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Argentina

perón south north country

Argentina, second-largest country in South America (1,072,157 sq mi/2,776,889 sq km). Only Brazil is larger. Argentina borders on the Atlantic Ocean in the southeast; Uruguay, Brazil in the east, Paraguay in the northeast, Bolivia in the north, and Chile in the west.

Land and climate

The Andes Mountains form a natural border with Chile. The Gran Chaco region, in the north, is an extensive forested plain. Also in the north is the Paraná Plateau. The fertile Pampa in the heart of Argentina is the country's most important region economically. Semiarid Patagonia to the south yields oil. In the west, the Andes include Mt. Aconcagua (22,834 ft/6,960 m), the highest peak in South America. The climate of Argentina varies from damp and subtropical in the north to cool and dry in the south.

People

About 90% of the people are descended from Southern European immigrants, with a small Native American population. The national language is Spanish and about 90% of the population is Roman Catholic, with 87% living in urban areas like Buenos Aires.

Economy

Grain-growing and cattle-raising dominate the pampas, and agriculture is the basis of the country's wealth. Oil and other minerals come from the north and south. About 25% of the labor force works in the country's well-developed industrial sector, much of which is located in and around Buenos Aires. High inflation is chronic and persistent.

History

Colonized by the Spanish in the 16th century, Argentina won its independence in 1816. The 19th century saw increased European immigration, economic progress, and political instability and strife with repercussions well into the 20th century. In 1944, Col. Juan Perón seized power and ruled until 1955. His dictatorship was supported by nationalists, the army, and the Roman Catholic church. However, his rule depended in large measure upon the popularity of his wife, Eva Duarte de Perón, and her death (1952), combined with a bad economy, led to Perón's ouster (1955). The Perónist movement remained popular, and in 1973 Perón was restored to power. He died in 1974 and was succeeded by his wife, Isabel Perón, but the economy worsened and violence between left and right increased. Isabel Perón was overthrown in 1976 by military juntas. In reaction to terrorism from the left, the juntas, through their agents and surrogates, kidnapped and murdered some 20,000–30,000 Argentine citizens suspected of leftist sympathies. In 1982, Argentina occupied the Falkland Islands and was defeated by Britain in the subsequent war. Gen. Leopoldo Galtieri resigned and Raúl Alfonsin was elected president of a civilian government in 1983. Nine members of the juntas stood trial for murder and human rights abuses and were sentenced to long prison terms. Carlos Raúl Menem, a Perónist, was elected president in 1989 and started an austerity program to devitalize the economy. This program led to a decline of inflation, but at the same time increased unemployment.

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