Argentina is a land of extremes, its hectic urban centres
contrasting with a staggeringly remote hinterland, and
can be simultaneously hot in one region and cold in
another. The one common thread is that the people possess
a curiosity, passion, and fervour for life, most visible
when it comes to football, the national obsession. Evita,
the Tango, gauchos and estancias are the country's clichéd
attractions, but what strikes visitors most is that
life here is for living -the fast pace only letting
up for the afternoon siesta-.
to as a grimy Paris, Buenos Aires is a sophisticated
capital brimming with character and an excellent spot
for shopping and watching the world go by -whether
it's pedestrians strolling or motorists driving at
break-neck speed. Nightlife is second to none and
the restaurants are a food-lover's delight.
national parks teem with wildlife and incredible mountainous
vistas, while the colossal Perito Moreno Glacier and
Iguazú Falls are natural wonders. Endless hiking
opportunities abound in the south, where Patagonia
is stunningly barren and mystifying and the Tierra
del Fuego feels like the end of the world. The Andes
offer excellent skiing -the ski-resort of Bariloche
being the country's most established. Horseriding,
adventure sports and birdwatching are just a few of
the other activities on offer throughout the country.
vastly unexplored and undiscovered by most tourists,
is an adventure waiting to happen.
sq km (1,073,518 sq miles).
Population: 37,031,802 (official estimate 2000).
Buenos Aires. Population:
3,046,663 (official estimate 2000).
Geography: Argentina is situated in South America, east
of the Andes, and is bordered by Chile to the west,
the Atlantic Ocean to the east and Uruguay, Bolivia,
Paraguay and Brazil to the north and northeast. There
are four main geographical areas: the Andes, the North
and Mesopotamia, the Pampas and Patagonia. The climate
and geography of Argentina vary considerably, ranging
from the great heat of the Chaco (El Chaco),
through the pleasant climate of the central Pampas
to the sub-Antarctic cold of the Patagonian Sea. Mount
Aconcagua soars almost 7000m (23,000ft) and waterfalls
at Iguazś stretch around a massive semi-circle, thundering
70m (230ft) to the bed of the Paranį River. In the
southwest is a small 'Switzerland' with a string of
beautiful icy lakes framed by mountains.
Government: Federal and Democratic Republic. Gained independence
from Spain in 1816. Head of State and Government:
President Eduardo Duhalde since 2002.
is the official language. English is widely spoken
with some French and German.
than 90 per cent Roman Catholic, two per cent Protestant
with small Muslim and Jewish communities.
- 3 (GMT - 4 summer).
volts AC, 50Hz. Lamp fittings are of the screw-type.
Plug fittings in older buildings are of the two-pin
round type, but some new buildings use the three-pin
is available (but not generally in use). Country code:
54. Outgoing international code: 00. The system is
often overburdened and international calls are expensive.
Local calls can be made from public call-boxes, which
are located in shops and restaurants and are identifiable
by a blue sign outside. Public phones take one peso
or 50 and 25 centavos coins or cards. Reduced tariffs
apply from 2200-0800.
Currency: Peso (P) = 100
centavos. Peso notes are in denominations of P100,
50, 20, 10, 5 and 2. Coins are in denominations of
P5, 2 and 1 and 50, 25, 10, 5 and 1 centavos.
Currency exchange: While the US Dollar is generally accepted as
legal tender, foreign currencies can be exchanged
in banks and authorised cambios (bureaux de
change), which are available in all the major cities.
Credit & debit cards: Diners Club, American Express, Visa and MasterCard
are accepted. Check with your credit or debit card
company for details of merchant acceptability and
other services that may be available.
Travellers cheques: It is often difficult to exchange these in the
smaller towns. To avoid additional exchange rate charges,
travellers are advised to take travellers cheques
in US Dollars.
Banking hours: Mon-Fri
The north is subtropical with
rain throughout the year, while the Tierra del Fuego
in the south has a sub-arctic climate. The main central
area is temperate, but can be hot and humid during
summer (December to February) and cool in winter.
Food & Drink: North American, Continental and Middle Eastern
cuisine is generally available, whilst local food
is largely a mixture of Basque, Spanish and Italian.
Beef is of a particularly high quality and meat-eaters
should not miss out on the chance to dine at a parillada,
or grill room, where a large variety of barbecue-style
dishes can be sampled. Popular local dishes include
empanadas (minced meat and other ingredients
covered with puff pastry) and locro (pork and
maize stew). In general, restaurants are good value.
They are classified by a fork sign with three forks
implying a good evening out. Hotel residents are usually
asked to sign a charge slip. Argentine wines are very
good and inexpensive. Local distilleries produce their
own brands of most well-known spirits. Whiskies and
gins are excellent, as are classic and local wines.
Caribbean and South American rum adds flavour to cocktails.
There are no licensing laws.
Aires' nightlife is vibrant. There are many theatres
and concert halls featuring foreign artists. Nightclubs
featuring jazz and tango are plentiful. Tango lessons
and dancing can be enjoyed at lively milongas
(tango parties), throughout Buenos Aires. There are
also many intimate boītes (clubs) and many
stage shows. There are casinos throughout Argentina.
Aires has traditionally enjoyed a reputation as a
shopper's paradise; possibly of even being the best
shopping city in Latin America. Leather goods are
a good buy, as are native crafts and souvenirs.
Shopping hours: Mon-Fri 0900-1900 and Sat 0900-1300.