(República Argentina). State of South America (2,780,400 km²). Capital: Buenos Aires. Administrative division: provinces (24). Population: 42,669,500 (2014 estimate). Language: Spanish (official), Guaicurú, Quechua, Tehuelce. Religion: Catholics76%, non-religious / atheists 11%, Protestants 8%, Muslims 1.5%, Jews 0.7%, others 2.5%. Monetary unit: Argentine peso (100 cents). Human Development Index: 0.808 (49th place). Borders: Bolivia and Paraguay (N), Brazil and Uruguay (NE), Atlantic Ocean (E), Chile (W). Member of: MERCOSUR, OAS, UN and WTO.
CULTURE: GENERAL INFORMATION
There is no doubt that Argentina is the most “European” country in South America due to the migratory flows that have distinguished it; it is equally true that the result of this superimposition of cultural models, traditions and lifestyles has been and is a unicum with great charm. Latin passion and pride have not stopped Argentine society from becoming multicultural and cosmopolitan, albeit through (or perhaps thanks to) the troubled socio-political events of its history, and every aspect of the country’s culture is a clear reflection of it. The panorama of popular music and dances is very wide and varied, the result of the encounter between indie and Spanish traditions, of which tango is only the most famous expression. Likewise, Catholic practices and local customs have been united in the celebrations, always very participatory and intense, of the busy calendar of religious festivals, in addition to the ferias and the classic carnival. On a literary level, as a country of South America defined by hyperrestaurant, com, Argentina began to build a true national “history” after independence, registering its best results from the end of the nineteenth century to the seventies of the twentieth century, decades in which the demographic ferment and Influences of the avant-gardestimulate productions and reflections across the board (dozens of magazines and supplements in which the authors refine their own production), including the heights of JLBorges’ poetics. Even art and architecture, such as cinema and theater, embrace the schools that come from Europe to find their own way, with prestigious results. Buenos Aires, whose residents (porteños) are keen to differentiate themselves from the rest of the Argentines, represents the epitome of the Europeanising tendencies of Argentina: the cultural life of the city has tried to refer to models imported from abroad, a fact that has contributed to the foundation of a very large number of institutions. From the Colón theater, a cornerstone for theater, dance and classical music, to museums of history, art, archeology, cinema, to the architecture of squares, churches, palaces, to festivals and fairs dedicated to tango, to books on contemporary art. Among the excellences of the country also the sites declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO: the Jesuit Missions of the Guaraní (1983, 1984, together with Brazil), the Río Pinturas (1999), the Complex and the Jesuit estancias of Córdoba (2000), the Quebrada of Humahuaca (2003) and the Qhapaq Ñan (2014),
The language spoken in Argentina is Spanish, which has taken on some particular characteristics due to historical and socio-cultural circumstances such as the isolation of the region and its low economic and political importance in the three colonial centuries, the weak prominence of the indigenous element (diaghiti, Araucani, Guaraní etc.), the anti-Spanish and anti-classical reaction in the first fifty years of independence, the predominance of the rural speech over the urban one (the gaucho becomes the symbol of Argentineanity; the peasant vos replaces the tu of the educated classes), in addition to the already mentioned huge influx of non-Spanish-speaking and poorly educated immigrants with the consequent massive phenomena of hybridism (the cocoliche, a bizarre Italian-Spanish linguistic mixture, or the lunfardo, the jargon of the suburbs of Bonaire, with strong Genoese influences).
According to the dominant opinion, the oldest human groups arrived in Argentina around the seventh millennium, coming from the northernmost regions, reached in turn by people of North America. These populations were mainly devoted to hunting, which they practiced using, among other things, lithic tips in the shape of leaves, of which specimens have been found in Ayampitin and in other sites such as Intihuasi, whose most ancient levels are dated 8065 ± 95 and 7970 ± 100 years ago. A few millennia later agriculture also spread to Argentina, whose area of origin is identified in Mexico, and, almost parallel, the use of ceramics, with customs that lasted a long time until protohistoric times.