Argentina has many peculiarities that have traveled the world by word of mouth with the people who have visited the country. The outgoing personality of its people, who are friendly, fun and effusive; the typical cuisine which includes asado, mate, regional dishes, and dulce de leche treats; the traditional dances like tango, a couple dance with a 2 x 4 rhythm, which was born in Buenos Aires during the 19th century and today has reached an international level, or folklore, with different choreographic forms, according to each area; the passion for football, and the fanaticism for the major players and clubs, Boca Juniors and River Plate being the most popular ones, and the ones that fill their stadiums and cause proliferating displays of excitement every time they play; typical games like truco, a card game in which luck and the ability to trick or deceive the opponent are the most important things, or horse riding games in the outskirts of the city which reveal the powerful Spanish influence and the persistence of old traditions; and, of course, the personality that each special region knows how to maintain and strengthen as time goes by.
Argentina is the second-largest country in South America, with an area of almost 3.8 million square kilometers (1,468,000 square miles), is located in the Southern Hemisphere of the American continent. Its 3,800 kilometers (2,361 miles) in length stretch from 22º to 55º south latitude. The country borders on Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, Bolivia and Chile, and on the Atlantic Ocean to the East.
The country is touristically divided in 6 regions, and politically divided in 24 provinces.
The country occupies a strategic position relative to sea lanes between the South Atlantic and the South Pacific Oceans (Strait of Magellan, Beagle Channel, Drake Passage).
According to the Census of 1998, there are 32,6 million habitants in the country. Almost half of the country population live in the province of Buenos Aires.
Argentina’s population is 55 per cent Caucasian and fifty per cent Indian or mestizo (mixed Indian-Spanish). A great wave of Southern European immigrants got to the country between 1860 and 1940, most of them of Italian and Spanish origin. Of the original Indian population, the largest group are the Guaran’es, who are found mostly in Corrientes and Misiones.
Density: 12,9 habitants/Km2
Annual Growth: 1,5%
Urban Population: 88,1%
Life Expectancy: Men: 67 years old. Women: 74 years old.
Spanish is the official language of the Argentine Republic.
English is widely used in companies and for business purposes.
TIME ZONE I GMT (Greenwich Meridian) -3 hs.
The official religion of the country is the Catholic Church, (95% of the population). However, Judaism, Protestantism, and a number of other Christian and non-Christian religions are practiced since religious freedom is enshrined in the constitution. By law, the president and vice president of Argentina must be Roman Catholic.
Geography and Weather
Argentina is usually described as a land of impressive contrasts, product of a varied geography. From the Andes to the west, which stretch along the Argentina-Chile border from north to south, with the highest peak, 6,959 meter / 22,831 feet Mount Aconcagua, to the Pampas and the Atlantic Coast, and across hill ranges, numerous forests, rainforests, deserts and fertile valleys, the biodiversity of these ecosystems allow the development of rich flora and fauna. Many natural sites in the country are protected areas like reserves and national parks. Moreover, some of the main natural landmarks have been declared World Heritage Sites by the UNESCO.
The main characteristic of Argentina is diversity, and this is also the case with the weather. The country enjoys a very varied climate: it is mild and humid in the Pampas; cold and damp in the western Patagonia; subtropical in the Mesopotamia region; and warm in the Northeast. The highest points at all latitudes are the coldest areas, with dry, snowy, mountain weather, and a wide temperature range.
1- Agriculture Exceptional lands to be cultivated on. Argentina is Latin America’s largest exporter of food and other agricultural products. The Pampas, largely made up of a fine sand and clay are ideal for the cultivation of cereal. Wheat, the principal cash crop, corn, oats, rye, rice and sunflowers are mainly reaped in Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Santa Fe, Entre R’os and La Pampa. The natural grasslands of this region are primarily used as pasture for sheep. Potatoes, tomatoes, beans and garlic are also cultivated in the central provinces. Grapevines are grown in the Cuyo region and Tucum‡n is the main cane sugar producer. Yerba mate is cultivated in Misiones while cotton in the Chaco province. Tobacco is reaped in Corrientes, Misiones and Salta. Rice comes from Entre R’os and Corrientes. The Andean foothill region is unsuitable for farming, but several valleys favor the growth of oranges towards the north. In the south, there are apples, pears and plums in the R’o Negro province. All kind of citric is cultivated in the Paran‡ Delta.
2- Cattle Second major industry of the country. Cattle was first brought into the country when the Spaniards first attempted to found Buenos Aires in 1536. Cows, sheep, horses and pigs proliferated in the pampas. Sheep also grew into large herds in the Patagonia region. All of these encouraged the production and export of veal and wool -among others- to the rest of the world.
3- Manufacture Refined petroleum products, motor vehicles, Portland cement, textiles, chemicals and petrochemicals, metallurgy, crude steel, wine, beer, steel tubes, cigarettes, wood, paper and electrical appliances among others.
The 96% of the argentinians are literate. Education is free and compulsory for children between sixteen and fourteen years old. Argentina has 25 national universities and other private universities. The Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA) was founded in 1821 and is the largest institution of highest education of the country. Other major national universities are the Catholic University of Argentina (1958), the National Technological University (1959) and the National University of C—rdoba (1613). The major library of Argentina is the National Library (1810) in Buenos Aires, with about 2 million volumes.
Football is Argentina’s greatest passion. There are 17 stadiums in the city, most of them big enough to allow 40,000 spectators. The pato is the most genuine sport of the country and Argentinian players are considered to be among the best of the world. Other sports: tennis, hockey, rugby, ski, volleyball and basketball.
The most important components of traditional Argentine music are the gaucho folk song and folk dance. The tango developed in Buenos Aires and became a favorite ballroom dance throughout much of the world. Astor Piazzolla is a prolific 20th-century tango composer, bandleader, and performer.
Argentina has been recently discovered by the European tourists; but it is already very popular among Spanish and Italian visitors. Its wide scope of possibilities -which go from skiing in the harsh Patagonian winter to the tropical attractions in Jujuy and Salta– satisfy tourists from all over the world. Accommodation Buenos Aires is a huge city and has a wide range of hotels which are rated according to the number of stars they display (from 5 to 1 in decreasing order). There are also residenciales (A,B or C), hoster’as, caba–as, motels and camping areas.
Bus lines go everywhere in the country. The Buenos Aires bus terminal is next to Retiro station, 400 meters away from the underground Subte “C” Railways Argentina’s rail system -which developed at the beginning of this century- is usually cheaper but slower than bus travel. Air services The international airport Ministro Pistarini -also known as Aeropuerto de Ezeiza- is located 35 km away from Buenos Aires City. The local air services are covered by Aerol’nes Argentinas, Austral, Dinar, LADE, LAPA and SW. There are bus and taxi services to and from the airport. Car rental International rental companies do also operate in Argentina. If you have a credit card, charges can be paid in your home country. Taxis There are 32,000 taxis in Buenos Aires. Taxi drivers charge a fixed fee and add an extra cost according to the distance that has been traveled.
(Source: The Buenos Aires Herald “Argentina Info”)
Foreign tourists from neighboring countries only need their ID to enter Argentina. Visitors from other countries must have a valid passport, with or without a visa, as appropriate. It is recommended to check with the nearest embassy or consulate about the current legislation for each country. Visitors from non-bordering countries are exempt from all taxes on personal items or new items worth up to USD 300, as well as an additional USD 300 for items purchased at authorized duty-free shops within the national territory. Tourists can stay in the country for a maximum of 90 days. No vaccination certificates are required to enter the country. Only tourists from countries where cholera and yellow fever are endemic should present proof of being vaccinated against those diseases.
It is possible to get the VAT (value-added tax) refunded at the airport. If you have purchased national products for over $70 (per invoice) in shops operating with the “Global Refund” system, it is possible to get a VAT refund at Ministro Pistarini International Airport (Ezeiza).