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Wednesday, 17 August 2011


"Argentum” is the Latin for silver and Argentina's name means "Land of Silver." However, there is actually very little of the metal there. It was misnamed by explorers who thought they saw silver there.

Originally inhabited by American Indian peoples, the population of Argentina numbered about 300,000 at the time of the first visit by Europeans in the early 16th century.

In 1526 Sebastian Cabot, the pilot-major of Charles V, Holy Roman emperor and king of Spain landed at Rio De La Plata. On hearing of mineral wealth in the interior, he explored up the rivers Paraná and Paraguay, built a fort on the River Uruguay, and founded a settlement a little further on, north of the River Caracarañá, which he called San Espiritu.

Sancti Spiritu, the first European settlement in Argentina, was destroyed by local natives on September 1, 1529.

Destruction of the Sancti Spiritu fort

The population rose against Spanish rule in 1810. On May 25, 1810 The Primera Junta, the first independent government in Argentina, was established in an open cabildo in Buenos Aires, marking the end of the May revolution.

May 25th is celebrated each year as the National Day of Argentina, a public holiday remembering the First National Government of Argentina.

Journalist Mariano Moreno published Argentina's first newspaper, the Gazeta de Buenos Ayres on June 7, 1810.

On July 9, 1816 a congress of deputies meeting at San Miguel de Tucumán declared the country's independence and elected Don Martin Pueyrredon supreme dictator.

The Argentine flag was raised at the city of Rosario on February 27, 1812,  It was the Congress of Tucumán which finally designated it as the national flag in 1816.

Argentine National flag 

Between 1860 and 1930, exploitation of the rich land of the pampas strongly pushed economic growth. During the first three decades of the 20th century, Argentina outgrew Canada and Australia in per capita income By 1913, Argentina was the world's tenth wealthiest nation on a par with Germany.

After a financial crisis in 2001, Argentina had five presidents in less than two weeks.

Most Argentines are descendants of the 19th and 20th century immigrants, with about 97% of the population being of European, or of partial European descent.

Both the highest and lowest temperatures in South America were recorded in Argentina. The highest temperature ever recorded in South America was 48.9 °C (120.0 °F) in Rivadavia, Salta Province on December 11, 1905. The lowest temperature ever recorded in South America at low elevation was −32.8 °C (−27.0 °F) in Sarmiento, Chubut Province on June 1, 1907.

The Petrified Forest near Sarmiento
The highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere is Mount Aconcagua in Argentina. It rises 22,834 feet above sea level.

The soil in Argentina's Pampas is among the best in the world.

Argentina has had five different currencies since the 1960s—because of massive inflation, one modern peso equals ten trillion 1960s pesos.

Cristina Kirchner is Argentina's first elected female president, and the widow of a former president, Nestor Kirchner.

The official national sport of Argentina is pato, in which teams on horseback compete for possession of a ball with handles.

Hutchinson Encyclopedia © RM 2011. Helicon Publishing

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