Like most countries in Latin America, the country of Argentina has a history that is peppered with violence. From the foreign rule in their history has risen a hardy people, and understanding the past is the key to understanding their present culture.
When the Spanish arrived in Argentina, they found a mobile population of hunter-gatherers who were quite skilled at what they did and quite spirited. These people fought valiantly against Spanish rule, but in 1536 the first settlement in what is now Buenos Aires was established. The most successful group of Spanish colonists was in what is now Bolivia, and another successful settlement was in Mendoza. Tucuman and Cordoba were the two most important agricultural and population centers of the 16th century. During this time, Jesuit missionaries also arrived, converting many of the native people to Catholicism.
Spain remained in control until the end of the 18th century, when the Argentine-born colonists began to push back against Spanish authority. When Napoleon invaded Spain in 1808, the city of Buenos Aires declared independence. Soon, by uniting with other South American countries, they managed to expel Spain, and by the 1820s, the Spanish were no longer present. The United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata, which would become the Argentine Republic, declared formal independence in 1816. However, these provinces were far from united, and the newly formed country was actually quite divided.
When Juan Manuel de Rosas became governor of Buenos Aires in 1829, he tried to centralize power in his region through torture and a vicious police force. Because of his impact, Buenos Aires became the capital of the Argentine Republic.
The late 1800s was a brief “Golden Age” in Argentine history, as the economy of Buenos Aires took off and immigrants began arriving from European nations. However, the indigenous people of the southern part of the country were still in heavy opposition to settlers, and it was not until the late 1800s when President Nicolas Avellaneda exterminated many of these people in the Conquista del Desierto, that the southern part of the country was finally opened to settlement.
This Golden Age of economic prosperity could not last, however, because the wealth was not evenly distributed. The growing immigration created a high demand for imports, and exports could not keep pace, thus pushing the economy into a depression. Social unrest grew, and the military took power. In 1940, Juan Peron and his second wife, Evita, came to the scene. With the popular Evita by his side, Peron was able to win the presidency in 1946. He began making many changes that improved the situation for the people of Argentina. However, he was pushed out of power and into exile by a military coup in 1955, and once again, the country plunged into a violent period of military rule.
In 1973, Peron returned to Argentina. He became the symbol of Argentine unity, but he died in 1974, leaving the country to a poorly qualified vice president, his new wife Isabel. In 1976, another military coup put General Jorge Rafael Videla in control, and he worked hard to squash his opposition through abductions, torture, and even murder. This period was known as the Dirty War.
After the Dirty War, a series of presidents tried to make amends for the crimes the people had endured. Sadly, only a few of the responsible parties were actually convicted of their crimes. However, these atrocities did lead to a long-lasting period of civilian rule, and modern Argentineans do not believe that something as deadly as the Dirty War could ever occur again in Argentina.
- Argentina is one of the world’s top producers of wine, and there are currently over 1,800 wineries in the country.
- Even though they speak Spanish, most of the people of Argentina are actually Italian, German or Welsh in background, in addition to the descendents of the native people. In fact, the Spanish spoken in Argentina actually has more in common with Italian than with Mexican Spanish, and 95 percent of the people are of European descent.
- The people of Argentina are very focused on their appearance. As many as 30 percent of the women have an eating disorder, and a high percentage of the women have had plastic surgery.
- Argentina holds the distinction of being the pioneer of several forms of media. The country was one of the first countries in the world to set up radio broadcasting. It was also the first place for animated films to be made and released.
- While the people of Argentina love football (soccer), pato is actually the national sport. This is a mixture of polo and basketball.
- Even though it is a spacious country, over half of the population of Argentina lives around Buenos Aires, a city known as the Paris of South America because of the large amount of European influence felt there.
- Iguazu Falls – The most beautiful and famous waterfalls in South America lie in Parque Nacional Iguazu.
- Glacier Perito Moreno – A literal river of ice, Glacier Perito Moreno, in Parque Nacional Los Glaciares, constantly sends showers of ice into the Canal de los Tempanos, creating both a visual and auditory spectacle.
- Reserva Provincial Esteros de Ibera – This natural forest preserve is a great place to see some of Argentina’s native wildlife, including caimans and capybaras as well as some of the world’s most colorful birds.
- Mendoza – If you can only visit one spot on your Argentine vacation, this might be it. A thriving nightlife, towering mountains, historic spots and colorful shopping destinations make this a one-stop location. Try their world-famous wines.
- Buenos Aires – Argentina’s capital city gives you the chance to dance the tango, shop till you drop, sample the local cuisine and enjoy a soccer game.
- Beagle Channel – Charter a boat to sail among the Tierra del Fuego and see Argentina’s beautiful islands.
- El Chalten – This is one of the loveliest mountain towns in Argentina and an excellent spot to base a hiking trip up the Fitz Roy Range.
- Cordoba – If you love art and great food, then you will want to visit Cordoba while in Argentina, where both are abundant.
- Parque Provincial Ischigualasto – The rock formations at this park, as well as its collection of dinosaur fossils, make it a popular destination for those who love natural wonders.
- Carolina – Once a mining town, Carolina is now a popular place to visit to see ancient cave drawings and the scenery of the Argentine highlands.
How to Get Cash
- The ATM is the best way to get pesos in Argentina. Known as cajeros automaticos, ATMs are available in almost every community in Argentina. Most use Cirrus, Plus or Link systems, but you may be limited to a withdrawal of 300 pesos per transaction, and you will pay fees from your home bank per transaction, so this limit could make your withdrawals costly.
- Counterfeiting is becoming common in Argentina, so always check bills carefully, especially large ones, when changing money or getting change at a store or shop. Also, because of this, many people and shops are not willing to take large bills, so try to get change at a bank and always have smaller bills on hand when shopping.
- Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted throughout Argentina, but businesses may charge you a surcharge of between 5 and 10 percent when shopping with a credit card.
- Most tourist areas in the larger cities have exchange houses, with their exchange rate prominently posted. Shop for the best rate.
- If you run into a cash emergency, look for a Western Union center. These are expensive to use, but they allow someone from home to wire you money, and can come in very handy in an emergency.
|1 ARS =||1||0.091||0.088||0.061||6.988||0.05||0.068|
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