The story of Argentina, from the time before the Europeans arrived up to the modern-day, also tells us the story of South America. From its immense size to the origin of its name to its civil war and much more, here are 44 fun facts about Argentina you might not know.
44 Fun Facts about Argentina
1. Argentina Was Named for a Fabled Mountain Made of Silver
The name Argentina comes from the Latin word for silver, argentum. The area that would later become Argentina was rumored to be rich in silver. There was a legend among European colonialists that there was a mountain made of silver in Argentina.
The world for silver in Spanish is plata. Argentina was referred to as the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata and the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata at different times in its history.
In 1826, during the Argentine Civil Wars, the Constitution of Argentina was created. Although it did not last very long, this early constitution was one of the first appearances of the name Argentina in official documents.
In 1853, another constitution was created and was known as the Argentine Constitution. In 1860, the name of the country was officially the Argentine Republic. People once referred to the country as the Argentine. The country is often referred to as la Argentina from República Argentina (in spanish). Today, the country is simply referred to as Argentina in English.
This is one of the more interesting facts about Argentina because the name is a Spanish word that was adopted from Latin to refer to the country. Then, the English name for the country was taken from the Spanish reference.
2. Argentina is Huge – Over 1 Million Square Miles
At over 1 million square miles or over 2.5 million square kilometers, Argentina is the eighth-largest country in the world.
Argentina also has a large population. With over 40 million people, Argentina is the 32nd largest country in the world by population and the third-largest in South America. Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina, and is the country’s most populated city, with over 3 million people.
3. Argentina is the Largest Spanish Speaking Country in the World
From colonial times, Spanish was the main language spoken in Argentina. We are already aware of the fact that Argentina is big, and we know that Argentina is a Spanish-speaking country. Many people think Brazil is the largest Spanish-speaking country, but the official language of Brazil is actually Portuguese.
Argentina became a country as a result of a revolutionary war against the Spanish Empire. However, the Argentinians retained Spanish as their official language. This is similar to the United States, where there was a revolutionary war against the British Empire, yet English remained as the official language.
4. 200 Countries Have a Greater Population Density than Argentina
There’s plenty of elbow room in Argentina! While Argentina has a population of over 40 million people, the area Argentina covers is very large in size compared to its population. There are more than 200 countries in the world with a greater population density than Argentina.
5. People Lived in Argentina More than 10,000 Years Ago
Based on research by archaeologists, we now know that Argentina was never heavily populated. Get ready for another one of our surprising Argentina facts: people lived in Argentina more than 10,000 years ago!
According to archaeological records, native people of all levels of development lived in Argentina in the time before the European settlers arrived.
There were native tribes in the south, who were simple hunters and gatherers. There were also more developed hunters and gatherers living in the south and central parts of the country. These people were conquered by the Mapuche people of Chile.
The most developed people lived in the northeast of the area that would later become Argentina. These were farmers who practiced slash and burn agriculture. In the central part of the country, there were also farmers who raised llama. In the northwest, there was a population of traders, who were conquered by the Incas.
The people who lived in Argentina before the time of European settlement ranged from simple hunters and gatherers to members of more advanced agricultural and trading societies.
6. Amerigo Vespucci Was the First to Visit What Would Be Argentina
Amerigo Vespucci, for whom the Americas were named, was the first European explorer to visit the area near Argentina. In 1516, Juan Díaz de Solís led an expedition for Spain to South America and reached the Rio de la Plata, which would be the basis of the name for the Spanish Colony.
In 1536, Pedro de Mendoza established the settlement of Buenos Aires, though it was to be abandoned five years later. After further exploration, and the establishment of additional settlements, Buenos Aries was founded again in 1580.
The area that would become Argentina served Spain mostly through its river systems, which were used to transport silver and gold from Bolivia and Peru. This leads us to another one of our historical Argentina facts: Argentina was part of the Viceroyalty of Peru until 1776, when the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata was established.
7. Argentina Declared Independence from Spain in 1810
In May of 1810, the people of Argentina began a revolution for independence from Spain. During the 1800s South American colonies had begun to resist control from the governments of Europe.
At the time of declaring independence, The Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata included large areas that are now parts of Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina. Imagine: Argentina could have been an even bigger country!
In the early 1800s, the King of Spain, Ferdinand VII, was defeated by Napoleon. As events unfolded in Europe, it wasn’t clear which government the Argentine people should follow. The revolution in 1810 began the Argentine War of Independence.
It’s one of the interesting historical Argentina facts that the Argentine people were hesitant to stake a claim for themselves. The official Argentine Declaration of Independence didn’t take place until 1816.
8. Argentina Fought a Civil War for 20 Years from 1810 to 1830
Shortly after the Declaration of Independence was issued, two political parties formed in Argentina. This is one of the historical Argentina facts that would shape the formation of the new country. Argentines were divided as Centralists and Federalists.
The decades from 1810 to 1830 were defined by civil war in Argentina. The Centralists and the Federalists fought over territory. In 1831, the Federalists won and the Argentine Federation was created.
Juan Manuel de Rosas led the Federalists and became the leader of the Argentine Federation. Although the civil wars had largely ended, Buenos Aires continued to fight to be an independent state from Argentina.
By 1861, Buenos Aires was unified with the rest of Argentina, and nearly half a century of civil unrest in Argentina was brought to an end.
9. Immigration from Europe to Argentina is 2nd only to the US
Peace brought prosperity to Argentina. From the late 1800s onwards, there was a surge of European immigration to Argentina. Immigration from Europe to Argentina was second only to immigration from Europe to the United States at the time.
The wide-open spaces in Argentina became home to gauchos, who were the cowboys of South America. Beef was one of Argentina’s most profitable exports. The grasslands of Argentina became pastures and farmlands, and Argentina became an agricultural powerhouse.
By 1910, Argentina was the seventh wealthiest country in the world, ahead of Germany, France and Canada. However, Argentina was slow to bring its economy into the Industrial Age. As a result, its position in the global economy suffered.
10. Political Unrest Defined the 1900s for Argentina
One of the sad Argentina facts is that after enjoying decades of incredible growth and prosperity, a military coup in 1930 began a period of political unrest that would last until the end of the 1900s. Because of the country’s political instability, and the inability of Argentina to modernize, it steadily declined throughout the 1900s.
There was a moment of hope when Juan Domingo Perón was elected by popular support in 1946 and nationalized all the large industries in Argentina. His wife Eva Perón worked to provide women with the right to vote and was very popular in Argentina. Eva Perón tragically died of cancer, and her story has been featured in many books and movies.
Despite Perón’s popular support, his policies were a failure, and more political unrest followed, including numerous coups of the governments in power throughout the 1950s and 1960s.
Finally, by the 1980s, after suffering a humiliating defeat to the British in the Falklands War, democracy was again installed in Argentina. Argentina continues to struggle economically, despite the country’s vast natural resources.
The political unrest of the 1900s did not allow Argentina to invest in its infrastructure for continued growth. More recently, Argentina has seen relative political stability as injustices committed by past governments are addressed and the economy slowly mends.
11. Tango, the well-known sensual dance, originated in the dance halls of Buenos Aires in the 1880s.
12. The Argentine city of Ushuaia is the southernmost city in the world.
13. The most popular sport in Argentina is football. Argentina won the World Cup in 1978 and 1986.
14. The Argentine lake duck has the longest bird penis ever measured. It came in at 40 centimetres which is nearly as long as the duck’s body.
15. The longest street in the world runs between Alaska and the south of Argentina. It crosses six time zones and measures over 18,500 miles.
16. Argentina has the oldest continuous state presence in Antarctica. It started its presence in 1904.
17. In 2001, Argentina had 5 presidents in 10 days.
18. Argentina is home to the world’s loudest land animal. Howler monkeys are found in Argentina’s rain forests. It is said that they can be heard from over 3 miles away.
19. Major political parties in Argentina have their own beer brands.
20. Che Guevara was born in Argentina. He is most associated with Cuba and the Cuban Revolution but he grew up in Argentina. His nickname “Che” comes from the Argentinian word “Che” which is something that is said in Argentina to get the attention of the person to whom you are speaking.
This is similar to saying “right?” or “isn’t it” in English. Apparently, Guevara was so fond of this word that it became his name.
21. Argentina is the 5th largest producer of wine in the world.
22. Argentina has more psychologists per capita than any other country in the world. There is even a district for therapists called “Ville Freud”.
23. Argentina has the second-largest Italian population outside of Italy. It is estimated that over 670,000 Italians live in Argentina.
24. The Perito Moreno Glacier in Patagonia is the third largest reserve of fresh water in the world.
25. Both the hottest and coldest temperatures ever recorded in South America were in Argentina
26. Argentina has the second-highest rate of anorexia in the world. Japan has the highest rate of anorexia.
27. Argentina has the highest consumption of red meat in the world.
28. Argentines spend more time listening to the radio than any other country in the world. It was also the first country in the world to broadcast radio in 1920.
29. Argentines watch more movies than anywhere else in the world.
30. The highest point in Argentina is Aconcagua at over 22,500 feet high.
31. Argentina was the first country in the world to use fingerprints to identify people in 1892.
32. It is estimated that 30% of women in Argentina have had plastic surgery. It has the second largest number of plastic surgeries per capita in the world after Brazil.
33. It is traditional to pull a person’s earlobes on their birthday. One pull is done for each year that the person has been alive.
34. Avenida 9 De Julio in Buenos Aires is said to be the widest avenue in the world. It has 14 lanes of traffic.
34. The largest dinosaur in the world was found in Argentina. It measured 40 metres long by 20 metres tall.
35. Over 10% of the world’s flora is found in Argentina.
36. Laguna del Carbon in Argentina is the lowest point in South America. It is a salt lake that is 105 metres below sea level and is also the 7th lowest point on earth.
37. Parana River in Argentina is nearly 5,000 kilometres long. It is the second-longest river in South America after the Amazon and the 14th longest river in the world.
38. Argentina has the 8th largest railway in the world and the largest in Latin America. It runs for over 36,000 kilometres.
39. Argentina’s Iguazu Falls are one of the world’s 7 Natural Wonders.
40. The world’s oldest plants were discovered in Argentina. The fossilized plants found are estimated to be 472 million years old.
41. The national drink of Argentina is Yerba Mate. It is made from the yerba mate herb and is rich in caffeine.
42. Argentines like to eat late. Dinner is normally served after 9pm.
43. Between the years 1970 and 1992 Argentina had to drop 13 zeros from its currency due to hyperinflation.
44. The Argentinian flag was chosen by Manuel Belgrano, the leader of the Argentinian revolution against Spain. The blue and white colours represent the blue sky parting to reveal white clouds. This is said to have happened when liberation demonstrations began in Buenos Aires in 1810.