Argentina is a vibrant and unique country located in South America. Known for its passionate culture, economic ups and downs, amazing natural scenery, and of course tango dancing. Argentina has a rich history and many fascinating facts that make it a must-visit destination.
In this article, we dive into the top fun facts about Argentina‘s history, culture, sports, economy, food, and more. Read on to learn the most interesting things about this diverse country.
Quick Facts and Figures About Argentina
- Official Name: Argentine Republic
- Capital and Largest City: Buenos Aires
- Population: 45.6 million
- Size: 1,073,520 sq miles – 8th largest country in the world
- Currency: Argentine peso
- Official Language: Spanish
- Government: Federal presidential constitutional republic
History and Politics Facts About Argentina
- Argentina celebrates May 25 as its National Day, marking the 1810 formation of its first independent government from Spain.
- The current president is Alberto Fernández, who was elected in 2019 as the leader of the country’s Peronist political movement.
- Eva “Evita” Perón became hugely popular as Argentina’s First Lady from 1946-1952 for championing women’s suffrage and labor rights.
- The Falkland Islands off the coast of Argentina are a British Overseas Territory. Argentina unsuccessfully invaded the islands in 1982, leading to war with the UK.
- Che Guevara, the famous Marxist revolutionary, was born in Rosario and studied medicine in Buenos Aires before helping Fidel Castro in the Cuban Revolution.
Culture and Society Facts About Argentina
- Argentina enjoys an incredibly high 97% literacy rate, on par with developed European countries, thanks to free public education.
- With immigration from all over the world, Argentines come from very diverse backgrounds. Most have at least partial Italian or Spanish ancestry.
- Known as the “Paris of South America”, Buenos Aires has impressive European architecture and style reminiscent of Paris or Madrid.
- Argentines have very late dinner times, rarely eating before 9 pm. This goes hand-in-hand with the country’s lively nightlife.
- Argentine Spanish is characterized by its unique intonation, dubbed the “singing accent”, as well as the pervasive use of the informal vos pronoun.
Economical Facts About Argentina
- Argentina has $27,500 GDP per capita based on purchasing power, the second highest in Latin America after Chile.
- Historically, Argentina was one of the world’s richest countries in the early 20th century, but declined after decades of political instability.
- The currency, the Argentine peso, saw extreme devaluation in recent decades, going from parity with the US dollar in the 1990s to over 70 pesos per dollar today.
- Argentines have a reputation for pursuing university degrees in economics and medicine, professions historically seen as stable paths to prosperity.
- The economy relies heavily on agriculture, with soybeans, wheat and beef being major exports. Natural resources like lithium are also economically important.
- With its large Italian population, pizza and pasta are extremely popular. Fugazza is a distinctly Argentine style of pizza topped with onions and cheese.
- Asado, barbecued beef grilled over a wood fire, is the national dish, often cooked over long weekends and holidays.
- Mate, a bitter herbal tea, is the national beverage, sipped constantly through a metal straw known as a bombilla. Mate drinking is a social ritual.
- Thanks to German influence, Argentine bakeries produce excellent pastries like facturas, sweet pasty snacks eaten at breakfast and afternoon merienda.
- Locally produced wines from regions like Mendoza and Salta are renowned worldwide, most notably fruity Malbecs that pair perfectly with steaks.
Sports in Argentina
- Argentines adore football (soccer), with Diego Maradona considered a national treasure for his World Cup wins. Lionel Messi is the modern superstar.
- The traditional sports rivalry is between Boca Juniors and River Plate, the two most popular professional football clubs based in Buenos Aires.
- Argentina has twice hosted and won the FIFA World Cup, in 1978 and 1986. Passion for the sport is closely tied to national identity.
- Pato is an Argentine sport dating back to gauchos, played on horseback combining polo and basketball – riders score points by throwing a ball in a hoop.
- Hockey, rugby union, tennis and boxing are also popular sports, especially with the upper-class youth. Games occur in hundreds of sports clubs.
Argentine Music and Dance
- Tango originated in lower-class immigrant communities of Buenos Aires in the late 1800s before becoming wildly popular worldwide.
- Famous musicians include tango composer Ástor Piazzolla, rocker Charly Garcia, and balladeer Sandro de América, a timeless crooner.
- Argentine rock bands Soda Stereo and Sumo were pioneers of Spanish language rock music, influencing later bands across Latin America.
- Maradona’s goals at the 1986 World Cup were celebrated to Cucurrucucú Paloma, a Mexican bolero song. It remains tied to soccer glory.
- Folk music like chamamé from Corrientes, zamba from Salta, and chacarera from Santiago del Estero use harps, drums and other instruments.
Natural Wonders in Argentina
- Argentina has incredible ecological diversity, from glaciers in Patagonia to wetlands teeming with wildlife around Iguazú Falls.
- Perito Moreno Glacier in Patagonia regularly advances enough to block a lake, becoming a spectacular blue-hued natural dam.
- Peninsula Valdés has a large Magellanic penguins colony visits every year to breed. Orcas come hunting the waters near the beach.
- Bright pink flamingos migrate to breed at Laguna Melincué, a salt lagoon in central Argentina with the largest colony in the country.
- Dense subtropical rainforest thrives in Misiones, home of Iguazu Falls, with over 2000 plant species and jaguars stalking the jungle.
Unique Places to Visit in Argentina
- Cafayate has some of Argentina’s most scenic high-altitude wineries, specializing in torrontés grapes grown over 5500 feet above sea level.
- The End of the World Train to Tierra del Fuego is one of the world’s great railway journeys, crossing the Andes to Ushuaia, the southernmost city.
- Cementerio de la Recoleta in Buenos Aires holds the elaborate crypts of the city’s wealthy elite, including Eva Perón’s famous black granite tomb.
- Ischigualasto, aka Valley of the Moon, appears otherworldly, with eroded rainbow formations and dinosaur fossils dating back 200 million years.
- Los Glaciares National Park offers backpacking through incredible Patagonian landscapes and sailing among icebergs on Lake Argentino.
From its tumultuous history to incredible scenery, pulsing urban energy, and unique culture, Argentina is a destination that stimulates all the senses. Visiting Argentina guarantees days filled with Malbec wines, sizzling steaks, adrenaline-pumping sports rivalries, and of course, steamy late-night tango dancing.
Whether you dream of thundering Iguazu Falls, massive glaciers crashing down into lakes, or exploring the Parisian-style neighborhoods and cafes of Buenos Aires – Argentina will exceed your expectations with amazing sites and vibrant experiences distinct to this diverse country.