Between hopes and disappointments
A country of great potential, Argentina was hit by a very serious crisis at the beginning of the century; for decades, however, the economic situation was precarious, due to the ups and downs of the international market for agricultural and food products and the unstable political events. Argentina is a large country where millions of descendants of Italian immigrants live and which is looking for its way to development. For Argentina 2001, please check naturegnosis.com.
The territory and its resources
Argentina occupies a large part of the Southern Cone of South America: wide plains that reach the Atlantic Ocean and vast lowlands that rise close to the Andes. The great northern plains of Chaco and Mesopotamia – so called because it lies between the two great rivers Paraná and Uruguay, which then join and form the Río de la Plata – have a warm tropical and subtropical climate. The original landscape of prairies with trees and, to the east, of forests has been partially transformed with crops of cotton, sugar cane, citrus fruits, tobacco, tea.
The central part of the country is also an immense plain – the Pampas – between the Paraná and the Río Colorado, with a temperate climate, today largely cultivated: wheat, corn, oats, soy (Argentina is the 3rd world producer), sunflower, peanuts, flax, fruit trees (apple, peach, pear, plum trees) and vines, whose development is mainly due to Italian immigrants. Vast areas are reserved for cattle (5th world breeder) and equine breeding. The southern region – Patagonia – extends as far as Tierra del Fuego: it is the kingdom of the steppe, with a climate that, as it proceeds south, becomes colder and more arid. Here the population is scarce, despite the mining exploitation of some deposits and the breeding of sheep and goats, from which wool and skins are processed and exported.
A country built by immigrants
Argentina was a Spanish colony until 1816, when it gained independence. There followed a long period of political instability, recurring economic crises, internal struggles and there were also some conflicts with neighboring countries. From 1888 to 1930 Argentina experienced strong growth, as it became one of the largest exporters of cereals and meat; then, instead, the economic situation deteriorated.
Almost depopulated until the end of the nineteenth century – in 1869 it had just 1,700,000 residents – Argentina then welcomed large numbers of immigrants, especially from Europe. Today about 90% of the population is of European origin and there are few Indians.
Among the immigrants there were many Italians, whose descendants make up about one third of the total population. Even today it is mainly the southern and northern regions that are sparsely populated, while almost 70% of the population is concentrated in the center of the country, – the provinces of Santa Fé, Córdoba and Entre Ríos (Paraná) – and along the Río de la Plata, where the capital Buenos Aires welcomes almost a third of Argentines.
The country produces enough oil and natural gas to be self-sufficient and export a share. The industry is quite developed in the traditional food and textile sectors, but also in mechanical, chemical, steel and metallurgical production.
Argentina is a large country, rich in human potential and with conspicuous economic capabilities, but at the turn of the century it suffered a serious economic crisis (Argentina, history of), with high inflation and considerable unemployment, which fueled a widespread social malaise.