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Argentinia

 

Geography & Topography

Capital: Buenos Aires

Population: 41,281,631

Area: 2,780,400 km2

Language: Spanish

Religion: Roman Catholic

Currency: Argentine peso

History

Argentina, officially the Argentine Republic, is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires. It is the eighth-largest country in the world by land area and the largest among Spanish-speaking nations.

Argentina’s continental area is between the Andes mountain range in the west and the Atlantic Ocean in the east. It borders Paraguay and Bolivia to the north, Brazil and Uruguay to the northeast, and Chile to the west and south. Argentine claims over Antarctica, as well as overlapping claims made by Chile and the United Kingdom, are suspended by the Antarctic Treaty of 1961. Argentina also claims the Falkland Islands (Spanish: Islas Malvinas) and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, which are administered by the United Kingdom as British Overseas Territories.

A recognised middle power, Argentina is Latin America’s third-largest economy, with a “very high” rating on the Human development index. Within Latin America, Argentina has the fifth highest nominal GDP per capita and the highest in purchasing power terms. Analysts have argued that the country has a “foundation for future growth due to its market size, levels of foreign direct investment, and percentage of high-tech exports as share of total manufactured goods”, and it is classed by investors as an emerging economy. Argentina is a founding member of the United Nations, Mercosur, the Union of South American Nations, the Organization of Ibero-American States, the World Bank Group and the World Trade Organization, and is one of the G-15 and G-20 major economies.

Argentine culture has significant European influences. Buenos Aires, its cultural capital, is largely characterized by both the prevalence of people of European descent, and of conscious imitation of European styles in architecture. The other big influence is the gauchos and their traditional country lifestyle of self-reliance. Finally, indigenous American traditions (like yerba mate infusions) have been absorbed into the general cultural milieu.

 

Performing Arts

Music

The most recognizable instruments in traditional Argentinian music are:

Bandoneon

Bandoneón

Like concertinas, the bandoneón is played by holding the instrument between both hands and either pushing in or pulling out the instrument while simultaneously pressing one or more buttons with the fingers. It is considered part of the concertina family of instruments rather than the accordion family, although both are free reed instruments. In the concertina family the direction of button movement is parallel with the direction of bellows movement, whereas in the accordion family the direction of button or key movement is perpendicular to the bellows movement.

 

Bombo Legüero

Bombo Leguero

Bombo legüero is an Argentine drum traditionally made of a hollowed tree trunk and covered with cured skins of animals such as goats, cows or sheep. It derives from the old European military drums, and uses a similar arrangement of hoops and leather thongs and loops to tighten the drumheads, which are usually double. It is also called bombo legüero to differentiate it from similar large drums. The body is made of a hollow log, with the inside scraped and chiseled. The drumheads are made of the skins of animals such as cows, sheep, or guanacos. Because the fur is left on the hide, the bombo’s sound is deep and dark. The bombo is played while hanging to the side of the drummer, who drapes one arm over the drum, to play it from above, while also striking it from the front. The player’s hands hold a soft-headed mallet and a stick, which strike drumhead and wooden rim in alternation. The bombo serves as a combination of bass and percussion, not just maintaining the meter, but evoking an elemental, visceral response. The legüero, considered one of the oldest instruments in human history, is an essential element of Argentine Folclore (zamba, chacarera, etc.) popularized by musicians like Los Chalchaleros, Tremor, Los Fronterizos, Carlos Rivero, Soledad Pastorutti, and Mercedes Sosa.

Dance

Argentine Tango in the streets of San Telmo, Bueno Aires

Tango:Tango dance originated in the area of the Rio de la Plata (which is between Argentina and Uruguay), and spread to the rest of the world soon after.

Early tango was known as tango criollo, or simply tango. Today, there are many tango dance styles, including Argentine tango, Uruguayan tango, Ballroom tango (American and International styles), Finnish tango, and vintage tangos. What many consider to be the authentic tango is that closest to that originally danced in Argentina and Uruguay, though other types of tango have developed into mature dances in their own right.

In 2009, Argentina and Uruguay suggested that the Tango be inscribed onto the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists and in October of the same year UNESCO approved it.

 

 

Some interesting facts:

  • Current President, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, was the first woman President to be elected in Argentina.
  • Argentina is the 30th largest country in the world by population, with just over 40 million people.
  • The official currency of Argentina is the peso.
  • Argentina was one of the first countries to have radio broadcasting. The first broadcast was made on the 27th of August, 1920. Only twenty people had a receiver at the time!
  • Average life expectancy in Argentina is 76 years.
  • About 10% of people living in Argentina have private health cover.

 

 

Argentinian Community in Australia:

More information on the Argentinian community: