Country profile

About Argentina

Argentina is a country on the up, with a thriving economy and over 5 million foreign visitors who come to enjoy its many natural and cultural attractions every year. Infamous for its political struggles and military coups of the mid and late twentieth century, including the rise of Colonel Peron and his wife Eva (made famous in the musical Evita), the country is now much more settled and stable. However there do remain several territorial disputes over areas such as the Falkland Islands, which still create political tensions.

Argentina comprises 33 provinces including part of Tierra del Fuego (an archipelago located in the south) and boasts some of the world's tallest mountains, deserts, national parks, waterfalls as well as lively cosmopolitan cities like Buenos Aires. Possibly most famous for sultry tango dancing and succulent steaks, Argentina’s latest incarnation is as cosmetic surgery hot spot as it draws visitors from all over the world.

This beautiful country is famous for its beef, with its signature gauchos or cowboys, but these days they have embraced a wide range of high quality cuisine, tempting the tourist revenue with an international standard menu in most major cities. But don’t worry, while the cuisine may be moving with the times, the culture still retains a wonderful old-world flavour, with the tango clubs of Buenos Aires still as sultry and sexy as ever.

The same can be said for much of the capital city with the European influences still clear to see in the architecture and attitudes, creating a real Mediterranean feel to things that many European visitors will find very familiar. Head out of the capital on one of the excellent toll expressways, however, and you’ll find things are rather different, as the original laid back Argentinean culture starts to assert itself.

As the eighth largest country in the world Argentina has over a million square miles to explore, and with such size come huge contrasts. Argentina includes everything from tropical rainforest to frozen glaciers, with climates ranging from sub-tropical to sub-polar. Although much of the country is comfortably temperate, some places can be a little hot in the summer months.

Highlights include the breathtaking Iguazu Falls, on the border with Brazil, where 1.7 million gallons of water pass over the 900 ft wide waterfalls every second. The wineries of Mendoza, home to the Malbec grape, are also well worth a visit. Argentina is in fact the world’s fourth largest wine producer so it is no surprise that steak and red wine is considered the national dish.  Try Parillas mixta (mixed grill) or an Asado (an outdoor BBQ) then if you feel game enough sample the celebrated local daily drink – the Mate (pronounced mattay) - a bitter green tea brewed from the yerba plant from the north east and drunk communally through a straw!

Head south to Patagonia and you’ll discover an altogether different way of life, as colourful indigenous people farm their sheep and llamas in this remote and often freezing wilderness. That said, Patagonia has recently embraced tourism, opening up the beauty of areas such as the Argentine Lake District and the penguin covered beaches of the far south coast.

Spanish is the official language but in the tourist areas people speak English, Portuguese, French or Italian.  The climate is subtropical in the northeast, temperate in the central region, arid and semi-arid and cold in the south and along the mountains.  Buenos Aires has a mild and pleasant temperature and the best time to visit is the spring or autumn when the weather is sunny and mild.  The seasons are in total polarity with Europe so winter takes place from June to August and summer from December to March.  In general, the summer is the best time to visit Patagonia and the Southern Andes because of the mild temperatures and long days.  Wintertime is recommended for travelling to the North and Northwest as rains are less frequent and tropical temperatures drop a few degrees.

Argentina is as diverse and exciting as you want to makes it. So whether you want a familiar city break in Buenos Aires, bathed in culture, or a fascinating tour exploring the vast countryside, you’re sure to find something to satisfy you.

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Quick facts

Population: 42 Million
Currency: Peso
Capital: Buenos Aires
Languages: Spanish
Religions: Catholic (65%)
Protestant (35%)