Modern Argentina is the child of Spain and Italy. Almost one third of all Argentines claim Italian descent. This Latin influence has found its way into every aspect of the country’s lifestyle, including the cuisine. Only 15% of the present population is of Indian stock, and this is mostly scattered through Salta, Jujuy, Misiones, and Corrientes.
Spanish is Argentina's official language, but English, German, and Italian are widely spoken or understood. Argentine Spanish has been strongly influenced by Italian. Other languages preserved by ethnic communities include German, English, and Welsh (in some parts of Chubut). The Inca language Quechua is still spoken in some parts of Jujuy, Salta, Catamarca, Tucumán, and Santiago del Estero. The Guaraní language is still widely used in Misiones and Corrientes and taught at university level.
Argentina’s population is 85% Caucasian and 15% Indian or mixed mestizo. The largest source of European migrants has been Italy, with nearly a third of all Argentines claiming to be of Italian descent. Next come migrants of Spanish, German, and French origin.
In2009, the population of 40,000,000 was concentrated in the larger urban centers. Buenos Aires proper, which contains some 4,000,000 inhabitants (and greater Buenos Aires 8,000,000), is the largest city. The next largest cities are Córdoba and Rosario (each with 1,000,000), Mendoza (620,000), La Plata (580,000), and Tucumán (500,000).
Argentina covers 2,777,000 square km (1068300 square miles)—about one-third the size of the UnitedStates—and is thus the second largest country in South America, after Brazil. Situated in the south-east of the continent, Argentina shares its western border—the Andes—with Chile, and its northern borders with Bolivia and Paraguay, while Brazil and Uruguay are situated to the north-east with the border formed by the Río Uruguay. The eastern side, from the Ríodela Plata to Tierra del Fuego in the south, fronts the Atlantic Ocean.
Major rivers of Argentina include the Ríode la Plata, with its two large tributaries the Río Uruguay and Río Paraná, and the Río Negro which is used extensively for irrigation throughout its course.
Argentina includes a very wide range of climatic zones, from the tropical to the antarctic. To the far north there are tropical regions in the provinces of Jujuy and Salta, while Misiones, Chaco, and Formosa are subtropical. The provinces between Córdoba and the Río Negro are temperate, and Tierra del Fuego is subantarctic. The snowy peaks of the Andes extend from the tropics to the antarctic, creating their own series of microclimates. Argentina includes the highest mountain in South America (Cerro Aconcagua at 6,960 m), and this means that you can find cool regions in even the most northerly provinces of Argentina up next to the Bolivian border. Further south glaciers are a striking natural feature of Santa Cruz Province and Tierra del Fuego.
However, Argentina’s best-known natural feature is perhaps the pampas. These are the large, flat grasslands extending east to west from the Atlantic Ocean almost to the Andes, and from Córdoba/Santa Fe in the north to the Río Negro. This region includes large haciendas and towns steeped in the gaucho tradition, reminiscent of the cowboys of North America. Gauchos have mixed Spanish and Indian ancestry, and are noted for their free, gipsy–cowboy lifestyle. Argentines still cling to the romantic notion that the gaucho typifies the true Argentine lifestyle.
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