Welcome to Argentina!

BY: Aaron Munoz   P.8


With the exception of some areas of the northwest, Argentina was not densely populated at the time of the Spanish conquest. Many indigenous groups disappeared because of harsh forced labor, compulsory resettlement, and diseases introduced by the Spanish conquerors. Those Indians who maintained their autonomy until well into the nineteenth century were brought to near extinction by military campaigns in the 1880s. In the last years of the twentieth century it was estimated that the population of Indians were only 300,000 which was only about 1 percent of total population. It is difficult to determine their numbers because those living in urban centers are rarely classified as Indians in official statistics. During colonial times there was an intense slave traffic in the Río de la Plata region. From the late eighteenth century to the mid-nineteenth century, blacks and mulattoes of African and European origin represented between 25 and 30 percent in total population of Buenos Aires. Mestizo rural workers and Afro-Argentines resented the presence of European immigrants who competed for scarce housing and sources of labor. By the beginning of the twentieth century, foreign-born immigrants had already taken over many low-paying jobs formerly performed by Argentine. The majority of Argentina's population is white with European ancestors. Industrialization and  later economic stagnation caused migration to Argentina and neighboring countries.These new residents are predominantly mestizos. Migrants also include indigenous peoples and a small number of mulattoes and blacks from Uruguay and Brazil. Middle class and upper middle class opponents of Perón despised these new social sectors and derogatorily called them cabecitas negras (black heads).While the social conflicts of the 1940s and 1950s were often described in racist terms, those perceived as non white by the major groups, has acquired xenophobic overtones. Besides Latin American immigration, immigrants from Eastern Europe, Africa, and Asia were also arriving in Argentina in the late twentieth century. Most of these immigrants are illegal and nobody knows their real numbers.


Religious Beliefs. The majority of Argentines are Roman Catholics, even though not all of them actively practice the religion. Jews migrated to Argentina at the end of the nineteenth century from Eastern Europe, Russia, and the Middle East. A significant number also migrated during and after World War II. Estimates of the exact size of the Jewish population vary between 250,000 and 500,000. Protestant denominations are becoming popular among the lower class. New Age and Eastern religions are popular among the upper and middle class.


Many of the Indian tribes in the northern part of Argentina were farmers, they grew everything from Squash, to melons, to sweet potatoes. When Italians migrated to Argentina, they introduced pizza, and other pasta dishes as well. The British brought tea, which strated the tradition of tea time.Beef is the national dish of Argentina. There are huge cattle ranches in Argentina, and the gaucho, or Argentine cowboy, is a well-known symbol of Argentine individualism. Many dishes contain meat, but prepared in different ways. A favorite is Parrillada which is a mixed grill of steak and other cuts of beef.Grilled steak is called churrasco , a beef roast cooked over an open fire is called asado , and beef that is dipped in eggs, crumbs, and then fried is called milanesa . Carbonada is a stew that contains meat, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and chunks of corn on the cob.


In Argentina, it is by law that children between the age of 6 and 14 must attend school. Free education is available to everyone and the literacy rate is over 95%. High school is also available and affordable, although the attendance falls by nearly half among those older than 14. There are private and state schools for primary and secondary levels: those in city ares are much better equipped than those in the country.The percentage of individuals attending and completing university degree programs is 3.2% of the population, the second highest in the world after France. The country’s public university system is also free of charge. The university system has nearly 70 institutions, divided equally between national institutions (including a few provincially sponsored), public institutions, and private institutions. Among the Latin American countries, Argentina has the highest levels of education and literacy.


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