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 23,000ft and waterfalls at Iguazú stretch around a massive semi-circle, thundering 230ft to the bed of the Paraná River. In the southwest is a small ’Switzerland’ with a string of beautiful icy lakes framed by mountains.
Europeans first arrived in the territory, which became Argentina in the early 16th century. After becoming a viceroyalty of Spain in the 1770’s, Argentina achieved independence in 1816. Between the mid-19th century and 1946, Argentina swung from civilian to military rule and from radical to conservative policies. A coup resulted in the rise of Lieutenant General Peron Sosa as president in 1943. After winning the election of 1946, Peron instigated a policy of extreme nationalism and social improvement. He founded the Peronista movement and after being overthrown in 1955, continued to direct the movement from his Spanish exile. The ensuing administrations failed to secure the full allegiance of either the people or the trade unions and Peron was triumphantly re-elected as president in 1973. On his death, a year later, his wife, Isabelita Peron, took over but chaos ensued and she was deposed by a military coup in 1976.
The legacy of Peron (and his wife) continues to inspire Argentinean politicians to this day. The end of the Peronista period heralded perhaps the darkest period in Argentinean history. Driven by an obsessive fear of ‘Communism’ and ‘subversion’ and supported by governments throughout the Americas (including Washington), the military regime instituted a reign of terror in which ‘disappearances’, torture and extra-judicial murder were common-place. The military’s blatant inability to run the economy did much to undermine any credibility they enjoyed. But the final straw was the invasion of the Malvinas (Falkland Islands) in 1982, which led to a humiliating defeat for the Argentinean military at the hands of a British task force and led swiftly to the collapse of the regime and the inauguration of a new era of civilian politics.
The ancestors of most Argentineans of today originally came from Spain and Italy, with smaller percentages coming from other European nations and Middle-Eastern countries. The country also has a Jewish population of about 350,000, the 5th-largest in the world, and a similar number of Syrian Lebanese people.
There are some indigenous communities that live in the northeast areas of Argentina and in the Patagonian region. Argentina has recently received an important intake of immigration from neighbouring countries, mainly Paraguay, Chile, Bolivia and Uruguay. The immigration from Perú is also significant.
Gaucho is a traditional word meaning country man of South America from Indian and Spanish descent. Until the beginning of this century, there were gauchos in Argentina who spent their days working and riding their horses around the large estancias, and looking after cattle that roamed the Pampas. Gauchos often featured as heroes in last-century poems, stories and folkloric songs.
The most common form of greeting between friends is kissing cheeks. Dinner is usually eaten late – from around 9pm. Dress is not usually formal, though clothes should be conservative away from the beach. Formal wear is worn for official functions and dinners, particularly in exclusive restaurants. Smoking is prohibited on public transport, in cinemas and theatres. Casual discussion of the Falklands/Malvinas war can seem insensitive and is best avoided.
Spanish is the official language. English is widely spoken with some French and German.
The government consists of a Federal and Democratic Republic which gained independence from Spain in 1816.
GMT -3 (GMT -4 in summer).
220 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 flat type. Also, the Type I Electrical Plug has two flat, oblique blades that form an inverted V, and a grounding blade.
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.
Clothes to Wear:
Lightweight cottons and linens in the north. Warm clothes are necessary in the south and during winter months in the central area. Waterproofing is advisable for all areas.
Entry & Exit Requirements:
A valid passport is required for U.S. and Canadian citizens to enter Argentina. U.S. and Canadian citizens do not need a visa for visits of up to 90 days for tourism or business.
U.S. citizens who arrive in Argentina with expired or damaged passports may be refused entry and returned to the United States at their own expense. The U.S. Embassy cannot provide guarantees on behalf of travelers in such situations, and therefore encourages U.S. citizens to ensure that their travel documents are valid and in good condition prior to departure from the United States. More information can be obtained from the Embassy of Argentina, 1600 New Hampshire Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20009. Tel: (202) 238-6401, Fax: (202) 332-3171.
American citizens wishing to enter Brazil or Paraguay from Argentina are required to obtain a visa in advance from the Brazilian and/or Paraguayan Embassy or consulate nearest to the traveler’s place of residence. The U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires cannot assist travelers with obtaining Brazilian or Paraguayan visas. Please note, if visiting Iguassu Falls (Brazilian side) a Brazil visa is to be obtained prior to your departure from the US. Travelers transiting between Brazil or Paraguay and Argentina should always make sure to present their passports to Argentine immigration officials to have their entry and exit from Argentina recorded. Please visit the Embassy of Argentina’s website at http://www.embassyofargentina.us/ for the most current visa information.
Americans traveling in Argentina are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy through the State Department’s travel registration website in order to obtain updated information on travel and security within Argentina. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy. By registering, American citizens make it much easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.
U.S. Embassy Buenos Aires
Av. Colombia 4300
(C1425GMN) Buenos Aires
Telephone: +(54)(11) 5777-4533
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(54)(11) 5777-4873 and during working hours +(54)(11) 5777-4354
Embassy of Canada to Argentina
Tagle 2828, C1425EEH Buenos Aires
Tel: (54-11) 4808-1000
Fax: (54-11) 4808-1111
Fax: +(54)(11) 5777-4240
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) hotline for international travelers at 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636) or via the CDC website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the infectious diseases section of the World Health Organization (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/topics/infectious_ diseases/en/. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
Banks & Currency:
Peso (ARS; symbol AR$) = 100 centavos. Peso notes are in denominations of AR$100, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 2. Coins are in denominations of AR$5, 2 and 1, and in 50, 25, 10, 5 and 1 centavos.
US Dollars are accepted in some hotels and tourist centres. Confusingly, both peso and dollar prices are often preceded by just ‘$’, so check if you are uncertain.
Foreign currencies can be exchanged in banks and authorised cambios (bureau de change), which are available in all major cities.
Most major credit cards are accepted, but not as widely as in the US or Europe, and even some large hotels do not have credit card facilities. ATM’s are available in most cities but it is still best to carry alternative forms of payment as daily withdrawal limits are low and machines don’t always work.
Travelers’ checks can be exchanged at banks, cambios and some hotels. It is often difficult to exchange these in the smaller towns. Travelers are advised to use ATM’s and credit cards, but if you do take travelers’ checks to bring them in US Dollars.
Visitors to Argentina can import up to US$10,000 or its equivalent without having to declare. The export of foreign currency for amounts higher than US$10,000 or its equivalent in other currencies is prohibited. Minors aged between 16 and 21 years old can exit Argentina with a maximum of US$2,000 or its equivalent in other currencies, and minors under 16 years old with a maximum amount of US$ 1,000 or its equivalent in other currencies.
Banking Hours: Mon-Fri 10am-3pm.
IDD 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.
Internet: Public access is available in Internet cafes in main towns.
Cell Phone Usage:
Please contact your cell phone provider to determine whether your contract includes coverage in the country you are visiting. Depending on your contract you may have to add international services and/or country specific services.
Food and Drink:
Tap water is considered safe to drink. Drinking water outside main cities and towns may be contaminated and sterilization is advisable. Pasteurized milk and dairy products are safe for consumption. Avoid unpasteurized milk as brucellosis occurs. Local meat, poultry, seafood, fruit and vegetables are generally considered safe to eat.
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 parrillada, 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 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 flavor to cocktails. There are no licensing laws.
Buenos 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 boîtes (clubs) and many stage shows. There are casinos throughout Argentina.
For an atmospheric shopping experience, visit one of the country’s many local ferias (fairs). Leather goods are everywhere, and native arts and handicrafts are also popular. Chocolates from Bariloche and wines from Mendoza make particularly welcome gifts. Beautifully crafted textiles, furniture and clothes are sold by Pasion Argentina which supports often forgotten indigenous communities. Tierra Adentro in Buenos Aires sells exquisite, fair trade native silver jewellery, textiles and furniture crafted by aboriginals.
Look out for the ‘Tax Free’ shopping sign which means foreign visitors can claim back the 21% sales tax on any purchases made in the country.
Shopping hours: Generally Mon-Fri 9am-8pm, Sat 9am-1pm, but many shops close for a long lunch. Opening hours are often unpredictable.
Baggage rules for international and domestic air travel have changed much in recent years, differ from carrier to carrier and these days even may cover your on-board bags. Checking luggage may cost a separate fee or may be free depending on your personal status with the carrier. We therefore encourage you to read your ticket’s small print and/or contact your carrier for exact rules.
Most restaurants and bars already include a 10% service charge in the bill. It is customary to leave a bit extra for good service. When the service charge is not included in the bill, 10-15% is the general rule. Tips are not expected by taxi drivers, although most people tell the driver to keep the change. Airport and hotel porters should receive the equivalent of US$ 1.00 per bag.
Most hotels will arrange affordable laundry services for guests.
PHOTOS & VIDEOS
In some countries you must refrain from photographing sites such as Military bases and industrial installations. Also be aware of cultural sensitivities when taking pictures of or near churches and other religious sites. It is always courteous to ask for permission before taking photographs of people.
USE OF DRONES
The use of drones is being legislated by many countries. In some cases drones are already forbidden and their unauthorized use may carry severe penalties. If you plan to travel with a drone please contact the embassy or consulate of the country you wish to visit.