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Argentina, officially known as the Argentine Republic, is situated in the southern half of South America. Covering an expansive area of 2,780,400 square kilometers (1,073,500 square miles), it ranks as the second-largest country in South America after Brazil, the fourth largest in the Americas, and the eighth largest globally. It has a population close to 47 million inhabitants. Its geography shares the Southern Cone with Chile to the west and is bordered by Bolivia and Paraguay to the north, Brazil to the northeast, Uruguay, and the South Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Drake Passage to the south. The country’s overall land border extends for a length of 9,376 kilometers (5,826 miles). Along its coastline, which spans the Río de la Plata and South Atlantic Ocean, the border measures 5,117 kilometers (3,180 miles) in length.
Argentina operates as a federal state, divided into twenty-three provinces and one autonomous city, Buenos Aires, which serves as the federal capital and the nation’s largest city (pop. 3 million). Each province and the capital have their own constitutions within the framework of a federal system. Argentina also asserts sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and the South Sandwich Islands, as well as a portion of Antarctica.
The arrival of Europeans in the region began with Amerigo Vespucci’s voyage in 1502. Spanish navigators Juan Díaz de Solís and Sebastian Cabot explored the area now known as Argentina in 1516 and 1526, respectively. In 1536, Pedro de Mendoza established the initial settlement of Buenos Aires, which was ultimately abandoned in 1541.
Human presence in the land now known as Argentina traces back to the Paleolithic period. The Inca Empire extended its influence on the northwestern part of the country in the Pre-Columbian era. Argentina’s roots stem from Spanish colonization during the 16th century. It emerged as the successor state of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, a Spanish overseas viceroyalty established in 1776.
The pursuit and attainment of independence (1810–1818) was followed by an extended civil conflict that persisted until 1861, ultimately resulting in the country’s reorganization as a federation. A period of peace and stability ensued, marked by waves of European immigration, predominantly from Italy and Spain, which greatly influenced its culture and demographics. The Mapuche indigenous community have a deep connection to the Andean landscape to this day.
Subsequent colonization efforts were initiated by Paraguay, leading to the establishment of the Governorate of the Río de la Plata, as well as by Peru and Chile. Francisco de Aguirre founded Santiago del Estero in 1553, Londres in 1558, Mendoza in 1561, San Juan in 1562, and San Miguel de Tucumán in 1565. Santa Fe was founded by Juan de Garay in 1573, and in the same year, Jerónimo Luis de Cabrera established Córdoba. Garay later ventured south to re-establish Buenos Aires in 1580. The establishment of San Luis followed in 1596.
The Spanish Empire prioritized the immediate riches of silver and gold mines in Bolivia and Peru, thereby subordinating the economic potential of the Argentine territory. Consequently, the region was initially part of the Viceroyalty of Peru until the formation of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata in 1776, with Buenos Aires as its capital.
Buenos Aires successfully repelled two British invasion attempts in 1806 and 1807. The ideals of the Age of Enlightenment and the influence of the first Atlantic Revolutions led to criticism of the absolutist monarchy in control. Like the rest of Spanish America, the ousting of Ferdinand VII during the Peninsular War created considerable unrest.
Formalizing the Declaration of Independence, the Congress of Tucumán convened on 9 July 1816, an occasion now celebrated as Independence Day, a national holiday. A year later, General Martín Miguel de Güemes thwarted royalist forces in the north, while General José de San Martín, alongside Bernardo O’Higgins, led a joint army across the Andes, securing Chile’s independence. Later, O’Higgins ordered San Martín to liberate Peru, which was successfully achieved. In 1819, Buenos Aires enacted a centralized constitution, though it was soon discarded by the federalists.
The highest peak in Argentina is Aconcagua, situated in the Mendoza province, reaching an elevation of 6,959 meters (22,831 feet) above sea level. This summit is not only the highest point in Argentina but also in the entire Southern and Western Hemispheres. On the other end of the elevation spectrum, the lowest point is found at Laguna del Carbón in the San Julián Great Depression within the Santa Cruz province. This point lies at an impressive depth of -105 meters (-344 feet) below sea level. It is also significant as one of the lowest points in both the Southern and Western Hemispheres, as well as being the seventh lowest point globally.
From a geographic standpoint, the northernmost point is located at the meeting point of the Grande de San Juan and Mojinete rivers in Jujuy province. The southernmost point is Cape San Pío in the Tierra del Fuego province. Going eastward, the easternmost point is situated northeast of Bernardo de Irigoyen, Misiones. Meanwhile, the westernmost point is found within the boundaries of Los Glaciares National Park in Santa Cruz province. The maximum distance from north to south spans 3,694 kilometers (2,295 miles), while the maximum distance from east to west covers 1,423 kilometers (884 miles).
Argentina boasts several significant rivers, including the Paraná, Uruguay, Paraguay, Salado, Negro, Santa Cruz, Pilcomayo, Bermejo, and Colorado rivers. These waterways eventually converge to form the Río de la Plata. All these rivers discharge into the Argentine Sea, which is part of the Atlantic Ocean and covers the expansive Argentine Shelf—an unusually wide continental platform. These waters are influenced by two major ocean currents: the warm Brazil Current and the cold Falklands Current.
Renowned as one of the world’s most biodiverse nations, Argentina boasts an exceptional variety of ecosystems within its borders, encompassing 15 continental zones, 2 marine zones, and the Antarctic region. This remarkable range of ecosystems has given rise to an extensive biological diversity that ranks among the largest globally: 9,372 documented vascular plant species (24th globally); 1,038 documented bird species (14th globally); 375 documented mammal species (12th globally); 338 documented reptilian species (16th globally); and 162 documented amphibian species (19th globally).
Originally, the pampa region featured scarce trees, but over time, imported species such as the American sycamore or eucalyptus have been introduced along roads and in towns and country estates (known as “estancias”). One notable native tree-like plant of the pampa is the evergreen Ombú. The surface soils of the pampa, known as mollisols or humus, are deeply black in color. This characteristic makes the region immensely fertile, contributing to its status as one of the most agriculturally productive areas on Earth. However, this agricultural success has come at the cost of significant changes to the original ecosystem, as commercial agriculture has encroached upon natural landscapes. The western pampas receive less precipitation, resulting in a dry pampa characterized by short grasses, akin to a steppe environment.
Argentina’s National Parks form a network of 35 protected areas throughout the country. These parks encompass a diverse array of terrains and biotopes, ranging from Baritú National Park along the northern border with Bolivia to Tierra del Fuego National Park in the southernmost reaches of the continent. Responsible for the preservation and management of these national parks, alongside natural monuments, and national reserves within the nation, is the Administración de Parques Nacionales (National Parks Administration).
The Andes Mountains in Argentina offer a diverse and awe-inspiring landscape that’s perfect for capturing stunning photographs. Here is an overview of what you can expect:
High Peaks and Glaciers:
Argentina’s Andes feature some of the tallest peaks in the world, including Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Southern and Western Hemispheres. The towering peaks, often crowned with glaciers, provide breathtaking backdrops for your photography.
The southern reaches of the Andes extend into Patagonia, where you’ll find iconic landscapes such as the Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre peaks. Patagonia offers diverse photography opportunities, from mountain ranges to pristine lakes and glaciers.
Glacial Lakes and Reflections:
Glacial lakes like Lake Nahuel Huapi and Lake Argentina offer mirror-like reflections of surrounding mountains and forests. These serene scenes are perfect for capturing tranquil and reflective shots.
Tierra del Fuego:
The Andes continue into Tierra del Fuego, an archipelago at the southernmost tip of South America. The region’s dramatic landscapes, including snow-capped mountains and fjords, provide unique photographic subjects.
In the foothills of the Andes lies Mendoza, Argentina’s wine region. The vineyards against the backdrop of the mountains offer picturesque scenes, especially during the grape harvest season.
Quebrada de Humahuaca:
This UNESCO World Heritage site features vibrant rock formations and picturesque towns. The colorful landscapes and traditional architecture provide striking photography subjects.
Overall, the Andes Mountains in Argentina offer a blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and iconic landmarks. Whether you’re capturing the majesty of high peaks, the tranquility of glacial lakes, or the vibrancy of indigenous cultures, the Andes of Argentina provide a captivating destination for photography.