The Republic of Argentina is a large country – the world’s 9th largest - with a population of around 40 million people, mainly of Spanish and Italian descent. It occupies much of the southern part of South America.
The Spanish conquistadores arrived in the 16th century and virtually wiped out all of the indigenous people through violence, disease and disposition. Slaves from Africa were brought over in the 18th century mainly to work in the fields. The resulting culture is an eclectic mix of indigenous traditions, European influences and African rhythms including art, literature, dance and song. The tango is a classic example of this mix. It was developed in the bars, cafes and brothels of Buenos Aires in the 1880s. It was deemed far too indecent to be mainstream at that time!
The country has had a fairly tumultuous history with Spain, England, France all fighting over territory at some stage. Its modern political history has seen a succession of military and democratic governments. The most tragic era was from the mid 1970s until the early 1980’s when a military junta ruled the country. Almost 30,000 citizens “disappeared’ during this time and it remains a painful issue to the country’s people. The 1982 invasion of the Falkland Islands is well documented. Basically, the military government of the time declared the region part of Argentina. Thatcher’s British Government responded by sending troops and just 6 weeks later, the Argentinian’s surrendered. Civilian governments have since ruled.
Physically, it is a diverse country with deserts and subtropical forests in the north, and freezing conditions in the south. The South Atlantic Ocean runs down the east coast and the Andes Mountains borders Chile in the west. These two factors have a major influence on the climate. It also borders Brazil, Uruguay, Bolivia and Paraguay in the North. Its highest point is Aconcagua which rises to 6,960 metres (22,837 feet), the highest point on the American continent – both north and south!
The capital city Buenos Aires was first established around 500 years ago. Today it has a population of around 3 million and is the administrative and cultural centre of the country. It’s renown for its European architecture and rich cultural life. In fact, it has more theatres than any other city in the world. Argentina is famous for many things including the tango dance, Gauchos (cowboys), its outstanding beef and steak restaurants, Iguazu Falls and Ushuaia - the world’s most southern populated township. Argentinians love their sport. They are soccer “mad” and hold Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi as national sporting heroes. They also love rugby, basketball and polo.
Come and explore this fabulous, vibrant and sophisticated county!
- Eating in a traditional steak house in Buenos Aires
- Tasting wines in Mendoza
- The cores sites of Salta and surrounding towns
- Purmamarca's "Hill of Seven Colours"
- El Calafate glacier