The name Argentina originally comes from the Latin argentum, which means silver. The origin of the name goes back to the voyage made by the first Spanish “conquistadores” (conquerors) to the Rio de La Plata (Silver River).
Compared to many other countries in the world, Argentina is one of the largest and with most diverse geography. In fact, it is actually the 8th largest country in the world. Pedro de Mendoza founded Buenos Aires in 1535 during the early Spanish colonization. After many years of struggle, Argentina got its independence from Spain on 9 July 1816. In the mid-1970s Argentina was ruled by a military government. Argentina recovered its democracy in 1983, after many years of military government.
Argentina, the second biggest country in South America, has a surface area of 2.8 million square kilometers (excluding the Argentine Antarctica), which is 8 times as big as Germany. Apart from the estuary of the Rio de la Plata, its coastline is 2575 km long. Its neighbors to the north are Bolivia and Paraguay, there is Brazil to the northeast, to the east is Uruguay and Chile to the west. Its far southern limit is the Beagle Channel.
The country has 38 million inhabitants and nearly half of them live in the surroundings of Buenos Aires. Three big landscapes form the country: the Andes in the west, the northern and western flatland as well as the wide plains of Patagonia in the South.
Argentina has three climatic zones: tropical in the north, moderate in the center and polar in the extreme South. Of course, Buenos Aires has year-round good weather and winter temperatures are quite mild when compared to North America or Europe. Patagonia weather in summer and autumn is ideal for walking in the mountains, and winter in Patagonia is perfect for skiing.
In terms of economy, Argentina is one of the highest developed countries in South America and Argentina is quickly becoming one of the richest farming countries in the world. Beyond the wheat and soybeans, tourists from around the world rave about the excellent quality of Argentine beef and the wines of Mendoza.
The official language is Spanish, but in bigger towns English is increasingly common, especially for people under 40. In some areas Guarani, Quechua, Aymara and other native tongues of the indigenous communities are spoken. Most of Argentina’s native communities live in the northwestern Andean region, where they culturally share much in common with neighboring Bolivia. There are also significant indigenous populations in the northeast province of Misiones, near Iguazu Falls. The majority of the rest of the population is mainly composed of European immigrants.
Here is some useful Argentina information, including interesting statistics about Argentina, opening and closing times and other information for the international traveler.
Population: 3 million inhabitants in the city of Buenos Aires and 13 million in Buenos Aires district – most of them a mixture of European immigrants
Climate: The Average in Buenos Aires is 25° in Summer and 10° in Winter and there is no big difference between day and night.
Main source of income: Metallurgic, automobile, chemical and textile industry. During recent years, tourism has become more and more important.
Special features and attractions: Buenos Aires is situated in the Pampa, directly at the Rio de la Plata. Parks, wide avenues, narrow streets in the colonial districts, cafes, the best restaurants and the elegant French style architecture help define the charm of Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital.
Currency: Argentine Peso – 8 Pesos = USD 1 approx.
Bank hours: Monday to Friday – 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.
Shop hours: Monday to Friday – 10:00 am to 8:00 pm.Saturdays – 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.Shopping centers: Monday to Sunday – 10:00 am to 10:00 pm.
Tipping: A 15% tip is customary at restaurants and cafes. As for other services, tipping is up to you, though keep in mind that tour guides and others in the service industry often count on tips to compliment their salary.
Special remarks: While public transportation is quite good, there are occasional problems with pickpockets, so please pay attention or take inexpensive taxis.