República Argentina (Spanish)
and largest city
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|Official languages||Spanish (de facto)|
|Recognised regional languages||Araucano, Guaraní, Quechua|
|Ethnic groups (2008)||86.4% European (mostly Italian and Spanish)
0.4% Asian and others
|Government||Federal representative presidential republic|
|•||President||Cristina Fernández de Kirchner|
|•||Vice President and President of the Senate||
|•||Supreme Court President||Ricardo Lorenzetti|
|•||Lower house||Chamber of Deputies|
|Independence from Spain|
|•||May Revolution||25 May 1810|
|•||Declared||9 July 1816|
|•||Current constitution||May 1, 1853|
|•||Total||2,766,890 km2 (8th)
1,068,302 sq mi
|•||2010 census||40,091,359 (32nd)|
|GDP (PPP)||2010 estimate|
|•||Total||$632.223 billion (23rd)|
|•||Per capita||$15,603 (52nd)|
|GDP (nominal)||2010 estimate|
|•||Total||$351.015 billion (31st)|
|•||Per capita||$8,663 (62nd)|
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|HDI (2010)|| 0.775
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|Currency||Peso ($) (ARS)|
|Time zone||ART (UTC-3)|
|Date format||dd.mm.yyyy (CE)|
|Drives on the||right (trains ride on the left)|
Argentina officially the Argentine Republic (Spanish: República Argentina, pronounced [reˈpuβlika arxenˈtina]), is the second largest country in South America, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires. It is the eighth-largest country in the world by land area and the largest among Spanish-speaking nations, though Mexico, Colombia and Spain are more populous.
Argentina's continental area is between the Andes mountain range in the west and the Atlantic Ocean in the east. It borders Paraguay and Bolivia to the north, Brazil and Uruguay to the northeast, and Chile to the west and south. Argentine claims over Antarctica, as well as overlapping claims made by Chile and the United Kingdom, are suspended by the Antarctic Treaty of 1961. Argentina also claims the Falkland Islands (Spanish: Islas Malvinas) and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, which are administered by the United Kingdom as British Overseas Territories.
A recognized middle power, Argentina is one of South America's largest economies, with a high quality of life, and the highest GDP (PPP) per capita in Latin America. The country has a foundation for future growth for its market size, the levels of foreign direct investment, and percentage of high-tech exports as share of total manufactured goods. Argentina is a founding member of the United Nations, Mercosur and the Union of South American Nations, and remains one of the G-20 major economies.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 History
- 3 Politics
- 4 Provinces
- 5 Geography
- 6 Economy
- 7 Demographics
- 8 Culture
- 9 Education
- 10 Health care
- 11 References
- 12 Sources
- 13 External links
Argentina is derived from the Latin argentum ("silver"). The first use of Argentina can be traced to the 1602 poem La Argentina y conquista del Río de la Plata (English: Argentina and the conquest of the Río de la Plata) by Martín del Barco Centenera. Although this name for the La Plata Basin was already in common usage by the 18th century, the area was formally called Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata in 1776. The autonomous governments that emerged from the 1810 May Revolution replaced "Viceroyalty" with "United Provinces".
One of the first prominent uses of the demonym "Argentine" was in the 1812 first Argentine National Anthem, which made reference to the ongoing Argentine War of Independence. The first formal use of the name was in the 1826 constitution, which used both the terms "Argentine Republic" and "Argentine Nation". The Constitution was repealed, and the territories were instead known as the "Argentine Confederation". This name was used in the 1853 Constitution, being changed to that of the "Argentine Nation" in 1859, and to the "Argentine Republic" per an 1860 decree, when the country achieved its current organization. Nevertheless, the names of the "United Provinces of the Río de la Plata", "Argentine Republic" and "Argentine Confederation" are acknowledged as legitimate names of the country.
The earliest evidence of humans in Argentina dates from 11,000 BC and was found in Patagonia (Piedra Museo, Santa Cruz). These finds were of the Diaguitas, Huarpes, and Sanavirones indigenous peoples, among others. The Inca Empire, under Sapa-Inca Pachacutec, invaded and conquered present-day north-western Argentina in 1480, a feat usually attributed to Túpac Inca Yupanqui. The tribes of Omaguacas, Atacamas, Huarpes and Diaguitas were defeated and integrated into a region called Collasuyu. Others, such as the Sanavirones, Lule-Tonocoté, and Comechingones, resisted the Incas and remained independent from them. The Guaraní developed a culture based on yuca, sweet potato, and yerba mate. The central and southern areas (Pampas and Patagonia) were dominated by nomadic cultures, the most populous among them being the Mapuches. The Atacaman settlement of Tastil in the north had an estimated population of 2,000 people, the highest populated area in pre-Columbian Argentina.
The most advanced indigenous populations were the Charrúas and Guaraníes, who developed some basic agriculture and the use of pottery. Most of their population were located at other sites of South America however, and their presence at the territory of modern Argentina was scarce by comparison.
European explorers arrived in 1516. Spain established the Viceroyalty of Peru in 1542, encompassing all its holdings in South America. Their first settlement in modern Argentina was the Fort of Sancti Spiritu established in 1527 next to the Paraná River. Buenos Aires, a permanent colony, was established in 1536 but was destroyed by natives. The city was established again in 1580 as part of the Governorate of the Río de la Plata.
The area which encompassed much of the territory that would later become Argentina was largely a territory of Spanish immigrants and their descendants (known as criollos), mestizos, native cultures, and descendants of African slaves. A third of Colonial-era settlers gathered in Buenos Aires and other cities, others lived on the pampas, as gauchos for example. Indigenous peoples inhabited much of the remainder and most of Patagonia and Gran Chaco remained under indigenous control.
Buenos Aires became the capital of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata in 1776, which was created over some former territories of the Viceroyalty of Peru. The Río de la Plata area was forced to import goods overland via Lima after 1595, and a reliance on contraband emerged. After 1776, however, Buenos Aires flourished as a commercila hub. In 1806 and 1807 the city was the site of two ill-fated British invasions. The resistance was headed both times by the French Santiago de Liniers, who would become viceroy through popular support. The news of the overthrow of the Spanish King Ferdinand VII during the Peninsular War created great concern in the Viceroyalty. The May Revolution of 1810 took place in Buenos Aires, removing Viceroy Cisneros from government and replacing him by the Primera Junta.
Building of a nation-state
During the following decade a war for independence ensued in the former Viceroyalty, its regions divided between patriots and royalists. While the cities of present-day Argentina would align with the independents after 1811, the other regions would follow differing paths: Paraguay seceded, declaring its independence from Spain 1811 and from Argentina in 1842. Upper Peru was disputed with the royalists from Peru until it declared independence as Bolivia in 1824. The eastern bank of the Uruguay river was invaded by the Brazilian-Portuguese Empire in 1817 and declared independence as Uruguay in 1828 after the Argentina-Brazil War.
Internal conflicts would cause political instability within the patriots. In just four years the Primera Junta was replaced by the Junta Grande, the first and second triumvirates, and the first Supreme Director. In 1813 an Assembly convened to declare independence but it could not do so due to political disputes. A Civil War ensued between the provinces joined into the Federal League and the Supreme Directorship.
By 1816 the United Provinces of South America were under severe internal and external threats. In July a new Congress declared independence and named Juan Martín de Pueyrredón as the Supreme Director. The military campaign became the responsibility of José de San Martín, who led an army across the Andes in 1817 and defeated the Chilean royalists. With the Chilean navy at his disposal he then took the fight to the royalist stronghold of Lima. San Martín's military campaigns complemented those of Simón Bolívar in Gran Colombia and led to the independent's victory in the Spanish American wars of independence.
The 1820 Battle of Cepeda, fought between the Centralists and the Federalists, resulted in the end of the centralized national authority and created a power vacuum. A new constitution was enacted in 1826, during the War with Brazil, when Bernardino Rivadavia was elected the first President of Argentina. This constitution was soon rejected by the provinces, due to its Centralist bias, and Rivadavia resigned shortly after. The provinces then reorganized themselves as the Argentine Confederation, a loose Confederation of provinces that lacked a common head of state. They would instead delegate some important powers to the governor of Buenos Aires Province, such as debt payment or the management of international relations.
Governor Juan Manuel de Rosas ruled from 1829 to 1832, and from 1835 to 1852. During his first term he convened the Pacto Federal and defeated the Unitarian League. After 1835 he was given the "Sum of public power". He faced unitarian resistance and a constant state of war, including a French blockade from 1838 to 1840, the War of the Confederation in the north, an Anglo-French blockade from 1845 to 1850, and the Corrientes Province revolt. Rosas remained undefeated during this series of conflicts and prevented further loss of national territory. His refusal to enact a national constitution, pursuant to the Pacto Federal, led to Entre Ríos Province Governor Justo José de Urquiza's reclaiming provincial sovereignty. He defeated Rosas at the Battle of Caseros, forcing him into exile. The San Nicolás Agreement followed and in 1853 the Constitution of Argentina was promulgated. Following the secession of Buenos Aires from the Confederation, and its later return, Bartolomé Mitre was elected the first president of the unified country in 1862. National unity was further advanced by the War of the Triple Alliance, which left over 300,000 dead and devastated Paraguay.
After 1875 a wave of foreign investment and immigration from Europe led to the strengthening of a cohesive state, the development of modern agriculture and to a near-reinvention of Argentine society and economy. The rule of law was consolidated, in large measure, by Dalmacio Vélez Sársfield whose 1860 Commercial Code and 1869 Civil Code laid the foundation for Argentina's statutory laws. General Julio Argentino Roca's military campaign in the 1870s established Argentine dominance over the southern Pampas and Patagonia, subdued the remaining native peoples, and left 1,300 indigenous dead. Waged to suppress Malón raids, some contemporary sources indicate that the "Conquest of the Desert" was a campaign of genocide by the Argentine government.
Argentina increased in prosperity and prominence between 1880 and 1929 and emerged as one of the ten richest countries in the world, benefiting from an agricultural export-led economy as well as British and French investment. Driven by immigration and decreasing mortality the Argentine population grew fivefold and the economy 15-fold. Conservative élites dominated Argentine politics through nominally democratic means until 1912, when President Roque Sáenz Peña enacted universal male suffrage and the secret ballot. This allowed their traditional rivals, the centrist Radical Civic Union, to win the country's first free elections in 1916. President Hipólito Yrigoyen enacted social and economic reforms and extended assistance to family farmers and small business who had been politically imposing and beset by the Great Depression. Yrigoyen was overthrown by a coup in 1930 which led to another decade of Conservative rule. The Concordance regime strengthened ties with the British Empire and their electoral policy was one of "patriotic fraud". The country was neutral during World War I and most of World War II, becoming an important source of foodstuffs for the Allied Nations.
In 1946 General Juan Perón was elected president, creating a political movement referred to as "Peronism". His wife Eva was popular and played a central political role until her death in 1952, mostly through the Eva Perón Foundation and the Female Peronist Party, as women's suffrage was granted in 1947. During Perón's tenure wages and working conditions improved appreciably, unionization was fostered, strategic industries and services were nationalized, as well as import substitution industrialization and urban development being prioritized in the agrarian sector.
Formerly stable prices and exchange rates were disrupted however: the peso lost around 70% of its value from early 1948 to early 1950 and inflation reached 50% in 1951. Foreign policy became more isolationist, straining US-Argentine relations. Perón intensified censorship as well as repression: 110 publications were shuttered, and numerous opposition figures were imprisoned and tortured. Advancing a personality cult. Perón rid himself of many important and capable advisers while promoting patronage. A bombing of Plaza de Mayo was followed some months later by a violent coup which deposed him in 1955. He fled into exile, eventually residing in Spain.
Following an attempt to purge the Peronist influence and the banning of Peronists from political life, elections in 1958 brought Arturo Frondizi to office. Frondizi enjoyed some support from Perón's followers, and his policies encouraged investment to make the country self-sufficient in energy and industry, helping reverse a chronic trade deficit for Argentina. The military frequently interfered on behalf of conservative, agrarian interests however, and the results were mixed. Frondizi was forced to resign in 1962. Arturo Illia was elected in 1963 and enacted expansionist policies but, despite prosperity, his attempts to include Peronists in the political process resulted in the armed forces retaking power in a quiet 1966 coup.
Though repressive, this new regime continued to encourage domestic development and invested record amounts into public works. The economy grew strongly and income poverty declined to 7% by 1975. Partly because of their repressiveness, however, political violence began to escalate and Perón, still in exile, skilfully co-opted student and labor protests which eventually resulted in the military regime's call for free elections in 1973, and his return from Spain.
Taking office that year Perón died in July 1974 leaving his third wife Isabel, the Vice President, to succeed him in office. Mrs. Perón had been chosen as a compromise among feuding Peronist factions who could agree on no other running mate; secretly though, she was beholden to Perón's most fascist advisers. The resulting conflict, between left and right-wing extremists, led to mayhem, financial chaos and a coup d'état in March 1976 which removed her from office.
The self-styled National Reorganization Process intensified measures against armed groups on the far left, such as People's Revolutionary Army and the Montoneros who since 1970 had kidnapped and murdered people almost weekly. Repression was quickly extended to the opposition in general however and, during the "Dirty War", thousands of dissidents "disappeared". These abuses were aided and abetted by the CIA, in Operation Condor, with many of the military leaders that took part in abuses trained in the School of the Americas.
This new dictatorship brought some stability at first, and built numerous important public works, but frequent wage freezes and deregulation of finance led to a sharp fall in living standards and record foreign debt. Deindustrialization, the peso's collapse, and crushing real interest rates, as well as unprecedented corruption, public revulsion over the Dirty War, and finally the country's 1982 defeat by the British in the Falklands War, discredited the military regime and led to free elections in 1983.
Raúl Alfonsín's government took steps to account for the disappeared, established civilian control of the armed forces, and consolidated democratic institutions. The members of the three military juntas were prosecuted and sentenced to life terms. The previous regime's foreign debt, however, left the Argentine economy saddled by the conditions imposed on it by both its private creditors and the IMF, and priority was given to servicing the foreign debt at the expense of public works and domestic credit. Alfonsín's failure to resolve worsening economic problems caused him to lose public confidence. Following a 1989 currency crisis that resulted in a sudden and ruinous 15-fold jump in prices, he left office five months early.
Newly elected President Carlos Menem began pursuing privatizations and, after a second bout of hyperinflation in 1990, reached out to economist Domingo Cavallo, who imposed a peso-dollar fixed exchange rate in 1991 and adopted far-reaching market-based policies, dismantling protectionist barriers and business regulations, while accelerating privatizations. These reforms contributed to significant increases in investment and growth with stable prices through most of the 1990s; but the peso's fixed value could only be maintained by flooding the market with dollars, resulting in a renewed increase in the foreign debt. Towards 1998, moreover, a series of international financial crises and overvaluation of the pegged peso caused a gradual slide into economic crisis. The sense of stability and well being which had prevailed during the 1990s eroded quickly, and by the end of his term in 1999, these accumulating problems and reports of corruption had made Menem unpopular.
President Fernando de la Rúa inherited diminished competitiveness in exports, as well as chronic fiscal deficits. The governing coalition developed rifts, and his returning Cavallo to the Economy Ministry was interpreted as a crisis move by speculators. The decision backfired and Cavallo was eventually forced to take measures to halt a wave of capital flight and to stem the imminent debt crisis (culminating in the freezing of bank accounts). A climate of popular discontent ensued, and on 20 December 2001 Argentina dove into its worst institutional and economic crisis since the 1890 Barings financial debacle. There were violent street protests, which clashed with police and resulted in several fatalities. The increasingly chaotic climate, amid riots accompanied by cries that "they should all go", finally resulted in the resignation of President de la Rúa.
Three presidents followed in quick succession over two weeks, culminating in the appointment of interim President Eduardo Duhalde by the Legislative Assembly on 2 January 2002. Argentina defaulted on its international debt, and the peso's 11 year-old tie to the U.S. dollar was rescinded, causing a major depreciation of the peso and a spike in inflation. Duhalde, a Peronist with a centre-left economic position, had to cope with a financial and socio-economic crisis, with unemployment as high as 25% by mid 2002, and the lowest real wages in sixty years. The crisis accentuated the people's mistrust in politicians and institutions. Following a year racked by protest, the economy began to stabilize in late 2002, and restrictions on bank withdrawals were lifted in December.
Benefiting from a devalued exchange rate the government implemented new policies based on re-industrialization, import substitution and increased exports and began seeing consistent fiscal and trade surpluses. Governor Néstor Kirchner, a left-wing Peronist, was elected president in May 2003. During his administration, Argentina restructured its defaulted debt with a steep discount (about 66%) on most bonds, paid off debts with the International Monetary Fund, renegotiated contracts with utilities and nationalized some previously privatized enterprises. Kirchner and his economists, notably Roberto Lavagna, also pursued a vigorous incomes policy and public works investment.
Argentina has since been enjoying economic growth, though with high inflation. Néstor Kirchner forfeited the 2007 campaign, in favor of his wife Senator Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who became the first woman to be elected President of Argentina. She saw controversial plans for higher agricultural export taxes defeated by Vice President Julio Cobos' surprise tie-breaking vote against them on 17 July 2008, following massive agrarian protests and lockouts from March to July. The global financial crisis has since prompted Mrs. Kirchner to step up her husband's policy of state intervention in troubled sectors of the economy. On 15 July 2010 Argentina became the first country in Latin America and the second country in the Southern Hemisphere to legalize same-sex marriage. 
The Argentine Constitution of 1853 mandates a separation of powers into executive, legislative, and judicial branches at the national and provincial level. The political framework is a federal representative democratic republic, in which the President is both head of state and head of government, complemented by a pluriform multi-party system.
Executive power resides in the President and the Cabinet. The President and Vice President are directly elected to four-year terms and are limited to two terms. Cabinet ministers are appointed by the President and are not subject to legislative ratification. The current President is Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, with Julio Cobos as Vice President.
Legislative power is vested in the bicameral National Congress, comprising a 72-member Senate and a 257-member Chamber of Deputies. Senators serve six-year terms, with one-third standing for re-election every two years. Members of the Chamber of Deputies are elected to four-year terms by a proportional representation system, with half of the members standing for re-election every two years. A third of the candidates presented by the parties must be women.
The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. The Supreme Court has seven members appointed by the President in consultation with the Senate. The judges of all the other courts are appointed by the Council of Magistrates of the Nation, a secretariat composed of representatives of judges, lawyers, the Congress and the executive.
Though declared the capital in 1853, Buenos Aires did not become the official Capital until 1880. The 1994 amendment of the Argentine Constitution included a limited form of devolution to Buenos Aires. The national government reserved control of the Argentine Federal Police (the federally-administered city force), the Port of Buenos Aires, and other faculties, however.
Argentina is divided into twenty-three provinces (provincias; singular provincia) and one Autonomous City. Buenos Aires Province is divided into 134 partidos, while the remaining Provinces are divided into 376 departments (departamentos). Departments and Partidos are further subdivided into municipalities or districts. With the exception of Buenos Aires Province, the nation's provinces have chosen in recent years to enter into treaties with other provinces, forming four federated regions aimed at fostering economic integration and development: Center Region, Patagonic Region, New Cuyo Region, and the Argentine Greater North Region.
Argentina is a full member of the Mercosur block together with Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela; and five associate members: Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. From 2003 Argentina has emphasized Mercosur (Portuguese: Mercosul, in Brazil; Guarani: Ñemby_Ñemuha), which has some supranational legislative functions, as its first international priority; by contrast, during the 1990s, it relied more heavily on its relationship with the United States. Argentina is a founding signatory and permanent consulting member of the Antarctic Treaty System and the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat is based in Buenos Aires.
Argentina has long claimed sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Spanish: Islas Malvinas), and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, which are administered by the United Kingdom as British Overseas Territories, as well as almost 1,000,000 square kilometres (390,000 sq mi) in Antarctica, between 25°W and 74°W and south of 60°S. The Antarctic claim overlaps claims by Chile and the United Kingdom, though all claims to Antarctica fall under the provisions of the Antarctic Treaty. Since 1904, a scientific post has been maintained in Antarctica by mutual agreement. While Argentina has employed threats and force to pursue its claims against Chile in the Beagle channel, against Britain in Antarctica and the Falklands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, as well as against illegal trawlers, this is the exception rather than the rule in Argentine international relations.
Argentina was the only Latin American country to participate in the 1991 Gulf War under the United Nations mandate, and played an important role in Operation Uphold Democracy, in Haiti. Argentina has contributed worldwide to peacekeeping operations, including those in El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, the Ecuador-Peru dispute, Western Sahara, Angola, Kuwait, Cyprus, Croatia, Kosovo, Bosnia and Timor Leste. In recognition of its contributions to international security, U.S. President Bill Clinton designated Argentina as a major non-NATO ally in January 1998. It was last elected as a member of the UN Security Council in 2005. The United Nations White Helmets, a bulwark of peacekeeping and humanitarian aid efforts, were first deployed in 1994 following an Argentine initiative.
The armed forces of Argentina comprise an army, navy and air force, and number about 70,000 active duty personnel, one third fewer than levels before the return to democracy in 1983. The President is commander-in-chief of the armed forces, with the Defense Ministry exercising day-to-day control. There are also two other forces; the Naval Prefecture (which patrols Argentine territorial waters) and the National Gendarmerie (which patrols the border regions); both arms are controlled by the Interior Ministry but maintain liaison with the Defense Ministry. The minimum age for enlistment in the armed forces is 18 years and there is no obligatory military service.
Historically, Argentina's military has been one of the best equipped in the region (for example, developing its own jet fighters as early as the 1950s); but recently it has faced sharper expenditure cutbacks than most other Latin American armed forces. Real military expenditures declined steadily after 1981 and though there have been recent increases, the defense budget is now around US$3 billion. The armed forces are currently participating in major peacekeeping operations in Haiti and Cyprus.
Argentina is composed of twenty-three provinces (Spanish: provincias, singular provincia) and one autonomous city (Ciudad autónoma de Buenos Aires). The city and the provinces have their own constitutions, but exist under a federal system. The administrative divisions of the Provinces are the departments (Spanish: departamentos, singular departamento), and the municipalities (Spanish: municipios or intendencias), except for Buenos Aires Province, which is divided into partidos. The City of Buenos Aires is divided into communes.
- Autonomous City of Buenos Airesa
- Buenos Aires Province
- Entre Ríos
- La Pampa
- La Rioja
- Río Negro
- San Juan
- San Luis
- Santa Cruz
- Santa Fe
- Santiago del Estero
- Tierra del Fuego, Antártida e Islas del Atlántico Surb
- a Not a Province. Autonomous City and seat of National Government.
- b Tierra del Fuego Province includes the Argentine claims over Antarctica, the Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
The total surface area (excluding the Antarctic claim) is 2,766,891.2 km2 (1,068,302.7 sq mi), of which 30,200 km2 (11,700 sq mi) (1.1%) is water. Argentina is about 3,900 km (2,400 mi) long from north to south, and 1,400 km (870 mi) from east to west (maximum values). There are four major regions: the fertile central plains of the Pampas, source of Argentina's agricultural wealth; the flat to rolling, oil-rich southern plateau of Patagonia including Tierra del Fuego; the subtropical northern flats of the Gran Chaco, and the rugged Andes mountain range along the western border with Chile.
The highest point above sea level is in Mendoza province at Cerro Aconcagua (6,962 m (22,841 ft)), also the highest point in the Southern and Western Hemisphere. The lowest point is Laguna del Carbón in Santa Cruz province, −105 m (−344 ft) below sea level. This is also the lowest point in South America. The geographic center of the country is in south-central La Pampa province. The easternmost continental point is northeast of Bernardo de Irigoyen, Misiones,(Lua error: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.) the westernmost in the Mariano Moreno Range in Santa Cruz province.(Lua error: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.) The northernmost point is at the confluence of the Grande de San Juan and Mojinete rivers in Jujuy province,(Lua error: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.) and the southernmost is Cape San Pío in Tierra del Fuego. (Lua error: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.)
The major rivers are the Paraná (the largest), the Pilcomayo, Paraguay, Bermejo, Colorado, Río Negro, Salado and the Uruguay. The Paraná and the Uruguay join to form the Río de la Plata estuary, before reaching the Atlantic. Regionally important rivers are the Atuel and Mendoza in the homonymous province, the Chubut in Patagonia, the Río Grande in Jujuy and the San Francisco River in Salta.
There are several large lakes including Argentino and Viedma in Santa Cruz, Nahuel Huapi between Río Negro and Neuquén, Fagnano in Tierra del Fuego, and Colhué Huapi and Musters in Chubut. Lake Buenos Aires and O'Higgins/San Martín Lake are shared with Chile. Mar Chiquita, Córdoba, is the largest salt water lake in the country. There are numerous reservoirs created by dams. Argentina features various hot springs, such as Termas de Río Hondo with temperatures between 65°C and 89°C.
The largest oil spill in fresh water was caused by a Shell Petroleum tanker in the Río de la Plata, off Magdalena, on January 15, 1999, polluting the environment, drinking water, and local wildlife.
The 4,665 km (2,899 mi) long Atlantic coast has been a popular local vacation area for over a century, and varies between areas of sand dunes and cliffs. The continental platform is unusually wide; this shallow area of the Atlantic is called the Argentine Sea. The waters are rich in fisheries and possibly hold important hydrocarbon energy resources. The two major ocean currents affecting the coast are the warm Brazil Current and the cold Falkland Current. Because of the unevenness of the coastal landmass, the two currents alternate in their influence on climate and do not allow temperatures to fall evenly with higher latitude. The southern coast of Tierra del Fuego forms the north shore of the Drake Passage.
The generally temperate climate ranges from subtropical in the north to subpolar in the far south. The north is characterized by very hot, humid summers with mild drier winters, and is subject to periodic droughts. Central Argentina has hot summers with thunderstorms (western Argentina produces some of the world's largest hail), and cool winters. The southern regions have warm summers and cold winters with heavy snowfall, especially in mountainous zones. Higher elevations at all latitudes experience cooler conditions.
The hottest and coldest temperature extremes recorded in South America have occurred in Argentina. A record high temperature of 49.1 °C (120.4 °F), was recorded at Villa María, Córdoba, on 2 January 1920. The lowest temperature recorded was −39.0 °C (−38.2 °F) at Valle de los Patos Superior, San Juan, on 17 July 1972.
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 Zonda, a hot dry wind, affects west-central Argentina. 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; when the Zonda blows (June–November), snowstorms and blizzard (viento blanco) conditions usually affect higher elevations.
The Sudestada ("southeasterlies") could be considered similar to the Nor'easter, though snowfall is rare but not unprecedented. Both are associated with a deep winter low pressure system. The sudestada usually moderates cold temperatures but brings very heavy rains, rough seas and coastal flooding. It is most common in late autumn and winter along the central coast and in the Río de la Plata estuary.
The southern regions, particularly the far south, experience long periods of daylight from November to February (up to nineteen hours) and extended nights from May to August.
Subtropical plants dominate the Gran Chaco in the north, with the Dalbergia genus of trees well represented by Brazilian Rosewood and the quebracho tree; also predominant are white and black algarrobo trees (prosopis alba and prosopis nigra). Savannah-like areas exist in the drier regions nearer the Andes. Aquatic plants thrive in the wetlands of Argentina. In central Argentina the humid pampas are a true tallgrass prairie ecosystem. 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 government maintains 29 national parks.
Most of Patagonia lies within the rain shadow of the Andes, so the flora, shrubby bushes and plants, is suited to dry conditions. The soil is hard and rocky, making large-scale farming impossible except along river valleys. Coniferous forests in far western Patagonia and on the island of Tierra del Fuego, include alerce, ciprés de la cordillera, ciprés de las guaitecas, huililahuán, lleuque, mañío hembra and pehuén, while broadleaf trees include several species of Nothofagus such as coihue, lenga and ñire. Other introduced trees present in forestry plantations include spruce, cypress and pine. Common plants are the copihue and colihue.
In Cuyo, semiarid thorny bushes and other xerophile plants abound. Along the many rivers grasses and trees grow in significant numbers. The area presents optimal conditions for the large scale growth of grape vines. In northwest Argentina there are many species of cactus. No vegetation grows in the highest elevations (above 4,000 m (13,000 ft)) because of the extreme altitude.
Many species live in the subtropical north. Prominent animals include big cats like the jaguar, puma, and ocelot; primates (howler monkey); large reptiles (crocodiles), \the Argentine Black and White Tegu and a species of caiman. Other animals include the tapir, peccary, capybara, bush dog, raccoon, and various species of turtle and tortoise. There are a wide variety of birds, notably hummingbirds, flamingos, toucans, and swallows.
The central grasslands are populated by the giant anteater, armadillo, pampas cat, maned wolf, mara, cavias, and the rhea (ñandú), a large flightless bird. Hawks, falcons, herons, and tinamous (perdiz, Argentine "false partridges") inhabit the region. There are also pampas deer and pampas foxes. Some of these species extend into Patagonia.
The western mountains are home to different animals. These include the llama, guanaco, vicuña, among the most recognizable species of South America. Also in this region are the fox, viscacha, Andean Mountain Cat, kodkod, and the largest flying bird in the New World, the Andean Condor.
Southern Argentina is home to the cougar, huemul, pudú (the world's smallest deer), and introduced, non-native wild boar. The coast of Patagonia is rich in animal life: elephant seals, fur seals, sea lions and species of penguin. The far south is populated by cormorants.
The territorial waters of Argentina have abundant ocean life; mammals such as dolphins, orcas, and whales like the southern right whale, a major tourist draw for naturalists. Sea fish include sardines, Argentine hakes, dolphinfish, salmon, and sharks; also present are squid and King crab (centolla) in Tierra del Fuego. Rivers and streams in Argentina have many species of trout and the South American dorado fish. Outstanding snake species inhabiting Argentina include boa constrictors and a very venomous pit viper the yarará. The Hornero was elected the National Bird after a survey in 1928.
The nation's services sector accounts for around 59% of the economy and 72% of employment, manufacturing is 21% of GDP and 13% of employment, and agriculture is 9% of GDP, with 7% of employment; constructon, mining, and public utilities divide the rest. Agriculture, including processed goods, provided 54% of export earnings in 2010, however, while industrial manufactures accounted for 35% (energy staples and metal ores were most of the remainder).
High inflation has been a weakness of the Argentine economy for decades. Officially hovering around 9% since 2006, inflation has been privately estimated at over 20%, becoming a contentious issue again. The urban income poverty rate has dropped to 18% as of mid-2008, a third of the peak level observed in 2002, though still above the level prior to 1976. Income distribution, having improved since 2002, is still considerably unequal.
Argentina ranks 106th out of 179 countries in the Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index for 2009. Reported problems include both government and private-sector corruption, the latter of which include money laundering, trafficking in narcotics and contraband, and tax evasion. The Kirchner administration responded to the Global financial crisis of 2008–2009 with a record public-works program, new tax cuts and subsidies, and the transfer of private pensions to the social security system. Private pension plans, which required growing subsidies to cover, were nationalized to shed a budgetary drain as well as to finance high government spending and debt obligations.
Argentina has, after its neighbour Chile, the second-highest Human Development Index and GDP per capita in purchasing power parity in Latin America. Argentina is one of the G-20 major economies, with the world's 31st largest nominal GDP, and the 23rd largest by purchasing power. The country is classified as upper-middle income or a secondary emerging market by the World Bank.
Argentina's economy developed from 1875 onwards with a surge of agricultural exports, as well European investment and immigration. This boom ended in 1930, after which the economy began to slowly lose ground. Domestic instability and global trends, however, contributed to Argentina's decline from its noteworthy position as the world's 10th wealthiest nation per capita in 1913 to 62nd by 2010 (though it remains above the world average in purchasing power parity terms). Though no consensus exists explaining this, systemic problems include burdensome debt, monetary uncertainty, excessive regulation, barriers to free trade, and a weak rule of law with corruption and a large bureaucracy.
Even during the long decline from 1930 to 1980 the Argentine economy created Latin America's largest middle class as a proportion of the population. A crisis period of two decades followed José Alfredo Martínez de Hoz's financial liberalization policies, leading to an increased debt burden and interrupted industrial development and upward social mobility. Expansionary policies and commodity exports triggered a rebound in GDP beginning in 2003. This trend has been largely maintained, creating millions of jobs and encouraging internal consumption. The socio-economic situation improved steadily, and the economy grew around 9% annually for five consecutive years until 2007, with another 7% in 2008.
The global recession of 2007-10 hit the country hard in 2009 with GDP growth slowing to 0.8%. In April 2010, Argentina offered to repay a majority of its almost $100 billion in loans from 2001. The economic minister Amado Boudou said that with the offer, the Argentine government hoped "to end the shame of 2001 once and for all." High GDP growth resumed in 2010, and the economy expanded by 8.5%.
Science and technology
Argentina has contributed many distinguished doctors, scientists and inventors to the world, including three Nobel Prize laureates in sciences. Argentines have been responsible for major breakthroughs in world medicine; their research has led to significant advances in wound-healing therapies and in the treatment of heart disease and several forms of cancer. Domingo Liotta designed and developed the first artificial heart successfully implanted in a human being in 1969. René Favaloro developed the techniques and performed the world's first ever coronary bypass surgery, and Francisco de Pedro invented a more reliable artificial cardiac pacemaker.
Bernardo Houssay, the first Latin American awarded with a Nobel Prize in the Sciences, discovered the role of pituitary hormones in regulating glucose in animals; César Milstein did extensive research in antibodies; Luis Leloir discovered how organisms store energy converting glucose into glycogen and the compounds which are fundamental in metabolizing carbohydrates. The Leloir Institute of biotechnology is among the most prestigious in its field in Latin America and in the world.
Dr. Luis Agote devised the first safe method of blood transfusion, Enrique Finochietto designed operating table tools such as the surgical scissors that bear his name ("Finochietto scissors") and a surgical rib-spreader. They have likewise contributed to bioscience in efforts like the Human Genome Project, where Argentine scientists have successfully mapped the genome of a living being, a world first.
Argentina's nuclear program is highly advanced, having resulted in a research reactor in 1957 and Latin America's first on-line commercial reactor in 1974. Argentina developed its nuclear program without being overly dependent on foreign technology. 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 other areas, Juan Vucetich, a Croatian immigrant, was the father of modern fingerprinting (dactiloscopy). Raúl Pateras Pescara demonstrated the world's first flight of a helicopter, Hungarian-Argentine László Bíró✡ mass-produced the first modern ball point pens and Eduardo Taurozzi developed the pendular combustion engine. Juan Maldacena, an Argentine-American scientist, is a leading figure in string theory. 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. The Pierre Auger Observatory near Malargüe, Mendoza, is the world's foremost cosmic ray observatory.
In 1869: 1,877,490.
In 1895: 4,044,911.
In 1914: 7,903,662.
In the 2001 census [INDEC], Argentina had a population of 36,260,130, and preliminary results from the 2010 Census were of 40,091,359 inhabitants. Argentina ranks third in South America in total population and 33rd globally. Population density is of 15 persons per square kilometer of land area, 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. The net migration rate has ranged from zero to four immigrants per 1,000 inhabitants.
The proportion of people under 15 is 25.6%, somewhat 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, recently about 1% a year, as well as a comparatively low infant mortality rate. Its birth rate of 2.3 children per woman is still nearly twice as high as that in Spain or Italy, compared here as they have similar religious practices and proportions. The median age is approximately 30 years and life expectancy at birth is 76.7 years.
As with other areas of new settlement such as Canada, Australia, and the United States, Argentina is considered a country of immigrants. Most Argentines are descended from colonial-era settlers, and 19th and 20th century immigrants from Europe. Argentina was second only to the US in the numbers of European immigrants received and, at those times, the national population doubled every two decades. The majority of these European immigrants came from Italy and Spain. 86.4% of Argentina's population self-identify as being of European descent. An estimated 8% of the population is Mestizo and 3.3% of Argentines are of Arab or Asian heritage. In the last national census 600,000 Argentines (1.6%) self-identified as being Amerindians (see Demographics of Argentina for genetic studies).
Recent Illegal immigration has mostly been coming from Bolivia and Paraguay, with smaller numbers from Peru, Ecuador and Romania. The Argentine government estimates that 750,000 inhabitants lack official documents and has launched a program called Patria Grande ("Greater Homeland") 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.
The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion but also requires the government to support Roman Catholicism economically. Until 1994 the President and Vice President had to be Roman Catholic, though there were no such restrictions on other government officials; although since 1945 members of other religious groups have held prominent posts. Catholic policy remains influential in government though, and still helps shape a variety of legislation. In a study assessing world-wide levels of religious regulation and persecution, with scores ranging from 0–10 where 0 represented low levels of regulation or persecution, Argentina received a score of 1.4 on Government Regulation of Religion, 6.0 on Social Regulation of Religion, 6.9 on Government Favoritism of Religion and 6 on Religious Persecution.
According to the World Christian Database Argentines are: 92.1% Christian, 3.1% agnostic, 1.9% Muslim, 1.3% Jewish, 0.9% atheist, and 0.9% Buddhist and others. Argentine Christians are mostly Roman Catholic with estimates for the number of Catholics varying from 70% to 90% of the population (though perhaps only 20% attend services regularly).
Evangelical churches have been gaining a foothold since the 1980s with approximately 9% of the total population, Pentecostal churches and traditional Protestant denominations are present in most communities and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claims 330,000 followers in Argentina (their seventh-largest congregation in the world).
Argentina has the largest Jewish population of any country in Latin America. A recent study found that approximately 11% of Argentines are non-religious (which includes those who believe in God but do not follow a religion), 4% are agnostics and 5% are atheist. Overall 24% attended religious services regularly. Protestants were the only group with a majority of followers who regularly attended services.
The de facto official language of Argentina is Spanish, usually called castellano (Castilian) by Argentines. Argentina is the largest Spanish-speaking society that universally employs voseo (the use of the pronoun vos instead of tú (you), which occasions the use of alternate verb forms as well). The most prevalent dialect is Rioplatense, whose speakers are primarily located in the Río de la Plata basin. Italian and other European immigrants influenced Lunfardo, the slang spoken in the Río de la Plata region, permeating the vernacular vocabulary of other regions as well. A phonetic study conducted by the Laboratory for Sensory Investigations of CONICET and the University of Toronto showed that the accent of the inhabitants of Buenos Aires (known as porteños) is closer to the Neapolitan dialect of Italian than any other spoken language.
According to Ethnologue there are around 1.5 million Italian speakers (making it the second most spoken language in the country) and 1 million speakers of the North Levantine dialect of Arabic (spoken in Syria, Lebanon and Cyprus). Standard German is spoken by 400,000—500,000 Argentines of German ancestry, making it the fourth most spoken language.
Some indigenous communities have retained their original languages. Guaraní is spoken by some in the north east, especially in Corrientes (where it enjoys official status) and Misiones. Quechua is spoken by some in the north west and has a local variant in Santiago del Estero. Aymara is spoken by members of the Bolivian immigrant community. In Patagonia there are Welsh-speaking communities with around 25,000 using it as their second-language. Recent immigrants have brought Chinese and Korean (mostly to Buenos Aires). English, Brazilian Portuguese and French are also spoken. English is commonly taught at schools as a second language with Portuguese and French to a lesser extent.
Argentina is highly urbanized. The ten largest metropolitan areas account for half of the population, and fewer than one in ten live in rural areas. About 3 million people live in Buenos Aires City and the Greater Buenos Aires metropolitan area 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 and Mendoza, Tucumán, La Plata, Mar del Plata, Salta and Santa Fe have at least half a million people each.
The population is unequally distributed amongst the provinces: about 60% live in the Pampa region (21% of the total area), including 15 million people in Buenos Aires Province; Córdoba Province Santa Fe Province and the Autonomous 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. Tucumán is the most densely populated with 60 inhabitants/km², the only Argentine province more densely populated than the world average, while the southern province of Santa Cruz has around 1 inhabitant/km².
Most European immigrants settled in the cities, and the many small towns founded along the expanding railway system. From the 1930s rural migration into the nation's larger cities accounted for much of their population growth. Argentine cities were originally built in a colonial Spanish grid style and many still retain this general layout, which is known as a damero (checkerboard). Most of the larger cities also feature boulevards and diagonal avenues inspired by Haussmann's renovation of Paris. The city of La Plata, designed at the end of the 19th century by Pedro Benoit, combines the checkerboard layout with added diagonal avenues at fixed intervals——it was also the first in South America to have electric street lights.
| Largest cities of Argentina|
(2007 INDEC estimate)
|Rank||City Name||Province||Pop.||Rank||City Name||Province||Pop.|| |
|2||Córdoba||Córdoba||1,372,000||12||Santiago del Estero||Santiago del Estero||357,000|
|4||Mendoza||Mendoza||885,434||14||Bahia Blanca||Buenos Aires||304,000|
|5||Tucumán||Tucumán||789,000||15||San Salvador de Jujuy||Jujuy||298,000|
|6||La Plata||Buenos Aires||732,503||16||Posadas||Misiones||287,000|
|7||Mar del Plata||Buenos Aires||604,563||17||Paraná||Entre Rios||268,000|
|9||Santa Fe||Santa Fe||493,000||19||Merlo||Buenos Aires||244,168|
|10||San Juan, Argentina||San Juan||453,229||20||Quilmes||Buenos Aires||230,810|
Argentine culture has significant European influences. Buenos Aires, its cultural capital, is largely characterized by both the prevalence of people of European descent, and of conscious imitation of European styles in architecture. The other big influence is the gauchos and their traditional country lifestyle of self-reliance. Finally, indigenous American traditions (like yerba mate infusions) have been absorbed into the general cultural milieu.
Argentina has a rich literary history, as well as one of the region's most active publishing industries. Argentine writers have figured prominently in Latin American literature since becoming a fully united entity in the 1850s. The struggle between the Federalists (who favored a loose confederation of provinces based on rural conservatism) and the Unitarians (pro-liberalism and advocates of a strong central government that would encourage European immigration), set the tone for Argentine literature of the time.
The ideological divide between gaucho epic Martín Fierro by José Hernández, and Facundo by Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, is a great example. Hernández, a federalist, was opposed to the centralizing, modernizing and Europeanizing tendencies. Sarmiento wrote in support of immigration as the only way to save Argentina from becoming subject to the rule of a small number of dictatorial caudillo families, arguing such immigrants would make Argentina more modern and open to Western European influences and therefore a more prosperous society.
Argentine literature of that period was fiercely nationalist. It was followed by the modernist movement, which emerged in France in the late 19th century, and this period in turn was followed by vanguardism, with Ricardo Güiraldes as an important reference. Jorge Luis Borges, its most acclaimed writer, found new ways of looking at the modern world in metaphor and philosophical debate and his influence has extended to writers all over the globe. Borges is most famous for his works in short stories such as Ficciones and The Aleph.
Some of the nation's notable writers, poets and intellectuals include: Juan Bautista Alberdi, Roberto Arlt, Enrique Banchs, Adolfo Bioy Casares, Silvina Bullrich, Eugenio Cambaceres, Julio Cortázar, Esteban Echeverría, Leopoldo Lugones, Eduardo Mallea, Ezequiel Martínez Estrada, Tomás Eloy Martínez, Victoria Ocampo, Manuel Puig, Ernesto Sabato, Osvaldo Soriano, Alfonsina Storni and María Elena Walsh.
Numerous Argentine architects have enriched their own country's cityscapes and, in recent decades, 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 Sulĉiĉ left an Art Deco legacy, and Alejandro Bustillo created a prolific body of Rationalist architecture. Clorindo Testa introduced Brutalist architecture locally and 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, in particular, made him one of the world's most prestigious architects.
One of the most influential Argentine figures in fine arts was Xul Solar, whose surrealist work used watercolors as readily as unorthodox painting media; he also "invented" two imaginary languages. The works of Cándido López and Florencio Molina Campos (in Naïve art style), Ernesto de la Cárcova and Eduardo Sívori (realism), Fernando Fader (impressionism), Pío Collivadino and Cesáreo Bernaldo de Quirós (post-impressionist), Emilio Pettoruti (cubist), Antonio Berni (neo-figurative), Gyula Košice (constructivism), Eduardo Mac Entyre (Generative art), Guillermo Kuitca (abstract), and Roberto Aizenberg (Surrealism) are a few of the best-known Argentine painters.
Others include Benito Quinquela Martín, a quintessential 'port' painter for whom the working class and immigrant-bound La Boca neighborhood, in particular, was excellently suited. A similar environment inspired Adolfo Bellocq, whose lithographs have been influential since the 1920s. Evocative monuments ny Realist sculptors Erminio Blotta, Lola Mora and Rogelio Yrurtia became the part of the national landscape and today, Lucio Fontana and León Ferrari are acclaimed sculptors and conceptual artists. Ciruelo is a world-famous fantasy artist and sculptor, and Marta Minujín is an innovative Conceptual artist.
Film and theatre
The Argentine film industry creates around 80 full-length motion pictures annually. The per capita number of screens is one of the highest in Latin America, and viewing per capita is the highest in the region. The world's first animated feature films were made and released in Argentina, by cartoonist Quirino Cristiani, in 1917 and 1918. Since the 1980s, Argentine films have achieved worldwide recognition, such as The Official Story (Best foreign film oscar in 1986), Man Facing Southeast, A Place in the World, Nine Queens, Son of the Bride, The Motorcycle Diaries, Blessed by Fire, and The Secret in Their Eyes, winner of the 2009 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. A new generation of Argentine directors has caught the attention of critics worldwide. Argentine composers Luis Enrique Bacalov and Gustavo Santaolalla have been honored with Academy Award for Best Original Score nods. Lalo Schifrin has received numerous Grammys and is best known for the Theme from Mission: Impossible.
Buenos Aires is one of the great capitals of theater. The Teatro Colón is a national landmark for opera and classical performances; its acoustics are considered the best in the world. With its theatre scene of national and international caliber, Corrientes Avenue is synonymous with the art. It is thought of as 'the street that never sleeps' and sometimes referred to as the Broadway of Buenos Aires. The Teatro General San Martín is one of the most prestigious along Corrientes Avenue and the Teatro Nacional Cervantes functions as the national stage theater of Argentina. The Teatro Argentino de La Plata, El Círculo in Rosario, Independencia in Mendoza and Libertador in Córdoba are also prominent. Griselda Gambaro, Copi, Roberto Cossa, Marco Denevi, Carlos Gorostiza, and Alberto Vaccarezza are a few of the more prominent Argentine playwrights. Julio Bocca, Jorge Donn, José Neglia and Norma Fontenla are some of the great ballet dancers of the modern era.
Tango, the music and lyrics (often sung in a form of slang called lunfardo), is Argentina's musical symbol. The golden age of tango (1930 to mid-1950s) mirrored that of Jazz and Swing in the United States, featuring large orchestral groups too, like the bands of Osvaldo Pugliese, Anibal Troilo, Francisco Canaro, Julio de Caro and Juan D'Arienzo. Incorporating acoustic music and later, synthesizers into the genre after 1955, bandoneon virtuoso Ástor Piazzolla popularized "new tango" creating a more subtle, intellectual and listener-oriented trend. Today tango enjoys worldwide popularity; ever-evolving, neo-tango is a global phenomenon with renown groups like Tanghetto, Bajofondo and the Gotan Project.
Argentine rock developed as a distinct musical style in the mid-1960s, when Buenos Aires and Rosario became cradles of several garage groups and aspiring musicians. Today it is widely considered the most prolific and successful form of Rock en Español. Bands such as Soda Stereo or Sumo, and composers like Charly García, Luis Alberto Spinetta, and Fito Páez are referents of national culture. Seru Giran bridged the gap into the 1980s, when Argentine bands became popular across Latin America and elsewhere. Current popular bands include: Babasonicos, Rata Blanca, Horcas, Attaque 77, Bersuit, Los Piojos, Intoxicados, Catupecu Machu, Carajo and Miranda!.
European classical music is well represented in Argentina. Buenos Aires is home to the world-renowned Colón Theater. Classical musicians, such as Martha Argerich, Eduardo Alonso-Crespo, Daniel Barenboim, Eduardo Delgado and Alberto Lysy, and classical composers such as Juan José Castro and Alberto Ginastera are internationally acclaimed. Some cities have annual events and important classical music festivals like Semana Musical Llao Llao in San Carlos de Bariloche and the multitudinous Amadeus in Buenos Aires.
Beyond dozens of regional dances, a national Argentine folk style emerged in the 1930s. Perón's Argentina would give rise to Nueva Canción, as artists began expressing in their music objections to political themes. The style went on to influence the entirety of Latin American music. Today, Chango Spasiuk and Soledad Pastorutti have brought folk back to younger generations. Leon Gieco's folk-rock bridged the gap between Argentine folklore and Argentine rock, introducing both styles to millions overseas in successive tours.
The print media industry is highly developed and independent of the government, with more than two hundred newspapers. The major national newspapers are from Buenos Aires, including the centrist Clarín, the best-selling daily in Latin America and the second most-widely circulated in the Spanish-speaking world. Other nationally circulated papers are La Nación (center-right, published since 1870), Página/12 (left-wing), Ámbito Financiero (business conservative), Olé (sports) and Crónica (populist). The most circulated newsmagazine is Noticias.
Radio broadcasting in Argentina is predated only by radio in the United States, and began on August 27, 1920, when Richard Wagner's Parsifal was broadcast by a team of medical students led Enrique Susini in Buenos Aires' Teatro Coliseo. There are currently 260 AM broadcasting and 1150 FM broadcasting radio stations in Argentina.
The Argentine television industry is large and diverse, widely viewed in Latin America, and its productions seen around the world. Argentines enjoy the highest availability of cable and satellite television in Latin America, similar to percentages in North America.
Argentine comic artists have contributed prominently to national culture, including Alberto Breccia, Dante Quinterno, Oski, Francisco Solano López, Horacio Altuna, Guillermo Mordillo, Roberto Fontanarrosa, whose grotesque characters captured life's absurdities with quick-witted commentary, and Quino, known for the soup-hating Mafalda and her comic strip gang of childhood friends.
The official national sport of Argentina is pato, played with a six-handle ball on horseback, but the most popular sport is association football. The national football team has won 25 major international titles including two FIFA World Cups, two Olympic gold medals and fourteen Copa Américas. Over one thousand Argentine players play abroad, the majority of them in European football leagues. There are 331,811 registered football players, with increasing numbers of girls and women, who have organized their own national championships since 1991 and were South American champions in 2006.
The Argentine Football Association (AFA) was formed in 1893 and is the eighth oldest national football association in the world. The AFA today counts 3,377 football clubs, including 20 in the Premier Division. Since the AFA went professional in 1931, fifteen teams have won national tournament titles, including River Plate with 33 and Boca Juniors with 24. Over the last twenty years, futsal and beach soccer have become increasingly popular. The Argentine beach football team was one of four competitors in the first international championship for the sport, in Miami, in 1993.
Basketball is the second most popular sport; a number of basketball players play in the U.S. National Basketball Association and European leagues including Manu Ginóbili, Andrés Nocioni, Carlos Delfino, Luis Scola and Fabricio Oberto. The men's national basketball team won Olympic gold in the 2004 Olympics and the bronze medal in 2008. Argentina is currently ranked first by the International Basketball Federation. Argentina has an important rugby union football team, "Los Pumas", with many of its players playing in Europe. Argentina beat host nation France twice in the 2007 Rugby World Cup, placing them third in the competition. The Pumas are currently eighth in the official world rankings. Other popular sports include field hockey (particularly amongst women), tennis, auto racing, boxing, volleyball, polo and golf.
The Vamos vamos Argentina chant is a trademark of Argentine fans during sporting events.
Besides many of the pasta, sausage and dessert dishes common to continental Europe, Argentines enjoy a wide variety of Indigenous and Criollo creations, which include empanadas (a stuffed pastry), locro (a mixture of corn, beans, meat, bacon, onion, and gourd), humitas and yerba mate, all originally indigenous Amerindian staples, the latter considered Argentina's national beverage. Other popular items include chorizo (a spicy sausage), facturas (Viennese-style pastry) and Dulce de Leche, a sort of milk caramel jam.
The Argentine barbecue, asado as well as a parrillada, includes various types of meats, among them chorizo, sweetbread, chitterlings, and morcilla (blood sausage). Thin sandwiches, sandwiches de miga, are also popular. Argentines have the highest consumption of red meat in the world.
The Argentine wine industry, long among the largest outside Europe, has benefited from growing investment since 1992; in 2007, 60% of foreign investment worldwide in viticulture was destined to Argentina. The country is the fifth most important wine producer in the world, with the annual per capita consumption of wine among the highest. Malbec grape, a discardable varietal in France (country of origin), has found in the Province of Mendoza an ideal environment to successfully develop and turn itself into the world's best Malbec. Mendoza accounts for 70% of the country's total wine production. "Wine tourism" is important in Mendoza province, with the impressive landscape of the Cordillera de Los Andes and the highest peak in the Americas, Mount Aconcagua, 6,952 m (22,808 ft) high, providing a very desirable destination for international tourism.
After independence Argentina built a national public education system in comparison to other nations, placing the country high in the global rankings of literacy. Today Argentina has a literacy rate of 97%, and three in eight adults over age 20 have completed secondary school studies or higher.
School attendance is compulsory between the ages of 5 and 17. The Argentine school system consists of an elementary or lower school level lasting six or seven years, and a secondary or high school level lasting between five to six years. In the 1990s, the system was split into different types of high school instruction, called Educacion Secundaria and the Polimodal. Some provinces adopted the Polimodal while others did not. A project in the executive branch to repeal this measure and return to a more traditional secondary level system was approved in 2006. President Domingo Faustino Sarmiento is credited with pushing for and implementing a free and modern education system in Argentina. The 1918 university reform shaped the current tripartite representation of most public universities.
Education is funded by tax payers at all levels except for the majority of graduate studies. There are many private school institutions in the primary, secondary and university levels. Around 11.4 million people were enrolled in formal education of some kind in 2006, including 1.5 million in the nation's 85 universities.
Public education in Argentina is tuition-free from the elementary to the university levels. Though literacy was nearly universal as early as 1947, the majority of Argentine youth had little access to education beyond the compulsory seven years of grade school during the first half of the 20th century; since then, when the tuition-free system was extended to the secondary and university levels, demand for these facilities has often outstripped budgets (particularly since the 1970s). Consequently, public education is now widely found wanting and in decline; this has helped private education flourish, though it has also caused a marked inequity between those who can afford it (usually the middle and upper classes) and the rest of society, as private schools often have no scholarship systems in place. Roughly one in four primary and secondary students and one in six university students attend private institutions.
There are thirty-eight public universities across the country, as well as numerous private ones. The University of Buenos Aires, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Universidad Nacional de Rosario, and the National Technological University are among the most important. Public universities faced cutbacks in spending during the 1980s and 1990s, which led to a decline in overall quality.
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. Government efforts to improve public health can be traced to Spanish Viceroy Juan José de Vértiz's first Medical Tribunal of 1780. Following independence, medical schools were established at the University of Buenos Aires (1822) and the National University of Córdoba (1877). The training of doctors and nurses at these and other schools enabled the rapid development of health care cooperatives, which during the presidency of Juan Perón became publicly subsidized Obras Sociales. Today, these 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.
Health care costs amount to almost 10% of GDP and have been growing in pace with the proportion of Argentines over 65 (7% in 1970). Public and private spending have historically split this about evenly: public funds are mainly spent through Obras, which in turn, refer patients needing hospitalization to private and public clinics; private funds are spent evenly between private insurers' coverage and out-of-pocket expenses.
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.
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