With its name featured in one of Elvis‘ greatest hits, you probably first learned about Argentina from the 1978 musical Evita. However, Argentina stands out for many things beyond this famous mention. Throughout its expanse, Argentina holds centuries of history and many natural riches. From otherworldly landscapes such as the Moon Valley to other natural extremes, Argentina has many more wonders to behold. Find out more about the world within the Silver Mountains through these Argentina facts.
- Argentina covers an area of over 2.78 million km².
- Water makes up only 1.57% of Argentina’s area.
- An estimated 45 million people live in Argentina.
- Argentina’s population density has 14 people for every km² of its area.
- Argentina has a GDP of around $445.47 billion.
- Humans first settled in Argentina during the middle of the Stone Age.
- Most pre-colonial Argentinians lived a nomadic, hunter-gatherer lifestyle.
- Incas from Peru conquered parts of northern Argentina in the late-15th Century.
- Parts of Central and Western Argentina also fell under Inca influence at this time.
- Spanish explorers led by Amerigo Vespucci arrived in Argentina in 1502.
- Pedro Mendoza founded Buenos Aires in 1536.
- Argentina became part of the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata in 1776 under the Spanish Empire.
- The Argentines rose up against Spanish rule in 1810.
- Argentina became independent from Spain on July 9th, 1816.
- The modern Argentine nation began with the country’s unification under Buenos Aires in 1861.
- Argentina’s size makes it the biggest Spanish-speaking country in the whole world.
- The Roman Catholic Church dominates religion in Argentina.
- Argentina falls under the GMT-3 time zone.
- Argentina was a founding member of the United Nations in October 1945.
- Many Argentines also have Italian ancestry in addition to Spanish ancestry.
Argentines eat the most red meat out of any people in the world.
Locals would eat meat in the form of Asado, a traditional Argentine cooking style similar to barbeque. Argentines also eat red meat as traditionally-preserved meat, such as blood sausages, chitterlings, and chorizos. How’s that for tasty Argentina facts?
The name Argentina has an Italian root.
Argentina is an Italian word, which translates to ‘silver’ or ‘silver-colored.’ First used by Italian navigators from Venice or Genoa in the 16th Century, the first written record of the name comes from a Venetian map of South America from 1536.
Argentina shares its border with 5 countries.
Argentina faces Chile to the west of their country, across the peaks of the Andes Mountains. To the north, they face Bolivia and Paraguay, with Brazil to the northeast. Finally, Argentina shares its eastern border with Uruguay, along with the Atlantic Ocean.
Mount Aconcagua has the distinction of the highest mountain in Argentina.
Among the Andes Mountains that dominate the South American continent, Aconcagua stands 6.96 km high above sea level. This makes it not just the highest mountain in Argentina, but the highest in all of South America and outside of Asia.
High enough for ice and snow to form, Aconcagua features several glaciers on its surface, with Ventisqueno Horcones Inferior as the biggest. Stretching some 10 km long, it then drops down some 3.6 km from the mountain’s southern face. Together with its surrounding area, Mount Aconcagua forms the Aconcagua Provincial Park.
Argentina has a rich ecosystem.
Argentina has an estimated 9000 plant species on its soil, along with an estimated 1000 bird species. Mammal species account for another estimated 400 species, reptiles for 300 species, and amphibians with 200 species. How’s that for a diverse example of Argentina Facts?
The Argentine lowland only has one native tree species.
This is the Ombú, a tree that can grow up to 18 meters high with a canopy 15 meters across. Unlike other trees, the ombú’s trunk and branches have more in common with plants like the tomato. This allows it to grow quickly, but also leaves its wood soft and spongy enough that a kitchen knife can cut it easily.
The tree also has poisonous sap, which has led animals and insects to avoid grazing the tree. For humans, its leaves are traditionally used as a laxative. Its soft wood has also led to smaller variants of the tree grown as part of bonsai collections.
Argentina enjoys 4 different climates.
Most of Argentina experiences a temperate climate, but parts of the enormous country diverge from this norm. Generally, Northern Argentina enjoys a subtropical climate, while the far south of the country actually has a subpolar climate. The lowlands have an arid or semi-arid climate, and of course, the regions along the Andes Mountains have an alpine climate.
Overall, this leads to Argentina having rainfall ranging between extremes of only 150 mm in dry areas, and up to 2 meters in wet areas. Temperatures also vary between extremes, from 5°C in the far south, to 25°C in the north.
Extreme weather can cause disaster in Argentina.
While amazing, Argentina’s varied weather can also bring negative effects to its local communities. In late autumn and winter, heavy rains cause rough seas along the coastal regions, which usually results in coastal flooding.
Between June to November, hot dry winds also blow down from the Andes Mountains, resulting in snowstorms on higher elevations. In the lowlands below, the winds cause devastating wildfires.
Many different indigenous peoples call Argentina home.
Argentina’s indigenous peoples include the Tehuelche of Southern Argentina and the Mapuche who also have a presence in neighboring Chile. The Kom and Wichi peoples live in Northern Argentina, while the Charrua and Guarani live in the northeast.
The Diaguita can be found in the country’s northwest, while the Toconote and Comechingon peoples live in Central Argentina. The Huarpe also have a presence in Central Argentina and West Argentina.
Indigenous peoples in Argentina today suffer from stereotypes and poor treatment.
Many Argentines today either believe that most indigenous people died out or assimilated into modern society long ago. This has led them to think of the remaining indigenous people as dirty and ignorant savages. This, in turn, forces most indigenous people to hide their heritage to avoid such racist treatment.
Those that don’t hide their heritage may face racial discrimination, such as a lack of access to modern medicine and limited access to clean water. Arbitrary price increases for food are another form of discrimination, with some indigenous people even accusing the judiciary of deliberately ignoring their complaints.
Spain slowly colonized Argentina over the course of the 16th Century.
In the 16th century, the Spanish expanded into the region from Chile, Paraguay, and Peru. From there, the Spanish founded colonies such as the Santiago del Estero in 1553, Londres in 1558, and Mendoza in 1561. San Juan followed in 1562, San Miguel de Tucuman in 1565, while Sante Fe and Cordoba were founded in 1573.
Buenos Aires was actually abandoned in 1541.
Repeated attacks from the natives over the past several years led to the Spanish colonists abandoning the city. However, the Spaniards refused to give up the city’s location, eventually reclaiming the site. This led to Buenos Aires’ reestablishment in 1580. Now, there’s one for persistent Argentina facts.
The British repeatedly attacked Buenos Aires in the early-19th Century.
As Spain allied with Napoleonic France in the 19th century, the British started a campaign against Spain. By 1806, Britain successfully took Buenos Aires from Spain, but retreated after Santiago de Liniers led an army from Montevideo against them. A year later, the British again attempted to take the city, only for de Liniers to again defeat them.
Argentina nearly broke apart after independence.
Royalists broke off Banda Oriental, which later became the modern nation of Uruguay. More royalists did the same in Paraguay and Peru, preventing their inclusion into Argentina.
Advocates of a strong central government fought against supporters of a federal government in the 1820s, leading to several civil wars until 1861. The end of the civil wars marked the rise of the modern Argentine federal government.
Buenos Aires suffered from health problems during the 19th Century.
In the 19th century, Buenos Aires became plagued with tuberculosis, especially prevalent in the poorer areas. Both the government and the public health system at the time blamed the poor themselves for the spread of the disease. The lack of cooperation from the public, such as with quarantine procedures only worsened the situation.
Buenos Aires grew explosively from industrial expansion from the mid-19th Century onward.
With the expansion of the railway network, raw materials could reach the city faster and in greater quantities. These raw materials were then either exported through the city’s port or used in factories to produce goods for exports. The growth of industry drew immigrants to the city, while the booming trade produced a lot of wealth for the city.
This not only led to the city’s expansion but even its modernization, with Buenos Aires boasting South America’s first highrises and subway at the start of the 20th Century. By then, the city had already become the center of Argentina’s communications network, such as radio and eventually television.
Argentina's economy grew unstable in the 1930s.
The outbreak of the Great Depression devastated Argentina’s economy, leading to a coup led by General Jose Uriburu. Uriburu ruled the country until 1932, when Agustin Justo cheated to win an election as President of Argentina. He later signed a trade agreement with Britain that angered Argentine nationalist leaders.
On one hand, the trade agreement helped stabilize Argentina’s economy. However, on the other hand, the same trade agreement benefited Britain more than it did Argentina.
Argentina tried to stay neutral in WWII.
Initially, they had British support, but things changed when America joined WW2. The Americans insisted that as many countries as possible join them against the Axis Alliance of Germany, Italy, and Japan.
Countries that refused to join were then perceived as sympathetic to the Axis and treated as potential enemies. This eventually led to a coup by the military in 1943, though ironically, Argentina only joined the war a month before Germany’s surrender in 1945.
Juan Peron became the President of Argentina on his election in 1946.
Peron had previously-served as Minister of Welfare, but after the coup, the Argentine government came under heavy pressure from the US government. Peron’s left-wing sympathies, nationalist ideals, and widespread popularity led the USA to see him as a potential threat to their interests in South America.
This led to Peron’s dismissal and eventual imprisonment as a threat to the American-backed government. This, in turn, caused a country-wide demonstration, forcing the government to release Peron in the face of popular opposition. Peron later organized his support base, and won the office of the President of Argentina in the 1946 elections.
Peron’s ideology became the guiding policy of Argentina for decades.
Under Peron, the Argentine government nationalized major industries, increased wages, improved working conditions, and prioritized paying the country’s debt. He also prioritized reducing unemployment, an end to foreign influence in Argentina, while also maintaining stable ties with foreign countries.
This blend of nationalism and support for the working class became what historians called Peronism, after its founder. They also consider it a precursor to the populist movements in other countries of the early-21st Century.
The Dirty War devastated Argentina in the late-20th Century.
Towards the end of the 20th century, American opposition to left-wing governments in the Americas led to Operation Condor. Under this operation, the US government supported military dictatorships and even terrorists in the interest of stopping the spread of Communism. Following Peron’s death in 1976 and the rise of a military dictatorship in Argentina, the US government backed the government in stamping out Peronism, which they saw as sympathetic to Communism.
This led to the disappearance of up to 30,000 people between 1976 and 1983, when a new civilian government rose to power in Argentina. The people who disappeared included not just Peronist guerillas and left-wing militants, but also artists, journalists, students, trade unionists, and writers considered as enemies of the state.
Argentina went to war with Britain in 1982.
To reclaim the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic taken by Britain in 1841, Argentina went to war. This had led to nationalist resentment for over a century, and causing the war to enjoy widespread popularity in Argentina. However, the islanders generally supported continued British rule over their islands.
The advantage of surprise allowed the Argentines to take control of the islands, but things changed once the British reinforcements arrived. Despite inflicting serious losses on the Royal Navy, the Argentine forces on the Falklands eventually had to surrender to the British.
Democracy returned to Argentina after the Falklands War.
Defeat in war caused the public opinion of the military government to collapse and forced them to hold elections in 1983. Raul Alfosin’s victory in the elections marked the return of democratic government, as well as a wave of reforms.
He also spearheaded investigations into human rights violations under the military government and prosecuted those found responsible.
Pope John Paul II visited Buenos Aires twice.
He first left the Vatican to visit Argentina in 1982, when Argentina lay under military rule. He later visited again, in 1987, when democracy had returned to the country. Both visits saw some of the largest public gatherings in Argentina’s history. How’s that for historic Argentina facts?
Terrorists attacked Buenos Aires in the 1990s.
On March 17th, 1992, a suicide bomber bombed the Israeli Embassy, claiming 29 lives and injuring another 242. The investigation later revealed the bomber to have come from the Islamic Jihad Organization, a group of terrorists backed by Hezbollah and Iran.
This marked the beginning of Islamic terrorism in Latin America, with more bombings taking over the following years. Definitely a grim and sad example of Argentina facts.
Buenos Aires first elected a mayor in 1996.
Originally, the President of Argentina appointed the city’s mayors, on the basis that as the country’s capital, Buenos Aires’ government answered directly to the central government. This changed in 1993 when the government moved to amend the constitution to strengthen the democratic system of Argentina.
The constitutional amendment finally pushed through in 1994, with local elections finally taking place in Buenos Aires in 1996. This led to Fernando de la Rua’s election as mayor, who would also later become President of Argentina in 1999.
Buenos Aires has the largest mosque in all of Latin America.
Named after the late King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, the King Fahd Islamic Cultural Center is the world’s largest mosque . Construction began in 1995, with funds provided as a gift by the Saudi government, on land donated by the Argentine government. Completed in the year 2000, the new mosque covered an area of 34 km², able to house over 1,400 people inside.
Several slums exist around and inside Buenos Aires.
Here’s another sad example of Argentina Facts. Locally known as villas miserias, these slums can grow so big to have a population of thousands of destitute people. Usually made from nothing better than wood or even mud, these slums also pose major fire hazards to their residents and surroundings. Their close confines also cause concern for health professionals, who fear the slums could become breeding grounds for disease.
Graffiti isn’t necessarily illegal in Buenos Aires.
For a change, here’s a strange but true example of Argentina facts. Argentina’s turbulent history has led to a cultural perception of graffiti as a common and valid form of public expression. So much so, that graffiti only becomes illegal if the perpetrator doesn’t ask permission from the building’s owner first.
Buenos Aires has a world-famous book fair.
First held in 1975, the Buenos Aires International Book Fair has since become the largest book event in the Spanish-speaking world. Usually drawing over a million visitors, the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic proved devastating for the fair. Though fair officials held an online version of the event, less than 300,000 people managed to visit the site before it closed.
Tango came from Buenos Aires.
Created in Buenos Aires, this sensual form of dance became a national emblem of the city. Many annual events based on the dance take place every year, with August’s World Tango Dance Tournament as the biggest of them all. How’s that for neat and classy Argentina Facts?
Argentina has a claim on Antarctica.
Centered around Base Orcadas on Laurie Island, Argentina claims an estimated 1 million km² of land on the Antarctic continent. Its claims also clash with those of Chile and Britain, but as a signatory of the Antarctic Treaty, prefers to use diplomacy to resolve those clashes. Argentina’s signature on the treaty also gives it a vote in shared decisions with regard to international policy on Antarctica.
Argentina has one of the biggest economies in Latin America.
Throughout Latin America, only Brazil has a bigger economy than Argentina. However, Argentina’s economy has experienced uneven growth, with booming periods separated by many recessions. Aside from these factors, Argentina’s economy also suffers from widespread uneven income distributions. In recent years, this issue has been increasingly problematic with the rich getting richer and the poor only growing poorer.
Agriculture supplies around a fifth of all of Argentina’s exports.
Argentina usually exports around 60 million tons of seeds a year, such as soybeans and sunflower, for use in making vegetable oil. They also export around 50 million tons of grain a year, including wheat, corn, and sorghum. Other agricultural exports include sugarcane, citrus fruit, grapes, and other fruits and vegetables.
Argentina’s provinces have specializations when it comes to farming.
The Rio Negro Valley, for example, primarily grows apples and pears. Meanwhile, Cuyo mainly produces grapes and strawberries, as the Gran Chaco region grows cotton and tobacco.
Fishing is a major industry in Argentina.
The Argentine fishing industry usually catches around a million tons of fish each year. Of all species caught, Argentine Hake usually makes up around half of the total, alongside crab, pollock, and squid.
Argentina also has plenty of natural resources.
The oil and gas industry make up a full 4% of the Argentine economy. In fact, Argentina has no need to import any oil and gas at all. Extensive coal mining also takes place in the Santa Cruz Province. Other natural resources currently exploited in Argentina include borate, copper, lead, magnesium, silver, and sulfur among others.
Argentina’s top exports include Cobalt-60.
A synthetic radioactive isotope of cobalt, this compound primarily serves as a source of radiation to sterilize medical equipment. It also helps produce radiation in radiotherapy to treat cancer, and also as a tracer for certain chemical processes. In the whole world, only Canada and Russia can compete with Argentina when it comes to producing and exporting Cobalt-60.
Manufacturing makes up a large part of the Argentine economy.
Around 15% of Argentina’s GDP comes from the manufacturing sector. Food and beverage processing form the biggest manufacturers, with vehicle and machine parts production trailing behind it. Other major industries in Argentina include oil refining, biofuel production, chemical processing, metallurgy, and pharmaceuticals.
Argentina also has a large service industry.
Argentina’s service industry provides up to 60% of the country’s total GDP. In particular, the telecommunication industry has grown the fastest out of the country’s service industries. Up to 77% of all Argentines have mobile devices, with smartphones making up 95% of these gadgets.
Domestic broadband providers in Argentina have an estimated 14 million subscribers, while telephone services have an estimated 9.5 million lines. In fact, the telecommunication industry has made an estimated $17.8 billion in 2013 alone.
Argentina also has major investments in green energy.
Wind energy alone provides over 900 MW of electrical power in Argentina. Solar energy produces another 300 MW of electrical power, all while Argentina has no less than 4 nuclear power plants in operation.
In fact, fully 5% of the country’s energy needs come from those 4 nuclear power plants. Definitely one of the more promising Argentina facts.
Argentina’s natural wonders include the Iguazu Falls.
Dividing the Iguazu River into its upper and lower stretches, the waterfalls have the distinction of being the largest in the world. At its highest point, water falls from a height of 82 meters, while a total of 1,756 cubic meters of water flows over the falls each second.
While South Africa’s Victoria Falls has a greater height of 108 meters, only 1,088 cubic meters flow over them in comparison. The Iguazu Falls also have a greater width, at 2.7 km against the Victoria Falls’ width of only 1.71 km.
The Iguazu Falls stand on the border between Brazil and Argentina.
Specifically, the Iguazu Falls lie right on the border between the Argentine province of Misiones and the Brazilian state of Parana. Though the Iguazu River flows through Brazil before it reaches the falls, it eventually passes through Argentina.
Argentina also takes pride in the Perito Moreno Glacier.
Stretching out over 30 km with an area of 250 km², the glacier has the distinction of being the third-largest reserve of fresh water in the whole world. It also forms the centerpiece of Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Park in Patagonia.
Unlike other glaciers that suffer from the effects of global warming, Perito Moreno remains unaffected thus far. If anything, the glacier continues to grow and advance today, with scientists studying the possible reasons behind such a feat.
Argentina also has the southernmost city in the world.
Lying only 1,100 km away from Antarctica, Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego is the southernmost city in the entire world. The railway to the city builds off this reputation, outright calling itself the End of the World Train. The nearby Tierra del Fuego National Park features a wide variety of wildlife, including orcas, penguins, and seals among others.
Argentina’s Moon Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Also known as Ischigualasto, the English name comes from the shape of the valley, which resembles a crescent moon. Between the Talampaya River flowing through the valley and the lack of plant life, the Moon Valley presents a strange yet intriguing appearance to any visitor. So much so, that some tourists outright describe the place as having an unearthly appearance, like a place that belongs on another planet.
All kinds of fossils exist in the Moon Valley.
Other than its mesmerizing appearance, its abundance of fossils is actually the reason why UNESCO named the Moon Valley a World Heritage Site. As the Talampaya River carved out the valley from the surrounding landscape, it exposed layers of rock built up over tens of millions of years. Each rock layer has its own plant and animal fossils, unique to the period of Earth’s history when they became entombed beneath the Earth.
These rock layers actually go back all the way to the Triassic Period, when dinosaurs first walked the Earth. Between the fossils of various animals in the valley, scientists have the opportunity to study evolution, and how mammals eventually became the dominant species on Earth.
All kinds of birds also live in the Moon Valley.
These avian residents include Andean ducks, condors, and even pink flamingos, all making the valley their home. Other than birds, the Moon Valley also houses mammals such as vicunas and guanacos.
The US State Department has issued warnings to tourists visiting Argentina.
In particular, they warn tourists how many Argentine drivers tend to just ignore traffic laws and regulations. The State Department also warns tourists that traffic accidents are the most likely cause of injury or even death when visiting Argentina.
The State Department actually backs it up with hard data, with Argentina having the highest traffic accident rate in all of South America. In fact, up to 20 people in the country die every day from traffic accidents, for a total of 70 deaths and 120,000 injuries every year. Definitely one of the Argentina facts to keep in mind, if you ever plan a visit.
Argentina has the largest railway network across Latin America.
Argentina has an estimated 48,000 km of railroad running across the country, though only an estimated 40,000 km actually operates today. Those railroads connect all of the country’s provinces together and with the capital in Buenos Aires. They also run to the borders, where they link up with the railroads of Argentina’s neighbors.
That said, the Argentine railway network has gone through rough times in the past. In particular, the privatization of the railroads after the Peron years caused a major decline in these railroads. In 1991, the railways actually carried 1,400 times fewer goods than they did in 1973. However, by the 21st Century, the railroads made a comeback, especially after the Argentine government renationalized them in 2015.
Argentina has over 200 separate newspaper companies across the country.
Of all these publications, Clarin is the most important, with the distinction of not just the bestselling newspaper in Latin America, but the second most circulated newspaper in the Spanish-speaking world. There’s also La Nacion, Pagina/12, and the Buenos Aires Herald, all of which go back to the 19th Century.
Argentina also has a German newspaper, Argentinisches Tageblatt, which goes back to the 19th Century.
The Argentine Bernardo Houssay became the first Latin American to win a Nobel Prize.
In 1947, Houssay shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Carl and Gerti Cori. They won the prize based on similar research, the Coris for discovering how glucose works in carbohydrate metabolism. Meanwhile, Houssay discovered how the pituitary gland helps regulate blood sugar levels.
Later on, two more Argentines won Nobel Prizes of their own.
In 1970, Luis Leloir received a Nobel Prize for his further work on how bodies store glucose in the form of glycogen. Meanwhile, Cesar Milstein won his prize in 1984, for his extensive work on discovering the properties of antibodies.
Argentina also has a space program of its own.
While the US has NASA, the Comisión Nacional de Actividades Espaciales (CONAE) has overseen Argentina’s space since the 1940s. Its first successes go back to the 1990s, starting with the LUSAT-1’s launching in 1990. Ever since, Argentina has continued its work to reach space, with the launch of SAOCOM 1A in 2018 as its most recent milestone.
CONAE began cooperating with the European Space Agency (ESA) in 2009.
This first project together involved the installation of Argentine equipment into an existing ESA observatory in the country, the Pierre Auger Observatory. The provided equipment included a new antenna and mission support systems, meant to help the observatory with its task of studying cosmic rays from space.
Pope Francis is an Argentine.
Born Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Buenos Aires in 1936, Pope Francis lived his life in Argentina before his election as the Pope. Before joining the Jesuits, he studied chemistry and worked in a food laboratory in the city. With his election in 2013, Pope Francis became the first Pope not just from Argentina, but also from the Americas and the Southern Hemisphere.
He also became the first non-European Pope since the Syrian-born Gregory III’s reign in the 8th Century AD.
Football has the distinction of the most popular sport in Argentina.
Argentina’s men’s national team in football has won the most World Cup, Confederations Cup, and Olympic Gold Medals in Football. In the whole world, only Brazil and France can rival Argentina when it comes to the number of wins in international football.
Argentina has also won the Copas America and the Pan-American Games in Football many times. Famous Argentine football players include Alfredo Di Stefano, Diego Maradona, and Lionel Messi.
Rugby is also another popular sport in Argentina.
In fact, Argentina’s men’s national team in rugby has always competed at the Rugby World Cup, never missing a single tournament. They’ve also competed in the Southern Hemisphere’s top rugby tournament, The Rugby Championship, starting in 2012. Since 2009, the team has also competed in the Americas Rugby Championship.
Argentina has several different pastries as part of its local cuisine.
Empanadas are an especially common kind of pastry shared with other countries with similar cultural roots. These countries include not just Latin America, but also the countries of Southern Europe, and the Philippines in Southeast Asia. Other Argentina-born pastries include facturas and tortas fritas.
Connoisseurs consider Argentina wine as one of the best in the world.
With high altitudes and low humidity, Argentina’s wine-growing regions produce globally-renowned wine. These vineyards don’t usually have to worry about pests or diseases, which also eliminates the need for pesticides or medicines to protect the grapes. As a result, Argentina wine has a pristine taste, unaffected by these additives.