Is it time to plan a vacation? How about South America? We have fun facts about Argentina in this post. Argentina is a vast country located in South America, known for its rich cultural heritage, diverse landscapes, and passionate love of soccer. Argentina is the eighth-largest country in the world and the second-largest country in South America, after Brazil. The Argentine tango, a passionate and dramatic dance, originated in the working-class neighborhoods of Buenos Aires in the late 19th century and has since become a popular dance worldwide. Do you like beef? Argentina is famous for its beef and has one of the highest per capita consumption rates of beef in the world. Do you like wine? Argentina is home to some of the world's most famous wine regions, including Mendoza and Salta. Is Argentina a destination for your vacation? As a traveler, here are some fun facts to consider about Argentina.
We've traveled to Argentina twice and have loved its food, wine and landscape. In this post Paul gives you some history and fun facts about Argentina, a South American country you should visit.
Archaeologists trace the history of human activities in Argentina back to the eleventh century BC. As with many countries in South America, Argentina has a large Inca civilization presence. Other native groups were also present. But the northern portion of Argentina was conquered by the Inca Empire in 1480 AD.
Pachacuti was a famous leader of the Incas and greatly expanded the empire. Many archaeologists believe Pachacuti built Machu Picchu as a personal estate.
From 1438 to 1533, the Incas conquered a large portion of western South America. Other indigenous groups were conquered and assimilated into the Incan Empire. The Incan Empire included portions of Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia and Argentina.
Spanish explorers arrived in Argentina in 1516. They settled Buenos Aires in 1580. Spanish rule continued until 1810, when the city declared independence from Spain.
When the French captured King Ferdinand VII of Spain in 1810, Buenos Aires held a town meeting and deposed the acting Spanish viceroy and declared itself in authority. In 1816, the city declared itself independent. The United Kingdom officially recognized Argentine independence in 1825. A new constitution was adopted in 1853. Finally, in 1861, Argentina established a unified government. However, the country struggled for power between its capital, Buenos Aires, and the provinces that supplied virtually all of the raw materials for commerce. The conflict was resolved in 1880, when Buenos Aires was named the federal capital.
From 1851 to 1910, Buenos Aires’ population grew from 90,000 to 1.3 million. By 1910, Argentina had become a modern nation, with new railroads and roads under construction. Thousands of European immigrants flocked to the country each year looking for a better life. Buenos Aires was called the Paris of South America. Europeans began making investments in Argentina because they saw great opportunity. They invested in railroad and port production that allowed the country a spot on the top ten wealthiest countries list from 1880 to 1930, primarily because of agricultural exports.
In 1930, the military forced the president from power. This began an era of conservative rule that lasted until 1943, when Juan Peron took over during a revolt of the working class. Peron served as president until 1955 when the military evicted him. The next 18 years saw civilian governments that rotated constantly, never gaining popularity with the people. Peron returned in 1973, but he died the following year. His wife, Eva Peron, succeeded him. the military also removed her from power.
The history of military rule was a violent one, with as many as 30,000 people simply disappearing. In 1983, Argentina held free elections. Since then, Argentina has seen quite a dozen presidents serving short tenures. The current president, Mauricio Macri, serves until the end of 2019.
Tourists generally avoided travel to Argentina between 1989 and 2003 because of currency manipulation. Compared to the U.S. dollar, the Argentine peso today is worth about one forty-seven-trillionth of what it was worth in 1940. Hyperinflation is common. The Argentine peso artificially was propped up between 1989 and 2003, but that couldn’t last forever.
In a currency crisis in 2001 with the International Monetary Fund, a team of economists from the United States traveled to Argentina. The idea was called dollarization, which occurs when one country adopts another’s currency. This idea is hardly new. Panama adopted the dollar in 1904, shortly after earning its independence from Colombia. Almost a century later, Ecuador and El Salvador followed suit, with Ecuador making the switch in 2000 and El Salvador in 2001.
Dollarization is usually a response to confidence-shattering economic trauma: hyperinflation (think an inflation rate topping 100 percent) or when fiscal mismanagement leads to large and unsustainable government deficits. Look at this chart showing how the Argentine Peso has fared against the US dollar since 1989.
Since 1989, Argentina has devalued its currency more than 102,000 percent!
In 2002, Argentina’s government refused dollarization. Look what happened to the currency as compared to the US dollar. What does it mean for a tourist today? An American dollar goes much farther in Argentina than in many other countries.
Tourism and Other Facts
Argentina is the eighth largest country in the world with a land mass in excess of one million square miles. It is the second largest country in South America behind Brazil. More than 44 million people live in 23 provinces and one semi-autonomous city, Buenos Aires.
Many visitors come to Argentina by way of Buenos Aires, looking forward to great music, food and culture. The tango is still the national dance, and you can see it performed all over. And you can learn the tango from experts. Argentine steak is famous, as are many wines, particularly from Mendoza. Argentina has been one of the world’s leading producers of wine since the 16th century. It is currently the world’s fifth leading producer of wine. It is the third largest producer of beef in the world.
Argentina has the highest mountains outside of Asia. Aconcagua in the Mendoza province measures 22,841 feet in altitude. It’s also the highest summit in South America and second highest in the world behind Mount Everest.
Buenos Aires ranks as the first tourist destination, but there are many other places to go: Patagonia, the beautiful Iguazu Falls, Ushuaia (the world's southernmost city), Tierra del Fuego National Park and many other locations. Some of the best beaches in South America are in Mar del Plata, 240 miles from Buenos Aires. The Mendoza region is famous for wine and many other agricultural products. There is something for everyone in Argentina.
We’ve visited Argentina twice. The first time, we stayed in Buenos Aires and took day trips outside the city. We stayed at the beautiful Palacio Duhau - Park Hyatt Buenos Aires. On our second visit, we stayed at the Park Hyatt Mendoza.
Visit Argentina any time of the year and choose the climate you want. The north and central part of the country has warm winters that are good for agriculture, especially for grapes (and wine!). Argentine summer spans December to February, opposite of the northern hemisphere. Summer can be hot and humid in the north and central regions. But Patagonia can be very nice because it’s farther south.
Argentina offers wonderfully diverse culture and art, interesting history and beautiful landscapes. It’s time you visited Argentina!