The provocative tango. The delectable wine. The vivacious culture. The stunning landscapes. The world-class beef. Argentina offers a panoply of wonders for the intrepid traveler—all set among stunning natural scenery and complemented by the warm hospitality of the locals.
The heartbeat of Argentina is in Buenos Aires, where the nightlife, shopping, culture, and architecture have earned the city the distinction of "The Paris of South America." Here you can take in a tango show or try the dance yourself. Quaint historic neighborhood like Recoleta, Palermo, or Puerto Madero offer charming cafes, boutiques, and comfortable hotels nestled among historic sites. Visit the labyrinthine marble mausoleums of Recoleta Cemetery where more than 4500 above-ground vaults date back as far as 1822, including the final resting place of Eva Peron. CNN recently named it one of the 10 most beautiful cemeteries in the world. San Telmo Market built in 1897, offers everything from produce to antiques, handicrafts, house wares and one of a kind curiosities.
Wine lovers should pay a visit to the city of Mendoza, where stunning views of the Andes will surely enhance the taste of the world-class wine you sample. An excursion to the town of Salta will charm you with perfectly preserved examples of Spanish colonial architecture (and the wine's not bad here either!) A stay at an estancia, or ranch, will let you live the life of a gaucho. Here you'll see—and taste!—some of the world's best beef and experience firsthand where it comes from.
For many travelers, a trip to Argentina is not complete without visiting Iguazú Falls. Not only will you have the chance to get up close to one of the world's most immense and spectacular waterfalls; you'll also get to enjoy Iguazú National Park, a biological preserve home to more than 2000 species of plants—including orchids, ferns and bromeliads—450 species of birds, and rare mammals such as the jaguar.
Enjoy all the delights of Argentina during the pleasant Austral summer (when it’s winter in the Northern Hemisphere). The beautiful summer weather is a welcome treat for those heading to or returning from an Antarctica expedition.
Shaped like an inverted triangle, Argentina is the world's eighth largest country. It covers 880 miles (1420 km) across at its widest point, and stretches 2360 miles (3800 km) from north to south. Its geography spans an incredible range from subtropical in the north to desertic in the center and subantarctic in the south.
This vast land was sparsely populated with perhaps 300,000 indigenous individuals before Europeans arrived in 1516. Some were nomadic peoples who survived on hunting and fishing. Others remained stationary, developing some of the earliest forms of agriculture. The northwestern highlands belonged to the Inca empire, and pre-Inca ruins are still visible.
European colonization began around 1535 by a Spanish soldier named Pedro de Mendoza, who founded Buenos Aires the following year. Due to food shortages and attacks from indigenous populations defending their territory, the settlement was abandoned five years later. A Spanish settlement in what is today Asuncion, Paraguay, eventually took hold and allowed the Spanish to gradually take control of the region. Buenos Aires was reestablished beginning in 1580. These early Spaniards introduced herds of cattle and other livestock, laying the foundation for an agricultural economy that still thrives today. Argentina remained under Spanish rule for three centuries before declaring independence in 1816.
Following independence, Argentina was locked in civil war until 1861. The end of this turmoil saw the country organized into provinces with Buenos Aires as their capital. Argentina experienced significant growth and development during the first decade of the 20th century, but war and political strife were soon to follow. Much of Argentina's recent history is marked by internal conflicts between civilian and military factions who attempted to assume control.
Argentina's most famous leader, Juan Peron, was in office from 1946 to 1955 and again from 1973 to 1974, after being overthrown and temporarily exiled. Peron's promises of land, higher wages, and social security for the working class made him immensely popular. His second wife, Eva "Evita" Duarte worked alongside her husband managing social security and labor relations and was also much beloved by Argentines. The popular Broadway musical Evita chronicles her life.
The military dictatorship of the 1970s marked a dark period in Argentina's history. During this time, known as the Dirty War, thousands of presumed dissidents were "disappeared" or murdered, never to be seen again. To this day, mothers whose children were kidnapped or killed during the Dirty War protest in the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires, hoping to learn the fate of their loved ones.
The period of dictatorship ended in 1982 when Britain defeated Argentina in the Falkland Islands War. Democratic rule took hold and remains today, despite various economic crises that have swept the country in recent decades.
Today Argentina is enjoying a period of economic recovery, buoyed by a strong agricultural economy. The country is known for its beef industry and exports of cereal grains, wool, and some of its wine. Tourism also contributes to the growing economy. Argentina is a stop on many an expedition cruise to Antarctica and is quickly becoming an adventure lover's Mecca thanks to its soaring peaks, exquisite national parks, and extraordinary flora and fauna.