Ah, la hermosa Argentina
... home of la calle más larga note
and la calle más ancha note
... home of el río más ancho note
and las minas más lindas del mundonote
One of the world's southernmost countries, Argentina can be noted as an incredibly diverse country, geographically and culturally speaking.
Argentina is a presidential democratic Republic, hosting a sun on its flag, which went to inspire other national flags in the continent, like those of Uruguay and Costa Rica among others. Argentina's flag is a blue-white-blue horizontal tricolour with a solar disc symbol. The same stripes (with different shades of blue) can also be seen in most Central American flags: some interpretations imply they originally come from sashes and banners used by the Bourbon kings of Spain, and reflect how the Latin American revolutions actually started out as loyalist
movements when the throne of Spain was usurped by Napoleon Bonaparte
's brother Joseph.
Argentina has a wide range of ecosystems and biomes, ranging from deserts to mountains, forests, jungles and glaciers (as exemplified by National Parks like "Nahuel Huapi", "Los Glaciares", "Iguazú" and "Perito Moreno" among several others). Argentina has the tallest mountain in all the continent, the Aconcagua with 6959 mnote
. At the same time, Argentina is also home to lowest depression in all the continent, which is Laguna del Carbón with 105 m below sea level,note
also the lowest depression outside the eastern hemisphere. Its northern boundaries have the hot tropical weather of Bolivia and Brazil, giving (in the jungles to the east) nest to fauna like monkeys, tapirs and jaguars; while on the west the desert-like mountains are habitat of pumas, llamas and condors. Meanwhile, in its southern lands (more than 5000 km south) the ice-cold temperature that anticipates the Antarctica is the habitat (in the western mountains) of foxes, deers and maras; while in the Atlantic coast there are penguins, whales and sea lions.
Argentina has quite the sights. like the forests and lakes lying along the Andes mountain range, and also some of the most important places for scientific research, like Valle de la Luna, an area which due to geological quirks over million years has soils from different historical times placed in rows. In fact in Paleontology, it is said there are two top-places in the world: one is China, and the other is Argentina.
People of Argentina are what in the country it is commonly called "Crisol de Razas"
as they recognize the many ethnic backgrounds and diverse nationalities where their ancestors came from. It all started back in colonial times, the Native inhabitants mixed with the Spanish settlers, and together gave birth to Mestizos (which one of its representatives is the Gaucho
, think of it as Argentinian cowboys). Spanish settlers also mixed with Black slaves brought from Africa and so Mulatos were born (it is worth noting however, that due to diseases in the 19th Century, Black and Mulato population fell considerably to the point that nowadays it is rare seeing them in Argentina, which is striking when one thinks that provinces like Santiago del Estero in early 19th Century had a majority of Black/Mulato population). Offspring of Natives and Blacks were called Zambos.
Later during the 19th Century and early 20th, there were at least two great waves of immigration, which made Argentina have one of the highest White populations in the continent. These immigrations were mainly from Italy (contributing around 2.970.000 people) and Spain (contributing around 2.080.000 people
). To this day the majority of the population recognizes at least one Italian ancestor. Jews are also an important part of the population, in fact Argentina has the biggest Jewish population in Latin America, and the 7th biggest in the world; some of them settled in the rural countrysides to become the "Gauchos judíos" (Jewish gauchos), while other went to Buenos Aires and made a living of business like estates or textiles (Buenos Aires neighborhoods like Flores and Once have a long history of Jewish presence). Argentina also contains a community of around 20,000 Welsh speakers, descended from colonists who were given permission to settle in Patagonia in the 1860s and largely stayed put, creating a "little Wales far from Wales". Many Germans (especially the Volga's Germans) also came to Argentina, settling in so different lands as the mountains in Bariloche, the Patagonian coasts of Chubut, the Gauchesque grasslands in La Pampa
, the sun-bathed rivers of Entre Ríos, or the tropical hot jungles of Misiones; one of these German immigrants was Hermann Burmeister, a zoologist and paleontologist crucial in the study of South American fauna. A lot of people from Eastern Europe also immigrated to Argentina, from countries like Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Ukraine and Russia; the majority of them settled in the north-eastern provinces like Misiones, Chaco or Entre Ríos, where the weather is hot and there are lots of rivers, estuaries and lagoons; one of its descendants is the much beloved folk musician "Chango" Spasiuk, born in Misiones and of Ukrainian grandparents. On the other side, people from the Arab countries, like from Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Palestine, went to the north-western provinces like Salta, Tucuman or La Rioja, where the desert and the mountains lie; one of its descendants is the ex-president Carlos Saúl M*n*m.note
Immigration from Asian countries, like China and Korea, has increased since the '80s, and they started a fierce competition with Jewish enterpreneurs in textiles. However Japanese immigration started way before in the '10s, though they have been largely mixed with local population since then, so it is unnoticeable. Also, through centuries people from neighboring countries have migrated to Argentina, mainly from Bolivia
, because Argentina have historically combined quite a few traits which made it one major country in terms of economy, technology, science and education in South America, and arguably the best in Human Development Index in all Latin America.
At the national level, the current President, Cristina Elizabeth Fernández de Kirchner, is Argentina's second female President (although the first one elected as such) and directly succeeded her (now late) husband. She was reelected with an overwhelming majority of the votes.
Two of the most famous non-electoral political figures from Argentina were Juan Domingo Perón's wife, Eva Perón (Evita
) on one hand, and Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, far better known as Mr. T-Shirt himself, el Che Guevara
, on the other. Juan Domingo Perón was elected democratically, even if he started out as vice president to a dictator.
The country has been on an endless economic roller coaster ever since The Great Depression
started a cycle of catastrophic busts and phenomenal booms, tightly mixed with a healthy share of coup d'états. The overall effect is that growth per capita has stagnated since WWII, making Argentina something of a conundrum to economists. The economic pressure Argentina has to deal with today is composed greatly by huge international debts (special mention to the many particular debts that were nationalized by the government after the last dictatorship).
The XX century was for Argentina a very difficult time; it ranged from various dictatorships, to brief periods of democracy and economic regrowth, followed by terrible economy busts (most notably the late 2001 crisis) thanks to economy methods that didn't suit the rhythm of the country and the current world market (but they did in the turn of the XIX century, the main reason people thinks it should work today). The end result is that almost uniquely amongst all the countries in world, the last 100 years are something of a lost century: at its start, Argentina was easily among the richest and most developed countries in the world (no kidding, they were on par with the US and the most developed countries of Europe); at it's end, they had "regressed" into a developing country, pretty much on par with their Latin American neighbors.
Still, as of recent years, Argentina has managed to recover from 2001-2's crisis and has had a somewhat noticeable economic growth overall, at the cost of having very high (20+, extra-officially, since the government has been massaging the official indexes for a long, long time) levels of inflation again. At the end, Argentina manages to hold the 3rd place as the greatest economy in Latin America, behind Brazil and Mexico.
For some time a strong ally of the USA, it has been less of one in recent years, largely due to the raise of the MERCOSUR and generally a distrust in USA's policies after the 2001 economic crisis.
Military-wise, the country had a long history being one of the strongest and technologically advanced armies in Latin America, however this all changed after the 1982 war over what the Argentines call Islas Malvinas
(while The British call them the Falkland Islands). The loss of the war put an end to the last desperate attempt by the military junta, that had seized power after Perón's death, to stay in power. This final blow helped reestablish democracy the next year... which still has never assuaged the Argentinians' feelings of humiliation about the loss. It is worth noting however that the Falklands dispute is very much the exception to the rule; for most of Argentina's history since independence, Argentina was one of the most friendly South American countries with Britain. After the war Argentina stopped supporting its Armed Forces, to the point that has currently one of the lowest military expenditures, and strongly promotes a peace policy.
In the field of science, Argentina has produced many worldwide acknowledged brilliant minds, with Nobel laureates like Bernardo A. Houssay, Federico Leloir and César Milsten. Also, was an Argentine police officer, Juan Vucetich
, the creator of the first fingerprinting system. Argentina was home of some useful inventions like the Pasteurized milk, the minibus, the bypass, the ballpoint pen, the conservation in blood transfusions, the spray cans for direct free kicks in football, the first animated feature film, and many more!
Argentina's Great Writer is generally agreed to be Jorge Luis Borges
, one of the best and most influential practitioners of the Mind Screw
. Not to mention that most of Argentina's other
great writers were also good friends of his. Among these were Adolfo Bioy Casares, Ernesto Sabato (some of his conversations with Borges were put together and published in 1976), Silvina Ocampo, and though not a friend of his, Julio Cortázar
, author of the postmodern Hopscotch
, has stated that Borges was a source of inspiration for his stories, most of which brimming with Magic Realism
. In regards to Comic Books
, Quino's Mafalda
and Oesterheld's El Eternauta
are easily the most influential to come out of the country.
Talking about the music, Argentina's most famous cultural innovation is the tango. Originating from the dock areas and brothels of Buenos Aires, it has become a global dance.
In Argentina depictions, if there isn't a couple dressed in elegant suits dancing to tango, then maybe it is shown a Gaucho from the rural countryside, perhaps playing its vigüelanote
near a fogónnote
with its fellow Gauchos
, singing proudly about their life in las pampasnote
, or lamenting over their unfortunate lives... it is all part of Argentine folklore.
Argentine folk music is very, very diverse: music from the north-western provinces usually are carnavalitos
or other music styles like those also found in Bolivia and Peru, and are played with traditional instruments like bombos
, flutes and charangos
. Meanwhile those in north-eastern provinces have styles like chamamé
shared with Paraguay, usually played with violins, guitars and harps. Folk styles in the Patagonian and western provinces usually are shared with Chile; and many styles from the llanura pampeana
associated with the Gauchos like milonga
have relatives in Uruguay.
Classical music in Argentina is also eminent, with some people like Daniel Baremboim even making an orchestra with Israeli and Palestinian people, for the sake of peace.
But if we are talking about Argentina's music, its most telling isROCK NACIONAL
With a history spanning decades, Argentine rock (or rock nacional
, as it is called inside the country) was one of the first not being sung in English language, a complete novelty at that moment with uncertain results, and it became the first non English language form of rock to be comercially sucessful, having revolutionized the hell of Latin America countries music with the Argentine invasion in the '80s. Some rock historians place Argentine rock in 3rd place after American and British rock, for the mark it left in the history of world's music changing it all in all the countries in the continent, even giving birth in some of that countries to their local form of rock. There are so many Argentine rock bands that rocked the hell out, that it is impossible to not forget one: Soda Stereo, Rata Blanca, Los Gatos, Almendra, Vox Dei, Sui Generis, Aquelarre, Los Abuelos de la Nada, Seru Giran, Virus, Patricio Rey y Sus Redonditos de Ricota, Riff, V8, Almafuerte, Los Enanitos Verdes, Sumo, Divididos, Las Pelotas, Ataque 77, Flema, Dos Minutos, Embajada Boliviana, Fun People, El Otro Yo, Babasonicos, Los Piojos, Los Ratones Paranoicos, La Renga, Las Pastillas del Abuelo, Bersuit Bergarabat, Catupecu Machu, Arbol...
After finding its first ever big sell in the form of Los Gatos' La Balsa, Argentine rock took an evolution to more psychedelic, experimental and progressive styles, and a more aggresive, protest-song style in their lyrics, eventually gaining the antipathy of the military dictatorship and leading to a bitter feud that brought Argentine Rock to agony. It was however the Guerra de Malvinas that was used by the militars to boost national pride and so prohibited broadcast of songs in English language and instead promoted their old enemies, the pelilargos y melenudosnote
, effectively revitalizing Argentine rock. After the loss of the war and the falling of the military dictatorship, Argentine rock moved on and influenced itself with the new wave and synthpop that was raging in the US and UK, and took a twist to a more laid back and dancing style that consequently conquered all Latin America. While with the advent in the '90s of the rock barrialnote
and rock rolinganote
Argentine rock forgot what put itself in the frontline of music in Latin America, and lost terrain at the hands of Mexican and Chilean rock, there is always an Argentine rock band in the top of the charts in Latin American countries, and so, rock nacional
will never cease to exist.
Completing the music scene in Argentina, cuarteto
are two major players in the provinces of Córdoba and Santa Fe respectively. The later also gave birth to a local style named cumbia villeranote
in the poor neighborhoods named villas miseria
(like the brazilian favelas, only on a much smaller scale) where they started to sing about what was happening in their crapsack world of the Argentina that would eventually lead to the 2001 crisis, it all started in 1999 with the band Flor de Piedra's song "Sos botón". Ever since, the cumbia villera
lyrics constantly shocked the lower-class disdaining
Argentine society. Of course, among the lower class, cumbia villera
is defended as a way of expression.
Acting wise, the country has produced Guillermo Francella, Adrian Suar, Norma Aleandro, Rodolfo Ranni, Leticia Bredicce, the late Alberto Olmedo, Jorge Porcel, Emilio Disi and Ricardo Darín. Comedy groups like Les Luthiers
, with more than 40 years on stage
, have made a name of themselves in all Spanish-speaking countries, even winning awards in Spain. In the last decades however, the media has been crowded with quarrel-loving scantly-clad vedettes, actresses and fashion models, with TV shows like those of host Marcelo Tinelli's Video Match
and Bailando Por Un Sueño making an industry out of this. It is worth noting that Moral Guardians
are really weak and almost absent in Argentina, for they are relationed with the right-wing that supported the military dictatorship, and so Argentine audience evolved to be very laid back about sexual themes (a trait shared with, and maybe due to proximity influence from, Brazil). Nowadays everybody is allright if an actress pole-dances in a thong on TV, usually achieving the highest ratings as a result...
The country is known for its meal, and the parrillas
(Argentinian grills, commonly known around the world as steak restaurants) are commonplace. One traditional way of preserving the beef for export was to pack it in coarse-grained salt, known as "corns" of salt, hence "Corned Beef". Which means very different things in Britain and America. Argentine cuisine is very rich, ranging recipes from a wide range of origins: from the Native times came corn omelettes, the mate
drink and roasted fishes like the surubí
; in colonial times locro
(a bean stew), empanadas
(a traditional type of barbeque) were added; later the immigration waves brought pastas, "helados" note
(recognized and paired in quality with Italian gelattos
or Empanada árabe
(arabic "empanada"), and choripanes note
; currently a wide variety of oriental cuisine note
, and the fusion of them all made the Argentine cuisine.
Argentina is also very well-known in the sporting arena, in football
winning the World Cup
twice and the Copa América fourteen times. The most famous Argentine footballer is Diego Maradona, most notorious for "The Hand of God" — a goal that was very clearly a handball. As of 2013, the best player in the world is Argentine too: Lionel Andrés Messi. Argentine clubs are the biggest proof of the country's power in the world of football: Independiente is the biggest winner of the Copa Libertadores, having won it 7 times. Together with Estudiantes de La Plata (which are Argentine too), they are the only clubs that won the right to keep the original trophy and not replicas, as they won at least 3 times consecutively. Also Independiente is the biggest winner of the Supercopa along with the Brazilian club Cruzeiro, having both won the cup 2 times. The first edition of this cup was won by Racing Club, another Argentine club. And in the first edition of the Copa Sudamericana was San Lorenzo de Almagro, just another proof of Argentina's power in football. When pitted against their European counterparts, Argentine clubs are among the best: in the Intercontinental they defeated Manchester at Old Trafford, Juventus in the Stadio Olimpico, Borussia Möndengladbach in Germany, Liverpool in Japan... the list goes on and on. In fact Argentine clubs are tied with Italian and Brazilian clubs having been crowned 9 times as the best in the world. Boca Juniors from Argentina, with 18 international cupsnote
is tied with AC Milan as the club with the most international cups won in the world. And to round things off, when you add the number of international cups won by all the clubs from Argentina, you get the total number of 63. And you guessed right. It is the country with the most international cups in clubs, with Italy in 2nd place with 50 and Brazil in 3rd place with 49. That's a true testament of Argentina's football tradition.
The country has also produced a five-time F1 champion, the late Juan Manuel Fangio, known as "El Maestro". Manu Ginóbili is currently in the twilight of a very successful basketball career, both in the NBA and with the national team, while in tennis the so called "Legion" has been consistently within the ATP Top 50 for more than a decade (Juan Martín del Potro and David Nalbandian being the most notable examples) with Guillermo Vilas' tour-de-force "pioneering" career during the late seventies
and early eighties
. Argentina is also home of boxing legends like Carlos Monzón, Ringo Bonavena and Horacio Accavallo. It is also a Female Hockey world power, with las Leonas
winning olympic medals and world championships. Also, the national rugby
team, nicknamed los Pumas
, made it to the elite of world rugby, achieving the right to contest The Rugby Championshipnote
alongside New Zealand
and South Africa
And just for you to know, this is not the only place where Nazis
escaped to after WWII, and its far more exaggerated in the media than what it actually occurred. Also, Villa Gesell has no mountains
. It's a seaside city in the east of Buenos Aires, while the big mountains are located in the west of the country, in the Andes range.
Recently, Argentina also made history by producing the first Latin American and first Jesuit Pope
— Jorge Mario Bergoglio, former Archbishop of Buenos Aires, now Pope Francis.
Works created in Argentina
Tropes associated with Argentina
The Argentine flag
The flag's sky-blue and white stripes, as well as the golden sun, have various interpretations: popular interpretation attribute them to the colors of the sky, while some historians attribute the colors to Argentina's pledge of loyalty to the House of Bourbon, though not necessarily to the Spanish Empire itself. In fact, the Sun of May
, a representation of Inti, Inca god of the sun, was named after the May Revolution of 1810.