Argentina

Introduction In 1816, the United Provinces of the Rio Plata declared their independence from Spain. After Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay went their separate ways, the area that remained became Argentina. The country's population and culture were heavily shaped by immigrants from throughout Europe, but most particularly Italy and Spain, which provided the largest percentage of newcomers from 1860 to 1930. Up until about the mid-20th century, much of Argentina's history was dominated by periods of internal political conflict between Federalists and Unitarians and between civilian and military factions. After World War II, an era of Peronist authoritarian rule and interference in subsequent governments was followed by a military junta that took power in 1976. Democracy returned in 1983, and has persisted despite numerous challenges, the most formidable of which was a severe economic crisis in 2001-02 that led to violent public protests and the resignation of several interim presidents. The economy has recovered strongly since bottoming out in 2002.
History

The first signs of human presence in Argentina are located in the Patagonia (Piedra Museo, Santa Cruz), and date from 11,000 BC.[citation needed] Around 1 AD, several maize-based civilizations developed in the Andean region (Santa María, Huarpes, Diaguitas, Sanavirones, among others). In 1480, the Inca Empire under the rule of king Pachacutec launched an offensive and conquered present-day northwestern Argentina, integrating it into a region called Collasuyu. In the northeastern area, the Guaraní developed a culture based on yuca and sweet potato. The central and southern areas (Pampas and Patagonia) were dominated by nomadic cultures, unified in the seventeenth century by the Mapuches.

Buenos Aires in 1536.

European explorers arrived in 1516. Spain established a permanent colony on the site of Buenos Aires in 1580; the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata was created in 1776. During the early part of this period it was largely a country of Spanish immigrants and their descendants, known as criollos, some of them gathered in Buenos Aires and other cities, others living on the pampas as gauchos. Descendants of African slaves (See:Afro-Argentines) were present in significant numbers. Indigenous peoples inhabited much of the rest of Argentina. In 1806 and 1807 the British Empire launched two invasions to Buenos Aires, but the criollos population repelled both attempts. On May 25, 1810, after confirmation of the rumors about the overthrow of King Ferdinand VII by Napoleon, citizens of Buenos Aires took advantage of the situation and created the First Government Junta (May Revolution). Formal independence from Spain was declared on July 9, 1816 in Tucumán.

In 1818, General José de San Martín crossed the Andes to free Chile and Peru, thus eliminating the Spanish threat. Centralist and federalist groups (Spanish: Unitarios and Federales) were in conflict until national unity was established and the constitution promulgated in 1853. The constitution was strongly defended in moving oratory by the patriot and Franciscan Mamerto Esquiú, for whom one of the country's departments is named. From 1865 to 1870, the bloody War of Triple Alliance was fought by Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay against Paraguay.

Foreign investment and immigration from Europe led to the adoption of modern agricultural techniques. In the 1870s, the "Conquest of the Desert" subdued the remaining indigenous tribes throughout the southern Pampas and Patagonia, leaving 1,300 indigenous dead.[13][14]

From 1880 to 1916, Argentina enjoyed increasing prosperity, prominence and became one of the top 10 richest countries in the world, through an agricultural export-led economy. The population of the country swelled sevenfold. Conservative forces dominated Argentine politics through non-democratic means until 1916, when their traditional rivals, the Radicals, won control of the first free-elected government. The military forced Hipólito Yrigoyen from power in 1930, leading to another decade of Conservative rule. Political change led to the presidency of Juan Perón in 1946, who tried to empower the working class and greatly expanded the number of unionized workers. The economy turned to more protectionist policies and the developing of industry. The self-proclamated Revolución Libertadora of 1955 deposed him.

President Juan Perón (1946).

From the 1950s to 1970s, soft military and weak civilian administrations traded power. During those years the economy grew strongly and poverty declined (to less than 7% in 1975). At the same time political violence continued to escalate, fighting against the military government, demanding the return of Perón from his Spanish exile. In 1973, Perón returned to the presidency, but he died within a year of assuming power. His third wife Isabel, the Vice President, succeeded him in office, but the military coup of March 24, 1976 removed her from office.

The armed forces took power through a junta in charge of the self-appointed National Reorganization Process until 1983. The military government repressed opposition and leftist groups using harsh illegal measures (the "Dirty War"); thousands of dissidents "disappeared", while the SIDE cooperated with DINA and other South American intelligence agencies, and with the CIA in Operation Condor. Many of the military leaders that took part in the Dirty War were trained in the U.S.-financed School of the Americas, among them Argentine dictators Leopoldo Galtieri and Roberto Viola. The military dictatorship (1976-1983) greatly increased the extent of the country's foreign debt. From that point the economy of the country began to be controlled more and more by the conditions imposed on it by both its creditors and the IMF (International Monetary Fund) with priority given to servicing the repayment of the foreign debt. These and other economic problems, charges of corruption, public revulsion in the face of human rights abuses and, finally, the country's 1982 defeat by the British in the Falklands War discredited the Argentine military regime.

Democracy was restored in 1983. Raúl Alfonsín's government took steps to account for the "disappeared", established civilian control of the armed forces, and consolidated democratic institutions. The members of the three military juntas were prosecuted and sentenced to life terms. Failure to resolve endemic economic problems and an inability to maintain public confidence led to Alfonsín's early departure six months before his term was to be completed.

The 1990s began with hyperinflation. President Carlos Menem imposed a peso-dollar fixed exchange rate in 1991 to stop hyperinflation and adopted far-reaching market-based policies, dismantling protectionist barriers and business regulations, and implementing a privatization program. These reforms contributed to significant increases in investment and growth with stable prices through most of the 1990s. However, the peso was tied to the dollar at an artificially high rate that could only be maintained by flooding the market with dollars. As a result the foreign debt increased enormously and state companies and services were privatized. The total opening up of the market to foreign goods, which up until then were produced locally, resulted in the collapse of local industry. So while part of the population was saving in dollars, traveling overseas, and purchasing imported and luxury goods cheaply, the rest of the population was experiencing an increase in both poverty and unemployment. The IMF and the world economists praised the liberalization of the Argentine market, and the country was presented as a “model student”. Toward the end of the 1990s, large fiscal deficits and overvaluation of the pegged peso caused a gradual slide into economic crisis. In 1998 a period of profound economic recession began. This was a direct result of the economic measures which dominated the decade of the 90s and which produced a false sense of stability and well being. By the end of his term in 1999, these accumulating problems and perceived corruption had made Menem unpopular.

The Menem and de la Rúa administrations faced diminished competitiveness in exports, massive imports which damaged national industry and reduced employment, chronic fiscal and trade deficits, and the contagion of several economic crises. Unemployment reached as high as 25% of the economically active population, and another 15% had only part-time work. The Asian financial crisis in 1998 precipitated an outflow of capital that mushroomed into a recession, and culminated in economic crisis in November 2001. The governing coalition was forced to undertake a series of measures including the freezing of bank accounts. This was done to halt the flow of capital out of the country and to stem the growing debt crisis. However, a climate of popular discontent was unleashed as a result. On 20 December 2001 Argentina was thrown into its worst institutional and economic crisis for several decades. There were violent street protests, which brought about clashes with the police and resulted in several fatalities. The increasingly chaotic climate, amidst bloody riots, finally resulted in the resignation of President de la Rúa. The economic crisis accentuated the people's lack of trust in their politicians. During this time street protests were accompanied by the cry “they all should go.” The "they" referred to the politicians, especially those involved in many reported acts of corruption. They were also accused of dealing fraudulently with public goods and money, without any judicial sanctions in place to curb the corruption.

In two weeks, several presidents followed in quick succession, culminating in Eduardo Duhalde's being appointed interim President of Argentina by the Legislative Assembly on 2 January 2002. Argentina defaulted on its international debt obligations. The peso's near eleven year-old linkage to the United States dollar was abandoned, resulting in major depreciation of the peso and a spike in inflation.

With a more competitive and flexible exchange rate, the country implemented new policies based on re-industrialization, import substitution, increased exports, and consistent fiscal and trade surpluses. By the end of 2002 the economy began to stabilize, mainly thanks to the soybean and other cereals' boom and floating of exchange rates. In 2003, Néstor Kirchner was elected president. During Kirchner's presidency, Argentina restructured its defaulted debt with a steep discount (about 66 percent) on most bonds, paid off debts with the International Monetary Fund, renegotiated contracts with utilities, and nationalized some previously privatized enterprises. Currently, Argentina is enjoying a period of economic growth. In 2007 Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, was elected president, becoming the first woman to be elected president of Argentina. Also in 2007, Center-left Fabiana Ríos (ARI) became the first woman to be elected governor of Tierra del Fuego and first elected female governor in Argentina's history.

Geography Location: Southern South America, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean, between Chile and Uruguay
Geographic coordinates: 34 00 S, 64 00 W
Map references: South America
Area: total: 2,766,890 sq km
land: 2,736,690 sq km
water: 30,200 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly less than three-tenths the size of the US
Land boundaries: total: 9,861 km
border countries: Bolivia 832 km, Brazil 1,261 km, Chile 5,308 km, Paraguay 1,880 km, Uruguay 580 km
Coastline: 4,989 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
Climate: mostly temperate; arid in southeast; subantarctic in southwest
Terrain: rich plains of the Pampas in northern half, flat to rolling plateau of Patagonia in south, rugged Andes along western border
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Laguna del Carbon -105 m (located between Puerto San Julian and Comandante Luis Piedra Buena in the province of Santa Cruz)
highest point: Cerro Aconcagua 6,960 m (located in the northwestern corner of the province of Mendoza)
Natural resources: fertile plains of the pampas, lead, zinc, tin, copper, iron ore, manganese, petroleum, uranium
Land use: arable land: 10.03%
permanent crops: 0.36%
other: 89.61% (2005)
Irrigated land: 15,500 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 814 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 29.19 cu km/yr (17%/9%/74%)
per capita: 753 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: San Miguel de Tucuman and Mendoza areas in the Andes subject to earthquakes; pamperos are violent windstorms that can strike the pampas and northeast; heavy flooding
Environment - current issues: environmental problems (urban and rural) typical of an industrializing economy such as deforestation, soil degradation, desertification, air pollution, and water pollution
note: Argentina is a world leader in setting voluntary greenhouse gas targets
Environment - international agreements: party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation
Geography - note: second-largest country in South America (after Brazil); strategic location relative to sea lanes between the South Atlantic and the South Pacific Oceans (Strait of Magellan, Beagle Channel, Drake Passage); diverse geophysical landscapes range from tropical climates in the north to tundra in the far south; Cerro Aconcagua is the Western Hemisphere's tallest mountain, while Laguna del Carbon is the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere
Politics

Argentina's political framework is a federal presidential representative democratic republic, in which the President of The Argentine Nation is both head of state and head of government, complemented by a pluriform multi-party system. The current president (2007) is Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, with Julio Cobos as vice president.

The Argentine Constitution of 1853 mandates a separation of powers into executive, legislative, and judicial branches at the national and provincial level.

Executive power resides in the President and his or her cabinet. The President of The Argentine Nation and Vice President are directly elected to four-year terms, limited to two consecutive terms, and the cabinet ministers are appointed by the president.

Legislative power is vested in the bicameral National Congress or Congreso de la Nación, consisting of a Senate (Senado) of seventy-two seats, and a Chamber of Deputies (Cámara de Diputados) of 257 members.

Senators serve six-year terms, with one-third standing for reelection every two years. Members of the Chamber of Deputies are directly elected to four-year term via a system of proportional representation, with half of the members of the lower house being elected every two years. A third of the candidates presented by the parties must be women.

The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. The Argentine Supreme Court of Justice has seven members who are appointed by the President in consultation with the Senate. The rest of the judges are appointed by the Council of Magistrates of the Nation, a secretariat composed of representatives of judges, lawyers, the Congress, and the executive (see Law of Argentina).

Argentina is a member of an international bloc, Mercosur, which has some legislative supranational functions. Mercosur is composed of five full members: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela. It has five associate members without full voting rights: Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.

Argentina was the only country from Latin America to participate in the 1991 Gulf War under mandate of the United Nations. It was also the only Latin American country involved in every phase of the Haiti operation. Argentina has contributed worldwide to peacekeeping operations, including in El Salvador-Honduras-Nicaragua, Guatemala, Ecuador-Peru, Western Sahara, Angola, Kuwait, Cyprus, Croatia, Kosovo, Bosnia and Timor Leste. In recognition of its contributions to international security, U.S. President Bill Clinton designated Argentina as a major non-NATO ally in January 1998. In 2005, it was elected as a temporary member of the UN Security Council.

In 1993, Argentina launched the United Nations White Helmets indicative of humanitarian aid.

On November 4-November 5, 2005, the Argentine city of Mar del Plata hosted the Fourth Summit of the Americas. This summit was marked by a number of anti-U.S. protests. As of 2006, Argentina has been emphasizing Mercosur as its first international priority; by contrast, during the 1990s, it relied more heavily on its relationship with the United States.

Argentina has long claimed sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), the South Shetland Islands, the South Sandwich Islands and almost 1 million km² in Antarctica, between the 25°W and the 74°W meridians and the 60°S parallel. For more than a century, there has been an Argentine presence at the Orcadas Base.

Argentina is a founding signatory and permanent consulting member of the Antarctic Treaty System and the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat is established in Buenos Aires.

People Population: 40,301,927 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 24.9% (male 5,134,958/female 4,905,181)
15-64 years: 64.4% (male 12,979,588/female 12,967,507)
65 years and over: 10.7% (male 1,769,593/female 2,545,100) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 29.9 years
male: 29 years
female: 31 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.938% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 16.53 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 7.55 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 0.4 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.047 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.001 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.695 male(s)/female
total population: 0.974 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 14.29 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 16.11 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 12.38 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 76.32 years
male: 72.6 years
female: 80.24 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.13 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.7% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 130,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 1,500 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A
water contact disease: leptospirosis (2008)
Nationality: noun: Argentine(s)
adjective: Argentine
Ethnic groups: white (mostly Spanish and Italian) 97%, mestizo (mixed white and Amerindian ancestry), Amerindian, or other non-white groups 3%
Religions: nominally Roman Catholic 92% (less than 20% practicing), Protestant 2%, Jewish 2%, other 4%
Languages: Spanish (official), English, Italian, German, French
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.2%
male: 97.2%
female: 97.2% (2001 census)
Government Country name: conventional long form: Argentine Republic
conventional short form: Argentina
local long form: Republica Argentina
local short form: Argentina
Government type: republic
Capital: name: Buenos Aires
geographic coordinates: 34 36 S, 58 40 W
time difference: UTC-3 (2 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins first Sunday in October; ends third Saturday in March; note - a new policy of daylight saving time was initiated by the government on 30 December 2007
Administrative divisions: 23 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia) and 1 autonomous city* (distrito federal); Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires Capital Federal*, Catamarca, Chaco, Chubut, Cordoba, Corrientes, Entre Rios, Formosa, Jujuy, La Pampa, La Rioja, Mendoza, Misiones, Neuquen, Rio Negro, Salta, San Juan, San Luis, Santa Cruz, Santa Fe, Santiago del Estero, Tierra del Fuego - Antartida e Islas del Atlantico Sur, Tucuman
note: the US does not recognize any claims to Antarctica
Independence: 9 July 1816 (from Spain)
National holiday: Revolution Day, 25 May (1810)
Constitution: 1 May 1853; amended many times starting in 1860
Legal system: mixture of US and West European legal systems; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal and compulsory
Executive branch: chief of state: President Cristina FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER (since 10 December 2007); Vice President Julio COBOS (since 10 December 2007); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Cristina FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER (since 10 December 2007); Vice President Julio COBOS (since 10 December 2007)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms (eligible for a second term); election last held 28 October 2007 (next election to be held in 2011)
election results: Cristina FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER elected president; percent of vote - Cristina FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER 45%, Elisa CARRIO 23%, Roberto LAVAGNA 17%, Alberto Rodriguez SAA 8%
Legislative branch: bicameral National Congress or Congreso Nacional consists of the Senate (72 seats; members are elected by direct vote; presently one-third of the members elected every two years to serve six-year terms) and the Chamber of Deputies (257 seats; members are elected by direct vote; one-half of the members elected every two years to serve four-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held 28 October 2007 (next to be held in 2009); Chamber of Deputies - last held last held 28 October 2007 (next to be held in 2009)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by bloc or party - NA; seats by bloc or party - FV 12, UCR 4, CC 4, other 4; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by bloc or party - NA; seats by bloc or party - FV 5, UCR 10, PJ 10, PRO 6, CC 16, FJ 2, other 31; note - Senate and Chamber of Deputies seating reflect the number of replaced senators and deputies, rather than the whole Senate and Chamber of Deputies
Judicial branch: Supreme Court or Corte Suprema (the nine Supreme Court judges are appointed by the president with approval by the Senate)
note: the Supreme Court currently has two unfilled vacancies, and the Argentine Congress is considering a bill to reduce the number of Supreme Court judges to five
Political parties and leaders: Coalicion Civica (a broad coalition loosely affiliated with Elisa CARRIO); Front for Victory or FV (a broad coalition, including elements of the UCR and numerous provincial parties) [Cristina FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER]; Interbloque Federal or IF (a broad coalition of approximately 12 parties including PRO); Justicialist Front or FJ; Justicialist Party or PJ (Peronist umbrella political organization); Radical Civic Union or UCR [Gerardo MORALES]; Republican Proposal or PRO (including Federal Recreate Movement or RECREAR [Ricardo LOPEZ MURPHY] and Commitment for Change or CPC [Mauricio MACRI]); Socialist Party or PS [Ruben GIUSTINIANI]; Union For All [Patricia BULLRICH]; several provincial parties
Political pressure groups and leaders: Argentine Association of Pharmaceutical Labs (CILFA); Argentine Industrial Union (manufacturers' association); Argentine Rural Confederation or CRA (small to medium landowners' association); Argentine Rural Society (large landowners' association); business organizations; Central of Argentine Workers or CTA (a radical union for employed and unemployed workers); General Confederation of Labor or CGT (Peronist-leaning umbrella labor organization); Peronist-dominated labor movement; Piquetero groups (popular protest organizations that can be either pro or anti-government); Roman Catholic Church; students
International organization participation: ABEDA, AfDB, Australia Group, BCIE, BIS, CAN (associate), CPLP (associate), CSN, FAO, G-15, G-24, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAES, LAIA, Mercosur, MIGA, MINURSO, MINUSTAH, NSG, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, RG, UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNFICYP, UNHCR, UNIDO, Union Latina (observer), UNTSO, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Jose Luis PEREZ GABILONDO
chancery: 1600 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009
telephone: [1] (202) 238-6400
FAX: [1] (202) 332-3171
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Earl Anthony WAYNE
embassy: Avenida Colombia 4300, C1425GMN Buenos Aires
mailing address: international mail: use embassy street address; APO address: Unit 4334, APO AA 34034
telephone: [54] (11) 5777-4533
FAX: [54] (11) 5777-4240
Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of light blue (top), white, and light blue; centered in the white band is a radiant yellow sun with a human face known as the Sun of May
Culture

Argentine culture has been primarily informed and influenced by its European roots. Buenos Aires, considered by many its cultural capital, is often said to be the most European city in South America, as a result both of the prevalence of people of European descent and of conscious imitation of European styles in architecture. The other big influence is the gauchos and their traditional country lifestyle of self-reliance. Finally, indigenous American traditions (like mate tea drinking) have been absorbed into the greater cultural realm.

Literature
Main article: Argentine literature

Argentina has a rich history of world-renowned literature, including one of the twentieth century's most critically acclaimed writers, Jorge Luis Borges. The country has been a leader in Latin American literature since becoming a fully united entity in the 1850s, with a strong constitution and a defined nation-building plan. The struggle between the Federalists (who favored a loose confederation of provinces based on rural conservatism) and the Unitarians (pro-liberalism and advocates of a strong central government that would encourage European immigration), set the tone for Argentine literature of the time.

The ideological divide between gaucho epic Martín Fierro by José Hernández, and Facundo[57] by Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, is a great example. Hernández, although a federalist, opposed to the centralizing, modernizing, and Europeanizing tendencies. Sarmiento wrote immigration was the only way to save Argentina from becoming subject to the rule of a small number of dictatorial caudillo families, arguing such immigrants would make Argentina more modern and enlightened to Western European thought, and therefore a more prosperous society.

Argentine literature of that period was fiercely nationalist. It was followed by the modernist movement, which emerged in France in the late nineteenth century, and this period in turn was followed by vanguardism, with Ricardo Güiraldes as an important reference. Jorge Luis Borges, its most acclaimed writer, found new ways of looking at the modern world in metaphor and philosophical debate, and his influence has extended to writers all over the globe. Borges is most famous for his works in short stories such as Ficciones and The Aleph.

Argentina has produced many more internationally noted writers, poets, and intellectuals: Juan Bautista Alberdi, Roberto Arlt, Enrique Banchs, Adolfo Bioy Cásares, Eugenio Cambaceres, Julio Cortázar, Esteban Echeverría, Leopoldo Lugones, Eduardo Mallea, Ezequiel Martínez Estrada, Tomás Eloy Martínez, Victoria Ocampo, Manuel Puig, Ernesto Sabato, Osvaldo Soriano, Alfonsina Storni, and María Elena Walsh. Quino (born Joaquin Salvador Lavado), has entertained readers the world over, while dipping into the events of modern times, with soup-hating Mafalda and her comic strip gang.

Film and theatre

The Nueve de Julio Avenue, the world's widest street. Its name honors Argentine Independence Day (July 9, 1816).
Main article: Cinema of Argentina

Argentina is a major producer of motion pictures. The world's first animated feature films were made and released in Argentina, by cartoonist Quirino Cristiani, in 1917 and 1918. Argentine cinema enjoyed a 'golden age' in the 1930s through the 1950s with scores of productions, many now considered classics of Spanish-language film. The industry produced actors who became the first movie stars of Argentine cinema, often tango performers such as Libertad Lamarque, Floren Delbene, Tito Lusiardo, Tita Merello, Roberto Escalada, and Hugo del Carril.

More recent films from the "New Wave" of cinema since the 1980s have achieved worldwide recognition, such as The Official Story (La historia official), Nine Queens (Nueve reinas), Man Facing Southeast (Hombre mirando al sudeste), Son of the Bride (El hijo de la novia), The Motorcycle Diaries (Diarios de motocicleta), or Iluminados por el fuego. Although rarely rivaling Hollywood-type movies in popularity, local films are released weekly and widely followed in Argentina and internationally. Even low-budget films have earned prizes in cinema festivals (such as Cannes). The city of Mar del Plata organizes its own film festival, while Buenos Aires has its independent cinema counterpart. The per capita number of screens is one of the highest in Latin America, and viewing per capita is the highest in the region. A new generation of Argentine directors has caught the attention of critics worldwide.[58] Additionally, Argentina is a major center of cinema, it is compared to other European countries in terms of people who attend movie theaters. An example of this was Spider-Man 3 which took in 466,586 the first day a record in Argentina. In Italy it took in 400,000 and Germany 486,571, breaking all records for first day release.[59]

Buenos Aires is one of the great capitals of theater. The Teatro Colon is a national landmark for opera and classical performances. Built at the ending of XIX century, Teatro Colon's acoustic is considered the best in the world in its kind. Currently is under a major maintenance program, in order to preserve its outstanding sound characteristics, the french-romantic style, the impressive Golden Room (a minor auditorium targeted to Chamber Music performances), and the museum at the entrance. Enrico Caruso, B.Gigli, Félix Weingartner, Artur Nikisch, Richard Strauss,Arturo Toscanini, Igor Stravinsky, Paul Hindemith, Camille Saint-Saëns, Manuel de Falla, Aaron Copland, Krzysztof Penderecki, Gian-Carlo Menotti, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Herbert von Karajan, Tullio Serafin, Gino Marinuzzi, Albert Wolff, Víctor De Sabata, Leonard Bernstein, Mstislav Rostropovich, Sir Malcolm Sargent, Karl Böhm, Fernando Previtali, Sir Thomas Beecham, Ferdinand Leitner, Lorin Maazel, Igor Markevitch, Bernard Haitink, Zubin Mehta, Marek Janowsky, Aldo Ceccato, Riccardo Muti, Kurt Masur, Michel Corboz, Franz-Paul Decker, Riccardo Chailly, Sir Simon Rattle, Claudio Abbado, René Jacobs are among the artists, composers and conductors who performed in this opera house. Besides the Teatro Colón (one of the great opera houses of the world), with its program of national and international caliber, Calle Corrientes, or Corrientes Avenue, is synonymous with the art. It is dubbed 'the street that never sleeps', and sometimes referred to as the Broadway of Buenos Aires.[60] Many great careers in acting, music, and film have begun in its many theaters. The Teatro General San Martín is one of the most prestigious along Corrientes Avenue; the Teatro Nacional Cervantes is designated the national theater of Argentina. Another important theater is the Independencia in Mendoza. Florencio Sanchez and Griselda Gambaro are famous Argentine playwrights. Julio Bocca is one of the great ballet dancers of the modern era.

Día de Sol (Sunny Day, 1958) by Benito Quinquela Martín.

Painting and sculpture

Perhaps one of the most enigmatic figures of Argentine culture is Oscar Agustín Alejandro Schulz Solari, aka Xul Solar, whose watercolor style and unorthodox painting media draws large crowds at museums worldwide; he also 'invented' two imaginary languages. The works of Candido Lopez (in Naïve art style), Emilio Pettoruti (cubist), Antonio Berni (neo-figurative style), Fernando Fader, and Guillermo Kuitca are appreciated internationally.

Benito Quinquela Martín is considered to be the quintesennial 'port' painter, to which the city of Buenos Aires and particularly the working class and immigrant-bound La Boca neighborhood, was excellently suited for. Lucio Fontana and Leon Ferrari are acclaimed sculptors and conceptual artists. Ciruelo is a world-wide famous fantasy artist and sculptor.

Food and drink

Argentine food is influenced by cuisine from Spain, Italy, Germany, France and other European countries, and many foods from those countries such as pasta, sausages, and desserts are common in the nation's diet. Argentina has a wide variety of staple foods, which include empanadas, a stuffed pastry; locro, a mixture of corn, beans, meat, bacon, onion, and gourd; and chorizo, a spicy sausage. Other popular items include Dulce de Leche and mate, Argentina's national beverage.

Asado

The Argentine barbecue, asado, is one of the most famous in the world and includes various types of meats, among them chorizo, sweetbread, chitterlings, and morcilla (blood sausage). Thin sandwiches, sandwiches de miga, are also popular. Argentines have the highest consumption of red meat in the world.[61]

Since 1992 Argentina has invested over 650 million dollars to modernize the winery industry. The country is an important wine producer, rated fifth in the world, with the yearly per capita consumption of wine amongst the highest worldwide. (Malbec has become a representative variety from Argentina). Malbec grape, a discardable varietal in France (country of origin), has found in Province of Mendoza an ideal environment to successfully develop and turn itself into world's best Malbec. The city of Mendoza is one of the eight wine capitals of the world,[62] and Mendoza accounts for 70% of the country total production (all varietals considered). "Wine tourism" is significant in the Province of Mendoza, with the impressive landscape of Cordillera de Los Andes and the highest peak in America, Mount Aconcagua, 6952 meters high, providing a very desirable destination for international tourism.

Sports
See also: List of Argentines and Sport in Argentina

Ignacio Corleto of Los Pumas on his way to score a try against France in the 2007 Rugby World Cup. They beat France 34 - 10. Argentina reached third place in the tournament

Football (soccer) is the most popular sport in Argentina, whose national team is twice FIFA World Cup Champion and one-time Olympic Gold medalist (also fourteen-time Copa América winners).[63]

Also widespread are volleyball and basketball; a number of basketball players participate in the NBA and European leagues. Manu Ginobili, Andres Nocioni, Carlos Delfino, and Fabricio Oberto are a few, and the national team won Olympic Gold in the Athens Olympics. Argentina has an important rugby union team, "Los Pumas" (see Argentina national rugby union team), with many of its players playing in Europe. Argentina beat France in the Rugby World Cup 2007, placing them third in the competition. They beat France 34 - 10. Argentine tennis is very competitive on the world stage, with dozens of players, male and female, in active tour.

Other popular sports include field hockey (the top female sport, see Las Leonas), golf, and sailing. Argentina has the highest number of highly-ranked polo players in the world and the national squad has been the uninterrupted world champion ever since 1949. The Open Polo Championship of Buenos Aires is the most important polo-related event in the world. Cricket is growing in popularity due to the National Team's recent successes where they came as the underdogs and finished runner's up of the Inaugural World Cricket League Division 3. Baseball is played in a most limited fashion, as well as the Gridiron.[64]

Motorsports are well represented in Argentina, with Turismo Carretera and TC 2000 being the most popular car racing formats. People all over the country enjoy the races, but it is most fervently followed in small towns and rural Argentina, attracting a rather similar demographic as NASCAR in the United States. The Rally Argentina is part of the World Rally Championship (currently held in Córdoba Province). In Formula 1 racing, the country produced one world champion (Juan Manuel Fangio, five times) and two runners-up (Froilán González and Carlos Reutemann, once each).

The official national sport of the country is pato, played with a six-handle ball on horseback.

Music
Main article: Music of Argentina

Tango, the music and lyrics (often sung in a form of slang called lunfardo), is Argentina's musical symbol. The Milonga dance was a predecessor, slowly evolving into modern tango. By the 1930s, tango had changed from a dance focused music to one of lyric and poetry, with singers like Carlos Gardel, Roberto Goyeneche, Hugo del Carril, Tita Merello, and Edmundo Rivero. The golden age of tango (1930 to mid-1950s) mirrored that of Jazz and Swing in the United States, featuring large orchestral groups too, like the bands of Osvaldo Pugliese, Anibal Troilo, Francisco Canaro, and Juan D'Arienzo. After 1955 tango turned more intellectual and listener-oriented, led by Astor Piazzolla. Today tango has worldwide popularity, and the rise of neo-tango is a global phenomenon with groups like Tanghetto, Bajofondo and Gotan Project.

Argentine rock, called rock nacional, is the most popular music among youth. Arguably the most listened form of Spanish-language rock, its influence and success internationally owes to a rich, uninterrupted evolution. Bands such as Soda Stereo or Sumo, and composers like Charly García, Luis Alberto Spinetta, and Fito Páez are referents of national culture. Mid 1960s Buenos Aires and Rosario were cradles of the music, and by 1970 Argentine rock was established among middle class youth (see Almendra, Sui Generis, Pappo, Crucis). Seru Giran bridged the gap into the 1980s, when Argentine bands became popular across Latin America and elsewhere (Enanitos Verdes, Fabulosos Cadillacs, Virus, Andres Calamaro). There are many sub-genres: underground, pop oriented, and some associated with the working class (La Renga, Attaque 77, Divididos, Los Redonditos). Current popular bands include: Babasonicos, Rata Blanca, El Otro Yo, Attaque 77, Bersuit, Los Piojos, Intoxicados, Catupecu Machu, and Miranda!.

European classical music is well represented in Argentina. Buenos Aires is home to the world-renowned Colón Theater. Classical musicians, such as Martha Argerich, Daniel Barenboim, Eduardo Alonso-Crespo, Eduardo Delgado, Lalo Schiffrin, and classical composers such as Alberto Ginastera, are internationally acclaimed. All major cities in Argentina have impressive theaters or opera houses, and provincial or city orchestras. Some cities have annual events and important classical music festivals like Semana Musical Llao Llao in San Carlos de Bariloche and the multitudinous Amadeus in Buenos Aires.

Argentine folk music is uniquely vast. Beyond dozens of regional dances, a national folk style emerged in the 1930s. Perón's Argentina would give rise to Nueva Canción, as artists began expressing in their music objections to political themes. Atahualpa Yupanqui, the greatest Argentine folk musician, and Mercedes Sosa would be defining figures in shaping Nueva Canción, gaining worldwide popularity in the process. The style found a huge reception in Chile, where it took off in the 1970s and went on to influence the entirety of Latin American music.[65] Today, Chango Spasiuk and Soledad Pastorutti have brought folk back to younger generations. Leon Gieco's folk-rock bridged the gap between argentine folklore and argentine rock, introducing both styles to millions overseas in successive tours.

Other notable musicians include Gato Barbieri with his seductive saxophone and free jazz compositions, and Jaime Torres and his spacious andean music.

Economy Economy - overview: Argentina benefits from rich natural resources, a highly literate population, an export-oriented agricultural sector, and a diversified industrial base. Although one of the world's wealthiest countries 100 years ago, Argentina suffered during most of the 20th century from recurring economic crises, persistent fiscal and current account deficits, high inflation, mounting external debt, and capital flight. A severe depression, growing public and external indebtedness, and a bank run culminated in 2001 in the most serious economic, social, and political crisis in the country's turbulent history. Interim President Adolfo RODRIGUEZ SAA declared a default - the largest in history - on the government's foreign debt in December of that year, and abruptly resigned only a few days after taking office. His successor, Eduardo DUHALDE, announced an end to the peso's decade-long 1-to-1 peg to the US dollar in early 2002. The economy bottomed out that year, with real GDP 18% smaller than in 1998 and almost 60% of Argentines under the poverty line. Real GDP rebounded to grow by an average 9% annually over the subsequent five years, taking advantage of previously idled industrial capacity and labor, an audacious debt restructuring and reduced debt burden, excellent international financial conditions, and expansionary monetary and fiscal policies. Inflation, however, reached double-digit levels in 2006 and the government of President Nestor KIRCHNER responded with "voluntary" price agreements with businesses, as well as export taxes and restraints. Multi-year price freezes on electricity and natural gas rates for residential users stoked consumption and kept private investment away, leading to restrictions on industrial use and blackouts in 2007.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $523.7 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $245.6 billion (2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 8.5% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $13,000 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 6%
industry: 29%
services: 65% (2007 est.)
Labor force: 16.1 million
note: urban areas only (2007 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 1%
industry: 23%
services: 76% (2007 est.)
Unemployment rate: 8.9% (2007 est.)
Population below poverty line: 23.4% (January-June 2007)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 1%
highest 10%: 35% (January-March 2007)
Distribution of family income - Gini index: 49 (2006)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 8.5% official rate; actual rate may be double the official rate (2007 est.)
Investment (gross fixed): 22% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget: revenues: $48.99 billion
expenditures: $46.87 billion (2007 est.)
Public debt: 59% of GDP (June 2007 est.)
Agriculture - products: sunflower seeds, lemons, soybeans, grapes, corn, tobacco, peanuts, tea, wheat; livestock
Industries: food processing, motor vehicles, consumer durables, textiles, chemicals and petrochemicals, printing, metallurgy, steel
Industrial production growth rate: 7% (2007 est.)
Electricity - production: 101.1 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 52.2%
hydro: 40.8%
nuclear: 6.7%
other: 0.2% (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 88.98 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports: 4.14 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports: 8.017 billion kWh (2005)
Oil - production: 801,700 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - consumption: 480,000 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - exports: 367,600 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports: 21,650 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - proved reserves: 2.32 billion bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas - production: 43.76 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 38.79 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 6.646 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 1.669 billion cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 512.4 billion cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance: $7.438 billion (2007 est.)
Exports: $54.6 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports - commodities: soybeans and derivatives, petroleum and gas, vehicles, corn, wheat
Exports - partners: Brazil 17.5%, Chile 9.5%, US 8.9%, China 7.5% (2006)
Imports: $40.26 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery, motor vehicles, petroleum and natural gas, organic chemicals, plastics
Imports - partners: Brazil 34.8%, US 12.6%, China 9.1%, Germany 4.5% (2006)
Economic aid - recipient: $99.66 million (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $46.18 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external: $118 billion (30 September 2007)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home: $60.04 billion (2006 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad: $25.02 billion (2006 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $79.73 billion (2006)
Currency (code): Argentine peso (ARS)
Currency code: ARS
Exchange rates: Argentine pesos per US dollar - 3.1105 (2007), 3.0543 (2006), 2.9037 (2005), 2.9233 (2004), 2.9006 (2003)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Communications Telephones - main lines in use: 9.46 million (2006)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 31.51 million (2006)
Telephone system: general assessment: by opening the telecommunications market to competition and foreign investment with the "Telecommunications Liberalization Plan of 1998," Argentina encouraged the growth of modern telecommunications technology; fiber-optic cable trunk lines are being installed between all major cities; the major networks are entirely digital and the availability of telephone service is improving; fixed-line telephone density is gradually increasing reaching nearly 25 lines per 100 people in 2006; mobile telephone density has been increasing rapidly and has reached a level of 80 telephones per 100 persons
domestic: microwave radio relay, fiber-optic cable, and a domestic satellite system with 40 earth stations serve the trunk network; more than 110,000 pay telephones are installed and mobile telephone use is rapidly expanding; broadband services are gaining ground
international: country code - 54; landing point for the Atlantis-2, UNISUR, and South America-1 optical submarine cable systems that provide links to Europe, Africa, South and Central America, and US; satellite earth stations - 112; 2 international gateways near Buenos Aires (2007)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 260 (includes 10 inactive stations), FM (probably more than 1,000, mostly unlicensed), shortwave 6 (1998)
Radios: 24.3 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 42 (plus 444 repeaters) (1997)
Televisions: 7.95 million (1997)
Internet country code: .ar
Internet hosts: 2.159 million (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 33 (2000)
Internet users: 8.184 million (2006)
Transportation Airports: 1,272 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 154
over 3,047 m: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 26
1,524 to 2,437 m: 65
914 to 1,523 m: 50
under 914 m: 9 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 1,118
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 44
914 to 1,523 m: 515
under 914 m: 556 (2007)
Heliports: 1 (2007)
Pipelines: gas 28,657 km; liquid petroleum gas 41 km; oil 5,607 km; refined products 3,052 km; unknown (oil/water) 13 km (2007)
Railways: total: 31,902 km
broad gauge: 20,858 km 1.676-m gauge (141 km electrified)
standard gauge: 2,885 km 1.435-m gauge (26 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 7,922 km 1.000-m gauge; 237 km 0.750-m gauge (2006)
Roadways: total: 229,144 km
paved: 68,809 km (includes 734 km of expressways)
unpaved: 160,335 km (2004)
Waterways: 11,000 km (2006)
Merchant marine: total: 47 ships (1000 GRT or over) 542,556 GRT/892,818 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 4, cargo 11, chemical tanker 1, container 1, passenger 1, passenger/cargo 3, petroleum tanker 23, refrigerated cargo 2, roll on/roll off 1
foreign-owned: 12 (Chile 7, UK 4, Uruguay 1)
registered in other countries: 19 (Bolivia 1, Chile 1, Liberia 3, Panama 8, Paraguay 3, Uruguay 3) (2007)
Ports and terminals: Arroyo Seco, Bahia Blanca, Buenos Aires, La Plata, Punta Colorada, Rosario, San Lorenzo-San Martin
Military Military branches: Argentine Army (Ejercito Argentino), Navy of the Argentine Republic (Armada Republica; includes naval aviation and naval infantry), Argentine Air Force (Fuerza Aerea Argentina, FAA) (2008)
Military service age and obligation: 18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2001)
Manpower available for military service: males age 18-49: 8,981,886
females age 18-49: 8,883,756 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 18-49: 7,316,038
females age 18-49: 7,442,589 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually: males age 18-49: 344,575
females age 18-49: 334,649 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 1.3% (2005 est.)
Military - note: the Argentine military is a well-organized force constrained by the country's prolonged economic hardship; the country has recently experienced a strong recovery, and the military is now implementing "Plan 2000," aimed at making the ground forces lighter and more responsive (2005)
Transnational Issues Disputes - international: Argentina continues to assert its claims to the UK-administered Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands in its constitution, forcibly occupying the Falklands in 1982, but in 1995 agreed no longer to seek settlement by force; territorial claim in Antarctica partially overlaps UK and Chilean claims (see Antarctic disputes); unruly region at convergence of Argentina-Brazil-Paraguay borders is locus of money laundering, smuggling, arms and illegal narcotics trafficking, and fundraising for extremist organizations; uncontested dispute between Brazil and Uruguay over Braziliera/Brasiliera Island in the Quarai/Cuareim River leaves the tripoint with Argentina in question; in January 2007, ICJ provisionally ruled Uruguay may begin construction of two paper mills on the Uruguay River, which forms the border with Argentina, while the court examines further whether Argentina has the legal right to stop such construction with potential environmental implications to both countries; the joint boundary commission, established by Chile and Argentina in 2001 has yet to map and demarcate the delimited boundary in the inhospitable Andean Southern Ice Field (Campo de Hielo Sur)
Trafficking in persons: current situation: Argentina is primarily a destination country for women and children trafficked for sexual and labor exploitation with most victims trafficked internally, from rural to urban areas, for exploitation in prostitution; foreign women and children trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation come primarily from Paraguay, but also from Bolivia, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, and Chile; Bolivians are trafficked for forced labor; Argentine women and girls are also trafficked to neighboring countries for sexual exploitation
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - Argentina failed to show evidence of increasing efforts to combat trafficking particularly in the key area of prosecutions
Illicit drugs: used as a transshipment country for cocaine headed for Europe; some money-laundering activity, especially in the Tri-Border Area; domestic consumption of drugs in urban centers is increasing