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THE SPANISH LANGUAGE

Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world due to the number of speakers who claim it as their native tongue (after Mandarin Chinese). It is spoken as a first and second language amongst 450 and 500 million people. It is the third most spoken language as a first or second language after Mandarin Chinese and English combined, and is the mother tongue to 400 million people worldwide... Read more

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ARGENTINA Country Profile

Argentina is a country in southern South America. It ranks second in land area in South America, and eighth in the world. Argentina occupies a continental surface area of 2,766,890 km² (1,078,000 sq mi) between the Andes mountain range in the west and the southern Atlantic Ocean in the east and south. It is bordered by Paraguay and Bolivia in the north, Brazil and Uruguay in the northeast, and Chile in the west and south. The country claims the British controlled territories of the Falkland Islands (Spanish: Islas Malvinas) and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. Under the name of Argentine Antarctica, it claims 969,464 km² (374,312 sq mi) of Antarctica, overlapping other claims made by Chile and the United Kingdom. The country is formally called the Argentine Republic. For many legal purposes, Nación Argentina is used.

Capital:
.: Buenos Aires

Area:
.: Total: 2,766,890 km² (8th) 1,073,514 sq mi
.: Water (%): 1.1

Independence:
.: May Revolution: 25 May 1810
.: Declared: 9 July 1816
.: Recognized: 1821 (by Spain)
Official languages:
.: Spanish

Population:
.: 2006 estimate: 40,060,000 (30th)
.: 2001 census: 36,260,130
.: Density: 14/km² (195th) 36/sq mi

PROFILES ARGENTINA

Profiles Argentina The Europe of South America with cosmopolitan Buenos Aires, tangoing the night away in the chic tango clubs and sipping coffee in the outdoor cafes. The northern wilderness of monstrous waterfalls that are so strong you are kissed by the white misty spray standing miles away. The rough southern Patagonia of endless ice fields and gigantic glaciers. The extreme south of Tierra del Fuego, a treasure chest of picturesque lakes and dramatic mountainous scopes. And then there is Ushuaia, the world’s most southern town, “The end of the world, beginning of everything”

PEOPLE AND CULTURE ARGENTINA

People and Culture - Argentina Argentines are a fusion of diverse national and ethnic groups, with descendants of Italian and Spanish immigrants predominant. Waves of immigrants from many European countries arrived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Syrian, Lebanese, and other Middle Eastern immigrants number about 500,000, mainly in urban areas. Argentina's population is overwhelmingly Catholic, but it also has the largest Jewish population in Latin America, about 250,000 strong, and is home to one of the largest Islamic mosques in Latin America. In recent years, there has been a substantial influx of immigrants from neighbouring Latin American countries.

The indigenous population, estimated at 700,000, is concentrated in the provinces of the north, northwest, and south. The Argentine population has one of Latin America's lowest growth rates. Eighty percent of the population resides in cities or towns of more than 2,000, and over one-third lives in the greater Buenos Aires area. With 13 million inhabitants, this sprawling metropolis serves as the focus for national life. Argentines enjoy comparatively high standards of living; however, the economic crisis during 2001 and 2002 left 47.8% of the population living below the poverty line as of June 2004.

A majority of the population of Argentina is nominally Roman Catholic. About 2% are Protestant, and another 2% are Jewish. In the last decades, as in the rest of Latin America, there has also been a rise in Evangelical movements, which have mostly gathered converts from Catholicism in the lower classes. Although Jews only account for 2% of Argentina's population, Buenos Aires has the second largest population of Jewish people in the Americas.

Catholic practices (especially in the non-central areas) incorporate a great deal of syncretism; for example, religious festivals in the north-western provinces feature Catholic icons in (or along with) ancient Andean pagan ceremonies.

Argentina is a federal republic formed by 23 autonomous provinces and one autonomous territory, the capital city (Buenos Aires). An elected president, who appoints a cabinet, holds the country’s executive power. Its mandate, which may be renewed only for another similar term, lasts four years. Legislative power is exercised by a bicameral legislature with a Lower Chamber (currently with 254 elected Deputies of the Nation) and an upper chamber or Senate (composed of 72 elected Senators from the provinces and the autonomous capital city). The highest federal court is the Supreme Court, made up of nine judges.

Each of the provinces has its own government and courts that mirror the federal system. While substantive law is largely the same at both the federal and provincial levels, procedure may vary in provincial courts. Under Argentina’s constitution, the provinces delegate to the federal legislature the power to enact laws of national scope governing civil and commercial issues, foreign relations, defence and other matters. Individual provinces may also enact their own specific provisions.

National Military Service has become professional during the last decade when compulsory enrolment was abolished.

The defence policy stresses cooperation with the neighbouring countries and participation in the peace operations and missions approved and directed by the United Nations.

Argentina's economy has traditionally been based on agriculture, but the industrial and service sectors have also grown in importance in recent years. Livestock (cattle and sheep) and grains have long been the bulwark of its wealth; its cattle herds are among the world's finest. As an exporter of wheat, corn, flax, oats, beef, mutton, hides, and wool, Argentina rivals the United States, Canada, and Australia. Its other agricultural products include oilseeds, sorghum, soybeans, and sugar beets. Argentina is the world's largest source of tannin and linseed oil. The Pampa is the nation's chief agricultural area; however, since the 1930s there has been a great rise in production in other areas, especially in the oases of the Monte and the irrigated valleys of N Patagonia.

Although Argentina has a variety of minerals, they are of local importance and are not completely adequate to support the country's industries. Domestic oil and gas production has made the nation self-sufficient in energy; pipelines connect the oil and gas fields with Buenos Aires and other major refining centers. Argentina also exploits its ample hydroelectric resources. The large coal field of S Patagonia has low-grade coal.

Argentine industry, developed after World War I and long protected by a strong nationalistic policy, made the country virtually self-sufficient in the production of consumer goods and many types of machinery. Food processing (in particular meatpacking, flour milling, and canning) is the chief manufacturing industry; textiles, leather goods, and chemicals are also major products. Argentina's principal imports are machinery, metals, and other manufactured goods. The chief trading partners are the United States, Brazil, and Italy and other European Union countries. Argentina is a member of Mercosur.

In recent decades Argentina has experienced both inflation and recession. Privatization and other economic reforms begun by President Menem in the early 1990s produced unprecedented economic growth, but significant economic problems remained, including high unemployment and a massive national debt (due to freehanded government spending and widespread tax evasion). The economy was hurt by Brazil's recession and currency devaluation in the late 1990s, but the pegging of the peso to the dollar combined with Argentina's own economic problems resulted in economic collapse in 2001. The economy did not begin to grow strongly again until 2003.

GEOGRAPHY AND ENVIRONMENT ARGENTINA

Forming the Eastern half of South America’s long, tapering tail, Argentina is numbered 8 on the World’s largest countries list and is South America’s second largest country following Brazil.

To the West, Argentina borders with Chile; Bolivia, Paraguay and Brazil to the North and Uruguay to the East. Triangularly shaped and 3700km (2300m) in length from the north down to the southern island of Tierra del Fuego.

The country can be divided into six geographic regions:

The Parana Plateau, in the extreme northeast is an extension of the highlands of southern Brazil. This is the wettest region of Argentina with a dense forest cover. The renowned Iguaçu Falls are found in this region. Chief products in this region are: tobacco, timber and yerba mate.

The Gran Chaco, the north pf Argentina is a relatively flat alluvial plain that has a subtropical climate. This region is accustomed to seasonal flooding, and because of poor drainage, the wetlands remain flooded for long periods of time. Chief products of this area are: livestock, cotton and wood from the quebracho tree.

The Pampa, south of the Gran Chaco is a vast spans of natural grasslands. It’s the deep rich soil of the Pampa’s that is the wealth of Argentina. The more humid eastern part of this region “The Wet Pampa” is the country’s principal agriculture area and produces the majority of Argentina’s exports. It is by far the most important region with most of the principal cities and industries found here. Chief products of this are: wheat, alfalfa, corn, dairy and livestock.

The Monte, sitting in the rain shadows of the Andes, this arid region has varied mineral deposits, mainly oil, lead, zinc, tin copper and salt, all of which are being exuberantly exploited. Other chief products of this area are: wine, sugar, fruits and corn.

Patagonia, the deep south, a plateau of windswept vastness. Agriculture is difficult with the poor soils and cool and dry climate. This region is sparsely populated and largely undeveloped. Ushuaia, found on the very point of Argentina’s tail, is the most southern town in the world. Chief products of this area are: wool, oil and natural gas production.

The Andes Mountains, this region contains some of the world’s highest elevations, outside of Asia. These high elevations act as a barrier to the moist westerly winds, causing the Andes eastern slopes desert like condition. Chief products in this area are timber and mineral resources; however, these are yet to be exploited heavily because of the region’s inaccessibility

WEATHER AND CLIMATE ARGENTINA

Weather and climate - Argentina The Argentine Republic is a large country about one-third of the size of the United States. The centre and east are mostly low and flat, but the west is very mountainous rising to the Andes peaks, some of which reach over 22000 feet. The northern Andes have surprisingly low precipitation so that the snowline may be as high as 20000 feet. The southern Andes have much more precipitation, and there are many glaciers and permanent snowfields.

Because of these great altitude and latitude differences, there are many weather and climate differences. The country can be split into four broad climatic regions: - the east central region (Pampas); the north-eastern interior; western Argentina and southern Argentina (Patagonia). The distinctive mountain climate of the High Andes should also be added.

East central Argentina (including Buenos Aires) also known as the Pampas, has an adequate rainfall of between 500 mm (20") to 1000 mm (40") per year. The area has mild winters and warm summers within more rainfall during the summer months. Most of the rain falls on just a few days, so that wet changeable weather is not frequent, but the rain is often heavy. Average daily maximum temperature in Buenos Aires range from 14 °C (57 °F) in June and July to 29 °C (85 °F) in January. Average sunshine hours per day range from four in June to nine in the summer months. The region does not often experience heat or cold extremes, but frost may occur in most winter months but is not prolonged or severe. This is the most important agricultural region of the country and occasional drought is the main economic hazard.

The north-eastern interior has a warmer climate than the Pampas and, towards the north it is tropical or near-tropical. Temperatures remain quite high throughout the year, average daily maxima at Santiago varying from 21 °C (70 °F) in winter to 36 °C (97 °F) in January. An extreme temperature of 46 °C (115 °F) has been recorded in one January. The combination of heat and humidity may be uncomfortable in summer, as this is the cloudier wetter season. Occasional cold spells in winter may bring temperatures near or below freezing for a few hours, but generally the winters are mild or even warm. Average sunshine hours per day are similar to the Pampas region.

Western Argentina is a dry region. Even on the highest peaks snowfall is light. The eastern slopes and foothills of the Andes form a semi-arid region and the lowlands are virtually deserts. Annual rainfall of less than 250 mm (10") is not uncommon. Droughts are frequent here and often prolonged. Rainfall is more frequent in summer months which are often hot and sunny. Sunshine hours range from 10 hours per day in summer to about 7 in winter. At Mendoza daily average maximum temperatures range from 15 °C (59 °F) in winter to 32 °C (90 °F) in summer.

Southern Argentina is a dry region with (in terms of temperature and changeable weather) a cool temperate climate not unlike that of the British Isles. The dryness, however, is unusual for such high latitude. Towards the west of the region, rainfall is greater as cloud spills over the western side of the Andes. In the extreme south of the region, the summers are distinctly cool. The winters are long with frequent frost and snow, but the ocean's influence ensures that the cold is never prolonged or severe. The summers are generally cool and cloudy with brief spells of fine pleasant weather.

MONEY ARGENTINA

The currency in Argentina is the "peso" and it is subdivided in 100 cents.

Cash machines are used by everybody and there are plenty around the city. Every bank has cash machines linked to international networks such as a Cirrus, Plus, MasterCard, Visa, Maestro, Citibank and others. Simply look for the companies’ logos on bank windows and in cash machine booths.

The best option for exchanging money is a bank (banking hours are 10am to 3pm). There are also many Currency Exchange Bureaus and most hotels exchange money as well. In certain areas of the city it is common to see people on the streets offering money exchange at better rates, but even if it seems tempting, DO NOT ACCEPT, most are fakes. Some businesses and hotels accept dollar bills and usually don't have problems giving change back in pesos, but the rate is always lower than banks. Remember: Do not accept state bonds.

Most businesses, stores, restaurants and bars accept credit cards, but due to the bad economy and inflation it is possible that there is a 15 to 20% surcharge for credit cards payments. We suggest that, before paying with a credit card, you ask and confirm if you will get surcharged. Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club are the most widely accepted.
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ARGENTINA
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