Argentina facts and history in brief
Argentina is one of the larger South American country, occupying the larger part of the southern part of South America, lies between Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil, Uruguay, the Atlantic Ocean and Chile to the west.
It has a varied landscape from the rugged Andes Mountains, in the west, the bare, windswept plateau of Patagonia extends across the south and the Pampas, a fertile, grassy plain, lies near the middle of the country.
Forests spread across much of the north along the borders of Bolivia and Paraguay.
Most Argentines are of Spanish or Italian ancestry.
The native Indians make up only a small part of the country's present population.
The official language is Spanish.
Most Argentines are Roman Catholics.
The Spanish conquerors first explored the land looking for silver (Hence the name Argentina from the Latin word for silver, argentum) and gold during the 1500's.
They never found much riches, but the fertile soil proved to be far more valuable.
During the late 1800's and early 1900's, was one of the wealthiest nations in the world.
Today, Argentina remains rich in natural resources, but soaring inflation and a some extreme political problems have damaged the economy. Manufacturing and the service industries are important parts to Argentina's economy.
Argentina is a leading producer and exporter of beef, maize, wheat and flaxseed.
The petroleum industry produces nearly all the nation's oil needs.
For about 300 years, Argentina was a Spanish colony.
Argentina gained its independence in the early 1800's and became a republic in 1853.
The 1853 Constitution established the country as a republic with an elected president and Congress.
It places the Roman Catholic Church under government protection and requires that both the president and the vice president be Catholics.
Since 1930, military dictators have ruled the country for most of the time.
In 1976, a military government took control of Argentina and suspended parts of the Constitution, removed the president from office, dissolved Congress, and restricted many civil rights.
Political and economic unrest finally forced the call for free elections late in 1983.
The new civilian government, headed by a president, (Elected to a six-year term) and a Congress, took office in December 1983.
The president appoints members of the Cabinet.
Argentina's Congress is made up of two houses, the Chamber of Deputies and has 254 members and are elected by the people and the Senate it has 46 members and selected by the provincial legislatures.
Argentina is divided into 22 provinces, 1 island territory (Tierra del Fuego, the president appoints the governor of the island territory), and 1 federal district.
(An elected mayor heads the federal district, which includes the capital city of Buenos Aires).
Soccer is Argentina's most popular sport and followed by thousands of fans.
Another favourite sport is the pato, riders on horseback to toss a six-handled ball into a high basket. Nearly all Argentines can read and write.
The state provides free state primary and secondary education.
The country also has many private schools.
All children from 6 to 14 years old must attend school, but only a small percentage finish secondary school.
Argentina has about 45 universities. Spanish colonists brought the Roman Catholic religion to Argentina. Later immigrants, like Spanish and Italians, were also Catholics.
Today, about 90 per cent of Argentina's people belong to the Roman Catholic Church.
Argentina is about 2,780,092 square kilometres.
It stretches about 3,700 kilometres from north, nearly tropical climate to south, only about 970 kilometres from Antarctica.
Petroleum is Argentina's most important mineral resource.
Hydroelectric plants supply more than a third of Argentina's electricity.
Petroleum, coal, natural gas, and two nuclear power plants also provide electric power.
Railways, roads, and air routes spread out from Buenos Aires, linking most of Argentina's cities and towns with the capital.
In 1516, the Spanish explorer Juan Diaz de Solis became the first European to reach Argentina.
He landed on the shores of the Rio de la Plata. In 1536, Spaniards founded a short-lived settlement on the bay at today's site of Buenos Aires.
In 1776, Spain created one large colony out of its territories in south-eastern South America.
This colony was called the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata, In 1806 and 1807, British troops tried to seize Buenos Aires to establish a foothold in the region for British trade.
The city's residents fought the British off without Spanish help.
In 1807 and 1808, France invaded Spain.
The invasion gave Buenos Aires a chance to gain independence.
On May 25, 1810, an independent government was set up to administer the Viceroyalty of La Plata. But provinces outside Argentina eventually broke away.
In 1816, with Jose de San Martin, leading the fight against Spain, Argentine declared it's independence.
In 1817, the general led his Argentine army to beat the Spanish troops in Chile.
His forces helped win independence for Peru.
Argentines today honour San Martin as their greatest hero.
In 1826, a national assembly drew up a Constitution for Argentina.
Bernardino de Rivadavia, became the nation's first president.
From 1829 to 1852 Juan Manuel de Rosas a landowner from the Pampas, ruled Argentina as a dictator.
In 1852, General Justo Jose de Urquiza led an army revolt that overthrew Rosas.
In 1853 the Argentinean Confederation (Without the province of Buenos Aires.
It refused to join the confederation and was prospering as an independent state) and Constitution was proclaimed and Urquiza was elected president.
Urquiza tried to force Buenos Aires to join the confederation and he defeated a Buenos Aires army in 1859, led by General Bartolome Mitre, but Mitre defeated Urquiza in 1861.
In 1862 Buenos Aires then agreed to enter the confederation on its own terms.
The city of Buenos Aires became the nation's capital, and Mitre was elected president. In 1860, the country had taken the name Argentina.
A period of stable governments followed that lasted nearly 70 years, they encouraged European immigration and investment.
Argentina's economy flourished during the late 19th and the early 20th Century especially during and after World War I (1914-1918).
In 1929, the Great Depression began to shatter the nation's economy.
In 1930, Army leaders established a military dictatorship, and military dictatorships have often ruled the country since.
During World War II (1939-1945), the Argentine government openly sympathised with the Axis powers, Germany, Italy, and Japan, until March 1945, shortly before their defeat.
In 1943, Colonel Juan Peron rose to power while a series of generals served as president.
As minister of labour, Peron strengthened the unions.
He won the support of urban workers by giving them higher wages, more paid holidays, and other benefits.
Peron was elected president of Argentina in 1946.
Peron's second wife, Eva, served as his chief assistant until her death in 1952.
In 1955, the army and navy revolted, and Peron fled the country and went into exile in Spain.
In 1973, Hector Jose Campora, a Peronista, was elected president and he invited Peron to return to Argentina.
On Peron return Campora resigned. Peron was elected president by a wide margin.
His third wife, Isabel, became vice president.
Peron died in 1974.
Isabel then became the first woman president in the Western Hemisphere.
Argentina's problems increased after Isabel Peron took office. The inflation rate soared.
Terrorism by political extremists became widespread.
In early 1976, Argentina returned to military rule.
Argentina's economy was further damaged by a war with the Great Britain in 1982 over the Falkland Islands (Called the Islas Malvinas by Argentines).
After heavy losses by both sides Argentina surrendered, but did not abandon its claim to the islands.
Defeat in the Falklands and worsening economic and political crises forced Argentina's military rulers to call for free elections in 1983.
Democratic civilian governments ruled Argentina since with wearied success.
Nearly all Argentines speak, the country's official language is Spanish and spoken by nearly everyone.
Many Argentines also speak a second European language and read one of the foreign-language newspapers published daily in Buenos Aires.
Some of Argentina's Indians still speak their traditional languages. About 86 per cent of Argentina's people live in towns and cities especially in Buenos Aires.
Argentina's urban areas have a European look, reflecting the influence of their European settlers and old Spanish heritage in the cities around a main square called a plaza.
For more information about Argentina see Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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