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South American cowboy, famous president, wealthiest country, Andes Mountains, Aconcagua

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Argentina or Argentine Republic, country in South America, occupying most of the southern half of the continent east of the Andes Mountains. It is the second largest country in area in South America, after Brazil, and the eighth largest country in the world. Argentina’s capital and largest city is Buenos Aires.

Argentina consists of diverse landscapes, stretching from the tropics in the north to the subpolar region in the south. Within it are the rugged Andes and the highest peak in the Western Hemisphere, Aconcagua. But most of the people live in cities on the Pampas, the vast fertile prairies that cover the middle of the country. The Pampas traditionally produced much of the country’s agricultural wealth and became famous as the home of the gaucho, the South American cowboy.

From the late 19th century on, Argentina exported large amounts of agricultural goods, including meat, wool, and wheat. It also became the first South American country to industrialize and was long the wealthiest country on the continent, enjoying a living standard equivalent to that of European countries. From the 1940s on, however, Argentina has experienced recurring economic difficulties, including severe inflation, high unemployment, and a large national debt.

Argentina has had a volatile political history. Its most famous president, Juan D. Peron, was very popular with working-class and poor Argentineans. However, he ruled as a dictator and suppressed all opposition. The country’s economic decline eventually led to Peron’s ouster in 1955. An infamous military dictatorship that ruled from 1976 to 1983 tortured and executed many Argentineans without trial. After the military stepped down in 1983, Argentina recommitted itself to democratic government but struggled with economic problems. In the early 2000s Argentina was still trying to revitalize its economy.


For younger readers

Dalal, Anita. Argentina. Raintree Steck-Vaughn, 2002. For readers in grades 4 to 8.

Egan, E. W., ed. Argentina in Pictures. Lerner, 1999. An introduction to the geography, history, government, people, and economy of the second largest South American country; for younger readers.

Frank, Nicole. Argentina. Gareth Stevens, 2000. For readers in grades 4 to 6.

Gofen, Ethel C. Cultures of the World: Argentina. Marshall Cavendish, 1991. For readers in grades 5 to 8.

Hintz, Martin. Argentina. Children's Press, 1998. For readers in grades 5 to 8.

Liebowitz, Sol. Argentina. Chelsea House, 1998. For middle school readers.


Bouvard, Marguerite Guzman. Revolutionizing Motherhood: The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo. Scholarly Resources, 1994. Portraits of Argentine mothers who continue to protest the disappearance of their children under the military junta that ruled the country between 1976 and 1983.

Foster, David William, and Melissa Fitch Lockhart. Culture and Customs of Argentina. Greenwood, 1998. A guide to Argentina's Spanish and native heritage and customs.

Fox, Geoffrey. The Land and People of Argentina. HarperCollins, 1990. A general history of Argentina; for young adult readers.

Norden, Deborah L. Military Rebellion in Argentina: Between Coups and Consolidations. University of Nebraska Press, 1996. Case study of civil-military relations and the difficulties faced by South American nations seeking democratic reforms.

Rock, David. Authoritarian Argentina: The Nationalist Movement, Its History, and Its Impact. University of California Press, 1993. A thorough history of Argentina from the turn of the century to the recent past.

Buenos Aires

Andrews, G. Reid. The Afro-Argentines of Buenos Aires, 1800-1900. University of Wisconsin Press, 1980. A study of black African slavery and its impact and outcome in 19th-century Buenos Aires.

Foster, David W. Buenos Aires: Perspectives on the City and Cultural Production. University Press of Florida, 1998. An illustrated overview of Argentina's culturally rich metropolis.

Keeling, David J. Buenos Aires: Global Dreams, Local Crises. Wiley, 1996. Explores the interplay between economic restructuring, urban development, and mobility in Buenos Aires.

Moya, Jose C. Cousins and Strangers: Spanish Immigrants in Buenos Aires, 1850-1930. University of California Press, 1997. A study of Spanish immigrants and their impact on the city.

Tristan, Linda. Buenos Aires Alive. Alive, 1990. A traveler's guide to the city and its people.


Rock, David, B.A., M.A., Ph.D. Professor of Latin American History, University of California, Santa Barbara. Author of Argentina, 1516-1987: From Spanish Colonization to Alfonsin and editor of Latin America in the 19405: War and Postwar Transitions.

Keeling, David, B.A., M.A., Ph.D. Professor of Geography, Western Kentucky University. Author of Contemporary Argentina: A Geographical Perspective and Buenos Aires: Global Dreams, Local Crises.

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