Argentina -- Geography --
Official Name: Argentine Republic
Capital City: Buenos Aires
Official Currency: Peso (ARS)
Religions: Roman Catholic, other
Population: 39 538 000
Land Area: 2 777 410 sq km
Landforms: The relief of the country is mostly flat, occupied by extensive Rio de La Plata Valley, which includes Grand Chako, Entrerios and Pampata.
Land Divisions: 23 provinces and a autonomous city (Buenos Aires)
Argentina -- History --
In 1816, the United Provinces of the Rio Plata declared their independence from Spain. After Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay went their separate ways, the area that remained became Argentina. The country's population and culture were heavily shaped by immigrants from throughout Europe, but most particularly Italy and Spain, which provided the largest percentage of newcomers from 1860 to 1930. Up until about the mid-20th century, much of Argentina's history was dominated by periods of internal political conflict between Federalists and Unitarians and between civilian and military factions. After World War II, an era of Peronist authoritarian rule and interference in subsequent governments was followed by a military junta that took power in 1976. Democracy returned in 1983, and has persisted despite numerous challenges, the most formidable of which was a severe economic crisis in 2001-02 that led to violent public protests and the resignation of several interim presidents. The economy has recovered strongly since bottoming out in 2002.
Argentina -- Economy --
Argentina benefits from rich natural resources, a highly literate population, an export-oriented agricultural sector, and a diversified industrial base. Although one of the world's wealthiest countries 100 years ago, Argentina suffered during most of the 20th century from recurring economic crises, persistent fiscal and current account deficits, high inflation, mounting external debt, and capital flight. A severe depression, growing public and external indebtedness, and a bank run culminated in 2001 in the most serious economic, social, and political crisis in the country's turbulent history. Interim President Adolfo RODRIGUEZ SAA declared a default - the largest in history - on the government's foreign debt in December of that year, and abruptly resigned only a few days after taking office. His successor, Eduardo DUHALDE, announced an end to the peso's decade-long 1-to-1 peg to the US dollar in early 2002. The economy bottomed out that year, with real GDP 18% smaller than in 1998 and almost 60% of Argentines under the poverty line. Real GDP rebounded to grow by an average 9% annually over the subsequent five years, taking advantage of previously idled industrial capacity and labor, an audacious debt restructuring and reduced debt burden, excellent international financial conditions, and expansionary monetary and fiscal policies. Inflation, however, reached double-digit levels in 2006 and the government of President Nestor KIRCHNER responded with "voluntary" price agreements with businesses, as well as export taxes and restraints. Multi-year price freezes on electricity and natural gas rates for residential users stoked consumption and kept private investment away, leading to restrictions on industrial use and blackouts in 2007.
Argentina -- Culture --
The culture of Argentina is as varied as the country's geography and mix of ethnic groups. Modern Argentine culture has been largely influenced by European immigration although there are also some Amerindian and African influences, particularly in the fields of music and art. Buenos Aires and other cities show a mixture of architectural styles imported from Europe but in the case of older settlements, and of older preserved neighborhoods within cities, modern styles appear mixed with colonial features, relics from the Spanish-ruled past. Museums, cinemas and galleries are abundant in all the large urban centers, as well as traditional establishments such as literary bars, or bars offering live music of a variety of genres.
The best-known element of Argentine culture is the tango dance. In modern Argentina, tango music is enjoyed in its own right, especially since the radical Nestor Piazzolla redefined the music of Carlos Gardel. It should be noted that foreigners usually think of tango as the dance music, whilst for Argentines the word refers to both the music and the lyrics (often containing words and phrases in lunfardo, a local slang), which are a form of poetry. Folk music and dance are popular in provincial Argentina and are blends of various native and European styles. Examples include the chamam? of Mesopotamia and the chacarera of Santiago del Estero.
Many Argentines are involved in sports. Footbol (soccer) is more of a national obsession than a game. Argentina won the World Cup in 1978 and 1986 and the gold medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics for men's soccer, and the exploits of Diego Maradona have kept fans, paparazzi and columnists busy for the past 20 years. The official national sport of Argentina, though rarely played, is the polo-like pato. Pato literally translates to duck. More than half of the population practices some sport or at least performs some physical exercise, such as walking or jogging. Regular practice of football, going to the gym and cycling are the three most common activities of this kind.
Argentine cuisine is typically European. Due to the heavy influence of Italian, Spanish, French and other European cuisines the typical Argentine diet is a variation the Mediterranean diet. Argentina is known for its asado or grilled beef where meat, including entrails, is placed on a grill and barbecued over charcoal fire. There are restaurants that serve only asado and many local restaurants always have asado on the menu.Argentines consume large amounts of beef.
Argentina -- Political system, law and government --
President: Cristina FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER (since 10 December 2007)
Vice President : Julio COBOS (since 10 December 2007)
note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
Argentina is a presidential republic. Each president serves a four year term and may be re-elected only once. Election is by universal suffrage (over 18 years). There is a bicameral congress; a Chamber of Deputies with 257 members and a 72-member Senate. Deputies are elected for a four year term, half being elected every two years. Currently each province elects two senators for the majority party and one for the minority party, all of who serve for a six year term. From 2001 senators will be directly elected.on July 9th, 1816. Argentina became the first independent country in Latin America.Starting in 1826 with Bernardino Rivadavia, Argentina's first president, the country has encouraged immigrants to come by giving free passage from Europe, land and even start-up money. By 1914, four-fifth of the Argentine population was immigrant based, consisting of mostly Italian and Spanish people. Argentina returned to democracy with president Raul Alfonsin who was elected in 1983. He governed from 1983 to 1989 and belonged to the political party called "Union Civica Radical".
A) Executive Body
President Cristina FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER (since 10 December 2007); Vice President Julio COBOS (since 10 December 2007)
Executive power resides in the President and his or her cabinet. The President is chief of state and head of government. The President of The Argentine Nation and Vice President are directly elected to four-year terms and are limited to two consecutive terms. Cabinet ministers are appointed by the president and are not subject to legislative ratification.
Legislative power is vested in the bicameral National Congress or Congreso de la Naci?n, consisting of a Senate (Senado) of seventy-two seats, and a Chamber of Deputies (C?mara de Diputados) of 257 members.
The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. The Argentine Supreme Court of Justice has seven members who are appointed by the President in consultation with the Senate. The rest of the judges are appointed by the Council of Magistrates of the Nation, a secretariat composed of representatives of judges, lawyers, the Congress and the executive
Political Parties: Justicialist Party (PJ), Carlos Saul MENEM, Peronist umbrella political organization; Radical Civic Union (UCR),Raul ALFONSIN, moderately left-of-center party; Union of the Democratic Center (UCD), Jorge AGUADO, conservative party; Dignity and Independence Political Party (MODIN), Aldo RICO, right-wing party; Grand Front (Frente Grande), Carlos ALVAREZ, center-left coalition; several provincial parties
Argentina is divided into 23 provinces and a autonomous city (Buenos Aires).
Argentina s armed forces are controlled by the Defense Ministry, with the country s President as their Commander-in-Chief.
The age of allowable military service is 18 years; there is no obligatory military service and currently no conscription .
The armed forces are composed of a traditional Army, Navy, and Air Force.
Argentina has been a WTO member since 1 January 1995. Argentina became a member of UNIDROIT on 5 April 1972. (international institute for the unification of private law) , 1945-UN, 3-Mercosur: (Mercado Com?ndel Sur or Common Market of the South): On January 1, 1995 Argentina, Brazil,Paraguay, and Uruguay united to form Mercosur, a customs union bringing together 200 million people with a combined annual gross domestic product (GDP) of more than US$ 900 billion. The agreement offers reduced tariffs and other benefits to the countries and sets a higher common external tariff (CET), channeling more trade among the members. Both Chile and Bolivia negotiated free trade agreements with Mercosur.(Also member of G- 6, G-11, G-15, G-19, G-24, G-77, GATT, ICAO, ICFTU, INTERPOL, MERCOSUR, UN, WIPO, WMO, WTO )