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Geography of Argentina

Learn Important Facts about Argentina- One of South America's Largest Countries

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Silhouette of person holding flag of Argentina on black background
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Population: 40,913,584 (July 2009 estimate)
Capital: Buenos Aires
Area: 1,073,518 square miles (2,780,400 sq km)
Bordering Countries: Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil, Uruguay
Coastline: 3,100 miles (4,989 km)
Highest Point: Aconcagua 22,834 ft (6,960 m)
Lowest Point: Laguna del Carbon -344 ft (-105 m)

Argentina, officially called the Argentine Republic, is the largest Spanish-speaking country in Latin America. It is located in southern South America to the east of Chile, to the west of Uruguay and a small part of Brazil and south of Bolivia and Paraguay. Today Argentina is different from most other countries in South America because it is mainly dominated by a large middle class that is heavily influenced by European culture as 97% of its population is European- most of whom are of Spanish and Italian descent.

History of Argentina

Europeans first arrived in Argentina in 1502 during a voyage with Amerigo Vespucci but the first permanent European settlement in Argentina was not until 1580 when Spain established a colony in what is present-day Buenos Aires. Throughout the rest of the 1500's and through the 1600's and 1700's, Spain continued to expand and established the Vice Royalty of Rio de la Plata in 1776. On July 9, 1816 however, after several conflicts Buenos Aires and General Jose de San Martin (who is now Argentina's national hero) declared independence from Spain. Argentina's first constitution was then drafted in 1853 and a national government was established in 1861.

Following its independence, Argentina implemented new agricultural technologies, organizational strategies and foreign investments to help grow its economy and from 1880 to 1930, it was one of the world's ten wealthiest nations. Despite its economic success Argentina also had a period of political instability in the 1930s and its constitutional government was overthrown in 1943. At the time, Juan Domingo Peron then became the country's political leader as Minister of Labor.

In 1946, Peron was elected as Argentina's president and he established Partido Unico de la Revolucion. Peron was then re-elected president in 1952 but after government instability he was exiled in 1955. Through the rest of the 1950s and into the 1960s, military and civilian political administrations worked to deal with economic instability but after years of problems and domestic terrorism in the 1960s and 1970s, Argentina used a general election on March 11, 1973 to put Hector Campora into office.

In July of that same year however, Campora resigned and Peron was re-elected as Argentina's president. Peron then died a year later and his wife, Eva Duarte de Peron, was appointed the presidency for a short time before she was removed from office in March 1976. After her removal, Argentina's armed forces controlled the government until December 10, 1983 and executed harsh punishments on those considered extremists in what was eventually known as "El Proceso" or the "Dirty War."

In 1983 another presidential election was held in Argentina and Raul Alfonsin was elected president for a six-year term. During Alfonsin's time in office stability was returned to Argentina for a short time but there were still serious economic problems. After his term, instability returned and lasted into the early 2000's. In 2003, Nestor Kirchner was elected president and after initial years of instability, he was able to restore Argentina's political and economic strength.

Government of Argentina

Argentina's government today is a federal republic with two legislative bodies. Its executive branch has a chief of state and a head of state and since 2007, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner who was the country's first elected female president, has filled both of these roles. The legislative branch is bicameral with a Senate and a Chamber of Deputies, while the judicial branch is made up of a supreme court. Argentina is divided into 23 provinces and one autonomous city (Buenos Aires).

Economics, Industry and Land Use in Argentina

Today the one of the most important sectors of Argentina's economy is its industry and approximately one fourth of its workers are employed in manufacturing. Argentina's major industries include: chemical and petrochemical, food production, leather and textiles. Energy production and mineral resources like lead, zinc, copper, tin, silver and uranium are also important to Argentina's economy. Agricultural products include wheat, fruit, tea and livestock.

Geography and Climate of Argentina

Because of Argentina's long length, it is divided into four main regions: 1) the northern subtropical woodlands and swamps; 2) the heavily wooded slopes of the Andes Mountains in the west; 3) the far south, semiarid and cold Patagonian Plateau; and 4) the temperate region surrounding Buenos Aires. The most heavily populated region in Argentina is the fourth as it has a mild climate, fertile soils and was close to where Argentina's cattle industry began.

In addition to these regions, Argentina has many large lakes in the Andes and the second largest river system in South America (the Paraguay-Parana-Uruguay) that drains from the northern Chaco region to the Rio de la Plata near Buenos Aires.

Like its terrain, Argentina's climate varies as well although most of the country is considered temperate with a small arid portion in the southeast. However, Argentina's southwestern portion is very cold and dry and is a Sub-Antarctic climate.


More Facts about Argentina

  • Argentina means "land of silver"
  • Aconcagua is the world's highest mountain outside of the Himalayas at 22,834 ft (6,960 m)
  • Ushuaia is one of the world's southernmost cities
  • Argentina has rights to the eastern side of Tierra del Fuego

References

Central Intelligence Agency. (2010, April 21). CIA - The World Factbook -- Argentina. Retrieved from: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ar.html

Infoplease.com. (n.d.) Argentina: History, Geography, Government, and Culture - Infoplease.com. Retrieved from: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107288.html

United States Department of State. (2009, October). Argentina (10/09). Retrieved from: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/26516.htm

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