Argentina is a federal republic in southern South America on the border of
Bolivia and Paraguay; on the east by Brazil, Uruguay, and the Atlantic Ocean,
on the south by the Atlantic Ocean and Chile, and on the west by Chile. The
country is the biggest country on the south side and is triangular in shape, with
the base in the north and the corner at Punta Dungeness, the southeastern tip of
the continent. The length of Argentina in a northern to southern direction is
about 2,070 mi.. Its biggest width is about 860 mi.. The area of Argentina is
1,073,518 sq mi.. It is the second largest South American country, Brazil ranking
first. The capital and largest city is Buenos Aires.
Argentina has a lot of mountains, upland areas, and plains. The western
boundaries of the country fall entirely within the Andes. The only other highlands
of consequence in Argentina is the Sierra de Cordoba, in the central portion of
the country. In the north, the Argentine plains consist of the southern portion of
the South American region known as the Gran Chaco. The Pampas plains that
include the most productive agricultural sections of the country, extend about
1,000 mi. south from the Gran Chaco. In Patagonia, south of the Pampas, the
terrain consists largely of arid, desolate steppes. A famed scenic attraction, the
Iguacu Falls, is on the CIguau River a tributary of the Parana. The chief rivers of
Argentina are the 'Aparan, which splits the north part of the country. In the area
between the Rio Salado and the Rio Colorado and in the Chaco region, some
large rivers empty into swamps and marshes or disappear into sinks.
Temperate climatic conditions prevail throughout most of Argentina, except for a
small tropical area in the northeast and the subtropical Chaco in the north. The
climate is generally cold in the Andes, Patagonia, and Tierra del Fuego. In the
western section of Patagonia winter temperatures average about 0 C (32 F). In
most coastal areas, however, the ocean exerts a moderating influence on
The traditional wealth of Argentina is in the vast Pampas, which are used
for extensive grazing and grain production. However, Argentine mineral
resources, especially offshore deposits of petroleum and natural gas, have
assumed increasing importance in recent decades.

About 85 percent of the population is of European origin. Unlike most
Latin American countries, Argentina has relatively few mestizos persons of
mixed European and Native American ancestry. Spanish and Italian immigrants
have predominated. According to the 1991 census, Argentina had a population
of 32,663,983.

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Argentina has 23 provinces; the self-governing Distrito Federal which
consists of the city of Buenos Aires and several suburbs; the Argentine-claimed
sector of Antarctica; and several South Atlantic islands. The provinces are
grouped into five major areas: the Atlantic Coastal, or Littoral, provinces,
comprising Buenos Aires (excluding the city of Buenos Aires), Chaco,
Corrientes, Entre Rios, Formosa, Misiones, and Santa Fe; the Northern
provinces, comprising Jujuy, Salta, Santiago del Estero, and Tucuman; the
Central provinces, comprising Cordoba, La Pampa, and San Luis; the provinces
of the Andes, or Andina, comprising San Fernando del Valle de Catamarca, La
Rioja, Mendoza, Neuquen, and San Juan; and the Patagonian provinces,
comprising Chubut, Rio Negro, Santa Cruz, and Tierra del Fuego. Buenos Aires
is Argentina's capital and largest city. Other important cities include oCrdoba,
the river port of Rosario, La Plata, the capital of Buenos Aires Province Mar del
Plata, a resort city at the mouth of the Rio de la Plata aSan Miguel de Tucumn, a
diversified manufacturing center Salta, famous for its colonial architecture and
Mendoza, hub of an important agricultural and wine-growing region. Spanish is
the official language and is spoken by most of the Argentines. Italian and a
bunch of Native American languages are also spoken.
Roman Catholics make up 90 percent of the population. Judaism,
Protestantism, and a number of other Christian and non-Christian religions are
practiced. By law, the president and vice president of Argentina must be Roman
Catholic. Argentina is a nation with a rich Spanish heritage.
Primary education is free and compulsory from ages 6 to 14. Argentina's
literacy rate of 96 percent is one of the highest in Latin America. Argentina has
25 national universities and many private universities. The leading library of
Argentina is the National Library (1810) in Buenos Aires, which has about 1.9
million volumes.
The Argentine economy is based primarily on the production of
agricultural products and the raising of livestock, but manufacturing and mining
industries have shown marked growth in recent decades. Argentina is one of the
world's leading cattle and grain regions. Argentina raises enough crops for
domestic needs and export stuff to foreign markets. Livestock raising and
slaughtering are major enterprises in Argentina, as are the refrigeration and
processing of meat and animal products; total annual meat production is nearly
3.5 million metric tons, three-quarters of it from cattle.
Wheat is the most important crop. Argentina is one of the biggest
producers of wheat in the world. In 1998, the wheat crop totaled 11.7 million
metric tons. Other major cash crops were maize (19.6 million metric tons),
soybeans, and sorghum. Other major field crops include oats, barley, flaxseed,
sunflower seeds, sugarcane, cotton, potatoes, rice, mate, peanuts, and tobacco,
as well as a considerable crop of grapes, oranges, lemons, and grapefruit.

Before, Argentina's money system was based on the peso oro (Spanish
"gold peso"), except no gold coins actually were used. The nuevo peso
argentino (equal to 10,000 australs) was introduced in January 1992, at an
exchange rate of 1 peso equaling U.S.$1. In 1997 1 Argentinian peso was still
trading for U.S.$1. The Central Bank works as the national bank and is the only
one that has the right to issue money.
The entire Argentine railroad system was owned and operated by the
government from 1948 until 1992, when portions of the rail system were privatized. By 1994, most of the state-owned rail network had been privatized.
Aerolineas Argentinas was the national airline until it was privatized in 1990. A
railroad tunnel through the Andes has provided facilities for motor vehicles since
it was built in 1940. In 1996 there were 127 cars for every 1,000 people in
According to the constitution of 1853, Argentina is a federal republic with
a president, who is helped by a council of ministers. Legislative powers are
vested in a national congress consisting of a Senate and a Chamber of
Deputies. A new constitution was passed in 1949, only to be rescinded in 1956.
All constitutional provisions were suspended in 1966 following a military
takeover. After another military coup in 1976, the constitution of 1853 was again
suspended, but it was reinstated when Argentina returned to civilian rule in
1983. The constitution of 1853, in the preamble and in much of the text, reflects
the ideas and aims of the Constitution of the United States. Several parts of
Argentina's constitution were revised in 1994. The government like the U.S. All
citizens 18 years old are allowed to vote.
In February 1516, the Spanish navigator Juan Diaz de Solis, then
engaged in search of a southwest passage to the East Indies. Sebastian Cabot,
an Italian navigator in the service of Spain, visited the estuary in 1526. In search
of food and supplies, Cabot and his men ascended the river later called the
Parana to a point near the site of modern Rosario. They constructed a fort and
then pushed up the river as far as the region now occupied by Paraguay. Colonization of the region was begun in 1535 by the Spanish soldier Pedro de
Mendoza. In June 1806, Buenos Aires was attacked by a British fleet under the
command of Admiral Home Riggs Popham. The viceroy offered no defense
against the attack, which was made without permission by the British
government. The British invaders occupied the city but were kicked out by a
citizen army the next August.
Revolutionary sentiment in La Plata reached its peak in the period
following the deposing of King Ferdinand VII in 1808. The people of Buenos
Aires refused to recognize Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon's brother, who was then
installed on the Spanish throne. On May 25, 1810, they overthrew the viceregal
government and installed a provisional governing council in the name of
Ferdinand VII. Representatives of the various provinces convened at Tucuman
in March 1816. On the following July 9 the delegates proclaimed independence
from Spanish rule and declared the formation of the United Provinces of South
America. In March 1949, Peron promulgated a new constitution permitting the
president of the republic to succeed himself in office.