The region that is now Argentina has been inhabited by indigenous groups since at least 11,000 BC. The Inca Empire took over the region in the northwest, while mostly nomadic people lived in the south and central areas.Europeans arrived in the area in 1516, led by Spanish explorer Juan Diaz de Solis, and the region of modern-day Argentina soon became part of the Viceroyalty of Peru. Spanish explorers founded Fort Sancti Spiritu in Argentina in 1527. Buenos Aires was first established in 1536, then destroyed by natives, and reestablished in 1580. Society during this period was arranged into a caste system, with the European Spaniards at the top. Mestizos are people who have both Spanish and native Argentinian heritage, making up around 10 percent of the total population. Many mestizos lived in rural areas and became the Argentine gauchos.
In 1776, the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata was formed out of Viceroyalty of Peru dependencies. The May Revolution took place May 18 to 25, 1810, in Buenos Aires, the capital of Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata. After hearing that Napoleon had invaded Spain, the people of Argentina began their war of independence, which lasted from 1810 to 1818. Argentina declared independence on July 9, 1816.
From 1864 to 1870, Argentina fought as part of the Triple Alliance, along with Brazil
and Uruguay, against Paraguay, in a war known as the War of the Triple Alliance or the Paraguayan War. This war caused more deaths proportionally than any other war in modern history, and devastated Paraguay, killing off about 60 percent of its population.
The Conquest of the Desert in the 1870s, led by Argentinian General Julio Argentino Roca, was a movement to conquer Patagonia in southern Argentina, where the indigenous people continued to live. The Conquest led to a genocide of the native people, and also led to the election of Roca to the presidency.
After risky investments by Barings Bank (based in London) in Argentina, the bank faced bankruptcy, and had to be bailed out by other major banks in London. The bailout prevented the collapse of London's banking system, but caused a major recession in Argentina, known as the Panic of 1890.
Hipolito Yrigoyen, a radical democratic reformist, was elected president in 1916. During his presidency, he introduced a minimum wage, and attempted to deal with inflation and economy issues, and was reelected in 1928. He was overthrown in a military coup in 1930, initiating the Infamous Decade, a period characterized by political corruption and economic crisis. Small land owners were unable to survive in rural areas, so they began moving toward industrialization.
During World War II, Argentina began as a neutral party, refusing to break diplomatic relations with Japan and Germany. Near the end of the war, Argentina sided with the Allied Nations, and entered the United Nations as a founding nation.
In the aftermath of World War II, Juan Peron, elected president in 1946, began his political movement, known as Peronism, nationalizing several industries and temporarily improving the economy. However, he also began suppressing any dissent, especially from news organizations, and tortured members of the opposition. Despite this, Peron was reelected in 1951, but after his wife Eva died of cancer in 1952, his support began to drop. In 1955, military coups overthrew him, and he resigned, exiling himself. The constitution of 1853, based on the U.S. Constitution, was then restored, but a period of military rule followed a coup in 1966, and Peron regained power in 1973. Peron's party won the election and Hector Campora became president of Argentina. Peron returned to Buenos Aires, and when Campora resigned, Peron returned to the presidency. Peron died the next year in 1974, which was followed by social unrest and inflation of up to 300 percent.
During 1976, Argentina was involved in what is known as the Dirty War. Led by General Jorge Videla, the war lasted until 1983 and saw the disappearance of many left-wing activists. A total of about 10,000 people were murdered or went missing during the Dirty War.
In 1982, Argentina and Britain went to war over the Falkland Islands (referred to by Argentinians as the Islas Malvinas), and Britain controlled the islands again. By 1983, inflation reached 900 percent, civilian rule was returned, and Raul Alfonsin became president, and began investigating the human rights abuse during the Dirty War.
President Carlos Menem (Peronist Party) won the election in 1989. Menem began an economic austerity program and was reelected in 1995. In 1992, the new Argentinian peso is put into use.
Argentina is located in southern South America, and is one of the world's largest Spanish-speaking country, and the eighth largest country by land area in the whole world. Argentina can be divided into six regions: Gran Chaco, Mesopotamia, the Pampas, Patagonia, Cuyo, Argentine Northwest. Mesopotamia in Argentina is the lowland between the Parana and Uruguay Rivers, the Pampas are the fertile lowlands in the center and east of Argentina. Patagonia is the region at the far south of Argentina (and Chile) which contains part of the Andes Mountains and the plateau.
Argentina's major geographic features include the Andes Mountains and the coastal regions along the Atlantic Ocean. The major rivers in Argentina include Parana, Pilcomayo, Paraguay, Uruguay, and the Colorado.
Argentina has a temperate climate, which ranges all the way from subtropical to subpolar (just north of Antarctica).
Argentina is a constitutional republic, with its capital in Buenos Aires. The president is the head of state, and the legislative branch of government has a bicameral Congress, with a Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. One-third of party representatives in the Senate must be women.
Argentina is divided into twenty-three provinces, and one autonomous city, Buenos Aires. Each province is a representative republic, and can have its own constitution and local government. The provinces are further divided into departments and municipalities. The federal district of Buenos Aires is divided into partidos, and the city itself is separated into communes.
Argentina is very urbanized – more than 90 percent of its population lives in the cities. Greater Buenos Aires metropolitan area has become one of the largest urban areas in the world. Other major cities in Argentina include Cordoba, Rosario, Mendoza, and Tucuman. These cities offer cultural experience, culinary pleasures, like the world renowned beef, and dances like the Argentine Tango.
Argentina offers diverse terrain and outdoor adventures. The famous region of Patagonia at the southern end of Argentina is a popular destination for people who love the outdoors. The steppes of Patagonia draw backpackers from around the world. Other natural attractions include wildlife, like the penguin colonies on along the coast, great waterfalls and lakes, and the Glacier Perito Moreno.
Argentina's education is regulated by the national public education system, which is funded by taxes up through undergraduate school, though private schools are also available at all levels. Attendance is mandatory for students up to seventeen years of age. The school system is divided into elementary school and high school, each lasting around six years in many areas. The polimodal (polymodal) system is used in many parts of the country, but not Buenos Aires and some provinces, which follow the traditional Argentinian school model instead.
Though universities in Argentina are free of tuition, there are still other fees associated with attending university, and without an effective scholarship system in place, lower income students can find it difficult to afford higher education. Argentina's universities have gained worldwide recognition, and have produced three Nobel Prize winners in the sciences.
Last Updated on: February 22, 2020
- About 70 kilograms of beef is consumed per capita in Argentina every year.
- Argentina houses the highest point in both the Southern and Western Hemispheres in Mendoza.
- The musical Evita was written about Eva Peron, the wife of Argentina's famous best known president, Juan Peron.
- Revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara was born in Rosario, Argentina.
- Argentina has the highest GDP per capita in Latin America, and is classified as a secondary emerging market.