The Republic of Argentina, located in South America, has a population of more than 36 million, of which nearly half live in the Province of Buenos Aires. Metropolitan Buenos Aires, the Capital City, has some 3 million inhabitants. With an area of almost 3,800,000 sq. km, Argentina borders on Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil and Uruguay
Argentina has a climate where the four seasons are roughly opposite to what we experience in Canada. Spring runs from September through November, with the hotter summer months being from December to March. However, since Argentina covers such a vast area, there is somewhere to visit any time of year.
The Argentine government is Representative, Republican and Federal, divided into the executive, legislative and judicial powers. The country is divided into 23 provinces, and the City of Buenos Aires.
The official language is Spanish, Although, Argentines say that it is more appropriate to call their language Castellano, because this term expresses more clearly the region in Spain where it originated and from where it was evolved. There are slight regional variations in vocabulary, intonation, and in the pronunciation of certain sounds such as " y " and " ll. " . The currency is the Peso (ARS).
Argentines are justly proud of the quality items they produce, including leather goods, woven and knitted garments, silverware, wine and more.
Posts about Argentina
Argentina, before the arrival of the Spanish, was inhabited by nomadic tribes. Of these tribes there were the Yamana who lived in Patagonia and the Guarani who lived in the tropical northeast. The tribes were the traditional hunters although some did settle and started to grow crops such as maize.
The Spanish then entered the history books in 1536, first encountering the Querandi tribes during their search for gold and silver. Tensions rose and eventually escalated to an attack which drove the Spanish back to modern day Paraguay. In 1580 the Spanish returned and founded Buenos Aires.
I want to present this section with the first thing that you will notice at the moment you set foot in the country that will make a very strong first impression: The greetings (the air kiss)
The proper greetings in Argentina can cause a strong first impression if you are not familiar with their culture. Argentines places much more emphasis on tactile greetings such as a polite kiss or hug which is not commonly practiced in other countries, and is often daunting to first-time visitors and it might be outside your comfort zone. For greeting people in Argentina simply follow these few basic rules I provide:
Observe the person you are greeting. Watch his body language and take your cue from him; if he leans in, it is likely he will greet you with a kiss. Greet friends, older people and friends of friends with a kiss but strangers, professors or business associates with a handshake. Use hugs only if you are greeting a very old friend or relative.
Lean in with your right cheek next to his right cheek. Lightly press your cheek against his and make a kissing sound. Do not repeat this with the left cheek unless the other person proceeds to do so.
Say "encantado" if the person you are greeting is a man or "encantada" if the person is female. Say this only upon your first meeting since it is a formal expression and is not commonly used between friends or previous acquaintances.
In Argentina, men greet other men with a kiss, so do not be surprised or offended if this occurs.
For a complete explanation about their kissing greetings custom click here.
Having explained the greetings, let’s talk about the general culture: It is composed of an ethnic mix of previous immigrants from Europe such as Italy, Germany, England, Spain, Basque, and the Irish. This influenced the general culture, leaving the present lack of dominant indigenous populations. Each culture established their own role throughout the country—the Basque and Irish controlled sheep farming, Germans and Italians established farms, and the British predominantly invested in developing the country’s infrastructure. Small populations of Japanese, Chileans, Bolivians, Paraguayans, and Uruguayans are also found scattered throughout the country. Due to the array of cultural diversity, particularly diverse arts, crafts, and music scene exists. There are many cinemas and galleries in major urban centers and are popular with the majority of the elite (seen as a type of status symbol). The Argentine cinema widely respected throughout the world and is used as a vehicle to manifest the horrors of the Dirty War.
Tango was the medium of dance for a long period of time becoming one of the particular characteristic of the country and it was considered of the most amorous ways of expressing love in Argentina. Folk music was also popular, containing Amerindian influence. Nowadays, the Tango is considered to be only an icon of its history and is only danced as a function or show on streets and after-dinner shows in some restaurants or theaters. Having said that, the popular music nowadays is being replaced by genders of a much more modern nature. Argentine people seem to have a big passion for rock music providing high recognized musicians and bands of this gender. On the other hand, we also find tastes for techno, Salsa, Cumbia, Bachata, Reguee and reguetón. By the way, Argentine people love to go dancing in pubs (party) which are open on weekends especially teenagers and people in their twenties.
Roman Catholicism is the most practiced religion in the country, although secularism and humanism are also deeply engrained in its society. Atheism also makes up of a big scattered percentage of the country and Judaism is found only in localized cities of Argentina.
Soccer is the pastime of choice, where Argentina has won the World Cup twice, once in 1978 and again in 1986. Diego Maradona is a national hero due to his great soccer skills. And most Argentinians today feel joyous and proud to have Leonel Messi as “the new Maradona”, a new hero of a much more humble personality and background since he is considered to be “the best soccer player in the world” due to his countless success and awards.
Here is a video to know a little bit about Argentine culture:
Typical Food & Meals
Don’t leave Argentina without trying…
The way to Argentina’s heart is through its asado, or barbecue. Also known as parrillada, it is almost crime to leave the country without spending a leisurely afternoon beside the warmth of a grill or open fire, feasting on copious grilled meats. This is the national dish, originating with the country’s gauchos, or cowboys, who would subsist on the abundant cows dotting the country’s plains. Expect to find beef, pork, ribs, sausages, blood sausages, and sweetbreads hot off the fire. In Patagonia, look out for a whole lamb or pig roasting over an open flame. Lightly salted, topped with chimichurri, and paired with Malbec – this is Argentina.
Is the country’s go-to condiment. A green salsa made of finely chopped parsley, oregano, onion, garlic, chilli pepper flakes, olive oil and a touch of acid, like lemon or vinegar, chimichurri is as engendered here as the River Delta. This tangy, garlicky salsa is sometimes used as a marinade, though most often it’s blanketing grilled meats and heaps of other savoury foods throughout the country.
Argentineans give whole new meaning to grilled cheese with provoleta. A consequence of the significant Italian immigration to Argentina, provoleta is the country’s variant on provolone cheese. Pungent and sharp, sliced discs are topped with herbs, like oregano and chilli flakes then grilled. The nearly-melted cheese is crispy and slightly caramelised on the outside, gooey and smoky on the interior. Top it off with a drizzle of olive oil, or a spoonful of chimichurri.
Dulce de leche
Cows roaming Argentina’s expansive grasslands have not only provided the country with phenomenal beef, but also dairy. And it is from condensed milk that Argentina gets one of its culinary treasures, dulce de leche. Loosely translated as “milk jam,” this thick caramel is the result of condensed milk, reduced slowly until sweetened and sticky. Look for in it everything from alfajores, to dessert empanadas, to another national favourite, helado (or, ice cream) where it is liberally drizzled in and downed by the kilo-full.
Argentina is the world’s largest consumer of alfajores: crumbly shortbread-like biscuits sandwiching jams, mousses or dulce de leche. The alfajores’ roots lie in the Arab world, brought to southern Spain by the Moors. Spaniards later carried the sweets to Argentina and no one has looked back since. Akin to their national cookie, Argentines indulge in these cylindrical biscuits at breakfast, dessert, and throughout the day and across the country.
Another gift from the Moors to the Spanish and finally, to the Argentineans, where this hot, cheap and portable meal was popular amongst working classes. Like a South American pastry, empanadas are deep-fried or baked, then filled with sweet and savoury stuffing, depending on the province. Dessert empanadas are commonly packed with quince jam, sweet potato paste, or dulce de leche, and sprinkled with cinnamon, sugar or sweet raisins, as is typical in Cordoba. Savory empanadas hug stewed and spiced ground beef, chicken, goats meat, cheese and/or vegetables, with the markings on the pastry fold identifying the treasures inside.
While the thick, slabs of Argentinean meat are not to be missed, at least once, opt for a matambre arrollado. This super slim cut of beef, like a flank steak, is thinly sliced then stuffed with vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, herbs and olives. The meat is rolled around the filling, then boiled, baked or grilled. Matambre translates literally to “hunger killer” and arrollado as “to roll-up.” The story goes that owing to the thin cuts of meat, these are often the first meats ready on the grill, staving off hunger while waiting for the rest of the asado to catch-up.
It was indigenous populations in South America that first used and cultivated yerba mate, prior to European colonisation. A herbal and caffeine-infused drink, you’ll find it filling everything from to-go cups to hollowed-out squash gourds across the country. In Argentina, each person consumes five kilos of yerba mate, annually. Leaves from the yerba mate plant are dried, chopped and ground into a powder, or steeped as whole leaves into hot water. Drinking yerba mate is a social practice and the gourd, fitted with a metal straw that doubles as a sieve, is often passed around a group, each person sipping before passing.
A pre-requisite before any football match, a go-to amongst taxi drivers, and a mainstay at markets and from street vendors, choripán is the ultimate Argentinian street food. Made with pork and beef chorizo cooked over charcoal or wood flames, the sausage is grilled then butterflied down the centre, topped with chimichurri, and served between slices of crusty bread. Depending on the province, caramelised onions, pickled aubergines, green peppers and a host of other condiments are also added. Another gaucho tradition the choripán has experienced a rural-to-urban shift that has placed it firmly on the country’s culinary map.
Transport in Argentina is mainly based on a complex network of routes, crossed by relatively inexpensive long-distance buses and by cargo trucks. The country also has a number of national and international airports. The importance of the long-distance train is minor today. Fluvial transport is mostly used for cargo.
Within the urban areas, the main public transportation system is by the bus or colectivo; bus lines transport millions of people every day in the larger cities and their metropolitan areas. Buenos Aires additionally has an underground (subway), the only one in the country, and Greater Buenos Aires is serviced by a system of suburban trains. In addition, people can move throughout the big cities through taxis and trams.
Nine places to visit of Argentina for first-timers
Roundup the best of Argentina – the wine, the fishing, the tango, the mountaineering, the skiing, the literature, the beef, the architecture, the clubbing – and you have the building blocks for one of the most exciting journeys you’ll ever take. No joke. While so many things in Argentina are exciting, some things are better defined as ‘mind blowing.’ We’ve cobbled together a collection of the latter. Put as many on your To Do list as possible.
1. Caminito: Try the Tango in Buenos Aires! Go on, give it a try. So what if it’s one of the world’s most sophisticated dances. It’s so sexy; you’ll be fired up enough to make it through that long Buenos Aires’ night. For a unique outdoor experience, head to the bandstand at the Barrancas de Belgrano park in Buenos Aires, where the casual milonga ‘La Glorieta’ takes place on Sunday evenings at around 8pm (free tango lessons are given earlier). Also try Club Gricel with its wonderful aging wood dance floor and Confitería Ideal, the mother of all historical tango halls.
More pics here.
2. The Andes: Stretching nearly the whole length of Argentina’s western edge, this amazing mountain range offers high deserts, scenic lakes, great hiking and the continent’s highest peak; Cerro Aconcagua often called the "roof of the Americas." In the Andean northwest, the World Heritage–listed Quebrada de Humahuaca snakes its way upward toward Bolivia. It’s a harsh but vivid landscape, a dry but river-scoured canyon overlooked by mountainsides whose sedimentary strata have been eroded into spectacular scalloped formations that reveal a spectrum of colors in undulating waves.
More pics here.
3. Iguazú Falls: There are waterfalls and there are waterfalls. And then there’s Iguazú. A visit is a jaw-dropping, visceral experience, and the power and noise of the cascades live forever in the memory. An added benefit is the setting: the falls lie split between Brazil and Argentina in a large expanse of national park and rainforest. The falls are easily reached from either side of the Argentine–Brazilian border, as well as from nearby Paraguay. Most visitors choose either to stay in Foz do Iguaçu, on the Brazilian side, or in Argentina’s Puerto Iguazú.
More pics here.
4. Buenos Aires: The Argentine capital is one of the world’s most exhilarating cities, with astounding art, fascinating neighborhoods, fabulous food and a passionate population blazingly devoted to having fun all…night…long. Marvel at those amazingly high leg kicks at a tango show in San Telmo, feast on steaks at Palermo's Las Cañitas or wander for hours in the Recoleta cemetery, where BA's rich and famous are buried. Bring a camera for Evita's grave.
More pics here.
5. Perito Moreno Glaciar: Among the Earth’s most dynamic and accessible ice fields, Glaciar Perito Moreno is the stunning centerpiece of the southern sector of Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. Locally referred to as Glaciar Moreno, it measures 30km long, 5km wide and 60m high, but what makes it exceptional in the world of ice is its constant advance – up to 2m per day, causing building-sized icebergs to calve from its face. In some ways, watching the glacier is a very sedentary park experience, but it manages to nonetheless be thrilling.
More pics here.
6. Península Valdés’ Reserv: Unesco World Heritage site Península Valdés is one of South America’s finest wildlife reserves. More than 80,000 visitors per year visit this sanctuary, which has a total area of 3600 sq km and more than 400km of coastline. The wildlife viewing is truly exceptional: the peninsula is home to sea lions, elephant seals, guanacos, rheas, Magellanic penguins and numerous seabirds. But the biggest attraction is the endangered ballena Franca austral (southern right whale).
More pics here.
7. Tierra del Fuego: Maybe it’s the austral light, or just knowing that the next step south is Antarctica. Whatever it is, this trove of mystical islands, cut off from the northern world by the Strait of Magellan, is indescribably magical. Travelers flock here to glimpse the furthest reaches of the continent, and ah – what a view it is! The barren northern plains of Tierra del Fuego give way to peat bogs and moss-draped lenga forests that rise into ragged snowy mountains.
More pics here.
8. Córdoba: In 2006 Córdoba was awarded the hefty title of Cultural Capital of the Americas, and it fits the city like a glove. Four excellent municipal galleries – dedicated to emerging, contemporary, classical and fine art respectively – are within easy walking distance of each other and the city center. The alternative film scene is alive and kicking. Young designers and artisans strut their stuff at a weekend crafts market that sprawls for blocks and is one of the best in the country. And if all this action is too much for you, quaint little mountain villages are a short bus ride away.
More pics here.
Argentine Slang Phrases
While visiting or living in Argentina, you are going to hear a whole lot of Spanish that you never learned in your Spanish class and some that you can’t find in the dictionary. Argentine Spanish, or rather Rioplatenese Spanish is loaded with Slang that will take you years to understand. This guide should make it a little bit easier for you.
The translations below are not literal; rather they are translated to their English equivalent in terms of significance. If you are interested in the literal translations, you could probably pop these phrases in a translator, or you might be able to translate them on your own! Enjoy!
“no le llega agua al tanque”
“a las chapas”
“arrastar el ala”
“lo atamos con alambre”
“bajá un cambio!”
“caer como peludo de regalo”
“calavera no chilla”
“calienta la pava pero no ceba los mates”
“cerrado como culo de muñeca”
“faltan cinco pa’l peso”
“comerse un huesito”
“no dejar titere con cabeza”
“estar en el horno”
“dejate de joder”
“echar un cloro”
“más loco que una cabra con pollitos”
“le faltan algunos jugadores”
“meter la mula”
“hablar hasta por los codos”
“la verdad de la milanesa”
“hacerse la mosquita muerta”
“hasta las manos”
“ni a ganchos!”
Also see: “ni a palos!”
“más dificil que cagar en un frasquito”
“la noche está en pañales”
“ponerse la camiseta”
“que parte la tierra!"
“me pica el bagre”
“qué pito toca?”
“me quema la cabeza”
“tirame las agujas”
“la sacaste barata”
“tener una vena”
“saltar la ficha”
“tomalo con soda”
“tirar los galgos” or “tirar los perros”
he or she is crazy
to go really fast
to make a romantic advance on someone
to jerry-rig it, MacGyver-it
Chill Out! Relax!
a shameless person
a way to say a unwanted guest shows up unexpectedly
you get what you deserve
he or she flirts but don’t take actions.
closed like a doll’s ass
to come up short
to let go of yourself, to settle down and get fat
to sleep with a hot babe
to do something with no mercy
to be in a bad situation, (to be screwed)
get out of town! You gotta be joking!
take a piss
crazier than a goat with chicks
he is out of his mind, he is dumb or crazy. (Similar to the first of this list)
to play matchmaker, to set to lover’s up, to hook someone up
to rip someone off
to talk someone’s ear off
the real deal
to act innocently after doing something wrong
to be completely compromised.
sorry, unacceptable, that doesn’t fly
more difficult than shitting in a little jar
the night is young
to be a team player
wow what a beautiful woman!
What is his story? Whats up with him?
it blows my mind
give me some time
you were lucky, could’ve been worse.
to be super pissed off
to blow a fuse
calm down, take it easy
to flirt or hit on someone
This is an awesome and fun way to improve your Spanish!!!