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History of Argentina (wiki)

Argentina (i /ˌɑrdʒənˈtiːnə/), officially the Argentine Republic (Spanish: República Argentina, pronounced [reˈpuβlika arxenˈtina]), is the second largest country in South America, 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, though Mexico, Colombia and Spain are more populous.

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.

Argentina is a founding member of both the United Nations, Mercosur and the Union of South American Nations. Argentina is one of the G-20 major economies.

The name of the country, traditionally called the Argentine in English,[8][9] is derived from the Latin argentum (silver), which comes from the Ancient Greek ἀργήντος (argēntos), gen. of ἀργήεις (argēeis), “white, shining”.[10] Αργεντινός (argentinos) was an ancient Greek adjective meaning “silvery”.[11] The first use of the name Argentina can be traced to the 1602 poem “La Argentina y conquista del Río de la Plata” (English: The Argentina and the conquest of the Río de la Plata) by Martín del Barco Centenera. Although this name for the Platine region was already in common usage by the 18th century, the area was formally called Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata in 1776. The autonomous governments that emerged from the 1810 May Revolution replaced “Viceroyalty” with a “United Provinces” designation.

One of the first prominent uses of the demonym “Argentine” was in the 1812 first Argentine National Anthem, which made plenty of references to the ongoing Argentine War of Independence. The first formal use of the name “Argentine Republic” was in the 1826 Constitution. Rejecting the document, the territories were instead known as the “Argentine Confederation,” and were so named in the 1853 Constitution. Upon the return of the secessionist province of Buenos Aires to the Confederation in 1859, the name was changed to that of the “Argentine Nation,” and to the “Argentine Republic” per an October 8, 1860, decree.

Early history

Cueva de las Manos, over 10,000 years old, is among the oldest evidence of indigenous culture in the Americas.The earliest evidence of humans in Argentina is in Patagonia (Piedra Museo, Santa Cruz), and dates from 11,000 BC (Diaguitas, Huarpes, and Sanavirones, among others). The Inca Empire, under King Pachacutec, invaded, and conquered present-day northwestern Argentina in 1480, a feat usually attributed to Túpac Inca Yupanqui. The tribes of Omaguacas, Atacamas, Huarpes and Diaguitas were defeated, and integrated into a region called Collasuyu. Others, such as the Sanavirones, Lule-Tonocoté, and Comechingones resisted the Incas and remained independent from them. The Guaraní developed a culture based on yuca, sweet potato, and yerba mate. The central and southern areas (Pampas and Patagonia) were dominated by nomadic cultures, the most populous among them being the Mapuches.[12] The city of Tastil, in the north, had a population of 2,000 people and was the highest populated area in precolumbian Argentina.

European explorers arrived in 1516. Spain established the Viceroyalty of Peru in 1542, encompassing all its holdings in South America, and founded a permanent colony (Buenos Aires) in 1580 as part of the Governorate of the Río de la Plata. The area, which encompassed much of the territories that would later become Argentina, was largely a territory of Spanish immigrants and their descendants, known as criollos, mestizos, native cultures, and descendants of African slaves. A third of Colonial-era settlers gathered in Buenos Aires and other cities, others living on the pampas as gauchos, for instance; indigenous peoples inhabited much of the remainder.

William Carr Beresford surrenders to Santiago de Liniers at the end of the first of the British invasions of the Río de la Plata.Buenos Aires increased its political power and influence because of this, and became the region’s chief port. In 1776, the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata was created over some former territories of the Viceroyalty of Peru. Buenos Aires was chosen as its capital, and the previous reliance on contraband evolved into a flourishing commerce with Spain. The city, in 1806 and 1807, was the site of two ill-fated British invasions. The news of the overthrown of the Spanish King Ferdinand VII during the Peninsular War created great concern in the Viceroyalty. The May Revolution of 1810 took place in Buenos Aires, removing Viceroy Cisneros from government, who was replaced by the Primera Junta.

During the following decade, a War for independence ensued in the former Viceroyalty, its regions divided between patriots and royalists. While the cities of present-day Argentina would align with the independentists since 1811, the other regions would follow differing paths: in May 1811, Paraguay seceded, declaring its independence. The Upper Peru would be hardly fought with the royalists from Peru, until it declared independence as Bolivia in 1824. The Eastern Bank of the Uruguay river would be invaded by the Brazilian-Portuguese Empire in 1817 and declared independence as Uruguay in 1828 after the Argentina-Brazil War.

José de San Martín, Liberator of Argentina, Chile and Perú.Contemporarily, internal conflicts would cause political instability within the patriot camp. In just four years, the Primera Junta was to be replaced by the Junta Grande, the first and second triumvirates, and the first Supreme Director. In 1813, an Assembly convened to declare independence, but it could not do so because of political disputes. A Civil War ensued between the provinces joined into the Federal League and the Supreme Directorship.

By 1816, the United Provinces of South America were under severe internal and external threats. In July, a new Congress declared independence and named Juan Martín de Pueyrredón Supreme Director. The military campaign became the responsibility of José de San Martín, who led an army across the Andes in 1817, and defeated the Chilean royalists. With the Chilean navy at his disposal, he then took the fight to the royalist stronghold of Lima. San Martín’s military campaigns complemented those of Simón Bolívar in Gran Colombia, and led to the independentists victory in the Spanish American wars of independence.

The 1820 Battle of Cepeda, fought between the Centralists and the Federalists, resulted in the end of the centralized national authority, creating a power vacuum (usually called the Anarchy of 1820). A new Constitution was only enacted in 1826, during the War with Brazil, when Bernardino Rivadavia was elected the first President of Argentina. This Constitution was soon rejected by the Provinces, because of its centralist bias, and Rivadavia resigned shortly after. Then, the provinces reorganized themselves as the Argentine Confederation, a loose Confederation of provinces that, lacking a common Head of State, would instead delegate some important powers, such as debt payment or the management of international relations, on the governor of Buenos Aires Province.

Juan Manuel de Rosas would rule from 1829 to 1832, and from 1835 to 1852. Given the sum of public power, he faced unitarian resistance and a constant state of war, including a French Blockade from 1838 to 1840, the uprising of the provinces of the North Coalition, an Anglo-French Blockade from 1845 to 1850, and the Corrientes Province revolt. Rosas remained undefeated during this series of conflicts, and prevented further loss of national territory. His refusal to enact a national constitution, pursuant to the Pacto Federal, led to Entre Ríos Province Governor Justo José de Urquiza’s reclaiming provincial sovereignty. He defeated Rosas at the Battle of Caseros, forcing him into exile. The San Nicolás Agreement followed, and in 1853 the Constitution of Argentina was promulgated. Following Buenos Aires’ secession from the Confederation, and its later return, Bartolomé Mitre was elected the first president of the unified country in 1862. National unity was further advanced by the ensuing War of the Triple Alliance.[13]

[edit] Modern history

The Port of Buenos Aires in 1900. Maritime trade led to accelerated development after 1880.A wave of foreign investment and immigration from Europe after 1875 led to the strengthening of a cohesive state, the development of modern agriculture and to a near-reinvention of Argentine society and the economy. The rule of law was consolidated in large measure by Dalmacio Vélez Sársfield, whose 1860 Commercial Code and 1869 Civil Code laid the foundation for Argentina’s statutory laws. General Julio Argentino Roca’s military campaign in the 1870s established Argentine dominance over the southern Pampas and Patagonia, subdued the remaining native peoples, and left 1,300 indigenous dead.[14][15] Waged to suppress ongoing raids, some contemporary sources indicate that it was campaign of genocide by the Argentine government.[16]

Hipólito Yrigoyen was an activist for universal (male) suffrage and was Argentina’s first president so elected (1916)Argentina increased in prosperity and prominence between 1880 and 1929, while emerging as one of the ten richest countries in the world, benefiting from an agricultural export-led economy, as well as British and French investment. Driven by immigration and decreasing mortality, the Argentine population grew fivefold and the economy by 15-fold.[17] Conservative interests dominated Argentine politics through non-democratic means until, in 1912, President Roque Sáenz Peña enacted universal male suffrage and the secret ballot.

This allowed their traditional rivals, the centrist Radical Civic Union, to win the country’s first free elections in 1916. President Hipólito Yrigoyen enacted social and economic reforms and extended assistance to family farmers and small business; having been politically imposing and beset by the Great Depression, however, Yrigoyen was overthrown in 1930. The coup led to another decade of Conservative rule, whose economists strengthened ties with the British Empire, and whose electoral policy was one of “patriotic fraud.” The country was neutral during World War I and most of World War II, becoming an important source of foodstuffs for the Allied Nations.[17]

Eva and Juan Perón during his 1946-55 presidency.In 1946, General Juan Perón was elected president, creating a big tent political movement referred to as “Peronism.” His popular wife, Eva, played a central political role until her death in 1952, mostly through the Eva Perón Foundation and the Peronist Women’s Party.[18] During Perón’s tenure, wages and working conditions improved appreciably, unionization was fostered, strategic industries and services were nationalized, import substitution industrialization and urban development were prioritized over the agrarian sector.[19]

Formerly stable prices and exchange rates were disrupted, however: the peso lost about 70% of its value from early 1948 to early 1950, and inflation reached 50% in 1951.[20] Foreign policy became more isolationist, straining U.S.-Argentine relations. Perón intensified censorship as well as repression: 110 publications were shuttered,[21] and numerous opposition figures were imprisoned and tortured.[22] Advancing a personality cult, Perón rid himself of many important and capable advisers, while promoting patronage. A violent coup, which bombarded the Casa Rosada and its surroundings killing many, deposed him in 1955. He fled into exile, eventually residing in Spain.

Arturo Frondizi (second from left) hosts U.S. President John F. Kennedy (1961)Following an attempt to purge the Peronist influence and the banning of Peronists from political life, elections in 1958 brought Arturo Frondizi to office. Frondizi enjoyed some support from Perón’s followers, and his policies encouraged investment to make the country self-sufficient in energy and industry, helping reverse a chronic trade deficit for Argentina. The military, however, frequently interfered on behalf of conservative, agrarian interests, and the results were mixed.[17] Frondizi was forced to resign in 1962. Arturo Illia, elected in 1963, enacted expansionist policies; but despite prosperity, his attempts to include Peronists in the political process resulted in the armed forces’ retaking power in a quiet 1966 coup.

Though repressive, this new regime continued to encourage domestic development and invested record amounts into public works. The economy grew strongly, and income poverty declined to 7% by 1975, still a record low. Partly because of their repressiveness, however, political violence began to escalate and, from exile, Perón skillfully co-opted student and labor protests, which eventually resulted in the military regime’s call for free elections in 1973 and his return from Spain.[12]

Taking office that year, Perón died in July 1974, leaving his third wife Isabel, the Vice President, to succeed him in office. Mrs. Perón had been chosen as a compromise among feuding Peronist factions who could agree on no other running mate; secretly, though, she was beholden to Perón’s most fascist advisers. The resulting conflict between left and right-wing extremists led to mayhem and financial chaos and, in March 1976, a coup d’état removed her from office.

The self-styled National Reorganization Process intensified measures against armed groups on the far left such as People’s Revolutionary Army and the Montoneros, which from 1970 had kidnapped and murdered people almost weekly.[23] Repression was quickly extended to the opposition in general, however, and during the “Dirty War” thousands of dissidents “disappeared.” These abuses were aided and abetted by the CIA in Operation Condor, with many of the military leaders that took part in abuses trained in the School of the Americas.[24]

This new dictatorship at first brought some stability and built numerous important public works; but frequent wage freezes and deregulation of finance led to a sharp fall in living standards and record foreign debt.[17] Deindustrialization, the peso’s collapse, and crushing real interest rates, as well as unprecedented corruption, public revulsion over the Dirty War, and, finally, the country’s 1982 defeat by the British in the Falklands War discredited the military regime and led to free elections in 1983.

[edit] Contemporary history

Raúl Alfonsín’s inaugural address, 1983.Raúl Alfonsín’s government took steps to account for the disappeared, established civilian control of the armed forces, and consolidated democratic institutions. The members of the three military juntas were prosecuted and sentenced to life terms. The previous regime’s foreign debt, however, left the Argentine economy saddled by the conditions imposed on it by both its private creditors and the IMF, and priority was given to servicing the foreign debt at the expense of public works and domestic credit. Alfonsín’s failure to resolve worsening economic problems caused him to lose public confidence. Following a 1989 currency crisis that resulted in a sudden and ruinous 15-fold jump in prices, he left office five months early.[25]

Newly elected President Carlos Menem began pursuing privatizations and, after a second bout of hyperinflation in 1990, reached out to economist Domingo Cavallo, who imposed a peso-dollar fixed exchange rate in 1991 and adopted far-reaching market-based policies, dismantling protectionist barriers and business regulations, while accelerating privatizations. These reforms contributed to significant increases in investment and growth with stable prices through most of the 1990s; but the peso’s fixed value could only be maintained by flooding the market with dollars, resulting in a renewed increase in the foreign debt. Towards 1998, moreover, a series of international financial crises and overvaluation of the pegged peso caused a gradual slide into economic crisis. The sense of stability and well being which had prevailed during the 1990s eroded quickly, and by the end of his term in 1999, these accumulating problems and reports of corruption had made Menem unpopular.[26]

Carlos Menem receives the Presidential sash from Raúl Alfonsín on July 8, 1989. This was the first democratic transfer of power between opposing political parties in Argentina, since 1916.President Fernando de la Rúa inherited diminished competitiveness in exports, as well as chronic fiscal deficits. The governing coalition developed rifts, and his returning Cavallo to the Economy Ministry was interpreted as a crisis move by speculators. The decision backfired and Cavallo was eventually forced to take measures to halt a wave of capital flight and to stem the imminent debt crisis (culminating in the freezing of bank accounts). A climate of popular discontent ensued, and on 20 December 2001 Argentina dove into its worst institutional and economic crisis since the 1890 Barings financial debacle. There were violent street protests, which clashed with police and resulted in several fatalities. The increasingly chaotic climate, amid riots accompanied by cries that “they should all go”, finally resulted in the resignation of President de la Rúa.[27]

Néstor Kirchner applauds his wife and successor, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, upon her inaugural in 2007.Three presidents followed in quick succession over two weeks, culminating in the appointment of interim President Eduardo Duhalde by the Legislative Assembly on 2 January 2002. Argentina defaulted on its international debt, and the peso’s 11 year-old tie to the U.S. dollar was rescinded, causing a major depreciation of the peso and a spike in inflation. Duhalde, a Peronist with a centre-left economic position, had to cope with a financial and socio-economic crisis, with unemployment as high as 25% by mid 2002, and the lowest real wages in sixty years. The crisis accentuated the people’s mistrust in politicians and institutions. Following a year racked by protest, the economy began to stabilize in late 2002, and restrictions on bank withdrawals were lifted in December.[28]

Benefiting from a devalued exchange rate the government implemented new policies based on re-industrialization, import substitution and increased exports and began seeing consistent fiscal and trade surpluses. Governor Néstor Kirchner, a left-wing Peronist, was elected president in May 2003. During his administration, Argentina restructured its defaulted debt with a steep discount (about 66%) on most bonds, paid off debts with the International Monetary Fund, renegotiated contracts with utilities and nationalized some previously privatized enterprises. Kirchner and his economists, notably Roberto Lavagna, also pursued a vigorous incomes policy and public works investment.[29]

Argentina has since been enjoying economic growth, though with high inflation. Néstor Kirchner forfeited the 2007 campaign, in favor of his wife Senator Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Winning by a landslide that October, she became the first woman to be elected President of Argentina. The same year, in a disputed result, Fabiana Ríos (a center-left candidate in Tierra del Fuego Province) became the first woman in Argentine history to be elected Governor.

President Cristina Kirchner, despite carrying large majorities in Congress, saw controversial plans for higher agricultural export taxes defeated by Vice President Julio Cobos’ surprise tie-breaking vote against them on 17July 2008, following massive agrarian protests and lockouts from March to July. The global financial crisis has since prompted Mrs. Kirchner to step up her husband’s policy of state intervention in troubled sectors of the economy.[30] A halt in growth and political missteps helped lead Kirchnerism and its allies to lose their absolute majority in Congress, following the 2009 mid-term elections.

On 15 July 2010 Argentina became the first country in Latin America and the second country in the Southern Hemisphere to legalize same-sex marriage.[31] [32]

[edit] Geography
Main article: Geography of Argentina

Topographic map of Argentina (including some territorial claims)The total surface area (excluding the Antarctic claim) is 2,766,891.2 km2 (1,068,302.7 sq mi), of which 30,200 km2 (11,700 sq mi) (1.1%) is water. Argentina is about 3,900 km (2,400 mi) long from north to south, and 1,400 km (870 mi) from east to west (maximum values). There are four major regions: the fertile central plains of the Pampas, source of Argentina’s agricultural wealth; the flat to rolling, oil-rich southern plateau of Patagonia including Tierra del Fuego; the subtropical northern flats of the Gran Chaco, and the rugged Andes mountain range along the western border with Chile.

The highest point above sea level is in Mendoza province at Cerro Aconcagua (6,962 m (22,841 ft)), also the highest point in the Southern[33] and Western Hemisphere.[34] The lowest point is Laguna del Carbón in Santa Cruz province, -105 m (−344 ft) below sea level.[35] This is also the lowest point in South America. The geographic center of the country is in south-central La Pampa province. The easternmost continental point is northeast of Bernardo de Irigoyen, Misiones,(26°15′S 53°38′W / 26.25°S 53.633°W / -26.25; -53.633 (Argentina’s easternmost continental point)) the westernmost in the Mariano Moreno Range in Santa Cruz province.(49°33′S 73°35′W / 49.55°S 73.583°W / -49.55; -73.583 (Argentina’s westernmost point)) The northernmost point is at the confluence of the Grande de San Juan and Mojinete rivers in Jujuy province,(21°46′S 66°13′W / 21.767°S 66.217°W / -21.767; -66.217 (Argentina’s northernmost point)) and the southernmost is Cape San Pío in Tierra del Fuego. (55°03′S 66°31′W / 55.05°S 66.517°W / -55.05; -66.517 (Argentina’s southernmost point))[36]

The major rivers are the Paraná (the largest), the Pilcomayo, Paraguay, Bermejo, Colorado, Río Negro, Salado and the Uruguay. The Paraná and the Uruguay join to form the Río de la Plata estuary, before reaching the Atlantic. Regionally important rivers are the Atuel and Mendoza in the homonymous province, the Chubut in Patagonia, the Río Grande in Jujuy and the San Francisco River in Salta.

The Andean range over Santa Cruz province.There are several large lakes including Argentino and Viedma in Santa Cruz, Nahuel Huapi between Río Negro and Neuquén, Fagnano in Tierra del Fuego, and Colhué Huapi and Musters in Chubut. Lake Buenos Aires and O’Higgins/San Martín Lake are shared with Chile. Mar Chiquita, Córdoba, is the largest salt water lake in the country. There are numerous reservoirs created by dams. Argentina features various hot springs, such as Termas de Río Hondo with temperatures between 65°C and 89°C.[37]

The largest oil spill in fresh water was caused by a Shell Petroleum tanker in the Río de la Plata, off Magdalena, on January 15, 1999, polluting the environment, drinking water, and local wildlife.[38]

The 4,665 km (2,899 mi) long Atlantic coast[39] has been a popular local vacation area for over a century, and varies between areas of sand dunes and cliffs. The continental platform is unusually wide; this shallow area of the Atlantic is called the Argentine Sea. The waters are rich in fisheries and possibly hold important hydrocarbon energy resources. The two major ocean currents affecting the coast are the warm Brazil Current and the cold Falkland Current. Because of the unevenness of the coastal landmass, the two currents alternate in their influence on climate and do not allow temperatures to fall evenly with higher latitude. The southern coast of Tierra del Fuego forms the north shore of the Drake Passage.

[edit] Climate
Main article: Climate of Argentina

Thunderstorm in western ArgentinaThe generally temperate climate ranges from subtropical in the north to subpolar in the far south. The north is characterized by very hot, humid summers with mild drier winters, and is subject to periodic droughts. Central Argentina has hot summers with thunderstorms (western Argentina produces some of the world’s largest hail), and cool winters. The southern regions have warm summers and cold winters with heavy snowfall, especially in mountainous zones. Higher elevations at all latitudes experience cooler conditions.

The hottest and coldest temperature extremes recorded in South America have occurred in Argentina. A record high temperature of 49.1 °C (120.4 °F), was recorded at Villa María, Córdoba, on 2 January 1920. The lowest temperature recorded was −39 °C (−38.2 °F) at Valle de los Patos Superior, San Juan, on 17 July 1972.[40]

Major wind currents include the cool Pampero Winds blowing on the flat plains of Patagonia and the Pampas; following the cold front, warm currents blow from the north in middle and late winter, creating mild conditions. The Zonda, a hot dry wind, affects west-central Argentina. Squeezed of all moisture during the 6,000 m (19,685 ft) descent from the Andes, Zonda winds can blow for hours with gusts up to 120 km/h (75 mph), fueling wildfires and causing damage; when the Zonda blows (June–November), snowstorms and blizzard (viento blanco) conditions usually affect higher elevations.

The Sudestada (“southeasterlies”) could be considered similar to the Nor’easter, though snowfall is rare but not unprecedented. Both are associated with a deep winter low pressure system. The sudestada usually moderates cold temperatures but brings very heavy rains, rough seas and coastal flooding. It is most common in late autumn and winter along the central coast and in the Río de la Plata estuary.

The southern regions, particularly the far south, experience long periods of daylight from November to February (up to nineteen hours) and extended nights from May to August.

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