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Visiting Argentina

Visiting Argentina

Some Facts..... What's in a name?


Argentina 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 and the river was thus named Río de la Plata (River of Silver).


Argentina is the second largest country in South America and stands bordered by Paraguay and Bolivia in the north, Brazil and Uruguay in the northeast and Chile in the west and south.

Main Cities

The Capital of Argentina is Buenos Aires with other major cities including La Plata, Mendoza, Cordoba, and Rosario.


The currency of Argentina is the Argentine peso. If one is travelling to Argentina from New Zealand it is recommended to change money into USD in New Zealand and then change these into pesos once in Argentina.


Argentina's official language is Spanish usually called 'castellano' by Argentines. Some immigrant communities have managed to maintain their native language and pockets of communities speaking Italian, German, Hebrew and Welsh are common.

There are also some indigenous communities who have retained their original languages. Guaraní is spoken by some in the northeast, Quechua is spoken by some in the northwest and Aymara spoken by members of the Bolivian community who migrated to Argentina from Bolivia.


In 2010 the Argentina's population was 40,134,125 with about 15 million of these inhabitants living in the Province of Buenos Aires. Argentina has a population density quite similar to that of New Zealand with 10,7 inhabitants per square kilometre.

The Land

The total surface area is 3.761.274 2 km2.

Argentina is 3,694 km long from north to south, and 1,423 km from east to west . There are four major regions: the fertile central plains of the Pampas, source of Argentina's agricultural wealth; the flat to rolling, oil-rich southern plateau of Patagonia including Tierra del Fuego; the subtropical northern flats of the Gran Chaco, and the rugged Andes mountain range along the western border with Chile.

A land of extremes, Argentina has the highest point in the Southern Hemisphere - Mount Aconcagua (6,959 m.) - and the lowest point - Laguna del Carbon (-105 meters) - in Santa Cruz province.

The Climate

The generally temperate climate ranges from subtropical in the north to subpolar in the far south. The north is characterized by very hot, humid summers with mild drier winters, and is subject to periodic droughts. Central Argentina has hot summers with thunderstorms (western Argentina produces some of the world's largest hail), and cool winters. The southern regions have warm summers and cold winters with heavy snowfall, especially in mountainous zones.


Argentina is a federal republic formed by 23 autonomous provinces and one autonomous city, the capital Buenos Aires.

 The Executive Branch is headed by a president elected for a period of four years. The Argentine Constitution allows for one successive re-election.

Legislative power is exercised by a bicameral legislature with a Lower Chamber (254 members representing the people) and a Senate (72 elected Senators representing the provinces and the autonomous capital city, 3 for each). 

The Judiciary is independent and the highest federal court is the Supreme Court, made up of nine judges.

Each of the provinces has its own government and courts. 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. 

Argentina's current President is Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

Time Zone

Argentina is located at a longitude that would naturally put it in the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) -4 UT Time zone,, but it actually uses the UTC-3 time zone. Argentina determines whether to observe daylight saving time on a year-by-year basis, and individual provinces may opt out of the federal decision. At present, Argentina does not observe daylight saving time.

Internet Domain and Telephone Prefixes

All internet domains in Argentina end in .ar. The prefix for calling Argentina from overseas is +54.

The prefixes for the main cities are:

Buenos Aires - 11
Cordoba- 351
La Plata- 221
Mendoza - 261
Rosario - 341


Before the arrival of Europeans at the beginning of the 16th century, the area that is now known as Argentina had a population of about 100 000, with established settlements in the north west that were part of the Inca empire, and nomadic Indians scattered throughout the rest of the territory. 

In 1516 Juan Díaz de Solís became the first European to set foot on Argentine soil, coming from the sea. The first settlement of Buenos Aires in 1536 by Pedro de Mendoza, who came from Paraguay, was destroyed by the Indians. Then in 1580, Buenos Aires was founded for a second and definitive time by Juan de Garay. The colonizers brought with them the Spanish language, Catholicism and European traditions. 

On May 25th 1810, the first independent government was established, however, independence was not formally declared until 9 July, 1816. During this period and the first years of the following decade, Argentina fought to consolidate its independence and contributed through significant military campaigns to achieve the independence of neighbouring countries, Chile and Perú in particular. From the 1820s a period of intense domestic struggle took place among political groups, which lasted until the middle of the century. At the centre of the political dispute were the ideas of Unitarism and Federation, as well as the supremacy of Buenos Aires.

In 1853 the first National Constitution was agreed upon, and Justo José de Urquiza was appointed as the first President of the Argentine Republic. Although the province of Buenos Aires was not part of the first constitutional state, it joined nine years later in 1862. The city of Buenos Aires was named capital of Argentina by Federal Law in 1880.

In 1889, the Civic Union, a political movement, which later became a party known as the Radical Civic Union, was formed. It demanded electoral reform and the introduction of the secret ballot for the adult male population. Years after, in 1912, President Roque Saenz Peña enacted the Law of Universal Ballot requiring secret compulsory votes for all men over 18 years of age. Due to this reform, the Radical Civic Union candidate, Hipolito Yrigoyen was elected President from 1916 to 1922 and again in 1928. 

A military coup lead by the Army deposed Yrigoyen in 1930 interrupting 77 years of civilian and democratic rule. A succession of military and civilian governments mingled for the next fifty years. During this time, political and economic instability and autocratic governing were mixed with periods of civilian government, economic growth and political tolerance.

After the Second World War, Juan Domingo Perón, who headed a political movement known as Justicialismo or Peronismo, won the Presidency with a significant majority. His government, during the second term, was ousted by the Armed Forces in September of 1955. In 1973 after 18 years of exile, while several democratic and military governments alternated in power, Perón returned to the country and was again elected President. He died one year later in 1974, and was succeeded by his third wife, María Estela Martinez de Perón, who was deposed by a military coup in 1976. The subsequent government engaged in political persecutions, committing grave violations of human rights under the justification that it fought terrorist groups.

Democracy was definitively re-established in 1983. In December of that year, Raúl Alfonsín from the Radical Union Civic Party was elected President of the Argentine Republic. He was succeeded by Carlos Saúl Menem in 1989 from the Justicialist or Peronist Party, who finished his second period in December 1999.

Dr. Fernando de la Rúa was elected President on 24 October 1999 taking office on 10 December of the same year. At the end of December 2001, following general protests against the persistence of the four-year economic recession, President de la Rúa resigned from his position. The National Assembly, formed jointly by the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, after a brief interregnum, designated as President of the Nation, from 1 January 2002, Senator Eduardo Duhalde, former Governor of the Province of Buenos Aires and former Vice President of the Nation. His term of office ended on 25 May 2003, when he was succeeded by Nestor Kirchner, who won the federal elections for the term 2003 - 2007. In October of 2007, his wife, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, ran for presidency and won the election becoming Argentina's first elected female President.

Cristina Fernandez was reelected to a second term in 2011general election.

It is worth mentioning that in the period since 1983, during which elected governments have alternated in power, and profound institutional reforms have been accomplished, the consolidation of democracy in Argentina has been firmly established.