General Information (read before you travel)
Area: 2,780,400 sq km (1,073,518 sq miles).
Population: 40,027,041 (official estimate 2010).
Capital: Buenos Aires. Population: 3,129,469 (official estimate 2010).
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. As from this date, the Portuguese named the river of Solís, Río de la Plata (River of Silver). Two years later the Spanish used the same name. The National Constitution adopted in 1853 included the name "República Argentina" (Argentine Republic) among the official names to designate the government and the country's territory.
Argentina's climate is extremely varied, from mild and wet in the Pampas, to cold and damp in Patagonia, and from subtropical ín Mesopotamia to hot in the north. The temperature averages 23°C ín summertime - November through March -, and 12°C in wintertime.
Argentina's main characteristic is the enormous contrast between the immense eastern plains and the impressive Andes mountain range to the west. This is the frontier with Chile and boasts the highest peak in the Western hemisphere: the 6,959 m high Aconcagua.
From Jujuy to Tierra del Fuego, the Andes present marvelous contrasts: the Northwest plateaus, the lake region, the forests and glaciers in the Patagonia. To the north, Chaco is a forested area linked to rivers Bermejo, Salado and Pilcomayo.
Between the Paraná and Uruguay rivers, the Argentine Mesopotamia (provinces of Entre Ríos, Corrientes and Misiones) is formed by low hills, where pools and marshlands evidence the ancient courses of these great rivers. In some places within the subtropical rain forest, there are fissures which provide such spectacular phenomena as the Iguazú Falls.
The Pampas, in the center of Argentina, is the largest and best-known area of plains. Agricultural and livestock activities are performed in this area, which includes the province of Buenos Aires, the northeast of La Pampa, the south of Córdoba and south 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.
Towards the south, from the Andes to the sea, there appear the sterile and stony plateaus of Patagonia, swept by the wind during most of the year. The Atlantic coast, lined with high cliffs, forms massive indentations like the Peninsula Valdés, with its spectacular and unique colonies of sea animals.
Argentina's current population is more than 36 million inhabitants, almost half of which live in the city and the province of Buenos Aires. Population density calculated on a national basis is 13 inhabitants per square kilometer. 95% of the population is white and most are descendants of Italians and Spaniards. As a result of the massive European immigration, the white and Indian half-castes were slowly reduced and at the present they amount only to 4.5% of the population. The pure indigenous population - Mapuches, Collas, Tobas, Matacos and Chiriguanos - amount to 0.5% of the population.
Federal and Democratic Republic. Gained independence from Spain in 1816. Head of State and Government: President Cristina Fernandez since 2007.
Spanish is the official language. English is widely spoken with some French and German. Religion
More than 90 per cent Roman Catholic, two per cent Protestant with small Muslim and Jewish communities.
Time: GMT - 3 (GMT - 4 summer).
220 volts AC, 50Hz. Lamp fittings are of the screw-type. Plug fittings in older buildings are of the two-pin round type, but some new buildings use the three-pin flat type.
Telephone: IDD is available (but not generally in use). Country code: 54. Outgoing international code: 00. The system is often overused and international calls are expensive. Local calls can be made from public call-boxes, which are located in shops and restaurants and are identifiable by a blue sign outside. Public phones take one peso or 50 and 25 centavos coins or cards. Reduced tariffs apply from 2200-0800.
The official Argentine currency is the Peso. There are bills of 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 pesos, and coins of 1 peso and 5, 10, 25, and 50 cents.1 Usd = 4 Pesos
Travel documents and visas
Foreign visitors need a valid passport, or an identity document if they are citizens of a neighboring country. The nationals of some countries require a visa. If you would like to obtain any further information, you should contact the Argentinean consulate in your country.
Getting there and away
Ezeiza International Airport, situated 35 km from downtown Buenos Aires, is served by numerous international airlines. Domestic flights operate from busy Jorge Newbery airport, with flights to the provinces' capitals and the country's main tourist destinations. Long-distance buses also link tourist centers by means of excellent national roads. Mendoza Holidays can arrange private services from and to your hotel.
Rent-a-Car and Taxis
The main international, as well as some local, car rental companies have offices in the most important cities and airports (Buenos Aires, Mendoza, Salta, etc.). All cities are served by metered taxis, and the displayed fare is paid for when the trip is over.
Food and Drinks
Beef and wine have made this country especially well-known. The regional dishes are many and flavorsome. The most popular cuisines are the international Italian, French and Spanish; although the German, Jewish, Scandinavian, Greek, and Hungarian, among others, are also worth sampling.
Buenos Aires and all the main provincial capitals have modern shopping malls and boutiques selling national and international brands. Products tend to be very high quality, especially those made of leather and wool, as well as designer clothes. Furs, handicrafts and antiques make excellent souvenirs. In Buenos Aires, stores are generally open from 9 am to 7.00 pm. Mendoza and Salta shops open from 9 to 1pm and 5 to 9pm (¨siesta¨(nap time) is a must in these western cities !)
Argentina is three hours behind UTC.
Argentine national holidays:
January 1 - New Year
March/April - Easter* - Good Friday
April 2 - Veterans' Day** and tribute to the fallen during the Malvinas War.
May 1 - Labor Day
May 25 - Anniversary of the First Independent Argentine Government
June 20 - National Flag Day***
July 9 - National Independence Day
August 17 - Anniversary of the death of General José de San Martín***
October 12 - Columbus Day**
December 8 - Immaculate Conception Day
December 25 - Christmas Day
(*) Floating Holiday.
(**) If the date falls on a Tuesday or Wednesday, the holiday will be effective on the preceding Monday; if it falls on Thursday or Friday, the holiday will be effective the following Monday.
(***) Holiday effective the third Monday of the month.
Constitution and Government
Argentina consists of 23 provinces plus a federal district, the City Buenos Aires. The Argentine Constitution establishes a Republic under a representative and federal system, and three separate branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial.
The executive branch is exercised by the President and Vice-president of the Nation, elected for a 4-year term, and who may be reelected for a single additional term. The legislative branch is bicameral: the Senate (composed of three senators from each province and from the City of Buenos Aires) and the House of Representatives (composed of representatives elected directly and in proportion to each district's population). The judicial branch "is vested in the Supreme Court and lower courts of justice".
Each province has adopted its own Constitution in accordance with the National Constitution, to rule its administration.
The current National Constitution dates from 1853. Nevertheless, it was amended in 1860, 1898, 1957 and 1994. The last amendment made in August 1994, allows the President's reelection for an additional term.
Two historic dates
May 25, 1810. The first "Gobierno Patrio" or National Government Assembly was constituted. July 9, 1816. Proclamation of Independence by the "Provincias Unidas del Río de la Plata".
The Argentine flag has three horizontal stripes: the one in the middle is white and bears the golden sun, and the two outside stripes are light blue. The national flower is the ceibo, and the national stone is the manganese spar (rodocrosita) or "Inca Rose".
Useful telephone numbers in Buenos Aires
Aerolineas Argentinas & Austral +54 11 4320 2000
Air France +54 11 4317 4700
Alitalia +54 11 4310 9999
American Airlines +54 11 4318 1111
British Airways +54 11 4320 6600
Iberia +54 11 4131 1000
Lan Chile +54 11 4378 2200
Lufthansa +54 11 4319 0600
Mexicana de Aviación +54 11 4312 6152
TAM 0810 333 359826
United Airlines +54 11 4316 0777
Aeroparque Jorge Newbery +54 11 5480 6111
Aeropuerto Internacional de Ezeiza +54 11 5480 6111