Introduction to Argentina
Did you know that Argentina had 5 presidents in 10 days in 2001, and that political parties have their own brands of beer? Also, in 2010 Argentina legalized marriage for couples of the same sex.
But we have more interesting stories in store for you. For example, have you heard that “Colgate” toothpaste translates into “Go Hang Yourself” in Argentine Spanish?
And here is a bunch of geographical facts: Argentina is the world’s eighth largest country and has the world’s widest avenue. It’s like “9th of July”…only with 14 lanes plus 4 lanes of parallel streets.
Country local name: Republica Argentina
Government type: republic
Capital: Buenos Aires
Time difference: UTC-3 (2 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
Independence: 9 July 1816 (from Spain)
National holiday: Revolution Day, 25 May (1810)
Population: 43,431,886 (July 2015 est.)
Ethnic groups: white (mostly Spanish and Italian) 97%, mestizo (mixed white and Amerindian ancestry), Amerindian, or other non-white groups 3%
Languages: Spanish (official), Italian, English, German, French, indigenous (Mapudungun, Quechua)
Religions: nominally Roman Catholic 92% (less than 20% practicing), Protestant 2%, Jewish 2%, other 4%
Terrain: rich plains of the Pampas in northern half, flat to rolling plateau of Patagonia in south, rugged Andes along western border
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Laguna del Carbon -105 m (located between Puerto San Julian and Comandante Luis Piedra Buena in the province of Santa Cruz);
highest point: Cerro Aconcagua 6,960 m (located in the northwestern corner of the province of Mendoza; highest point in South America)
Natural resources: fertile plains of the pampas, lead, zinc, tin, copper, iron ore, manganese, petroleum, uranium, arable land
Agriculture – products: sunflower seeds, lemons, soybeans, grapes, corn, tobacco, peanuts, tea, wheat; livestock
Industries: food processing, motor vehicles, consumer durables, textiles, chemicals and petrochemicals, printing, metallurgy, steel
Exports: soybeans and derivatives, petroleum and gas, vehicles, corn, wheat
Shopping hours: Monday-Friday from 9 am to 8 pm, Saturday from 9 am to 1 or 2 pm.
Climate: mostly temperate; arid in southeast; subantarctic in southwest
Natural hazards: San Miguel de Tucuman and Mendoza areas in the Andes subject to earthquakes; pamperos are violent windstorms that can strike the pampas and northeast; heavy flooding in some areas
Argentina is a South American country with a relatively moderate climate. The weather is strongly varied depending on the region - the northern region is extremely hot and rainy, while the southern region is surrounded by Patagonia’s glaciers, and is much cooler.
Spring (September to November) is a very pleasant time of year in Argentina, with mild temperatures and without crowded streets. Summer falls between December and February, and it’s a very hot and humid time in central Argentina. It’s the best time to climb the highest Andean peaks or head for Tierra del Fuego. However, it is recommended to visit Buenos Aires between March and May or September and November – you should rather try to avoid visiting in January due to really high temperatures. Autumn is between March and May, and that’s when you should visit Mendoza, San Juan and the Lake District. Winter (June to August) brings less rain, pleasant temperatures and the weather encourages tourists to visit the North of the country.
Food and drink are very important elements of the Argentinian culture. And while we are on the subject of food, you should know that most local dishes are based on meat (especially beef), but pasta and pizza also are quite common, as Argentinian cuisine has its roots in Italian cooking. Preparation methods of regional dishes depend on the region. However, people really celbrate their meal-times, nobody hurries, regardless of the region. Moreover, maybe you’ll be glad to know that food is generally low-fat, and fast-food’s as we know them don’t exist in cities.
Let’s find out more about the specialties!
The no 1 dish in terms of traditional cuisine (without trying which you absolutely can’t leave Argentina) is called the asado (barbecue), or sometimes ‘parrilla’ (which means grill). Its popularity can be compared to Argentinian football or tango. Bife de chorizo is a perfect dish for meat lovers. It’s a sirloin steak. If you happen to order this meal in a somewhat cheaper restaurant, you might want to keep an eye on the quality of meat, to check whether it has much fat. You should also try also morcilla, empanadas, bife de lomo, lomitos, Asado de tira, bife de ancho, Vacío, carbonada, mollejas, matambre arrollado, milanesas and other Argentine delicacies.
As for snacks, we recommend you try the alfajores. It’s a brittle short bread cookie filled with jam, mousses or ‘dulce de leche’, and sometimes it comes coated with chocolate. And we can tell you, it’s absolutely yummy!
Dulce de leche is sweet and delicious caramelized milk, which is a popular sweet, and can be found in all kinds of biscuits and cakes in Argentina, such as budín de pan, flan or the aforementioned alfajores.
As for beverages, the most popular herbal drink is yerba mate, but you can find great coffee in Argentina, too.
The most common beer is Quilmes. Argentina is also famous for its regions, where well known wine is produced, and Malbec is one of its best wines. What’s more, people in Argentina love fizzy drinks, and often order them together with meals.
SOME LINGUISTIC CURIOSITIES
· Buenos Aires, the capital city of Argentina, can be translated into English as ‘Good air’.
· La Boca is the famous neighborhood in Buenos Aires where the popular dance ‘tango’ had originated.
· Tierra del Fuego is the archipelago at the tip of South America, and belongs to Argentina and Chile.
SAYINGS AND SLANG PHRASES
Buenos días or buen día – Good morning/ Good day.
Good afternoon – Good afternoon.
Buenas noches – Good evening.
¿Cómo te llamás? / ¿Cómo es tu nombre? – What’s your name?
¿Cómo estás? – How are you?
Por favor – Please.
Sí – Yes.
No – No.
"¡Chau!" – Goodbye.
Hasta luego – See you later.
Son las cinco y pico? – What time is it?
bajá un cambio! – Chill Out/ Relax!
hasta las manos – to be busy.
ni a ganchos!/ ni a palos! – no way.
me pica el bagre – to be hungry.
tomalo con soda – Calm down. Take it easy.
¿Que hacemos el finde? – What are we doing for the weekend?
· Being well-dressed can help you make a good impression in Argentina. It’s easy to find different styles and subcultures in the bigger cities. Anyway, Argentines keep a balance between formal politeness, tolerance and being conservative.
· Maintaining eye contact is really important, no matter if it’s during a conversation or when greeting someone.
· Titles are also very important, especially among the elderly. It’s best to address a person directly by using her or his professional title only. People without professional titles should be addressed as Mr., Mrs. or Miss plus their surnames.
· Men usually exchange handshakes when they meet. It’s also common to kiss one another on the cheek (always the right cheek, and just once), especially within families, between women or friends.
· Remember to cover your mouth when you need to yawn or cough. It's considered rude if you don’t.
· It’s good to know topics which are safe for small-talk, such as soccer, music, home, children, history or literature. Better avoid talking about politics, religion, personal matters, the Peron years or the Falklands War.
· Be on time or ahead of time if you have made an appointment. The exception is dining etiquette.
· Usually, arriving 30 to 45 minutes late to a dinner party is considered normal. Also, it’s nice to call your hosts the following day to thank them for invitation.
· Wait patiently to be seated, as your hosts might have a seating plan. Also, you should wait with beginning your meal until your hosts invite everyone to start. After your meal, you should remember to cross your knife and fork on your plate to signal “I am finished”.
· Keep your hands on the table during dining time. Do not keep them on your lap, nor should your elbows rest on the table.
· Avoid buying personal items such as gifts, shirts, ties or leather accessories.
· Showing up drunk in public is considered extremely rude, and such situations are a rare sight. Smoking is fairly common, but it’s illegal to smoke in enclosed public areas throughout the country.
Iguazú Falls is one of the world’s greatest natural wonders and the world’s largest waterfall. Located on the Iguazu River, it lies between the borders of Argentina and Brazil. It’s easy to get here also from Paraguay. The falls are magnificent, breathtaking and very impressive. It’s worth to admire Iguazú Falls also from the Brazilian side. Moreover, the beauty of area is emphasized by exotic forests, full of colorful wildlife. It’s a must-see!
Buenos Aires is the capital city of Argentina, and one of the world’s most exhilarating cities. It is situated on the southeastern coast of South America. You will be impressed by the vitality of city, colorful European architecture, museums, fabulous cuisine, shopping, and exciting nightlife with fun all night long. Keeping this in mind, it should not surprise you to hear that the city is the cradle of the amazing tango dance. But you will also find places which will better suit a more contemplative mood – for example, you can wander through the Recoleta cemetery (Cementario de la Recoleta) and see graves, where Argentina’s historical and famous figures are buried. You simply can’t go to Argentina without visiting Buenos Aires.
San Carlos de Bariloche (commonly called as Bariloche) is a picturesque city full of Swiss-style architecture, surrounded by the Andes Mountains and beautiful lakes. It’s also known for its chocolate shops. Bariloche is a village, which is a world-renowned ski destination, and most tourists love this place because of the many outdoor activities it offers, such as water sports, sight-seeing, climbing or trekking. Moreover, there are music festivals, expositions and exhibitions organized throughout the year.
The spectacular Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the greatest tourist attractions in Argentina. The enormous glacier is located in the Los Glaciares National Park, on the shores of Lake Argentino, around 48 miles from the town of El Calafate. If you are interested in sightseeing, you can take a boat and make a tour out to the glacier. It's also possible to hike or trek there and discover more of some unknown territory.
Mendoza is famous for its wine. This wine region is located on the eastern side of the Andes, and it’s home to more than 1200 wineries - more than 70% of the country’s total wine production! That’s why the Mendoza region is considered the heart of the winemaking industry in Argentina. Besides, it’s a great city, with beautiful scenery, offering many outdoor activities such as river rafting, hiking, horse riding, climbing, skiing and more.
Ushuaia is the world’s southernmost city, situated on the Beagle Channel, between the Martial Range and the end of the world. The city has a very rich history. For example, Ushuaia has been a penal colony (because of its isolated location) as well as naval base. For the moment, it’s one of the most popular places in Argentina. Visitors can practice winter sports, hiking, take cruises to Antarctica, go kayaking, sailing or just view the wildlife.
El Calafate is a booming tourist town, located in Argentina’s Santa Cruz Province. The location of the city is great, because it’s just three hours from El Chalten and two hours from the Los Glaciares National Park. It’s a charming town, which offers all sorts of outdoor adventures - tourists can visit souvenir shops, museums or go for a walk.
El Chaltén is located at the northern end of the Los Glaciares National Park. It’s not so popular amongst tourists, but the postcard-perfect landscape is reason enough to visit. There are incredible hiking opportunities - you can hike or climb Cerro Fitz Roy or enjoy walking routes of various degrees of difficulty. After a whole day spent actively, you can go for a dinner and beer to the La Cerveceria Brew Pub & Resto. You can’t miss it!
Puerto Madryn is known as the gateway to Paninsula Valdes. The city is located on the shores of Gulfo Nuevo, and it’s famous for its arctic wildlife. You can admire and watch the Southern Right Whale in the Gulfo Nuevo, and the best time to go there is September and October. The Magellanic penguin colony in the Punta Tombo Natural Protected Area is must-see, too. Valdes Paninsula is a wildlife sanctuary for birds and marine species, really worth seeing!
Cordoba is the country’s second largest city, situated in the heart of the Argentine territory. The city is known for it’s Spanish-style colonial buildings as well as for the picturesque valleys and mountains. It’s a truly fascinating place, with a mix of old-fashioned and modern styles. You can find historic palaces, monuments and churches, as well as DJs spinning electro-tango in crowded student bars, all at the same time. That’s crazy and interesting!
Mar del Plata is Argentina’s top beach resort town. Located on the Atlantic Coast in the Buenos Aires Province, the city boasts 10 miles of sandy beaches. The place attracts millions of visitors every year. Here, you will have the chance to swim with seals, discover the wonders of the port, go for a tour or try paragliding. It’s an amazing place. However, you should know that during summer time the place is really crowded.