From fast-paced urban centers like the capital, Buenos Aires, to the rugged Pampas where self-reliant gauchos still live off the land, Argentina has something to offer every modern explorer.  This country is the second largest in South America, and boasts the region’s second highest Human Development Index ranking and GDP PPP per capita.

Situated along the southern-jutting arm of South America, Argentina sports a range of natural climates, from the subtropical Gran Chaco region in the north to the arid steppes of Patagonia in the south.  The Pampas, or fertile lowlands, cover much of the Argentine interior, and are the center of the country’s export-driven agricultural sector.  The Andes dominate western Argentina, and form the natural border with Chile.  Climbers the world over migrate here to challenge Cerro Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas.  Other scenes of natural beauty include the majestic Iguazú Falls in the northeast and the temperate Atlantic coast, a favorite vacation destination.

Argentina-14

The cultural landscape is even more diverse; since the first Spanish settlers arrived in the 16th century, Argentina’s history has been characterized by waves of immigration from all over Europe and, more recently, Asia and the Middle East.  The result is a true melting pot with entertainments to satisfy any taste.  Television stations broadcast performances from the world-renowned Colón Theater back-to-back with games of pato, the national sport.  Locals enjoy Native American staple foods such as humitas and yerba mate while listening to the Argentine rock bands popular throughout the continent.  Needless to say, tango, an Argentine innovation, is wildly popular, and clubs devoted to it can be found in any major city; classes are also widely available, and can be a great way to make new acquaintances.

Although agriculture still plays a major role in Argentina’s economy, earning over half of its foreign exchange, manufacturing has become the country’s single largest sector.  Oil and natural gas are important as well.  Despite widespread economic hurdles and the current global financial crisis, Argentina has maintained a relatively high economic standard in the region, and several industries are experiencing growth.  The telecommunications sector is thriving, and mining exports have skyrocketed in the past two decades.  Tourism, both international and domestic, is growing rapidly as well; hot spots include ocean-front resorts in Mar del Plata, the wine region of Mendoza, skiing in Bariloche, and the Jujuy Province with its rich Amerindian culture.

Spanish is the official language of Argentina; with over 33 million speakers, it is the fourth largest Spanish speaking country in the world.  Most Argentines refer to their language as castellano, or Castilian, when speaking to one another, but the local dialects differ significantly from those spoken in Spain.  The most common is called Rioplatense; originating in the region surrounding Buenos Aires, it is noted for its similarity to Italian.  This isn’t surprising, as Italian is the second most widely spoken language in Argentina.  Other languages with a significant number of speakers include Arabic, German, Guaraní and Quechua (both indigenous languages), Portuguese, and English; additionally, lunfardo, the colorful slang of Buenos Aires, has influenced spoken Spanish throughout Argentina to a high degree, and may provide an interesting challenge for foreigners.

Links

Country Info:
Wikipedia: Argentina
C.I.A. World Factbook Entry

Language:
Online Spanish language course
Learning Spanish Facebook page
Wikipedia: Spanish Language
Wikipedia: Rioplatense Spanish

Relocation Information:
Argentina at Wikitravel
Argentine government publication – very informative!
National Migration Direction
Argentine immigration authority.
Argentine Real Estate Chamber (in Spanish)
Country-wide property search engine.
Monster Latin America (in Spanish)
Local job board.