Argentina By: Christina Blanco
Geography • Second in South America only to Brazil in size and population, Argentina is a plain, rising from the Atlantic to the Chilean border and the towering Andes peaks.
Government • Argentina’s government is a Republic.
Currency • Economic summary:GDP/PPP (2005 est.): $542.8 billion; per capita $13,700.
School • School attendance is compulsory between the ages of 6 and 14. The Argentine school system consists of a primary or lower school level lasting six or seven years, and a secondary or high school level of between three to five years.
Natural Resources • Natural resources: fertile plains of the pampas, lead, zinc, tin, copper, iron ore, manganese, petroleum, uranium.
Tourist Attractions • El Chaltén • One of Patagonia's premier traveller magnets, this small and homely but fast-growing village is set in a pretty river valley. The reason travelers come are the extraordinary snowcapped towers of the Fitz Roy range, offering plenty of world-class hiking and camping along with some of the most stunning mountain scenery you'll ever witness.
History • First explored in 1516 by Juan Díaz de Solis, Argentina developed slowly under Spanish colonial rule. Buenos Aires was settled in 1580; the cattle industry was thriving as early as 1600. Invading British forces were expelled in 1806–1807, and after Napoléon conquered Spain (1808), the Argentinians set up their own government in 1810. On July 9, 1816, independence was formally declared.
Food • North American, Continental and Middle Eastern cuisine is generally available, whilst local food is largely a mixture of Basque, Spanish and Italian. Beef is of a particularly high quality and meat-eaters should not miss out on the chance to dine at a parrillada, or grill room, where a large variety of barbecue-style dishes can be sampled.