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argenti1.gif Spanish Text

Argentina has an area of 2.7 million sq. km. It is the eight largest country in the world. The country extends some 3,700 km from its northernmost border with Bolivia to Tierra del Fuego in the south, and about 1400 km from the eastern tip of Cabo San Antonio to the Chilean border.

In the northwest of the country, the Andes mountains have cordilleras in the east and west with plateaus that are actually an extension of the Bolivian Altiplano. These two cordilleras southern down merge into a single one.

The northern lowlands; to the east of the Andes; occupy the river basins of the Paraguay, Parana and Uruguay rivers, which are tributaries of the Rio de la Plata, which end in the Atlantic Ocean near Buenos Aires . The western part of this area is known as the Chaco, part of the Gran Chaco extending from Paraguay and Bolivia. The eastern part, between the Parana and Uruguay rivers is the Argentine Mesopotamia. The center of the country is occupied by The pampas, which are fertile prairies, with marshes and sandy hills. This sector is the most important part economically for Argentina. The main agricultural sites are in the pampas. Also in this area is the most populated, and with much of Argentina's industrial places.

South of the Rio Negro, the pampas give way to Patagonia. This area is arid, extremely windy and sparsely populated. There is some grazing in these areas. Oil, iron and coal is extracted from this area. The islands of Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America is the extension of the Andes mountains but submerged. The largest island Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego is shared with Chile.

Before the arrival of Europeans most of the area of modern Argentina was occupied by tribes of seminomadic hunter-gatherers. It is estimated that numbered about 300,000. Under Tupac Yupanqui the Inca Empire in the 1400s occupied the region which is now north-west Argentina, introducing agriculture and extending the Inca road system southwards from Chuquisaca (Bolivia) to the area where Mendoza lies now.
The Indians who had not come into contact with the Inca Empire didn't have precious metals and had no agricultural skills. Unlike the Inca, the Indians had no systems or social control or communication which could be adapted for use by a colonial power. The open hostility of these Indians was an obstacle for the Spanish settlements.

In 1516 a small party led by Juan de Solis tried to found a settlement on the south bank of the Plata, but they were attacked by Indians. Solis and most of his party were killed. Six years later Sebastian Cabot's expedition established Sancti Spíritus, the first Spanish settlement in the area. They also found two survivors of the Solis expedition who talked about great wealth in the interior. Sailing upriver the expedition discovered the confluence of the Paraná and Paraguay rivers which together form the Rio de la Plata, named by Cabot for the mountain of plata (silver) to be somewhere upstream. The country itself was named after the metal, argentina means silvery, or silver coloured. The settlement Sancti Spíritus was attacked and destroyed by the Indians. Cabot and the other survivors returned to Europe.

In 1536 Spain concerned of a Portuguese expansion from Brasil backed the expedition of Pedro Mendoza that with a dozen of ships and 2000 men sailed to Argentina. They established the settlement, Nuestra Señora Santa María del Buen Aire, on the south bank of the Plata. Again the Indians attacked the settlement and a critical shortage of food forced Mendoza to go back to Spain but died on the way home.
The remains of the expedition moved up north up the Paraná to found the city of Asunción. They found the Guaraní Indians to be friendly. Buenos Aires was abandoned until 1580 when Juan de Garay returned with settlers from Asunción. For 200 years Buenos Aires with fewer than 2000 inhabitants was isolated from the Viceroy in Perú. It was basically a military outpost to rival its Portuguese counterpart, subject to attacks from the Indians and British ships.

Spanish narration


Argentina tiene una extension de 2.7 million sq. km. Es el octavo pais de mayor extensión del mundo. Se extiende 3,700 km desde la parte mas lejana en el norte haciendo frontera con Bolivia hasta la Tierra del Fuego en el sur y alrededor 1400 km desde la zona oriental del Cabo san Antonio hasta la frontera con Chile.

En la parte occidental del norte del pais, las Montañas de los Andes tienen cordilleras en el este y oeste con plataformas que actualmente son una extensión del Altiplano Boliviano. Estas dos cordilleras abajo en el sur se juntan formando una sola.

Los terrenos bajos en el norte al este de los Andes; ocupan la cuenca de los rios del Paraguay, Parana y rios Uruguayos que son afluentes del Rio de la Plata que desemboca en el Oceano Atlantico cerca de Buenos Aires. La zona occidental de esta area es conocida como El Chaco, parte del Gran Chaco que se extiende desde Paraguay y Bolivia. La parte oriental entre el Paraná y los rios del Uruguay es conocida como la Mesopotamia de Argentina. El centro del pais esta ocupado por Las Pampas, que son fértiles praderas, con pantanos y colinas arenosas. Este sector es el mas importante economicamente de Argentina. Los sitios agricolas mas importantes estan situados en las pampas. Esta zona tambien es la que tiene mayor población y los centros industriales de Argentina.

Al sur del Rio Negro, las pampas desaparecen para dar camino a la Patagonia. Esta area es árida, extremadamente ventosa y con una población muy escasa.En esta area se ven ciertos pastizales. Petroleo, fierro y carbón es explotado en esta area. Las islas de la Tierra del Fuego en la parte del extremo sur de Sud America son una extensión de las Cordilleras de los Andes, pero sumergidas. La isla mas grande es compartida con Chile.

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Created on May 9, 1999

Revised on August 14, 1999

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