is voluntary, with enlistment age between 18 and 24 years old and no conscription. Argentina's defense has historically been one of the best equipped in the region, even managing its own weapon research facilities, shipyards, ordnance, tank and plane factories. However, real military expenditures declined steadily after 1981 and the defense budget in 2011 was about 0.74% of GDP, a historical minimum, below the Latin American average.
The Interior Security System, jointly administered by the federal and subscribing provincial governments. At the federal level it is coordinated by the Interior, Security and Justice ministries, and monitored by Congress. It is enforced by the Federal Police; the Prefecture, which fulfills coast guard duties; the Gendarmerie, which serves border guard tasks; and the Airport Security Police. At the provincial level it is coordinated by the respective internal security ministries and enforced by local police agencies.
Argentina was the only South American country to send warships and cargo planes in 1991 to the Gulf War under UN mandate and has remained involved in peacekeeping efforts in multiple locations like UNPROFOR in Croatia/Bosnia, Gulf of Fonseca, UNFICYP in Cyprus (where among Army and Marines troops the Air Force provided the UN Air contingent since 1994) and MINUSTAH in Haiti. Argentina is the only Latin American country to maintain troops in Kosovo during SFOR (and later EUFOR) operations where combat engineers of the Argentine Armed Forces are embedded in an Italian brigade.
In 2007, an Argentine contingent including helicopters, boats and water purification plants was sent to help Bolivia against their worst floods in decades. In 2010 the Armed Forces were also involved in Haiti and Chile humanitarian responses after their respective earthquakes.
Benefiting from rich natural resources, a highly literate population, a diversified industrial base, and an export-oriented agricultural sector, the economy of Argentina is Latin America's third-largest, and the second largest in South America. It has a "very high" rating on the Human Development Index and a relatively high GDP per capita, with a considerable internal market size and a growing share of the high-tech sector.
A middle emerging economy and one of the world's top developing nations,[L] Argentina is a member of the G-20 major economies. Historically, however, its economic performance has been very uneven, with high economic growth alternating with severe recessions, income maldistribution and—in the recent decades—increasing poverty. Early in the 20th century Argentina achieved development, and became the world's seventh richest country. Although managing to keep a place among the top fifteen economies until mid-century, it suffered a long and steady decline, but it is still a high income country.
High inflation—a weakness of the Argentine economy for decades—has become a trouble once again, with an annual rate of 24.8% in 2017. To deter it and support the peso, the government imposed foreign currency control. Income distribution, having improved since 2002, is classified as "medium", although it is still considerably unequal.
Argentina ranks 85th out of 180 countries in the Transparency International's 2017 Corruption Perceptions Index, an improvement of 22 positions over its 2014 rankings. Argentina settled its long-standing debt default crisis in 2016 with the so-called vulture funds after the election of Mauricio Macri, allowing Argentina to enter capital markets for the first time in a decade.
In 2012[update] manufacturing accounted for 20.3% of GDP—the largest sector in the nation's economy. Well-integrated into Argentine agriculture, half of the industrial exports have rural origin.
In 2012[update] the leading sectors by volume were: food processing, beverages and tobacco products; motor vehicles and auto parts; textiles and leather; refinery products and biodiesel; chemicals and pharmaceuticals; steel, aluminum and iron; industrial and farm machinery; home appliances and furniture; plastics and tires; glass and cement; and recording and print media. In addition, Argentina has since long been one of the top five wine-producing countries in the world. However, it has also been classified as one of the 74 countries where instances of child labour and forced labour have been observed and mentioned in a 2014 report published by the Bureau of International Labor Affairs. The ILAB's List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor shows that many of the goods produced by child labor or forced labor comes from the agricultural sector.
Córdoba is Argentina's major industrial center, hosting metalworking, motor vehicle and auto parts manufactures. Next in importance are the Greater Buenos Aires area (food processing, metallurgy, motor vehicles and auto parts, chemicals and petrochemicals, consumer durables, textiles and printing); Rosario (food processing, metallurgy, farm machinery, oil refining, chemicals, and tanning); San Miguel de Tucumán (sugar refining); San Lorenzo (chemicals and pharmaceuticals); San Nicolás de los Arroyos (steel milling and metallurgy); and Ushuaia and Bahía Blanca (oil refining).[unreliable source?] Other manufacturing enterprises are located in the provinces of Santa Fe (zinc and copper smelting, and flour milling); Mendoza and Neuquén (wineries and fruit processing); Chaco (textiles and sawmills); and Santa Cruz, Salta and Chubut (oil refining).[unreliable source?]
Argentina has the largest railway system in Latin America, with 36,966 km (22,970 mi) of operating lines in 2008[update], out of a full network of almost 48,000 km (29,826 mi). This system links all 23 provinces plus Buenos Aires City, and connects with all neighboring countries. There are four incompatible gauges in use; this forces virtually all interregional freight traffic to pass through Buenos Aires. The system has been in decline since the 1940s: regularly running up large budgetary deficits, by 1991 it was transporting 1,400 times less goods than it did in 1973. However, in recent years the system has experienced a greater degree of investment from the state, in both commuter rail lines and long distance lines, renewing rolling stock and infrastructure. In April 2015, by overwhelming majority the Argentine Senate passed a law which re-created Ferrocarriles Argentinos (2015), effectively re-nationalising the country's railways, a move which saw support from all major political parties on both sides of the political spectrum.
By 2004[update] Buenos Aires, all provincial capitals except Ushuaia, and all medium-sized towns were interconnected by 69,412 km (43,131 mi) of paved roads, out of a total road network of 231,374 km (143,769 mi). Most important cities are linked by a growing number of expressways, including Buenos Aires–La Plata, Rosario–Córdoba, Córdoba–Villa Carlos Paz, Villa Mercedes–Mendoza, National Route 14 General José Gervasio Artigas and Provincial Route 2 Juan Manuel Fangio, among others. Nevertheless, this road infrastructure is still inadequate and cannot handle the sharply growing demand caused by deterioration of the railway system.
In 2012[update] there were about 11,000 km (6,835 mi) of waterways, mostly comprising the La Plata, Paraná, Paraguay and Uruguay rivers, with Buenos Aires, Zárate, Campana, Rosario, San Lorenzo, Santa Fe, Barranqueras and San Nicolas de los Arroyos as the main fluvial ports. Some of the largest sea ports are La Plata–Ensenada, Bahía Blanca, Mar del Plata, Quequén–Necochea, Comodoro Rivadavia, Puerto Deseado, Puerto Madryn, Ushuaia and San Antonio Oeste. Buenos Aires has historically been the most important port; however since the 1990s the Up-River port region has become dominant: stretching along 67 km (42 mi) of the Paraná river shore in Santa Fe province, it includes 17 ports and in 2013[update] accounted for 50% of all exports.
In 2013[update] there were 161 airports with paved runways out of more than a thousand. The Ezeiza International Airport, about 35 km (22 mi) from downtown Buenos Aires, is the largest in the country, followed by Cataratas del Iguazú in Misiones, and El Plumerillo in Mendoza. Aeroparque, in the city of Buenos Aires, is the most important domestic airport.
Media and communications
Print media industry is highly developed in Argentina, with more than two hundred newspapers. The major national ones include Clarín (centrist, Latin America's best-seller and the second most widely circulated in the Spanish-speaking world), La Nación (center-right, published since 1870), Página/12 (leftist, founded in 1987), the Buenos Aires Herald (Latin America's most prestigious English language daily, liberal, dating back to 1876), La Voz del Interior (center, founded in 1904), and the Argentinisches Tageblatt (German weekly, liberal, published since 1878)
Argentina began the world's first regular radio broadcasting on 27 August 1920, when Richard Wagner's Parsifal was aired by a team of medical students led by Enrique Telémaco Susini in Buenos Aires' Teatro Coliseo. By 2002[update] there were 260 AM and 1150 FM registered radio stations in the country.
The Argentine television industry is large, diverse and popular across Latin America, with many productions and TV formats having been exported abroad. Since 1999 Argentines enjoy the highest availability of cable and satellite television in Latin America, as of 2014[update] totaling 87.4% of the country's households, a rate similar to those in the United States, Canada and Europe.
By 2011[update] Argentina also had the highest coverage of networked telecommunications among Latin American powers: about 67% of its population had internet access and 137.2%, mobile phone subscriptions.
Science and technology
Argentines have received three Nobel Prizes in the Sciences. Bernardo Houssay, the first Latin American recipient, discovered the role of pituitary hormones in regulating glucose in animals, and shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1947. Luis Leloir discovered how organisms store energy converting glucose into glycogen and the compounds which are fundamental in metabolizing carbohydrates, receiving the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1970. César Milstein did extensive research in antibodies, sharing the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1984. Argentine research has led to treatments for heart diseases and several forms of cancer. Domingo Liotta designed and developed the first artificial heart that was successfully implanted in a human being in 1969. René Favaloro developed the techniques and performed the world's first coronary bypass surgery.
Argentina's nuclear programme has been highly successful. In 1957 Argentina was the first country in Latin America to design and build a research reactor with homegrown technology, the RA-1 Enrico Fermi. This reliance in the development of own nuclear related technologies, instead of simply buying them abroad, was a constant of Argentina's nuclear programme conducted by the civilian National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA). Nuclear facilities with Argentine technology have been built in Peru, Algeria, Australia and Egypt. In 1983, the country admitted having the capability of producing weapon-grade uranium, a major step needed to assemble nuclear weapons; since then, however, Argentina has pledged to use nuclear power only for peaceful purposes. As a member of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Argentina has been a strong voice in support of nuclear non-proliferation efforts and is highly committed to global nuclear security. In 1974 it was the first country in Latin America to put in-line a commercial nuclear power plant, Atucha I. Although the Argentine built parts for that station amounted to 10% of the total, the nuclear fuel it uses are since entirely built in the country. Later nuclear power stations employed a higher percentage of Argentine built components; Embalse, finished in 1983, a 30% and the 2011 Atucha II reactor a 40%.
Despite its modest budget and numerous setbacks, academics and the sciences in Argentina have enjoyed an international respect since the turn of the 1900s, when Luis Agote devised the first safe and effective means of blood transfusion as well as René Favaloro, who was a pioneer in the improvement of the coronary artery bypass surgery. Argentine scientists are still on the cutting edge in fields such as nanotechnology, physics, computer sciences, molecular biology, oncology, ecology and cardiology. Juan Maldacena, an Argentine-American scientist, is a leading figure in string theory.
Space research has also become increasingly active in Argentina. Argentine built satellites include LUSAT-1 (1990), Víctor-1 (1996), PEHUENSAT-1 (2007), and those developed by CONAE, the Argentine space agency, of the SAC series. Argentina has its own satellite programme, nuclear power station designs (4th generation) and public nuclear energy company INVAP, which provides several countries with nuclear reactors. Established in 1991, the CONAE has since launched two satellites successfully and, in June 2009, secured an agreement with the European Space Agency for the installation of a 35-m diameter antenna and other mission support facilities at the Pierre Auger Observatory, the world's foremost cosmic ray observatory. The facility will contribute to numerous ESA space probes, as well as CONAE's own, domestic research projects. Chosen from 20 potential sites and one of only three such ESA installations in the world, the new antenna will create a triangulation which will allow the ESA to ensure mission coverage around the clock
Tourism in Argentina is characterized by its cultural offerings and its ample and varied natural assets. The country had 5.57 million visitors in 2013, ranking in terms of the international tourist arrivals as the top destination in South America, and second in Latin America after Mexico. Revenues from international tourists reached US$4.41 billion in 2013, down from US$4.89 billion in 2012. The country's capital city, Buenos Aires, is the most visited city in South America. There are 30 National Parks of Argentina including many World Heritage Sites.
The 2010 census counted 40,117,096 inhabitants, up from 36,260,130 in 2001. Argentina ranks third in South America in total population, fourth in Latin America and 33rd globally. Its population density of 15 persons per square kilometer of land area is well below the world average of 50 persons. The population growth rate in 2010 was an estimated 1.03% annually, with a birth rate of 17.7 live births per 1,000 inhabitants and a mortality rate of 7.4 deaths per 1,000 inhabitants. Since 2010, the crude net migration rate has ranged from below zero to up to four immigrants per 1,000 inhabitants per year.
Argentina is in the midst of a demographic transition to an older and slower-growing population. The proportion of people under 15 is 25.6%, a little below the world average of 28%, and the proportion of people 65 and older is relatively high at 10.8%. In Latin America this is second only to Uruguay and well above the world average, which is currently 7%. Argentina has one of Latin America's lowest population growth rates as well as a comparatively low infant mortality rate. Its birth rate of 2.3 children per woman is considerably below the high of 7.0 children born per woman in 1895, though still nearly twice as high as in Spain or Italy, which are culturally and demographically similar. The median age is 31.9 years and life expectancy at birth is 77.14 years.
As with other areas of new settlement, such as the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and Uruguay, Argentina is considered a country of immigrants. Argentines usually refer to the country as a crisol de razas (crucible of races, or melting pot).
Between 1857 and 1950 Argentina was the country with the second biggest immigration wave in the world, at 6.6 million, second only to the United States in the numbers of immigrants received (27 million) and ahead of other areas of new settlement like Canada, Brazil and Australia.
Strikingly, at those times, the national population doubled every two decades. This belief is endured in the popular saying "los argentinos descienden de los barcos" (Argentines descend from the ships). Therefore, most Argentines are descended from the 19th- and 20th-century immigrants of the great immigration wave to Argentina (1850–1955), with a great majority of these immigrants coming from diverse European countries, particularly Italy and Spain. The majority of Argentines descend from multiple European ethnic groups, primarily of Italian and Spanish descent, with over 25 million Argentines (almost 60% of the population) having some partial Italian origins.
Argentina is home to a significant Arab population; including those with partial descent, Arab Argentines number 1.3 to 3.5 million, mostly of Syrian and Lebanese origin. As in the United States, they are considered white . The majority of Arab Argentines are Christians belonging to the Maronite Church, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Rite Catholic Churches. A minority are Muslims, albeit the largest Muslim community in the Americas. The Asian population in the country numbers around 180,000 individuals, most of whom are of Chinese and Korean descent, although an older Japanese community originating from the early 20th century still exists.
A 2010 study conducted on 218 individuals by the Argentine geneticist Daniel Corach established that the genetic map of Argentina is composed of 79% from different European ethnicities (mainly Spanish and Italian), 18% of different indigenous ethnicities, and 4.3% of African ethnic groups; 63.6% of the tested group had at least one ancestor who was Indigenous.
From the 1970s, immigration has mostly been coming from Bolivia, Paraguay and Peru, with smaller numbers from the Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Romania. The Argentine government estimates that 750,000 inhabitants lack official documents and has launched a program to encourage illegal immigrants to declare their status in return for two-year residence visas—so far over 670,000 applications have been processed under the program.
- Homburguer et al., 2015, PLOS One Genetics: 67% European, 28% Amerindian, 4% African and 1,4% Asian.
- Avena et al., 2012, PLOS One Genetics: 65% European, 31% Amerindian, and 4% African.
- Buenos Aires Province: 76% European and 24% others.
- South Zone (Chubut Province): 54% European and 46% others.
- Northeast Zone (Misiones, Corrientes, Chaco & Formosa provinces): 54% European and 46% others.
- Northwest Zone (Salta Province): 33% European and 67% others.
- Oliveira, 2008, on Universidade de Brasília: 60% European, 31% Amerindian and 9% African.
- National Geographic: 52% European, 27% Amerindian ancestry, 9% African and 9% others.
The de facto[M] official language is Spanish, spoken by almost all Argentines. The country is the largest Spanish-speaking society that universally employs voseo, the use of the pronoun vos instead of tú ("you"), which imposes the use of alternative verb forms as well. Due to the extensive Argentine geography, Spanish has a strong variation among regions, although the prevalent dialect is Rioplatense, primarily spoken in the La Plata Basin and accented similarly to the Neapolitan language. Italian and other European immigrants influenced Lunfardo—the regional slang—permeating the vernacular vocabulary of other Latin American countries as well.
There are several second-languages in widespread use among the Argentine population:
- English,[N] taught since elementary school. 42.3% of Argentines claim to speak it, with 15.4% of them claiming to have a high level of language comprehension.
- Italian, by 1.5 million people.[O]
- Arabic, specially its Northern Levantine dialect, by one million people.
- Standard German, by 400,000 people.[P]
- Yiddish, by 200,000 people, the largest Jewish population in Latin America and 7th in the world.
- Guaraní, by 200,000 people, mostly in Corrientes (where it is official de jure) and Misiones.
- Catalan, by 174,000 people.
- Quechua, by 65,000 people, mostly in the Northwest.
- Wichí, by 53,700 people, mainly in Chaco where, along with Kom and Moqoit, it is official de jure.
- Vlax Romani, by 52,000 people.
- Albanian, by 40,000 people.
- Japanese, by 32,000 people.
- Aymara, by 30,000 people, mostly in the Northwest.
- Ukrainian, by 27,000 people.
- Welsh, 5,000 people in Patagonia. Some districts have incorporated it as an educational language.
According to a 2008 CONICET poll, Argentines were 76.5% Catholic, 11.3% Agnostics and Atheists, 9% Evangelical Protestants, 1.2% Jehovah's Witnesses, and 0.9% Mormons, while 1.2% followed other religions, including Islam, Judaism and Buddhism. These figures appear to have changed quite significantly in recent years: data recorded in 2017 indicated that Catholics made up 66% of the population, indicating a drop of 10.5% in nine years, and the nonreligious in the country standing at 21% of the population, indicating an almost doubling over the same period.
The country is home to both the largest Muslim and largest Jewish communities in Latin America, the latter being the seventh most populous in the world. Argentina is a member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.
On 13 March 2013, Argentine Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires, was elected Bishop of Rome and Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church. He took the name "Francis", and he became the first Pope from either the Americas or from the Southern Hemisphere; he is the first Pope born outside of Europe since the election of Pope Gregory III (who was Syrian) in 741.
Argentina is highly urbanized, with 92% of its population living in cities: the ten largest metropolitan areas account for half of the population. About 3 million people live in the city of Buenos Aires, and including the Greater Buenos Aires metropolitan area it totals around 13 million, making it one of the largest urban areas in the world.
The metropolitan areas of Córdoba and Rosario have around 1.3 million inhabitants each. Mendoza, San Miguel de Tucumán, La Plata, Mar del Plata, Salta and Santa Fe have at least half a million people each.
The population is unequally distributed: about 60% live in the Pampas region (21% of the total area), including 15 million people in Buenos Aires province. The provinces of Córdoba and Santa Fe, and the city of Buenos Aires have 3 million each. Seven other provinces have over one million people each: Mendoza, Tucumán, Entre Ríos, Salta, Chaco, Corrientes and Misiones. With 64.3 inhabitants per square kilometre (167/sq mi), Tucumán is the only Argentine province more densely populated than the world average; by contrast, the southern province of Santa Cruz has around 1.1/km2 (2.8/sq mi).
The Argentine education system consists of four levels:
- An initial level for children between 45 days to 5 years old, with the last two years being compulsory.
- An elementary or lower school mandatory level lasting 6 or 7 years.[R] In 2010[update] the literacy rate was 98.07%.
- A secondary or high school mandatory level lasting 5 or 6 years.[R] In 2010[update] 38.5% of people over age 20 had completed secondary school.
- A higher level, divided in tertiary, university and post-graduate sub-levels. in 2013[update] there were 47 national public universities across the country, as well as 46 private ones. In 2010[update] 7.1% of people over age 20 had graduated from university. The public universities of Buenos Aires, Córdoba, La Plata, Rosario, and the National Technological University are some of the most important.
The Argentine state guarantees universal, secular and free-of-charge public education for all levels.[S] Responsibility for educational supervision is organized at the federal and individual provincial states. In the last decades the role of the private sector has grown across all educational stages.
Health care is provided through a combination of employer and labor union-sponsored plans (Obras Sociales), government insurance plans, public hospitals and clinics and through private health insurance plans. Health care cooperatives number over 300 (of which 200 are related to labor unions) and provide health care for half the population; the national INSSJP (popularly known as PAMI) covers nearly all of the five million senior citizens.
There are more than 153,000 hospital beds, 121,000 physicians and 37,000 dentists (ratios comparable to developed nations). The relatively high access to medical care has historically resulted in mortality patterns and trends similar to developed nations': from 1953 to 2005, deaths from cardiovascular disease increased from 20% to 23% of the total, those from tumors from 14% to 20%, respiratory problems from 7% to 14%, digestive maladies (non-infectious) from 7% to 11%, strokes a steady 7%, injuries, 6%, and infectious diseases, 4%. Causes related to senility led to many of the rest. Infant deaths have fallen from 19% of all deaths in 1953 to 3% in 2005.
The availability of health care has also reduced infant mortality from 70 per 1000 live births in 1948 to 12.1 in 2009 and raised life expectancy at birth from 60 years to 76. Though these figures compare favorably with global averages, they fall short of levels in developed nations and in 2006, Argentina ranked fourth in Latin America.
Argentina is a multicultural country with significant European influences. Modern Argentine culture has been largely influenced by Italian, Spanish and other European immigration from France, United Kingdom, and Germany among others. Its cities are largely characterized by both the prevalence of people of European descent, and of conscious imitation of American and European styles in fashion, architecture and design. Museums, cinemas, and galleries are abundant in all the large urban centers, as well as traditional establishments such as literary bars, or bars offering live music of a variety of genres although there are lesser elements of Amerindian and African influences, particularly in the fields of music and art.  The other big influence is the gauchos and their traditional country lifestyle of self-reliance. Finally, indigenous American traditions have been absorbed into the general cultural milieu. Argentine writer Ernesto Sabato has reflected on the nature of the culture of Argentina as follows:
With the primitive Hispanic American reality fractured in La Plata Basin due to immigration, its inhabitants have come to be somewhat dual with all the dangers but also with all the advantages of that condition: because of our European roots, we deeply link the nation with the enduring values of the Old World; because of our condition of Americans we link ourselves to the rest of the continent, through the folklore of the interior and the old Castilian that unifies us, feeling somehow the vocation of the Patria Grande San Martín and Bolívar once imagined.
Although Argentina's rich literary history began around 1550, it reached full independence with Esteban Echeverría's El Matadero, a romantic landmark that played a significant role in the development of 19th century's Argentine narrative, split by the ideological divide between the popular, federalist epic of José Hernández' Martín Fierro and the elitist and cultured discourse of Sarmiento's masterpiece, Facundo.
The Modernist movement advanced into the 20th century including exponents such as Leopoldo Lugones and poet Alfonsina Storni; it was followed by Vanguardism, with Ricardo Güiraldes's Don Segundo Sombra as an important reference.
Jorge Luis Borges, Argentina's most acclaimed writer and one of the foremost figures in the history of literature, found new ways of looking at the modern world in metaphor and philosophical debate and his influence has extended to authors all over the globe. Short stories such as Ficciones and The Aleph are among his most famous works. He was a friend and collaborator of Adolfo Bioy Casares, who wrote one of the most praised science fiction novels, The Invention of Morel. Julio Cortázar, one of the leading members of the Latin American Boom and a major name in 20th century literature, influenced an entire generation of writers in the Americas and Europe.
A remarkable episode in the Argentine literature's history is the social and literarial dialectica between the so-called Florida Group named this way because its members used to meet together at the Richmond Cafeteria at Florida street and published in the Martin Fierro magazine, like Jorge Luis Borges, Leopoldo Marechal, Antonio Berni (artist), among others, versus the Boedo Group of Roberto Arlt, Cesar Tiempo, Homero Manzi (tango composer), that used to meet at the Japanese Cafe and published their works with the Editorial Claridad, with both the cafe and the publisher located at the Boedo Avenue.
Other highly regarded Argentine writers, poets and essayists include Estanislao del Campo, Eugenio Cambaceres, Pedro Bonifacio Palacios, Hugo Wast, Benito Lynch, Enrique Banchs, Oliverio Girondo, Ezequiel Martínez Estrada, Victoria Ocampo, Leopoldo Marechal, Silvina Ocampo, Roberto Arlt, Eduardo Mallea, Manuel Mujica Láinez, Ernesto Sábato, Silvina Bullrich, Rodolfo Walsh, María Elena Walsh, Tomás Eloy Martínez, Manuel Puig, Alejandra Pizarnik, and Osvaldo Soriano. 
Tango, a Rioplatense musical genre with European and African influences, is one of Argentina's international cultural symbols. The golden age of tango (1930 to mid-1950s) mirrored that of jazz and swing in the United States, featuring large orchestras like those of Osvaldo Pugliese, Aníbal Troilo, Francisco Canaro, Julio de Caro and Juan d'Arienzo. After 1955, virtuoso Astor Piazzolla popularized Nuevo tango, a subtler and more intellectual trend for the genre. Tango enjoys worldwide popularity nowadays with groups like Gotan Project, Bajofondo and Tanghetto.
Argentina developed strong classical music and dance scenes that gave rise to renowned artists such as Alberto Ginastera, composer; Alberto Lysy, violinist; Martha Argerich and Eduardo Delgado, pianists; Daniel Barenboim, pianist and symphonic orchestra director; José Cura and Marcelo Álvarez, tenors; and to ballet dancers Jorge Donn, José Neglia, Norma Fontenla, Maximiliano Guerra, Paloma Herrera, Marianela Núñez, Iñaki Urlezaga and Julio Bocca.
A national Argentine folk style emerged in the 1930s from dozens of regional musical genres and went to influence the entirety of Latin American music. Some of its interpreters, like Atahualpa Yupanqui and Mercedes Sosa, achieved worldwide acclaim.
Argentine rock developed as a distinct musical style in the mid-1960s, when Buenos Aires and Rosario became cradles of aspiring musicians. Founding bands like Los Gatos, Sui Generis, Almendra and Manal were followed by Seru Giran, Los Abuelos de la Nada, Soda Stereo and Patricio Rey y sus Redonditos de Ricota, with prominent artists including Gustavo Cerati, Litto Nebbia, Andrés Calamaro, Luis Alberto Spinetta, Charly García, Fito Páez and León Gieco.
Another popular musical genre at present is Cumbia villera is a subgenre of cumbia music originated in the slums of Argentina and popularized all over Latin America and the Latin communities abroad.
Buenos Aires is one of the great theatre capitals of the world, with a scene of international caliber centered on Corrientes Avenue, "the street that never sleeps", sometimes referred to as an intellectual Broadway in Buenos Aires. Teatro Colón is a global landmark for opera and classical performances; its acoustics are considered among the world's top five.[T] Other important theatrical venues include Teatro General San Martín, Cervantes, both in Buenos Aires City; Argentino in La Plata, El Círculo in Rosario, Independencia in Mendoza, and Libertador in Córdoba. Griselda Gambaro, Copi, Roberto Cossa, Marco Denevi, Carlos Gorostiza, and Alberto Vaccarezza are a few of the most prominent Argentine playwrights.
Argentine theatre traces its origins to Viceroy Juan José de Vértiz y Salcedo's creation of the colony's first theatre, La Ranchería, in 1783. In this stage, in 1786, a tragedy entitled Siripo had its premiere. Siripo is now a lost work (only the second act is conserved), and can be considered the first Argentine stage play, because it was written by Buenos Aires poet Manuel José de Lavardén, it was premiered in Buenos Aires, and its plot was inspired by an historical episode of the early colonization of the Río de la Plata Basin: the destruction of Sancti Spiritu colony by aboriginals in 1529. La Ranchería theatre operated until its destruction in a fire in 1792. The second theatre stage in Buenos Aires was Teatro Coliseo, opened in 1804 during the term of Viceroy Rafael de Sobremonte. It was the nation's longest-continuously operating stage. The musical creator of the Argentine National Anthem, Blas Parera, earned fame as a theatre score writer during the early 19th century. The genre suffered during the regime of Juan Manuel de Rosas, though it flourished alongside the economy later in the century. The national government gave Argentine theatre its initial impulse with the establishment of the Colón Theatre, in 1857, which hosted classical and operatic, as well as stage performances. Antonio Petalardo's successful 1871 gambit on the opening of the Teatro Opera, inspired others to fund the growing art in Argentina.
The Argentine film industry has historically been one of the three most developed in Latin American cinema, along with those produced in Mexico and Brazil. Started in 1896; by the early 1930s it had already become Latin America's leading film producer, a place it kept until the early 1950s. The world's first animated feature films were made and released in Argentina, by cartoonist Quirino Cristiani, in 1917 and 1918.
Argentine films have achieved worldwide recognition: the country has won two Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film, for The Official Story (1985) and The Secret in Their Eyes (2009), from seven nominations:
- The Truce (La tregua) in 1974
- Camila in 1984
- The Official Story (La historia oficial) in 1985
- Tango in 1998
- Son of the Bride (El hijo de la novia) in 2001
- The Secret in Their Eyes (El secreto de sus ojos) in 2009
- Wild Tales (Relatos salvajes) in 2015
In addition, Argentine composers Luis Enrique Bacalov and Gustavo Santaolalla have been honored with Academy Awards for Best Original Score, and Armando Bó and Nicolás Giacobone shared in the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for 2014. Also, the Argentine French actress Bérénice Bejo received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2011 and won the César Award for Best Actress and won the Best Actress award in the Cannes Film Festival for her role in the film The Past.
Argentina also has won seventeen Goya Awards for Best Spanish Language Foreign Film with A King and His Movie (1986), A Place in the World (1992), Gatica, el mono (1993), Autumn Sun (1996), Ashes of Paradise (1997), The Lighthouse (1998), Burnt Money (2000), The Escape (2001), Intimate Stories (2003), Blessed by Fire (2005), The Hands (2006), XXY (2007), The Secret in Their Eyes (2009), Chinese Take-Away (2011), Wild Tales (2014), The Clan (2015) and The Distinguished Citizen (2016), being by far the most awarded country in Latin America with twenty-four nominations.
Many other Argentine films have been acclaimed by the international critique: Camila (1984), Man Facing Southeast (1986), A Place in the World (1992), Pizza, Beer, and Cigarettes (1997), Nine Queens (2000), A Red Bear (2002), The Motorcycle Diaries (2004), The Aura (2005), Chinese Take-Away (2011) and Wild Tales (2014) being some of them.
In 2013[update] about 100 full-length motion pictures were being created annually.
Some of the best-known Argentine painters are Cándido López and Florencio Molina Campos (Naïve style); Ernesto de la Cárcova and Eduardo Sívori (Realism); Fernando Fader (Impressionism); Pío Collivadino, Atilio Malinverno and Cesáreo Bernaldo de Quirós (Postimpressionism); Emilio Pettoruti (Cubism); Julio Barragán (Concretism and Cubism) Antonio Berni (Neofigurativism); Roberto Aizenberg and Xul Solar (Surrealism); Gyula Košice (Constructivism); Eduardo Mac Entyre (Generative art); Luis Seoane, Carlos Torrallardona, Luis Aquino, and Alfredo Gramajo Gutiérrez (Modernism); Lucio Fontana (Spatialism); Tomás Maldonado and Guillermo Kuitca (Abstract art); León Ferrari and Marta Minujín (Conceptual art); and Gustavo Cabral (Fantasy art).
In 1946 Gyula Košice and others created The Madí Movement in Argentina, which then spread to Europe and United States, where it had a significant impact. Tomás Maldonado was one of the main theorists of the Ulm Model of design education, still highly influential globally.
Other Argentine artists of worldwide fame include Adolfo Bellocq, whose lithographs have been influential since the 1920s, and Benito Quinquela Martín, the quintessential port painter, inspired by the immigrant-bound La Boca neighborhood.
The colonization brought the Spanish Baroque architecture, which can still be appreciated in its simpler Rioplatense style in the reduction of San Ignacio Miní, the Cathedral of Córdoba, and the Cabildo of Luján. Italian and French influences increased at the beginning of the 19th century with strong eclectic overtones that gave the local architecture a unique feeling.
Numerous Argentine architects have enriched their own country's cityscape and those around the world: Juan Antonio Buschiazzo helped popularize Beaux-Arts architecture and Francisco Gianotti combined Art Nouveau with Italianate styles, each adding flair to Argentine cities during the early 20th century. Francisco Salamone and Viktor Sulčič left an Art Deco legacy, and Alejandro Bustillo created a prolific body of Neoclassical and Rationalist architecture. Alberto Prebisch and Amancio Williams were highly influenced by Le Corbusier, while Clorindo Testa introduced Brutalist architecture locally. César Pelli's and Patricio Pouchulu's Futurist creations have graced cities worldwide: Pelli's 1980s throwbacks to the Art Deco glory of the 1920s made him one of the world's most prestigious architects, with the Norwest Center and the Petronas Towers among his most celebrated creations.
Pato is the national sport, an ancient horseback game locally originated in the early 1600s and predecessor of horseball. The most popular sport is football. Along with Brazil and France, the men's national team is the only one to have won the most important international triplet: World Cup, Confederations Cup, and Olympic Gold Medal. It has also won 14 Copas América, 7 Pan American Gold Medals and many other trophies. Alfredo Di Stéfano, Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi are among the best players in the game's history.
The country's women's field hockey team Las Leonas, is one of the world's most successful with four Olympic medals, two World Cups, a World League and seven Champions Trophy. Luciana Aymar is recognized as the best female player in the history of the sport, being the only player to have received the FIH Player of the Year Award eight times.
Basketball is a very popular sport. The men's national team is the only one in the FIBA Americas zone that has won the quintuplet crown: World Championship, Olympic Gold Medal, Diamond Ball, Americas Championship, and Pan American Gold Medal. It has also conquered 13 South American Championships, and many other tournaments. Emanuel Ginóbili, Luis Scola, Andrés Nocioni, Fabricio Oberto, Pablo Prigioni, Carlos Delfino and Juan Ignacio Sánchez are a few of the country's most acclaimed players, all of them part of the NBA. Argentina hosted the Basketball World Cup in 1950 and 1990.
Rugby is another popular sport in Argentina. As of 2017[update] the men's national team, known as 'Los Pumas' has competed at the Rugby World Cup each time it has been held, achieving their highest ever result in 2007 when they came third. Since 2012 the Los Pumas have competed against Australia, New Zealand & South Africa in The Rugby Championship, the premier international Rugby competition in the Southern Hemisphere. Since 2009 the secondary men's national team known as the 'Jaguares' has competed against the US, Canada, and Uruguay first teams in the Americas Rugby Championship, which Los Jaguares have won six out of eight times it has taken place.
Argentina has produced some of the most formidable champions for Boxing, including Carlos Monzón, the best middleweight in history; Pascual Pérez, one of the most decorated flyweight boxers of all times; Horacio Accavallo, the former WBA and WBC world flyweight champion; Víctor Galíndez, as of 2009[update] record holder for consecutive world light heavyweight title defenses and Nicolino Locche, nicknamed "The Untouchable" for his masterful defense; they are all inductees into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Tennis has been quite popular among people of all ages. Guillermo Vilas is the greatest Latin American player of the Open Era, while Gabriela Sabatini is the most accomplished Argentine female player of all time—having reached #3 in the WTA Ranking, are both inductees into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Argentina reigns undisputed in Polo, having won more international championships than any other country and been seldom beaten since the 1930s. The Argentine Polo Championship is the sport's most important international team trophy. The country is home to most of the world's top players, among them Adolfo Cambiaso, the best in Polo history.
Historically, Argentina has had a strong showing within Auto racing. Juan Manuel Fangio was five times Formula One world champion under four different teams, winning 102 of his 184 international races, and is widely ranked as the greatest driver of all time. Other distinguished racers were Oscar Alfredo Gálvez, Juan Gálvez, José Froilán González and Carlos Reutemann.
Besides many of the pasta, sausage and dessert dishes common to continental Europe, Argentines enjoy a wide variety of Indigenous and Criollo creations, including empanadas (a small stuffed pastry), locro (a mixture of corn, beans, meat, bacon, onion, and gourd), humita and mate.
The country has the highest consumption of red meat in the world, traditionally prepared as asado, the Argentine barbecue. It is made with various types of meats, often including chorizo, sweetbread, chitterlings, and blood sausage.
Common desserts include facturas (Viennese-style pastry), cakes and pancakes filled with dulce de leche (a sort of milk caramel jam), alfajores (shortbread cookies sandwiched together with chocolate, dulce de leche or a fruit paste), and tortas fritas (fried cakes)
Some of Argentina's national symbols are defined by law, while others are traditions lacking formal designation. The Flag of Argentina consists of three horizontal stripes equal in width and colored light blue, white and light blue, with the Sun of May in the center of the middle white stripe. The flag was designed by Manuel Belgrano in 1812; it was adopted as a national symbol on 20 July 1816. The Coat of Arms, which represents the union of the provinces, came into use in 1813 as the seal for official documents. The Argentine National Anthem was written by Vicente López y Planes with music by Blas Parera, and was adopted in 1813. The National Cockade was first used during the May Revolution of 1810 and was made official two years later. The Virgin of Luján is Argentina's patron saint.
The hornero, living across most of the national territory, was chosen as the national bird in 1928 after a lower school survey. The ceibo is the national floral emblem and national tree, while the quebracho colorado is the national forest tree. Rhodochrosite is known as the national gemstone. The national sport is pato, an equestrian game that was popular among gauchos.
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