Click on images below to read about the places I have been (This section is still under construction)
Full country name: República Argentina
Area: 2.77 million sq km
Population: 37.81 million
Capital City: Buenos Aires
People: 85% European descent, 15% mestizo, Indian and other minorities
Language: Spanish (Official), Quechua, Guarani, Araucanian, Italian
Roman Catholic 93%
Head of State: President Néstor Kirchner
Vaccinations needed: Yellow fever, tetanus and polio advisable. Malaria tablets are needed in some areas and it is a good idea to get vaccinated against rabies.
GDP: US$435.5 billion (2003 est.)
GDP per capita: US$11,200 (2003 est.)
GDP composition per sector: <2003 est.)
Urbanization : 89% urban population and 11% rural population (2002)
Major Industries: Food processing, motor vehicles, consumer durables, textiles, chemicals and petrochemicals, printing, metallurgy, steel, agribusiness
Major Trading Partners: Brazil, USA, the European Union
Population below poverty line: 52% (May 2003)
Geography & Natural Resources
Elevation extremes: Highest point: Aconcagua 6,960 meters, the highest peak in the Western Hemisphere
Lowest point: Salinas Chicas -40 m (located on Peninsula Valdes)
Terrain: rich plains of the Pampas in northern half, flat to rolling plateau of Patagonia in south, rugged Andes along western border.
Natural resources: fertile plains of the pampas, lead, zinc, tin, copper, iron ore, manganese, petroleum, uranium.
arable land: 9%
permanent crops: 1%
permanent pastures: 52%
forests and woodland: 19%
other: 19% (1993 est.)
Covering an area of 2.8 million square km, Argentina is the second largest country in South America. Geographically it can be divided into four main areas: the Andes, from the high plateau north of Salta down to the glaciated region in the Patagonian south; Mesopotamia, the flood plains of the river systems that eventually emerge in the River Plate; the Pampas, in the centre of the country around the capital, Buenos Aires, where the most fertile land is found; and Patagonia, the starkly beautiful, arid, windswept southern part of the country. A third of the population live in and around Buenos Aires, which leaves the rest of the country with one of the sparsest population densities in South America. The people are of mainly Spanish and Italian extraction, although there are sizeable English and Welsh communities. The long common border with Chile and various crossing points by road or lake make that a logical combination, as does the shared border with Brazil at Iguazu, and to Uruguay by fast ferry across the river Plate. The country posseses some of the world's tallest mountains, including the famous Aconcagua which towers over the Andes at 6960 meters.
Climate and when to go
Except for a small tropical area in the northeast and the subtropical Gran Chaco in the north, most of Argentina enjoys a temperate climate. In Buenos Aires average temperatures range from 17° to 29°C in January and 6° to 14°C in July. In Mendoza, in the foothills of the Andes to the west, temperatures are comparable. Considerably higher temperatures prevail near the Tropic of Capricorn to the north, where extremes as high as 45°C are occasionally recorded. Generally cold conditions are found in the higher Andes, Patagonia, and Tierra del Fuego. In the western section of Patagonia winter temperatures average about 0°C. In most coastal areas, however, the ocean exerts a moderating influence on temperatures. The summer months of December to March are warmest in the south, although the autumn colours in late April are spectacular, particularly in the Lake District. The skiing season is from June to September. Buenos Aires can be very hot and humid in January and February, and quite cold in winter.
Argentina benefits from rich natural resources, a highly literate population, an export-oriented agricultural sector, and a diversified industrial base. Over the past decade, however, the country has suffered recurring economic problems of inflation, external debt, capital flight, and budget deficits. Growth in 2000 was a negative 0.8%, as both domestic and foreign investors remained skeptical of the government's ability to pay debts and maintain the peso's fixed exchange rate with the US dollar. The economic situation worsened in 2001 with the widening of spreads on Argentine bonds, massive withdrawals from the banks, and a further decline in consumer and investor confidence. Government efforts to achieve a "zero deficit," to stabilize the banking system, and to restore economic growth proved inadequate in the face of the mounting economic problems. The peso's peg to the dollar was abandoned in January 2002, and the peso was floated in February; the exchange rate plunged and inflation picked up rapidly, but by mid-2002 the economy had stabilized, albeit at a lower level. Strong demand for the peso compelled the Central Bank to intervene in foreign exchange markets to curb its appreciation in 2003. Led by record exports, the economy began to recover with output up 8% in 2003, unemployment falling, and inflation reduced to under 4% at year-end.(Source: The CIA World Factbook)
Environment and Natural Parks
Argentina's extremely varied environment is protected by its system of National Parks. The Iguazu National Park is shared between Argentina and Brazil and is the location of one the largest waterfalls in the world. It measures eighty metres high, and two thousand seven hundred metres in diameter. The park's subtropical rainforest is home to animals such as monkeys, tapirs, ocelots and jaguars.Ischigualasto and Talampaya Natural Parks cover desert regions and are the location of many well preserved fossils from over two million years ago.The Los Glaciares National Park is an area with rugged mountains and many glacial lakes including Lake Argentino (160 km in length). The World Heritage site of the Peninsula Valdes in Patagonia is home to a number of endangered whales, southern elephant seals and southern sea lions.
You should watch out for Dengue fever in the subtropical north. The Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits the dengue virus, is most active during the day. It is found mainly in urban areas, in and around human dwellings. Signs and symptoms include a sudden onset of high fever, headache, joint and muscle pains, nausea and vomiting. A rash of small red spots sometimes appears three to four days after the onset of fever. Severe complications can occur. You should seek medical attention as soon as possible if you think you may be infected. A blood test can indicate the possibility of dengue fever. Aspirin should be avoided, as it increases the risk of haemorrhaging. There is no vaccine against dengue fever and no specific treatment.
For backpackers, Argentina has a good selection of hostels which offer a variety of services at a variety of prices. Generally there is enough cheap accomodation around not to warrant the use of tents and other such equipment. For the slightly richer people, there are numerous estancias throughout the country offering a range of activities from riding, polo, fishing or just relaxation. These make a pleasant alternative to staying in a more typical backpacking setting.
My Travels in Argentina
I visited Argentina on three particular occasions during which I spent time in diffrent parts of the country. Buenos Aires, where I spent a week, was a lively, bustling town full of colours and activity. Mendoza, on the other hand, was a sea of tranquility, peace and fresh air. A trip into the mountains brought me up to a fantastic 4300 meters with spectacular views of Aconcagua (the highest peak in the Andes, culminating at 6960m). Formosa, the final place I visited in this country, was a poor reflection of the richer areas I had visited before. Devoid of activity, it left me wishing I was elsewhere after a meer half day. Lack of time meant that there are many places I failed to visit in Argentina during my time in Latin America. Places I would have liked to visit include Salta (and the salt lake plains beyond the summits) and Patagonia.