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Argentina

  • 2,780,400 kmē
  • 34°00'S
  • 64°00'W
  • 2,736,690 kmē
  • 43,710 kmē
  • 9,861 km
  • 4,989 km
  • 15,500 kmē
  • 41,769,726
  • Buenos Aires
  • 9 July 1816
Argentina Map
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Argentina Map

Argentina is the second largest South American country after Brazil. Its huge area includes semi- tropical regions in the north, the icy southern tip of the continent and open plateaus and grasslands in-between. Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, is the largest city. Native Americans were the first inhabitants. They were forced into slavery or killed by the Spanish, who arrived and claimed the land as their own in the 1500's. It was the Spanish who named this land Argentina, from argentum, the Latin word for silver. They believed that they would find rich deposits of silver here, but they were wrong.

As it turned out, Argentina's greatest treasures were not metals, but lush, green pastures and fertile soil. This is largely an agricultural country, relying heavily on cattle and sheep farming, wheat, fruit and wine. Enticed by opportunity, millions of immigrants have come to settle in Argentina over the years. So the towns and cities contain people of many nationalities. Argentina has suffered severe political troubles. In 1982 the country went to war with Britain over ownership of the Falkland Islands which lie about 310 miles (499 kilometres) east of the Strait of Magellan. Argentina was defeated. Although economic problems continued, the 1980's and 1990's saw a more stable political situation.

Around 500 years ago, there were probably some 300,000 Native Americans living in Argentina, from the Guarani in the sub-tropical northeast to the Guajira communities in the far south of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. Then in the 1500's the Spanish arrived and began to take control of the country. Gradually the indigenous peoples fell victims to European diseases, died in slavery or were killed in wars and massacres. Today Argentina has only small numbers of Native Americans, who live in remote areas.