Bounded by the towering Andes in the west and the waters of the Atlantic to the east, Argentina occupies most of South America’s southern triangular tip. This enchanting Latin American nation encompasses a breathtaking array of landscapes, ranging from the sweltering jungles of the Northeast and the bone-dry highland steppes of the Northwest to the agricultural powerhouse Pampas and windswept Patagonia. Here are some interesting facts about Argentina.
Facts about Argentina
1. Argentina is the 2nd largest country in South America and the 8th largest country in the world.
Argentina has a total area of 2,780,400 km² (1,073,500 sq mi), which makes it slightly less than three-tenths the size of the US.
2. Argentina shares a land border with five countries.
3. Argentina’s highest point is the highest point in the Southern and Western hemispheres.
Argentina’s highest point can be found on Mt. Aconcagua which rises to 6,959 m (22,831 ft) above sea level. Mt. Aconcagua lies in the Mendoza Province in the west of Argentina in the Principal Cordillera of the Andes mountain range.
4. Argentina’s lowest point is the lowest point in the Southern and Western hemispheres.
Argentina’s lowest point can be found at Laguna del Carbón, a salt lake in the Great San Julián Depression in the southeast of the country. At −105 m (−344 ft) below sea level, Laguna del Carbón is the seventh lowest point on Earth.
5. Argentina is one of the longest north-south countries in the world.
Argentina stretches a long way – 3,694 km (2,295 mi), from its northernmost point at the confluence of the Grande de San Juan to its southernmost at Cape San Pío in Tierra del Fuego province.
6. Argentina drives on the right.
Previously following left-hand traffic, Argentina switched over to right-hand traffic on 10 June 1945. 10 June is still observed each year in Argentina as Día de la Seguridad Vial (road safety day).
7. The currency used in Argentina is the Argentine peso (ARS).
The current currency was introduced to the country in 1992. Prior to this, Argentina used the Peso Ley, Escudos, Soles, and Reales.
8. Argentina doesn’t observe daylight-saving time.
Clocks do not change in Argentina and daylight-saving hasn’t been observed in the country since 2009.
9. The capital of Argentina is Buenos Aires.
The largest city and port in Argentina, Buenos Aires is one of the world’s great cities. Popularly known as “the Paris of the South” Buenos Aires is known for its preserved eclectic European architecture, wide boulevards, and rich multicultural life.
10. The national language of Argentina is Spanish.
The de jure language of Argentina is Spanish and is spoken by virtually all Argentines. Due to Argentina’s large size, Spanish has a strong variation among regions, although the prevalent dialect is Rioplatense Spanish.
11. Argentina has no official language.
One of the surprising Argentina facts is that the nation doesn’t have an official language. However, there are several recognized regional languages in Argentina such as Guaraní, Quechua, Qom, Mocoví, Wichí, and Welsh.
12. Argentina began the world’s first regular radio broadcasting.
Definitely one of the more obscure facts about Argentina. A team of medical students led by Argentine media pioneer Enrique Telémaco Susin broadcast Richard Wagner’s opera Parsifal that was being played in the Coliseum theater, in Buenos Aires. Only about 20 families in Buenos Aires were rumored to possess receivers, so the audience couldn’t have been that great.
13. The name Argentina comes from the Latin word for silver.
The first European settlers firmly believed the country was full of silver, which in Latin is known as Argentum, due to a legend that existed about a mountain made of silver in Argentina.
14. Argentina is the birthplace of animated films.
Bet you didn’t know this Argentina fact! Argentine Quirino Cristiani created the very first animated film in the world, El Apóstol (The Apostle), in 1917. The film, which poked fun at the Argentine president of the time, Hipólito Yrigoyen, was 70 minutes long and had over 58,000 frames.
15. Argentina has the highest number of shrinks per capita in the world.
This is one of the weirdest facts about Argentina. Seeking therapy is apparently a big part of Argentine culture. The country is a haven for psychoanalysis and a lot of locals take advantage of the country’s many therapists to probe their problems.
16. Argentina was the first country in the world to use fingerprints to solve a crime.
In 1892, Argentine inspector Eduardo Alvarez made the first criminal fingerprint identification. He was able to identify Francisca Rojas, a 27-year old mother of two in the small town of Necochea, Argentina, from a bloody fingerprint left on a door handle.
Rojas had murdered her two sons and cut her own throat in an attempt to place blame on another. She claimed to have done this to improve her chance of marrying her boyfriend, who was known to dislike children. Rojas was sentenced to life imprisonment.
17. Argentina has an average elevation of 595 m (1,952 ft) above sea level.
Argentina’s vast terrain consists of rich plains of the Pampas in the northern half, the flat to rolling plateau of Patagonia in the south, rugged Andes mountains along its western border.
18. The national sport of Argentina is pato.
One of the more surprising Argentina facts is that its national sport is pato and not football, as one would expect. Commonly known as “horseball”, pato has been played since the 17th century. Pato is Spanish for “duck” and, originally, the games used a live duck inside a basket instead of a ball. Ouch!
Pato was banned various times, as it was unsurprisingly deemed too brutal– not only for the poor ducks, but many players were trampled underfoot. In 1953, President Juan Perón declared Pato to be Argentina’s official national sport.
The modern version of Pato is played with a ball that has six leather handles, which the two teams try to insert into hoops placed on poles located at each end of a field. A difficult sport to master, players require a great deal of practice to skillfully pick up a pato. Players also have to be excellent riders with a great sense of balance and stability.
19. Football is the most popular sport in Argentina.
No brainer this one! To say that Argentines are football-mad is putting it mildly. British immigrants brought football to Argentina in the late 19th century and fanaticism for the sport has grown to the point where it is like a religion.
Argentina is one of the world’s leading football nations and the Argentine men’s national football team has won two World Cups. Over the years, Argentina has produced a cavalcade of great players such as Alfredo di Stefano, Diego Maradona, Gabriel Batistuta, and Lionel Messi.
21. Christianity is the predominant religion in Argentina.
Approximately four-fifths of Argentines profess to be Christians, with the vast majority being Roman Catholics. The others are a mixture of Evangelical Protestants, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Mormons.
22. Argentina is a very multicultural nation.
As with other new settlement nations, Argentina is a veritable melting pot of cultures. A major chunk of Argentines are descended from the 19th- and 20th-century immigrants of the great immigration wave to Argentina.
Argentina is said to be the most Europeanized of all South American nations and the majority of its population are of mainly Spanish or Italian descent. There are also small but significant German, French, British, and Eastern European communities. Argentina is also home to a significant Arab population. Smaller communities of Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese are also found in Argentina.
Argentina’s small but significant Indigenous population includes the Tobas, Aymaras, Mocovís, Wichís, Guaraníes, Quechuas, and Mapuches. Most native communities can be found in the country’s northwest, northeast, and south.
23. Argentina is home to both the largest Muslim and largest Jewish communities in South America.
Being a multicultural nation, it’s not surprising that Argentina is home to large Jewish and Muslim communities. In the 19th century, Argentina saw a major wave of Arabs to settle within its territory, mostly from Syria and Lebanon.
Jews first started settling in Argentina in the early 16th century, following the expulsion of Sephardi Jews from Spain. The second wave of Jews to Argentina came from parts of Europe, fleeing the social and economic disruptions of revolutions and persecution.
24. Argentina is well-known for its beef and is the world’s 5th largest producer.
Argentine beef has earned a reputation for being some of the world’s best and the Argentines really do the best and biggest steaks on the planet. Thanks to its grass-fed Pampas cows, the country’s beef is widely known for being incomparably tender and richly flavored.
25. Argentina has the highest consumption of red meat in the world.
I guess this is maybe one of the less surprising facts about Argentina. Argentines love to feast on red meat as traditionally-preserved meat, such as blood sausages, chitterlings, and chorizos.
26. Argentina produces some of the world’s finest wines.
Argentine wines are highly rated among wine connoisseurs and some of the most sought-after on the market. Argentina is the world’s fifth-largest wine producer and wine is among the country’s premier exports. Wine is also Argentina’s national liquor
The province of Mendoza in the country’s west is the locus of Argentina’s burgeoning wine industry and produces more than 80 percent of the country’s wine. Malbec, Syrah, Merlot, and Chardonnay are among Argentina’s best wines.
27. Argentina is home to the widest street in the world.
The Avenida 9 de Julio (July 9 Avenue) in Buenos Aires is not only the country’s widest street but also the widest street in the world. It has an incredible seven lanes in each direction and is flanked on either side by parallel streets of two lanes each. At its widest, it spans 140 meters.
The July 9 Avenue runs around 3 kilometers (1.9 mi) to the west of the Río de la Plata waterfront, from the Retiro district in the north to the Constitución station in the south of Buenos Aires. It usually takes pedestrians two to three green lights to cross its 14 lanes of traffic.
28. Argentina is home to the largest rail network in South America.
With 36,966 km (22,970 mi) of operating track, Argentina’s nationalized rail network is also the seventh-largest in the world.
29. Argentina had five Presidents in two weeks in 2001-2002.
This is one of the most unbelievable Argentina facts, but between the dates of 20 December 2001 and 2 January 2002, there were five presidents of Argentina!
Argentina was severely crippled with an economic depression between 1998 and 2002. In December 2001, Argentina witnessed large-scale protests in major Argentine cities due to the devaluation of the Argentine peso and the government’s move to restrict people’s ability to withdraw cash from banks.
The protests in Buenos Aires on 19-20 December 2001 saw widespread looting and ultimately 39 people were killed. When Argentine President Fernando de la Rúa resigned on 20 December as a result of these protests, Rámon Puerta served as the interim president for about two days. Then Adolfo Rodríguez Saá was appointed but he also resigned after about eight days as president.
Rámon Puerta didn’t want to be interim president again, so Eduardo Camaño was named as interim president. He served for two days until the legislative assembly chose Eduardo Duhalde, who took office on 2 January 2002 and ended up being the Argentine president until the elections in 2003.
30. Popular sports in Argentina besides football are polo, rugby, basketball, and tennis.
Argentina has won more international polo championships than any other country in the world. Nicknamed the Pumas, the Argentina national rugby team is the top-ranked team in Latin America.
Argentina’s national basketball team is one the highest-ranked in the world and remains among the most successful in the Americas. Guillermo Vilas, Gabriela Sabatini, Juan Martin del Potro, and David Nalbandian are some of the best tennis players Argentina has produced.
31. Maté is the national beverage of Argentina.
Maté (pronounced “mah-tay”) is a traditional caffeine-rich infused South American drink. It is made from yerba mate – green, finely chopped leaves that infuse the tea water with an earthy and slightly bitter flavor, similar to that of green tea.
Maté is served with a metal straw in a container typically made from a calabash gourd. Drinking mate is an intrinsic part of Argentine culture and people of all ages can be seen drinking maté, at home with family, or while spending a relaxed afternoon with friends.
32. Argentina was a former Spanish colony.
Spain began colonizing Argentina in the 16th century. After having been under Spanish rule for nearly three centuries, Argentina declared independence from Spain on 9 July 1816.
33. Argentines are obsessed with cosmetic surgery.
In this style-obsessed nation, people are very concerned about their appearance. Argentina has one of the highest rates of plastic surgery per capita in the world and at least one in 30 Argentines is reported to have undergone cosmetic surgery.
34. Argentines are fond of kissing.
They almost always greet each other with a peck on the cheek, even among men.
35. Capital punishment is illegal in Argentina.
Argentina abolished capital punishment in 2009.
36. Argentina was once one of the five wealthiest nations in the world.
Although it may not seem like it today, before the outbreak of World War I, Argentina was one of the five wealthiest (income per capita) nations on the planet, richer than all European countries except Britain and on par with other prosperous settler countries like the United States, Canada, and Australia.
The country experienced tremendous economic growth in the late-19th and early 20th centuries fuelled by the exploitation of the rich land of the pampas. Big things beckoned for Argentina, and over a century ago it was considered a rival to the United States.
Tragically, from the 1930s, Argentina’s economy began to crumble following the political instability created when the military junta took power. Although there was a slight growth in GDP per capita in the 1960s and 1970s, modern-day Argentina has been plagued by soaring inflation, debt defaults, and large currency devaluations.
37. The hornero is the national bird of Argentina.
Native to South America, horneros are brown birds with rather short tails and fairly long bills.
38. Argentines are big on films.
Argentina is home to one of the most vibrant film industries in the world and the country produces more than 200 films each year. Two Argentine films have so far walked away with an Oscar for the best foreign-language film: La historia oficial (The Official Story) in 1985 and El secreto de sus ojos (The Secret in Their Eyes) in 2010.
39. Argentina was engaged in a war with the UK in 1982.
Argentina and the United Kingdom were engaged in a 10-week war with one another in 1982 over the British overseas territories of the Falkland Islands and its territorial dependency, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.
Argentina had long laid claim to the Falkland Islands, known locally as the Islas Malvinas. The basis for the claim was that the territory, which was used for a penal colony beginning in 1828, was part of the Spanish Empire that Argentina got when it won independence. The British had seized the Falklands in 1833 by simply sending warships.
In April 1982, Argentine President Leopoldo Galtieri saw the opportunity to divert attention away from his junta’s failed policies by organizing a military campaign to “liberate” the Falkland Islands. The British had been making preparations for the scrapping of its only naval presence in the South Atlantic, and Galtieri made a serious misjudgment in believing the invasion would go almost unnoticed by the United Kingdom,
Following the arrival of a British task force, the conflict was short and the struggle was unequal: poorly equipped More than 900 people lost their lives in the 74-day Falklands War. At the time of the invasion, the islands were essentially a forgotten British colony that had long suffered a dearth of development and were being gradually integrated into the Argentine economic sphere.
Argentina continues to declare the Falkland Islands by law as an Argentine province. However, the islands still function as a self-governing British Overseas Territory.
40. Argentina is home to the southernmost city in the world.
The city of Ushuaia (54°48′S) in Argentina claims to be the southernmost inhabited city in the world. Some other settlements such as Puerto Williams and Puerto Toro in Chile are more southern but do not have enough inhabitants to be considered as a city.
41. Argentina has produced five Nobel Prize Winners.
Five Argentines have been bestowed with Nobel Prizes, including three in the sciences: Bernardo A. Houssay (Medicine and Physiology, 1947), Luis F. Leloir (Chemistry, 1970), and César Milstein (Medicine and Physiology, 1984). Two Argentines have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize: Carlos Saavedra Lamas (politician, 1936) and Adolfo Pérez Esquivel (architect, sculptor, and human-rights activist, 1980).
42. Tango has its origins in Argentina.
It’s almost inconceivable to imagine Argentina without thinking of tango, arguably its greatest export to the world. Tango is filled with nostalgia, allure, drama, and similar to the Blues in the United States, it can express sorrow and hard times.
First danced by immigrants in the working-class neighborhoods and the port area of Buenos Aires, toward the end of the 19th century. The most important gathering places for the working classes in this period were brothels, known locally as quilombos. Men would actually dance it with each other as they waited their turn in the lounges of brothels.
43. Argentina has an extensive coastline.
Argentina’s coastline stretches for 4,989 km (3,100 mi), all of it along the South Atlantic Ocean.
44. Argentina is endowed with a rich ecosystem.
Argentina is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. It is home to more than 9,300 plant species and more than 1,035 bird species. There are also more than 370 mammal species, in excess of 335 reptile species, about 160 amphibian species in the country.
46. Argentina is home to the largest mosque in Latin America.
Another one of those random Argentina facts! King Fahd Islamic Cultural Center in Buenos Aires is the largest mosque in Latin America and is named after King Fahd of Saudi Arabia. Inaugurated in 2000, it includes prayer halls with capacities for 1,200 men and 400 women.
47. Argentina enjoys 4 different climate types.
Argentina has a remarkable amount of climate diversity and depending on the expanse across latitude, range in altitude, and relief features, Argentina sees warm, moderate, arid, and cold climates.
Generally speaking, northern Argentina enjoys a subtropical climate, while the extreme south of the country 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.
The highest and lowest temperatures in South America on record were experienced in Argentina. The highest temperature ever recorded in Argentina was 48.9 °C (120.0 °F) in Rivadavia, Salta Province on 11 December 1905. The lowest temperature ever recorded in Argentina was −32.8 °C (−27.0 °F) in Sarmiento, Chubut Province on 1 June 1907.
48. Argentina is home to 11 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Some of the famous UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Argentina include the Los Glaciares National Park, the Iguazú National Park, the Jesuit Block and Estancias of Córdoba, and the Quebrada de Humahuaca.
49. Argentina has a claim on Antarctica.
Argentina is one of the seven countries in the world that have laid a territorial claim in Antarctica. Centered around Base Orcadas on Laurie Island, Argentina claims 965,597 km2 (372,819 sq mi) of land on Antarctica. Part of the region claimed by Argentina also overlaps the British and Chilean claims in Antarctica, which has led to occasional diplomatic friction.
50. The national dishes of Argentina are Asado and Locro.
Asado takes its origin from the Spanish word asar, meaning to roast In other words, the asado is an open-air barbecue, a ritual whose centrality to Argentine culture can hardly be overstated. Most of the time, the asado is made from beef but lamb, pork, chicken, morcilla, and mutton are also used.
Locro is a thick and creamy stew of beans, pork, potato, corn, and squash. It is believed that locro originated in the mountainous Andes region. In Argentina, the dish is usually served on special occasions such as May Revolution Day or numerous formal gatherings.
51. Argentina’s National Flag is very recognizable.
The Argentine national flag consists of a triband of horizontal stripes that are equal in width and colored light blue, white, and light blue, with the Sun of May in the center of the middle, white stripe. The flag was adopted as a national symbol on 20 July 1816
The light blue and white symbolize the clear skies and snow of the Andes. The Sun of May is a representation of Argentina and its people. It originates from the first coin to be minted in Argentina, which may have drawn on traditional representations of the Incan sun god, Inti.