Information on Argentina
The name Argentina
It comes from the Latin term "argentum", which means silver. The origin of this name goes back to the first voyages made by the Spanish conquerors to the Río de la Plata. The survivors of the shipwrecked expedition mounted by Juan Díaz de Solís found indigenous people in the region who gave them silver objects as presents. The news about the legendary Sierra del Plata - a mountain rich in silver - reached Spain around 1524. From this date, the Portuguese named the river of Solís, Río de la Plata (River of Silver). Two years later the Spanish also adopted that name. The National Constitution adopted in 1853 included the name "República Argentina" (Argentine Republic) among the official names with which to refer to the government and territory of the Nation.
Located in South America, and thus, in the southern hemisphere, Argentina has an area of almost 3.8 million square kilometres, 2.8 on the continent - approximately 54 % are plains (grasslands and savannahs), 23 %, plateaus, a further 23 % are mountains - and the remainder is in the Antarctic. It is 3,800km long and is located between 22° and 55° latitude. Its border with Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia and Chile has a perimeter of 9,376 km, while the territory bordered by the Atlantic Ocean is 4,725 km long.
Argentina's main characteristic is the enormous contrast between the immense eastern plains and the impressive Andes mountain range to the west, home to the highest peak in the Western hemisphere: the 6,959 m high Aconcagua.
From Jujuy to Tierra del Fuego, the Andes boast marvellous contrasting landscapes: from the high desert plateaus in the Northwest – dotted with valleys, ravines and striking mountains - to Patagonia’s land of lakes, forests and glaciers.
To the north, Chaco is a forested region that is home to the Bermejo, Salado and Pilcomayo rivers.
Sandwiched between the Paraná and Uruguay rivers, the Argentine Mesopotamia(comprising the provinces of Entre Ríos, Corrientes and Misiones) is made up of low hills, lakes and marshlands carved by the ancient courses of these great rivers. In some areas, in the heart of the subtropical rainforest, fault lines give rise to spectacular phenomena like the Iguazú Falls.
Central Argentine's Pampas comprise the most expansive and well-known stretch of plains. The area, covered with farms and ranches, covers the province of Buenos Aires, the northeast of La Pampa province, the south of Córdoba and of Santa Fe. To the south, the plains give way to small hills in Tandil and de la Ventana, and to the west, to the Córdoba hills.
Southwards, from the Andes to the sea, stretch the barren and rocky Patagonian plateaus, scoured by winds throughout most of the year. High cliffs stretch along the Atlantic and winding coastlines jut out into the sea, like the Valdés Peninsula with its spectacular and unique colonies of marine wildlife.
Argentina offers a wide variety of climates: mild and humid in the plains of the Pampas, cold and humid in the far west of Patagonia, subtropical in the North and hot in the northeast. The average temperature from November to March is 23° C, and from June to September, 12° C.
According to the latest Argentine census in 2010, the Argentine population has risen to 40,117,096, with a population density of 10.7 inhabitants per square kilometre. The National Institute of Statistics and Census Data estimated the population would reach 42,669,500 by 2014.
Spanish is the official language of the Argentine Republic. Additionally, various languages are spoken by their corresponding indigenous communities (Guaraní, Quechua, Aymara, Mapuche and others).
The official Argentine currency is the Peso. There are notes for 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 pesos, and coins for 1 peso and 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 cents.
Argentina consists of 23 provinces plus the City of Buenos Aires. The Constitution provides for a representative, Republican and federal system, with three separate branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial.
The executive branch is exercised by the President and Vice-president, elected for 4-year terms, who may be re-elected for a single additional term. The legislative branch is bicameral: the Senate (comprising three senators from each province and from the City of Buenos Aires) and the House of Representatives (comprising representatives elected directly and in proportion to each district’s population). The President and Vice-president, as well as the Head of Government of the City of Buenos Aires, the provincial governors and the members of the legislative corps are elected by universal secret ballot that is compulsory for all citizens, men and women, over 18 years of age. Judicial power “is exercised by the Supreme Court and lower courts of justice”.
Each province dictates its own Constitution to rule its administration in accordance with the National Constitution.
The current National Constitution dates from 1853. Nevertheless, it has been amended in 1860, 1898, 1957 and 1994. The last amendment, made in August 1994, allows the President to be re-elected for an additional term.
25th May, 1810: The first "Gobierno Patrio" or National Government Assembly was constituted.
9th July, 1816: Declaration of Independence announced by the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata.
The Argentine flag is made up of three horizontal stripes: the one in the middle is white and bears the golden sun, and the two outer stripes are light blue. The national flower is the ceibo, and the national stone is the manganese spar (rodocrosita) or "Inca Rose".