Argentina Country Guide

Argentina was colonized by Spanish settlers and later made big by a massive immigration of Europeans in the beginning of last century. African slaves of the Spanish colony mixed with natives and Europeans gave birth to the gaucho, an outstanding horseman, brave and skilled with long spears, a lover of freedom that fought for the independence of his country.

The eighth-largest country and the most southern of South America is so elongated it has four different climates, tropical in the north to extreme cold in the south. Its flat and fertile lands produce soybeans, beans, wheat, corn, and the best beef meat in the world that can be enjoyed locally at the cheapest prices worldwide, barbecued by experts. Argentina produces and exports fine wines that have the best price/quality equation and a distinctive variety, the Malbec, becomes a favourite of visitors.

Our Argentina Country Guide provides you with all the travel information you need to know to plan your holiday in Argentina, while our Argentina Destination Guide gives some great insight into the many exciting things to see and do during your visit. Joining an Argentina tour or activity is a safe and easy way to explore the country!

We currently have local connections in Puerto Iguazu and Buenos Aires.

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Argentina Country Guide

Follow the links below or scroll further down the page for some handy details to help you plan your Argentina holiday:

Climate/Weather Top

Check out our Argentina weather page for current Argentina climate and weather conditions and also for a six-day Argentina weather forecast.

Communication Top

Telephone
The country code for Argentina is 54. Locally known as locutorios, phone centres are scattered across every town. You can easily find public pay phones in restaurants, shops and even on streets. Be sure to carry enough loose change because using these pay phones will cost you anywhere between 20 and 50 centavos to 1 peso. You can even use international phone cards as these are widely accepted by public telephone centres.

Mobile Telephone
You may even get roaming services on your mobile, if you use a network that has an agreement with certain international mobile phone companies. But make sure that the phones that you are using are tri-band. Network coverage is quite good across the country, though if you are travelling to mountainous regions or to remote villages, then you may not have proper coverage.

Internet
You can check your emails and surf the net at the various phone centres and internet cafes around the towns. You may even have Wi-Fi and conventional internet connectivity at up-scale hotels.

Post

If you are thinking of writing to friends and family in Europe, then do keep in mind that your airmail might take a week or two to reach your loved ones. The other option is sending your letters by surface mail services, which take anywhere between 20 to 50 days to reach their destination. If you are looking for quicker service, then express services is a good idea. With a 24-hour delivery schedule within the boundaries of Argentina and anywhere between one to five days across the world, express service is the answer to your snail mail problems. Sarmiento 189 in Buenos Aires is where the main post office is located.

Post office hours: Post offices in Argentina are open from 0800 hours to 2000 hours through the week. On Saturdays they work half-days from 0900 hours to 1300 hours. There might be slight differences in this time schedule in various parts of Argentina.

Currency/Weather Top

Peso, which uses the AR$ symbol, is equal to 100 centavos. The denominations for the Peso notes are AR$100, 20, 50, 10, 5 and 2; coins come in denominations of AR$ 1, 2 and 5, while centavos come in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50. A few tourist centres and hotels may accept US Dollars too.

You can exchange foreign currencies in banks and cambios (bureaux de change), which can be found in all big cities.

All major credit cards are generally accepted in Argentina, though the use of credit cards is not as popular as it is in Europe or the US. While you can find ATM counters in most cities, the daily withdrawal limits are low and ATM machines aren’t always in working condition.

You can exchange traveller’s cheques at cambios, banks and a few hotels, though this may not be possible in the smaller towns of Argentina. It is advisable to carry traveller’s cheques in US Dollars.

Banking Hours: Banks are open Monday to Friday, from 1000 hours to 1500 hours.

Follow the link to view the latest Argentina exchange rate from OANDA.com.

Electricity Top

Argentina runs off a 220V/ 50Hz system, with Type-C European round 2-pronged electrical socket.

Embassy Locations Top

To view a list of Argentinian embassies around the world, as well as foreign embassies within Argentina, check out http://www.embassy-worldwide.com/ 

General Information Top

Population: 40.482 million (July 2008 est.)
Total Area: 2,766,890 sq km
Capital: Buenos Aires
Time Zone: UTC + 3 hours

Follow the link to view the current time in Buenos Aires.

Geography Top

The rich central plains of Argentina are called La Pampa. Verdant forests cover the extreme northern regions in the east of the country. The rolling plateaus of Patagonia cover the southern half of Argentina. The western border that Argentina shares with Chile runs along the Andes and the Aconcagua. At the foothills of the Andes lie the Cuyo regions – a rocky desert with an array of poisonous trees. Temperatures can soar up to 50 degrees in this dry, hot place.

There are several sea routes such as the Beagle Channel, the Strait of Magellan and the Drake at the south-most tip of the country, between the South Pacific and the South Atlantic Ocean. One can even sail around the Cape Horn, between South America and the Antarctica.

To view a map of Argentina, follow the link to WorldAtlas.com.

Health Top

You may need vaccinations, depending upon the places around the country that you plan to visit. For instance, you might need yellow fever vaccination if you are visiting the forests in the north of Argentina. It would also be a good idea to find out about the weather and climatic conditions beforehand so that you go prepared. You just might suffer from travellers’ diarrhoea as you adjust to the food and water. While the tap water is quite safe and clean, it might be chlorinated. Carry bottled water when you visit the rural regions in northern Argentina.

History Top

After freedom from Spanish colonial rule in 1816, Argentina went through a period of internal political turmoil, with clashes between the liberals and the conservatives. But as Argentina stepped into the 20th century, it became one of the richest countries in Latin America, with an opulent the capital city as the symbol of its wealth.

Immigrants from Europe, especially from Italy, flocked to Argentina. There were more than 6 million immigrants in the country by 1914. Post-World War II, the country was governed by Peronist rule, which was followed my military rule in 1976.

Democratic rule was restored in 1983 after Argentina attempted to snatch away the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) from the United Kingdom.

The nation went through a great collapse of economy in the beginning of the 21st century. But after President Bestor Kirchner took over the reins of the country, the economy as well as the situation in the country began to stabilise.

Language Top

Spanish is widely spoken in Argentina as this is the official language. Castellano Rioplatense, also known as Argentino, is a regional dialect that sounds a bit different from Spanish and the language of Central America. Italian influence is seen in the Argentine accent.
 
People at tourist hot spots understand basic English, while smatterings of French and German are spoken by some of the population. But if you speak Spanish you can talk your way through the country!

People Top

Warm and friendly, Argentineans welcome visitors with open arms. In spite of all the hardships that the country and the people had to go through they have a zest for life and living. Food, festivity and football are the three main passions of any Argentinean.

Effervescent and effusive, the locals might ask you questions of a personal nature and would like you to ask them some too. Not doing so might be taken as a sign of disinterest.

Men and women kiss each others’ cheeks and this is a common form of greeting. Quite laid back about time, most Argentineans can be expected to arrive at least 15 minutes late for any appointment. It is quite common to be 30-45 minutes late too. This is not a sign of disrespect, but an accepted norm. However, this attitude does not apply to business meetings.

Public/Bank Holidays Top

Follow the link to view a current list of public holidays in Argentina.

Religion Top

Most Argentines are Roman Catholic but there are also important other Christian denominations, as well as Muslims and Jewish communities. Argentina guarantees freedom of worship, expression and speech.

Visa and passport information Top

Those belonging to Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand and several Western European countries, will not need visas to visit this beautiful country. If you don’t have a visa, it is advisable to get a free tourist card when you arrive in Argentina. This card is valid for 90 days and can be renewed for another 90 days. These tourist cards are issued by immigration officers only at some of the main border crossings, like on ferries, at airports and at hydrofoils between Uruguay and Buenos Aires. Even if you lose your card, do not worry because you will be supplied with a fresh tourist card immediately at any of the exit points.