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Argentina Country Information

Travel Advice with Country Information from the CIA.

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Argentina Map

Introduction

Background

In 1816, the United Provinces of the Rio Plata declared their independence from Spain. After Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay went their separate ways, the area that remained became Argentina. The country's population and culture were heavily shaped by immigrants from throughout Europe, with Italy and Spain providing the largest percentage of newcomers from 1860 to 1930. Up until about the mid-20th century, much of Argentina's history was dominated by periods of internal political unrest and conflict between civilian and military factions.

After World War II, an era of Peronist populism and direct and indirect military interference in subsequent governments was followed by a military junta that took power in 1976. Democracy returned in 1983 after a failed bid to seize the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) by force, and has persisted despite numerous challenges, the most formidable of which was a severe economic crisis in 2001-02 that led to violent public protests and the successive resignations of several presidents. The years 2003-15 saw Peronist rule by Nestor and Cristina FERNANDEZ de KIRCHNER, whose policies isolated Argentina and caused economic stagnation. With the election of Mauricio MACRI in November 2015, Argentina began a period of reform and international reintegration.

Geography

Location

Southern South America, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean, between Chile and Uruguay

Geographic coordinates

34 00 S, 64 00 W

Map references

South America

Area

total: 2,780,400 sq km

land: 2,736,690 sq km

water: 43,710 sq km

country comparison to the world: 9

Area - comparative

slightly less than three-tenths the size of the US

Land boundaries

total: 11,968 km

border countries (5): Bolivia 942 km, Brazil 1263 km, Chile 6691 km, Paraguay 2531 km, Uruguay 541 km

Coastline

4,989 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin

Climate

mostly temperate; arid in southeast; subantarctic in southwest

Terrain

rich plains of the Pampas in northern half, flat to rolling plateau of Patagonia in south, rugged Andes along western border

Elevation

mean elevation: 595 m

lowest point: Laguna del Carbon (located between Puerto San Julian and Comandante Luis Piedra Buena in the province of Santa Cruz) -105 m

highest point: Cerro Aconcagua (located in the northwestern corner of the province of Mendoza; highest point in South America) 6,962 m

Natural resources

fertile plains of the pampas, lead, zinc, tin, copper, iron ore, manganese, petroleum, uranium, arable land

Land use

agricultural land: 53.9% (2018 est.)

arable land: 13.9% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.4% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 39.6% (2018 est.)

forest: 10.7% (2018 est.)

other: 35.4% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

23,600 sq km (2012)

Population distribution

one-third of the population lives in Buenos Aires; pockets of agglomeration occur throughout the northern and central parts of the country; Patagonia to the south remains sparsely populated

Natural hazards

San Miguel de Tucuman and Mendoza areas in the Andes subject to earthquakes; pamperos are violent windstorms that can strike the pampas and northeast; heavy flooding in some areas

volcanism: volcanic activity in the Andes Mountains along the Chilean border; Copahue (2,997 m) last erupted in 2000; other historically active volcanoes include Llullaillaco, Maipo, Planchon-Peteroa, San Jose, Tromen, Tupungatito, and Viedma

Geography - note

second-largest country in South America (after Brazil); strategic location relative to sea lanes between the South Atlantic and the South Pacific Oceans (Strait of Magellan, Beagle Channel, Drake Passage); diverse geophysical landscapes range from tropical climates in the north to tundra in the far south; Cerro Aconcagua is the Western Hemisphere's tallest mountain, while Laguna del Carbon is the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere; shares Iguazu Falls, the world's largest waterfalls system, with Brazil

People and Society

Population

45,864,941 (July 2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 32

Nationality

noun: Argentine(s)

adjective: Argentine

Ethnic groups

European (mostly Spanish and Italian descent) and Mestizo (mixed European and Amerindian ancestry) 97.2%, Amerindian 2.4%, African 0.4% (2010 est.)

Languages

Spanish (official), Italian, English, German, French, indigenous (Mapudungun, Quechua)

Religions

nominally Roman Catholic 92% (less than 20% practicing), Protestant 2%, Jewish 2%, other 4%

Demographic profile

Argentina's population continues to grow but at a slower rate because of its steadily declining birth rate. Argentina's fertility decline began earlier than in the rest of Latin America, occurring most rapidly between the early 20th century and the 1950s, and then becoming more gradual. Life expectancy has been improving, most notably among the young and the poor. While the population under age 15 is shrinking, the youth cohort - ages 15-24 - is the largest in Argentina's history and will continue to bolster the working-age population. If this large working-age population is well-educated and gainfully employed, Argentina is likely to experience an economic boost and possibly higher per capita savings and investment. Although literacy and primary school enrollment are nearly universal, grade repetition is problematic and secondary school completion is low. Both of these issues vary widely by region and socioeconomic group.

Argentina has been primarily a country of immigration for most of its history, welcoming European immigrants (often providing needed low-skilled labor) after its independence in the 19th century and attracting especially large numbers from Spain and Italy. More than 7 million European immigrants are estimated to have arrived in Argentina between 1880 and 1930, when it adopted a more restrictive immigration policy. European immigration also began to wane in the 1930s because of the global depression. The inflow rebounded temporarily following WWII and resumed its decline in the 1950s when Argentina's military dictators tightened immigration rules and European economies rebounded. Regional migration increased, however, supplying low-skilled workers escaping economic and political instability in their home countries. As of 2015, immigrants made up almost 5% of Argentina's population, the largest share in South America. Migration from neighboring countries accounted for approximately 80% of Argentina's immigrant population in 2015.

The first waves of highly skilled Argentine emigrant workers headed mainly to the United States and Spain in the 1960s and 1970s, driven by economic decline and repressive military dictatorships. The 2008 European economic crisis drove the return migration of some Argentinean and other Latin American nationals, as well as the immigration of Europeans to South America, where Argentina was a key recipient. In 2015, Argentina received the highest number of legal migrants in Latin America and the Caribbean. The majority of its migrant inflow came from Paraguay and Bolivia.

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Argentine Republic

conventional short form: Argentina

local long form: Republica Argentina

local short form: Argentina

etymology: originally the area was referred to as Tierra Argentina, i.e., "Land beside the Silvery River" or "silvery land," which referred to the massive estuary in the east of the country, the Rio de la Plata (River of Silver); over time the name shortened to simply Argentina or "silvery"

Government type

presidential republic

Capital

name: Buenos Aires

geographic coordinates: 34 36 S, 58 22 W

time difference: UTC-3 (2 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: the name translates as "fair winds" in Spanish and derives from the original designation of the settlement that would become the present-day city, "Santa Maria del Buen Aire" (Saint Mary of the Fair Winds)

Administrative divisions

23 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia) and 1 autonomous city*; Buenos Aires, Catamarca, Chaco, Chubut, Ciudad Autonoma de Buenos Aires*, Cordoba, Corrientes, Entre Rios, Formosa, Jujuy, La Pampa, La Rioja, Mendoza, Misiones, Neuquen, Rio Negro, Salta, San Juan, San Luis, Santa Cruz, Santa Fe, Santiago del Estero, Tierra del Fuego - Antartida e Islas del Atlantico Sur (Tierra del Fuego - Antarctica and the South Atlantic Islands), Tucuman

note: the US does not recognize any claims to Antarctica

Independence

9 July 1816 (from Spain)

National holiday

Revolution Day (May Revolution Day), 25 May (1810)

Constitution

history: several previous; latest effective 11 May 1853

amendments: a declaration of proposed amendments requires two-thirds majority vote by both houses of the National Congress followed by approval by an ad hoc, multi-member constitutional convention; amended several times, last significant amendment in 1994

Legal system

civil law system based on West European legal systems; note - in mid-2015, Argentina adopted a new civil code, replacing the old one in force since 1871

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: yes

citizenship by descent only: yes

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: 2 years

Suffrage

18-70 years of age; universal and compulsory; 16-17 years of age - optional for national elections

Executive branch

chief of state: President Alberto Angel FERNANDEZ (since 10 December 2019); Vice President Cristina FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER (since 10 December 2019); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government  (2019)

head of government: President Alberto Angel FERNANDEZ (since 10 December 2019); Vice President Cristina FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER (since 10 December 2019)  (2018)

cabinet:  Cabinet appointed by the president  (2017)

elections/appointments:  president and vice president directly elected on the same ballot by qualified majority vote (to win, a candidate must receive at least 45% of votes or 40% of votes and a 10-point lead over the second place candidate; if neither occurs, a second round is held ); the president serves a 4-year term (eligible for a second consecutive term); election last held on 27 October 2019 (next to be held in October 2023)

election results: Alberto Angel FERNANDEZ elected president; percent of vote - Alberto Angel FERNANDEZ (TODOS) 48.1%, Mauricio MACRI (PRO) 40.4%, Roberto LAVAGNA (independent) 6.2%, other 5.3% 

Legislative branch

description: bicameral National Congress or Congreso Nacional consists of:
Senate (72 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 6-year terms with one-third of the membership elected every 2 years)
Chamber of Deputies (257 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote; members serve 4-year terms with one-half of the membership renewed every 2 years)

elections: 
Senate - last held on 27 October 2019 (next to be held on 24 October 2021)
Chamber of Deputies - last held on 27 October 2019 (next to be held on 24 October 2021)

election results: Senate - percent of vote by bloc or party - NA; seats by bloc or party - TODOS 13, Cambiemos 8, FCS 2, JSRN 1; 
Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by bloc or party - NA; seats by bloc or party - TODOS 64, Cambiemos 56, CF 3, FCS 3, JSRN 1, other 3

Judicial branch

highest courts: Supreme Court or Corte Suprema (consists of the court president, vice president, and 5 justices)

judge selection and term of office: justices nominated by the president and approved by the Senate; justices can serve until mandatory retirement at age 75; extensions beyond 75 require renomination by the president and approval by the Senate

subordinate courts: federal level appellate, district, and territorial courts; provincial level supreme, appellate, and first instance courts

Political parties and leaders

Argentina Federal [coalition led by Pablo KOSINER]
Cambiemos [Mauricio MACRI] (coalition of CC-ARI, PRO, and UCR)
Citizen's Unity or UC [Cristina FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER]
Civic Coalition ARI or CC-ARI [Elisa CARRIO, Maximiliano FERRARO]
Civic Front for Santiago or FCS [Gerardo ZAMORA]
Everyone's Front (Frente de Todos) or TODOS [Alberto Angel FERNANDEZ]
Federal Consensus or CF [Roberto LAVAGNA, Juan Manuel URTUBEY]
Front for the Renewal of Concord or FRC
Front for Victory or FpV [coalition led by Cristina FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER and Agustin ROSSI] 
Generation for a National Encounter or GEN [Monica PERALTA]
Justicialist Party or PJ [Miguel Angel PICHETTO]
Radical Civic Union or UCR [Alfredo CORNEJO]
Renewal Front (Frente Renovador) or FR [Sergio MASSA]
Republican Proposal or PRO [Mauricio MACRI, Humberto SCHIAVONI]
Socialist Party or PS [Antonio BONFATTI]
Socialist Workers’ Party or PTS [Jose MONTES]
Together We Are Rio Negro or JSRN [Alberto Edgardo WERETILNECK]
We Do For Cordoba (Hacemos Por Cordoba) or HC [Juan SCHIARETTI]
Workers' Party or PO [Jorge ALTAMIRA]
Worker’s Socialist Movement or MST [Alejandro BODDART; Vilma RIPOLL]
numerous provincial parties

International organization participation

AfDB (nonregional member), Australia Group, BCIE, BIS, CAN (associate), CD, CELAC, FAO, FATF, G-15, G-20, G-24, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), LAES, LAIA, Mercosur, MIGA, MINURSO, MINUSTAH, NAM (observer), NSG, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, Paris Club (associate), PCA, SICA (observer), UN, UNASUR, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNFICYP, UNHCR, UNIDO, Union Latina (observer), UNTSO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Jorge Martin Arturo ARGUELLO (since 6 February 2020)

chancery: 1600 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009

telephone: [1] (202) 238-6400

FAX: [1] (202) 332-3171

consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Washington, DC

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Edward Charles PRADO (since 16 May 2018)

telephone: [54] (11) 5777-4533

embassy: Avenida Colombia 4300, C1425GMN Buenos Aires

mailing address: international mail: use embassy street address; APO address: US Embassy Buenos Aires, Unit 4334, APO AA 34034

FAX: [54] (11) 5777-4240

Flag description

three equal horizontal bands of sky blue (top), white, and sky blue; centered in the white band is a radiant yellow sun with a human face (delineated in brown) known as the Sun of May; the colors represent the clear skies and snow of the Andes; the sun symbol commemorates the appearance of the sun through cloudy skies on 25 May 1810 during the first mass demonstration in favor of independence; the sun features are those of Inti, the Inca god of the sun

National symbol(s)

Sun of May (a sun-with-face symbol); national colors: sky blue, white

National anthem

name: "Himno Nacional Argentino" (Argentine National Anthem)

lyrics/music: Vicente LOPEZ y PLANES/Jose Blas PARERA

note: adopted 1813; Vicente LOPEZ was inspired to write the anthem after watching a play about the 1810 May Revolution against Spain

Economy

Economic overview

Argentina benefits from rich natural resources, a highly literate population, an export-oriented agricultural sector, and a diversified industrial base. Although one of the world's wealthiest countries 100 years ago, Argentina suffered during most of the 20th century from recurring economic crises, persistent fiscal and current account deficits, high inflation, mounting external debt, and capital flight.

Cristina FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER succeeded her husband as president in late 2007, and in 2008 the rapid economic growth of previous years slowed sharply as government policies held back exports and the world economy fell into recession. In 2010 the economy rebounded strongly, but slowed in late 2011 even as the government continued to rely on expansionary fiscal and monetary policies, which kept inflation in the double digits.

In order to deal with these problems, the government expanded state intervention in the economy: it nationalized the oil company YPF from Spain's Repsol, expanded measures to restrict imports, and further tightened currency controls in an effort to bolster foreign reserves and stem capital flight. Between 2011 and 2013, Central Bank foreign reserves dropped $21.3 billion from a high of $52.7 billion. In July 2014, Argentina and China agreed on an $11 billion currency swap; the Argentine Central Bank has received the equivalent of $3.2 billion in Chinese yuan, which it counts as international reserves.

With the election of President Mauricio MACRI in November 2015, Argentina began a historic political and economic transformation, as his administration took steps to liberalize the Argentine economy, lifting capital controls, floating the peso, removing export controls on some commodities, cutting some energy subsidies, and reforming the country’s official statistics. Argentina negotiated debt payments with holdout bond creditors, continued working with the IMF to shore up its finances, and returned to international capital markets in April 2016.

In 2017, Argentina’s economy emerged from recession with GDP growth of nearly 3.0%. The government passed important pension, tax, and fiscal reforms. And after years of international isolation, Argentina took on several international leadership roles, including hosting the World Economic Forum on Latin America and the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference, and is set to assume the presidency of the G-20 in 2018.

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 7,791,464

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 17.28 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 21

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 59,008,618

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 130.87 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 26

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: one of the highest broadband penetrations in Latin America, supported by operator investment and govt. programs aimed at expansion; govt. provides 20 million euros for two 5G trials, Chinese company Huawei conducts 5G trials; major networks are entirely digital and the availability of telephone service continues to improve to rural areas; Argentinians' own multiple SIM cards for work and personal use; even with numerous providers there is a lack of competition for broadband and mobile services; still Argentina is the 3rd largest in the region after Brazil and Mexico (2020)

domestic: 17 per 100 fixed-line, 131 per 100 mobile-cellular; microwave radio relay, fiber-optic cable, and a domestic satellite system with 40 earth stations serve the trunk network (2019)

international: country code - 54; landing points for the UNISUR, Bicentenario, Atlantis-2, SAm-1, and SAC, Tannat, Malbec and ARBR submarine cable systems that provide links to Europe, Africa, South and Central America, and US; satellite earth stations - 112 (2019)

note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated

Broadcast media

government owns a TV station and radio network; more than 2 dozen TV stations and hundreds of privately owned radio stations; high rate of cable TV subscription usage

Internet country code

.ar

Internet users

total: 33,203,320

percent of population: 74.29% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 24

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 8,473,655

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 19 (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 21

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 6 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 107

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 18,081,937 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 311.57 million mt-km (2018)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

LV (2016)

Airports

total: 916 (2020)

country comparison to the world: 6

Airports - with paved runways

total: 161 (2017)

over 3,047 m: 4 (2017)

2,438 to 3,047 m: 29 (2017)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 65 (2017)

914 to 1,523 m: 53 (2017)

under 914 m: 10 (2017)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 977 (2013)

over 3,047 m: 1 (2013)

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2013)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 43 (2013)

914 to 1,523 m: 484 (2013)

under 914 m: 448 (2013)

Heliports

2 (2013)

Pipelines

29930 km gas, 41 km liquid petroleum gas, 6248 km oil, 3631 km refined products (2013)

Railways

total: 36,917 km (2014)

standard gauge: 2,745.1 km 1.435-m gauge (41.1 km electrified) (2014)

narrow gauge: 7,523.3 km 1.000-m gauge (2014)

broad gauge: 26,391 km 1.676-m gauge (149 km electrified) (2014)

258 km 0.750-m gauge

country comparison to the world: 6

Roadways

total: 281,290 km (2017)

paved: 117,616 km (2017)

unpaved: 163,674 km (2017)

country comparison to the world: 21

Waterways

11,000 km (2012)

country comparison to the world: 11

Merchant marine

total: 199

by type: container ship 1, general cargo 8, oil tanker 32, other 158 (2020)

country comparison to the world: 69

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Bahia Blanca, Buenos Aires, La Plata, Punta Colorada, Ushuaia

container port(s) (TEUs): Buenos Aires (1,851,701)

LNG terminal(s) (import): Bahia Blanca

river port(s): Arroyo Seco, Rosario, San Lorenzo-San Martin (Parana)

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Armed Forces of the Argentine Republic (Fuerzas Armadas de la República Argentina): Argentine Army (Ejercito Argentino), Navy of the Argentine Republic (Armada Republica; includes naval aviation and naval infantry), Argentine Air Force (Fuerza Aerea Argentina, FAA); Ministry of Security: Gendarmerie, Prefectura Naval (coast guard) (2021)

Military expenditures

0.7% of GDP (2019)

0.7% of GDP (2018)

0.9% of GDP (2017)

0.8% of GDP (2016)

0.9% of GDP (2015)

country comparison to the world: 133

Military and security service personnel strengths

Argentina's armed forces have approximately 75,000 (45,000 Army; 17,000 Navy; 13,000 Air Force); est. 18,000 Gendarmerie (2019)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the inventory of Argentina's armed forces is a mix of domestically-produced and mostly older imported weapons, largely from Europe and the US; since 2010, France and the US are the leading suppliers of equipment; Argentina has an indigenous defense industry that can produce air, land, and sea systems (2019)

Military deployments

250 Cyprus (UNFICYP) (2020)

Military service age and obligation

18-24 years of age for voluntary military service (18-21 requires parental consent); no conscription; if the number of volunteers fails to meet the quota of recruits for a particular year, Congress can authorize the conscription of citizens turning 18 that year for a period not exceeding one year (2012)

Military - note

the Argentine military focuses primarily on border security and counter-narcotics operations; in 2018, the government approved a decree allowing greater latitude for the military in internal security missions, with a focus on logistics support in border areas (2019)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Argentina continues to assert its claims to the UK-administered Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), South Georgia, and the South Sandwich Islands in its constitution, forcibly occupying the Falklands in 1982, but in 1995 agreed to no longer seek settlement by force; UK continues to reject Argentine requests for sovereignty talks; territorial claim in Antarctica partially overlaps UK and Chilean claims; uncontested dispute between Brazil and Uruguay over Braziliera/Brasiliera Island in the Quarai/Cuareim River leaves the tripoint with Argentina in question; in 2010, the ICJ ruled in favor of Uruguay's operation of two paper mills on the Uruguay River, which forms the border with Argentina; the two countries formed a joint pollution monitoring regime; the joint boundary commission, established by Chile and Argentina in 2001 has yet to map and demarcate the delimited boundary in the inhospitable Andean Southern Ice Field (Campo de Hielo Sur); contraband smuggling, human trafficking, and illegal narcotic trafficking are problems in the porous areas of the border with Bolivia

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 226,796 (Venezuela) (economic and political crisis; includes Venezuelans who have claimed asylum, are recognized as refugees, or have received alternative legal stay) (2021)

Illicit drugs

a transshipment country for cocaine headed for Europe, heroin headed for the US, and ephedrine and pseudoephedrine headed for Mexico; some money-laundering activity, especially in the Tri-Border Area; law enforcement corruption; a source for precursor chemicals; increasing domestic consumption of drugs in urban centers, especially cocaine base and synthetic drugs

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