Argentina in a Glimpse
Argentina is located in South America, and is the eighth-largest country in the world. The highest and the lowest points of South America are also located in Argentina: At 6,960m, Cerro Aconcagua is the tallest mountain in the Americas while Salinas Chicas, at 40m below sea level, is the lowest point in South America.
At the southern tip of Argentina there are several routes between the South Atlantic and the South Pacific Oceans including the Strait of Magellan, the Beagle Channel, and the Drake Passage---as alternatives to sailing around Cape Horn in the open ocean between South America and Antarctica.
The name Argentina derives from argentinos, the Ancient Greek diminutive (tinos) form for silver (argentos), which is what early Spanish explorers sought when they first reached the region in the sixteenth century.
Hey Big Balls
Don't be surprised if you hear some creative terms of endearment on the street. It's not uncommon to refer to one's friends as boludo ("big balls") or loco ("crazy"). "Che" is also used.
There is no such thing as political correctness in Argentina. In a colloquial speech, larger people are unapologetically addressed as gordo (fat), blacks as "negro", and anyone resembling indigenous peoples are also commonly addressed as "bolita" also (regardless of their actual ancestry); Italians are tanos; spaniards gallegos; jews rusos; anyone islamic as "turcos", anyone Asian chinos and the like. This sort of blunt address is considered somewhat normal in Argentina. Try to take it lightly, as it is usually not meant to offend, but don't copy it, because in certain circles this practice is considered racist and xenophobic.
Buenos Aires and the Pampas are temperate; cold in the winter, hot and humid in the summer.
The deserts of Cuyo, which can reach temperatures of 50°C, are extremely hot and dry in the summer and moderately cold and dry in the winter. Spring and fall often exhibit rapid temperature reversals; several days of extremely hot weather may be followed by several days of cold weather, then back to extremely hot.
The Andes are cool in the summer and very cold in the winter, varying according to altitude.
Patagonia is cool in the summer and cold in the winter. Extreme temperature shifts within a single day are even more common here; pack a variety of clothes and dress in layers.
Don't forget that seasons are reversed from those of the Northern Hemisphere.
The central region of Argentina is the rich plain known as La Pampa. There is jungle in the extreme northeast. The southern half of Argentina is dominated by the flat to rolling plateau of Patagonia. The western border with Chile is along the rugged Andes mountains, including the Aconcagua, the highest mountain outside the Himalayas. The western Cuyo regions at the base of the Andes are mostly rocky desert with some poisonous frock trees.
Following independence from Spain in 1816, Argentina experienced periods of internal political conflict between conservatives and liberals. In the first decade of the 20th century, Argentina became the richest nation in Latin America, its wealth symbolized by the opulence of its capital city.
European immigrants flowed into Argentina, particularly from the northern parts of Italy and Spain; by 1914 nearly 6 million people had come to the country.
After World War II, a long period of Peronist rule in subsequent governments was followed by a military junta that took power in 1976.
Democracy returned in 1982 after the battle over the Islas Malvinas (Falkland Islands) with the United Kingdom.
A painful economic crisis at the turn of the 21st century devalued the Argentine peso by a factor of three and ushered in a series of weak, short-lived governments along with social and economic instability.
However, later in the decade Argentina seemed to find some new stability, and currently has a much better economic outlook - albeit with the eternal problem of high inflation.
The official currency of Argentina is the peso (ARS), divided into 100 centavos. Generally, the exchange rate floats around ARS4.70/USD 1 and ARS5.70/€1.
Note: as of June 2012, banks and other exchange agencies no longer sell US dollars at the official rate, as there is a paralel market known as the "blue" dollar. The blue exchange rate is around ARS 6.15/USD 1 and ARS 7.33/€ 1. Make sure to stay up to date with the most recent "blue" value, either by checking the local newspapers or websites such as "Dollar Blue". It is advisable to convert your foreign currency beforehand to the highest possible value (in exchange agencies such as Metropolis) because most shops, while gladly accepting your foreign cash, will usually give you a rate that's more close to the "official" exchange value.
Coins come in 5, 10, 25, 50 centavo and 1 and 2 peso denominations. Banknotes are issued in values of 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 pesos. Be prepared to receive 5 or 10 cent change in the form of golosinas (candies), specially in Chinese supermarkets.
Argentina has the highest traffic mortality rate in South America per 100,000 inhabitants, with Argentinian drivers causing 20 deaths each day (about 7,000 a year), with more than 120,000 injured people each year. These deaths have included some unfortunate tourists. Pedestrians should exercise extreme caution. Do not jaywalk if you do not feel comfortable, and always keep your eyes about you when crossing the street.
There is plenty of activity and foot traffic throughout the night. Nice areas have a very thorough police presence, perhaps one officer per 3 blocks, plus store security and auxiliary patrols. Public security in all major cities like Buenos Aires, Córdoba and Rosario is handled by the Federal Police and the National Gendarmerie or the Naval Prefecture, especially in the Puerto Madero area of Buenos Aires.
As in any large city, certain particular neighborhoods in Buenos Aires and other cities are very dangerous. Some shady neighbourhoods include Retiro, Villa Lugano, La Boca and Villa Riachuelo. Ask trusted locals, such as hotel desk staff or police officers, for advice. Pay attention to your environment and trust your instincts. If an area seems questionable, leave.
Many people in the street and in the subway hand out small cards with horoscopes, lottery numbers, pictures of saints, or cute drawings on them. If you take the card, the person will ask for payment. You can simply return the card along with a no, gracias. or simply in silence if your Spanish is not good. Persistent panhandlers are usually not dangerous; a polite but firm no tengo nada ("I don't have anything") and/or hand gestures are usually enough.
Most robberies are not violent, if it is just give the robbers everything, because they may be on drugs, drunk, have a knife or a gun; in most cases, if your wallet is stolen, you won't even notice until hours later. In the unlikely event that you are confronted by a mugger, simply hand over your valuables - they are replaceable. Watch out for pickpockets in the subway and on crowded city streets. Never hang your purse or bag from the back of your chair in a cafe or restaurant - stealthy theft from such bags is common. Keep your purse or backpack on the floor between your legs while you eat.
Popular demonstrations are very common in Buenos Aires, and are best avoided by tourists as these demonstrations sometimes grow into violent confrontations with the police or National Gendarmerie, particularly as they approach the government buildings in the city center.
The dangers of hailing a taxi has received lots of press but is no longer common. Since 2005 the government cracked down on illegal taxis very successfully. Petty crime continues (like taking indirect routes or, less commonly, changing money for counterfeits). Taxicabs that loiter in front of popular tourist destinations like the National Museum are looking for tourists. Stay away from them. Your chance of falling prey to a scam increases in these situations. Stopping a cab a block or two away on a typical city street where others locals would do the same is good choice. Also having small bills will help you avoid issues mentioned, as well you will often find taxis that don't have change for 100 peso bills.
It is recommended that you carry some ID with you, but not your original passport. A copy of it (easily provided by your own hotel) should be enough.
Ezeiza International Airport Security WarningIn July of 2007, Argentina's TV network "Canal 13" conducted an investigation revealing that a group of security operators at the airport are stealing valuable objects such as iPods, digital cameras, cellular phones, sun glasses, jewelry and laptops while scanning the checked luggage of passengers. According to the special report, security operators at the airport should check each bag before putting it into the plane; however, some operators take advantage of the scanner machine to detect valuable objects and steal them. The report states that this event occurs every day and that the stolen items include anything from electronic devices to perfumes and works of art.
Travelers and residents are strongly encouraged to place high-value items in their carry-on luggage to prevent any incidents.
Note: police officers will often try to get you to bribe them during a traffic ticket. The best thing to do is to give them the money (they will keep you at a stop for a long time if you don't.) However, if you do wish to take the ticket they will give it to you without any problems.
Turn of the TV, go out and live your life!
So many places to visit and cultures to learn from.
And you don't need a huge bank account to do it. It take less than what you think!
So, find your next destination, get inspired and make up your bag.