Argentina is a federal republiclocated in southeastern South America. Sharing the Southern Cone with its smaller neighbour Chile, it is bordered by Bolivia and Paraguay to the north; Brazil to the northeast; Uruguay and the South Atlantic Ocean to the east; Chile to the west and the Drake Passage to the south.
With a mainland area of 2,780,400 km2 (1,073,500 sq mi),[B] Argentina is the eighth-largest country in the world, the second largest in Latin America, and the largest Spanish-speaking one. Argentina claims sovereignty over part of Antarctica, the Falkland Islands (Spanish: Islas Malvinas), South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.
A historical and current middle power and a prominent Latin American and Southern Cone regional power, Argentina is one of the G-15 and G-20 major economies and Latin America's third-largest. It is also a founding member of the United Nations, WBG, WTO, Mercosur,UNASUR, CELAC and OEI. Because of its stability, market size and increasing share of the high-tech sector, Argentina is classed by investors as a middle emerging economy with a "very high" rating on the Human Development Index.
The earliest recorded human presence in the area now known as Argentina is dated from the Paleolithic period. The Spanish colonization began in 1512. Argentina rose as the successor state of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, a Spanish overseas colony founded in 1776. The declaration and fight for independence (1810–1818) was followed by an extended civil war that lasted until 1861, which ended with the country's reorganization as a federation of provinces with Buenos Aires as its capital city. From then on—while massive European immigration waves radically reshaped its cultural and demographic outlook—Argentina enjoyed an historically almost-unparalleled increase in prosperity: by the early 20th century it already ranked as the seventh wealthiest developed nation in the world. After 1930, however, and despite remaining among the fifteen richest countries until mid-century, it descended into political instability and suffered periodic economic crisis that sank it back into underdevelopment.
The name "Argentina" is derived from Latin argentum ("silver", plata in Spanish), a noun associated with the silver mountains legend, widespread among the first European explorers of the La Plata Basin.
The first written use of the name can be traced to La Argentina,[D] a 1602 poem by Martín del Barco Centenera describing the region and the foundation of Buenos Aires. Although "Argentina" was already in common usage by the 18th century, the country was formally named "Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata" by the Spanish Empire, and "United Provinces of the Río de la Plata" after independence.
The 1826 constitution included the first use of the name "Argentine Republic" in legal documents. The name "Argentine Confederation" was also commonly used and was formalized in the Argentine Constitution of 1853. In 1860 a presidential decree settled the country's name as "Argentine Republic", and that year's constitutional amendment ruled all the names since 1810 as legally valid.
In the English language, the country was traditionally called "the Argentine", mimicking the typical Spanish usage la Argentina. This fell out of fashion during the mid to late 20th century, and now the country is simply referred to as "Argentina".
In the Spanish language, "Argentina" is feminine ("La Argentina"). This makes it an exception to the rule that any noun beginning with the letter A takes the masculine pronoun "el" ("el agua", e.g.). This is due to the name being borrowed from the French "L'Argent".
With a mainland surface area of 2,780,400 km2 (1,073,518 sq mi) Argentina is located in southern South America, sharing land borders with Chile across the Andes to the west; Bolivia and Paraguay to the north; Brazil to the northeast, Uruguay and the South Atlantic Ocean to the east; and the Drake Passage to the south; for an overall land border length of 9,376 km (5,826 mi). Its coastal border over the Río de la Plata andSouth Atlantic Ocean is 5,117 km (3,180 mi) long.
Argentina's highest point is Mount Aconcagua in the Mendoza province (6,959 m (22,831 ft) above sea level), also the highest point in theSouthern and Western Hemispheres. The lowest point is Laguna del Carbón in the San Julián Great Depression Santa Cruz province (−105 m (−344 ft) below sea level, also the lowest point in the Southern and Western Hemispheres, and the seventh lowest point on Earth)
The northernmost point is at the confluence of the Grande de San Juan and Río Mojinete rivers in Jujuy province; the southernmost is Cape San Píoin Tierra del Fuego province; the easternmost is northeast of Bernardo de Irigoyen, Misiones and the westernmost is within Los Glaciares National Park in Santa Cruz province. The maximum north–south distance is 3,694 km (2,295 mi), while the maximum east–west one is 1,423 km (884 mi).
Some of the major rivers are the Paraná, Uruguay—which join to form the Río de la Plata, Paraguay, Salado, Negro, Santa Cruz, Pilcomayo, Bermejoand Colorado. These rivers are discharged into the Argentine Sea, the shallow area of the Atlantic Ocean over the Argentine Shelf, an unusually wide continental platform. Its waters are influenced by two major ocean currents: the warm Brazil Current and the cold Falklands Current.
Argentina is divided into seven geographical regions:
Tourism in Argentina is characterized by its cultural offerings and its ample and varied natural assets. The country had 5.28 million visitors in 2010, ranking in terms of the international tourist arrivals as the top destination in South America, and second in Latin America after Mexico. Revenues from international tourists reached US$4.93 billion in 2010, up from US$3.96 billion in 2009. The country's capital city, Buenos Aires, is the most visited city in South America.
According to a CONICET poll, Argentines are 76.5% Catholic, 11.3% Agnostics and Atheists, 9% Evangelical Protestants, 1.2% Jehovah's Witnesses, 0.9% Mormons; 1.2% follow other religions, including Islam, Judaism and Buddhism.
The country is home to both the largest Muslim and largest Jewish communities in Latin America, the latter being the 7th most populous in the world. Argentina is a member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.
Argentines show high individualization and de-institutionalization of religious beliefs; 23.8% of them claim to always attend religious services; 49.1%, to seldom do and 26.8%, to never do.
On 13 March 2013, Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected as Pope of the Catholic Church and took the name "Francis", becoming the first pope from the Americas and from the Southern Hemisphere, the first non-European pope in 1272 years, and the first Jesuit one.
The Argentine education system consists of four levels:
The Argentine state guarantees universal, secular and free-of-charge public education for all levels.[T] Responsibility for educational supervision is organized at the federal and individual provincial states. In the last decades the role of the private sector has grown across all educational stages.
Argentina is a multicultural country with significant European influences. Its cities are largely characterized by both the prevalence of people of European descent, and of conscious imitation of European styles in fashion, architecture and design. The other big influence is the gauchos and their traditional country lifestyle of self-reliance. Finally, indigenous American traditions have been absorbed into the general cultural milieu.