Travel to Argentina

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PRESENTATION

Mention Argentina, and people think of solitary gauchos, sultry tango dancers or maybe Madonna emoting as Evita. Or at least they used to, before those romantic icons were supplanted by television images of people looting supermarkets and banging on pots and pans during massive and occasionally violent protests.

Argentina certainly has plenty to cry about, with an economy on the verge of collapse and a revolving-door government that saw five presidents in two weeks. How did this happen to a country blessed with abundant natural resources and a highly educated populace? Decades of political corruption, rampant tax evasion and ill-advised monetary policies are all to blame; the challenge now is for the country to pull itself out of the hole and avoid further chaos. But despite its current woes, the romance of Argentina remains. The country boasts a wide variety of cultural attractions, but for many travelers, its natural wonders are the primary draw. From the northern deserts to the southern Andean Cordillera, from Iguazú Falls to the magnificent desolation of Patagonia, Argentina's geography is varied and stunning. For cosmopolitan types, there's the elegant capital, Buenos Aires.

This fabulous city is renowned for its sophistication, although travelers expecting a more 'South American' experience are sometimes disappointed with its European feel. Argentina is one Latin American country where Europeans and North Americans can feel at ease and travel relatively inconspicuously. An interest in soccer and some nimble foot skills may be all you need to feel like a local - that, or a three-hour wait at a currency exchange.


FACTS

Official name : Argentine Republic
Capital : Buenos Aires
Area : 2,780,400 square kilometers
Population : 36,265,463
Urbanization : 89% urban population and 11% rural population
Life expectancy : 74.5 years
Literacy rate : 96.2%

Ethnic divisions :
Descendants of European immigrants 85%
Mestizo, Native American, and other 15%

Religions :
Roman Catholic 90%
Protestant 2%
Jewish 2%
Other 6%

Government : Republic
GDP : US$ 325,012 million
GDP per capita : US$ 9,110
Annual growth : nd
Inflation : nd
Major products/industries : Meat-packing, flour-milling, motor vehicles, consumer goods, textiles, chemicals and petrochemicals, printing, metallurgy, steel, agriculture.
Major trading partners : Exports: United States, Brazil, Italy, Japan, Chile, The Netherlands - Imports : United States, Brazil, Germany, Bolivia, Japan, Italy, France, The Netherlands


TRAVEL INFORMATION

Languages : Spanish (official), English, Italian, German, French, indigenous languages
Currency : The peso
Visas : Most foreigners do not need visas and, in theory, are issued free, renewable 90-day tourist cards on arrival
Health risks : Cholera and dengue fever are hazards in the subtropical north
Time :
GMC/UTC minus 3 hours; Buenos Aires observes daylight-saving time
Electricity :
220V, 50Hz
Weights & measures : Metric

When to Go
For residents of the northern hemisphere, Argentina offers the inviting possibility of enjoying two summers in the same year, but the country's great variety and elongated geography can make a visit in any season worthwhile. Buenos Aires' urban attractions, for example, transcend the seasons, but Patagonian destinations, such as the Moreno Glacier in Santa Cruz, are best to visit in the summer months (December to February). The Iguazú Falls in subtropical Misiones province are best in the southern hemisphere's winter or spring when heat and humidity are less oppressive. The winter months (mid-June to late September) also offer the opportunity to go skiing.


LAND & CLIMATE

Neighbors: Bolivia and Paraguay border Argentina to the north. Brazil, Uruguay, and the Atlantic Ocean are to the east, and the Atlantic Ocean and Chile are to the south. Chile is to the west.

Area: 2,780,400 square kilometers (1,073,518 square miles)

Size Comparison: More than twice the size of Colombia

Physical Features
Mountains, upland areas, and plains make up the diverse territory of Argentina. The western borders fall entirely within the Andes, the great mountain system of South America. The Patagonian Andes form a natural boundary between Argentina and Chile, although they seldom exceed 3,600 meters (12,000 feet) in elevation. The main Andean cordillera lies in the western part of Argentina and has many peaks soaring above 6,400 meters (about 21,000 feet). Cerro Aconcagua, at 6,960 meters (22,834 feet), is the highest peak in the world outside Central Asia. Other noteworthy peaks, nearly as high as Cerro Aconcagua are Ojos del Salado and Tupungato on the border between Argentina and Chile. Several parallel ranges and spurs of the Andes project deeply into northwestern Argentina. Eastward from the base of the Andes, Argentina consists almost entirely of a flat or gently undulating plain that slopes gradually from an elevation of about 610 meters (about 2,001 feet) to sea level. In the north, the Argentine plains make up the southern portion of South America's Gran Chaco region. The pampas include the most productive agricultural sections of the country, extending nearly 1,600 kilometers (about 994 miles) south from the Gran Chaco. In Patagonia, the terrain consists largely of arid, desolate steppes.

Major Rivers and Lakes
Among Argentina's principal rivers are the Río Paraná, which traverses south through the north central portion of the country; the Río Uruguay, which forms part of the border with Uruguay; the Río Paraguay, the main affluent of the Río Paraná; and the Río de la Plata, a great estuary formed by the confluence of the Río Paraná and the Río Uruguay. The latter system is navigable for about 3,000 kilometers (about 2,000 miles). One of Argentina's most scenic attractions, Saltos do Iguaçu (Iguaçu Falls), is on the Rio Iguaçu, a tributary of the Río Paraná. Of the many lakes in Argentina, the best known are those in the alpine lake country near the resort town of San Carlos de Bariloche in south central Argentina.

Weather and Climate
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 (63° to 85°F) in January and 6° to 14°C (42° to 57°F) 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 (113°F) 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 (about 32°F). In most coastal areas, however, the ocean exerts a moderating influence on temperatures.

Environmental Issues
Argentina is one of the world's least densely populated countries, with most of the population living in urban areas. About two-fifths of the population lives in metropolitan Buenos Aires alone, where heavy traffic leads to significant air pollution.

Argentina generates most of its power by hydroelectric plants and burning of fossil fuel. However, it has three nuclear power facilities and a relatively advanced and self-contained nuclear program. The government has agreed to abide by the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Argentina has a relatively complex policy on land protection. There are 190 protected sites, covering a total of 4.4 percent of the country, with a mixture of federal, provincial, and municipal administration. Universities and private individuals also administer a few preserves. Only 1.7 percent (1997) of the land receives significant protection, and only about half of the recognized ecotypes in Argentina are represented in the protected land system. Major ecological threats are hunting and logging in the north, excessive tourism in the south, and overgrazing in virtually all areas.

Argentina signed the World Heritage Convention and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and has designated seven biosphere reserves under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Man and the Biosphere Program. The United States Debt-for-Nature program has been recently used by the Nature Conservancy (U.S.) to preserve habitat in the Patagonian Andes.


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SUGGESTED ITINERARIES

Peru, Eucador and Bolivia tour map
A great adventure across an immense and magnificent territory at the end of the world! From Buenos Aires, a masterly urban fresco, to the mountains and fjords of the legendary Land of Fire, discover the glaciers of the Andean Cordillera, the Argentinean steppes and the high mountains of Chile, home to a welcoming people and a beautiful, often endemic, fauna we actually hear and see! Explore Buenos Aires with an historian guide, gaze at the breaking-off of the giant Argentinean glaciers, live on a ranch with the "gauchos", explore, hiking or horseback riding, high Andean Mountains, discover Tierra del Fuego, at the very tip of South America, and watch a dynamic fauna: the Guanaco (cousin of the lama), the sea lions and sea elephants, the right whale, the seal, the penguin, the condor and more than 300 birds.
History of Buenos Aires > Ranch in the Calafate region > NP Los Glaciares (The Glaciers) > NP Torres Del Paine in Chile > Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire) > Options: 1- sailboat cruise and hiking 2- mountain trekking 3-Ecotourism in the Valdes Peninsula > Return to Buenos Aires.



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