The oldest archaeological finds in the Argentine area
date from ca. 10,000 BC About. 500 BC taught the Indians in
Argentina to grow potatoes, hold llamas, and work in
ceramics and metals. In the last of three ceramic periods,
after approx. 1000 AD, rich bronze works were made. Somewhat
younger are hires for urban development and fortifications.
This culture is related to the corresponding period in
the forest area further in the northeast. But the Native
American culture of the land today known as Argentina was
technologically and organizationally very simple compared to
the Aztec, Mayan and Inca cultures.
It is estimated that by the colonization of the Europeans
there was a Native American population of approx. 300 000.
Approx. In 1480, Northwest Argentina was incorporated into
The colonial past
Río de la Plata's estuary was discovered by Europeans in
1516. 1520 reached Fernão de Magalhães on his
circumnavigation Patagonian coast. From the west and north,
the northwestern part of the country was colonized in the
middle of the 16th century.
Argentina was part of the Viceroy of Peru until 1776. See
abbreviationfinder for geography, history, society, politics, and economy of Argentina. The
direct trade with Spain was very small, and most goods to
the country were imported via the west coast of South
America. Río de la Plata had very little significance.
Northwest Argentina provided foodstuffs to the silver mining
community of Potosí in Bolivia, which generated good
The Viceroy of Río de la Plata, which also included
Paraguay and Bolivia, was established in 1776. In 1778,
trade with Spain was released. Córdoba was the most
important city in the colony. The city was centrally located
in Argentina and got its university in 1613, administered by
Spanish conservative Jesuits. This position was broken
towards the end of the 18th century, when Buenos Aires
became the economic, political and cultural capital. This
was due to the fact that trade with Peru lost its importance
in favor of the transatlantic.
Independence and time until approx. 1930
The independence movement succeeded in 1810 to free
Buenos Aires from Spanish domination, and in 1816 Argentina
declared itself independent of Spain. A sharp contradiction
arose between the "centralists" in Buenos Aires, who
supported the citizenship, and the "federalists" in the
country, supported by the larger landowners.
The country's strong man from 1835 to 1852, Juan Manuel
de Rosas, was a federalist, but through his powerful course
contributed to promoting the cause of the centralists. He
led an ongoing foreign policy, with war on Bolivia and
Uruguay, and in the years 1845-48 against France and the
In Rosas's time, Argentina became the most powerful state
in South America. This was partly due to Brazil surviving a
civil war. When Brazil again became a great power, Rosas was
defeated in 1852. After he was deposed, the provincial
provinces joined together in a separate federation, but
Buenos Aires conquered this by joining the 1861 Argentina
itself with Uruguay and Brazil in the Triple Alliance and
went to war against Paraguay in 1865. The war lasted for
five years and led to the largest genocide in Latin America
after the colonial era.
In 1880, Buenos Aires became the national capital and a
center of power for the incumbent presidents who later could
not be rocked.
An economic boom began for Argentina in the 1870s. The
original subpopulated country received 6 million immigrants
from Europe between 1860 and 1930, and especially Spain and
Italy. Despite the fact that Spanish has remained the
national language of Argentina, the Italian influence has
been as strong as the Spanish. Also from Western Europe many
emigrated to Argentina, and more Scandinavians settled there
than in any other country in Latin America. The Indians were
brutally slaughtered, and the country therefore had a purely
European character in terms of population.
Railway construction accelerated in the 1870s. As an
agricultural country, Argentina became one of the world's
leaders, with first-class meat and wheat for export. Foreign
capital came primarily from the United Kingdom, which became
Argentina's most important trading partner until the Second
From 1880 to 1916, Argentina was dominated by the
conservative and national party PAN, supported by landlords.
Economic growth was explosive until 1890, when inflation ran
rampant and confidence disappeared in the British capital
market. The result was that economic growth stopped and
Argentina received a considerable foreign debt. But
agriculture recovered quickly from the crisis, and it was
during this period that Argentina became the world's leading
supplier of agricultural products.
Unlike most other states in the region, Argentina had a
middle class, which had the so-called radical party (UCR),
founded in 1889, as a voice tube. It had a sting against the
landlords, but was otherwise liberal. During the crisis of
the 1890s, UCR significantly increased its importance. In
1912 general voting rights were implemented and the
political life in the country dominated from 1916 to 1930.
The party was very corrupt. The economic crisis that began
after the collapse of the New York Stock Exchange in 1929
led to unrest in Argentina as well, and the army began its
later strong political position when in 1930 it helped to
overthrow radical President Hipólito Irigoyen.
Conservative forces then ruled the country until 1943.
Corruption was no less than before, and the growing
industrial working class was kept out of social life.
Nationalist officers did a coup in 1943. They had great
sympathy for the Axis powers in Europe, and their goal,
behind a program of cooperation between the countries of the
region, was to make Argentina the Latin America's leading
Traditional Argentine contempt for the predominantly
non-white population of the other republics, and not least
in Brazil, which was the main challenger to the leadership
position, made it easy for the new government to play
further on nationalist sentiments.
In 1943 Colonel Juan Domingo Perón became head of the
Secretariat for Labor and Social Care. A strong association
with the CGT trade union laid the foundation for populism in
Argentina. This was a whole new and revolutionary element of
By free elections in 1946, Perón was elected president,
and he was re-elected in 1951. Perón's populism was
characterized by strong nationalism, economic independence
and social justice, and had similarities to fascist
movements in Europe. Among other things, the Soviet Union
objected to the country joining the UN.
Perón nationalized foreign property, prioritized
industrialization at the expense of agriculture, and helped
to elevate the workers' economic and social standing to a
very high degree. Against the United States, he spoke a
violent language in his speeches. As a person, Perón was
both personally and financially corrupt, but his way of life
did rather to strengthen his popularity among the masses,
where he and his active wife Eva ("Evita", who died in 1952)
became the subject of pure cult.
The old upper class, however, did not consider him
highly. Inwardly, his regime was politically authoritarian,
while the spiritual life remained relatively free. Buenos
Aires held the position as one of the support points for
culture in Latin America. Argentina, which had a very
favorable starting position in 1945, was harmed by the
unbalanced policy, and when Perón saw himself forced to
support agriculture, his popularity among the workers
He also joined the Catholic Church when the state and
church were separated in 1955, and the officer corps
eventually became skeptical of him, not least because of the
suspicion that he might find his own armed supporters
against regular military power. In September 1955 he was
overthrown by the army and fled to exile in Spain.
The years leading up to 1973 became extremely troubling
for Argentina. The elected presidents Arturo Frondizi
(1958–62) and Arturo Illia (1963–66) were both deposed by
the army. From his exile in Madrid, Perón cast his shadow
over political life, and his often fanatical followers were
the best organized group in Argentina.
The March 1973 election brought the Peronist candidate
Héctor Cámpora to power, with almost half the votes. A
conflict broke out between the factions of the Peronist
movement. Cámpora took office as president in May, Perón
returned to Argentina in June, and Cámpora resigned from his
position in July in favor of Perón, who in September ran for
election with his new wife, Isabel, as vice presidential
Perón received more than 60 percent of the vote and
assumed power the following month. To some extent, he seemed
a stabilizing element, but his power was broken and he was
unable to exercise the necessary leadership.
After his death in July 1974, Isabel Perón took over as
president, and she made strong efforts to keep the Peronist
myth alive. The country's problems were now almost
insurmountable. Inflation was estimated at 600 per cent per
year in 1975, foreign exchange reserves shrank drastically,
and political murders and kidnappings were the order of the
The new president was manipulated by the most reactionary
wing of the Peronist movement, which eventually deposed her
at a military coup in March 1976.
Military rule and democratization 1976–89
The regime that came to power in 1976 declared that it
would seek to redress the country's poor economy and put an
end to political violence. The National Assembly was
dissolved and all political and professional activities
temporarily banned. The "dirty war" carried out by the army
intelligence service and the death squadron AAA was aimed at
physically exterminating the guerrilla organizations
People's Revolutionary Army (ERP) and Monteneros (the
radical left within the Peronist movement).
The number of missing (Spanish: los desaparecidos) under
General Jorge Rafael Videla's regime (1976-81) varies due to
uncertain source material. The most sober estimates are
around 8,000 people, while several human rights
organizations, both Argentine and international, believe the
real figure is somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 people.
Argentina also had two territorial conflicts going on.
The one with neighbor Chile about some islands at the inlet
of the Beagle Canal, near the southern tip of the continent.
The parties signed a friendship agreement in 1984 and
committed to finding a solution that gave Chile sovereignty
but Argentina certain maritime rights. The second conflict
was with Britain over the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas),
known as the Falkland War. In April 1982, Argentine troops
invaded the Falkland Islands. Following British
countermeasures, the Argentine forces capitulated in June,
which also led to the fall of General Leopoldo Fortunato
In 1982, more than a thousand unidentified bodies were
found in several cemeteries, and it was believed that these
were victims of the Videla regime. The demand for a public
account of the fate of the disappeared increased with the
relatives and the liberal opinion. The junta admitted in
1983 that most of the missing from the 1970s had died. At
the same time, the democratic process had begun. The
government contacted civilian politicians about organizing
political parties and transitioning to democracy.
However, the economic crisis persisted; unemployment
passed 18%, and inflation galloped further at an accelerated
rate, to 2340% in 1983. The same year a currency reform was
The October 1983 election became a triumph for the
radical party UCR and Raúl Alfonsín. The new civilian
president immediately initiated replacements in the top
military leadership as well as prepared measures aimed at
drastically reducing the country's defense spending. Former
Presidents Videla, Viola and Galtieri, along with six junta
members, were indicted as responsible for the killings and
torture. Videla received life imprisonment, Viola 17 years,
while Galtieri was acquitted (Galtieri, however, was placed
under a new charge in 1986 for his role in the Falkland War
and was sentenced to twelve years in prison).
The verdicts were criticized by the opposition for being
too mild. But it nevertheless caught the attention that, for
the first time in Latin American history, a settlement was
made with representatives of a brutal dictatorship. The
demand for amnesty for the convicted officers led to
dramatic riots led by Colonel Aldo Rico in 1987 and 1988 and
Mohammed Ali Seineldin in 1988. In January 1989, former ERP
leaders attacked the La Tablada military embassy under the
name Movement Alt for the Fatherland (MTP). The attack was a
defeat for the MTP, and President Alfonsín set up a Security
Council in collaboration with the army to prevent new
An economic reform in 1985 meant temporary control of
inflation, but Alfonsín did not succeed in stabilizing the
The 1989 election campaign was between Alfonsín's
successor Eduardo Angeloz and the Peronist party's Carlos
Saúl Menem. Expectations of populist Peronist rhetoric had a
breakthrough among the working class, and Menem won the
election. Instead of focusing on a nationalist
state-directed economy, Menem advocated a dramatic
restructuring of the economy to satisfy the International
Monetary Fund (IMF). After a new military rebellion in 1990,
Menem gave amnesty to the convicted protagonists of "the
dirty war" in an attempt at national reconciliation.
Support for Menem's policy could be recorded by the
progress of the Peronist Party in the local elections in
1991. Menem also went to the brink of establishing a Common
Market (MERCOSUR) with Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay. In
1993, Alfonsín's Radical Party (UCR) and the Menem Justice
Party (PJ) joined an alliance that excluded almost all
opposition. The rebel Aldo Rico led a minority party based
on the interests of the military, and Menem thus managed to
bring the military under political control.
Menem had to endure a lot of criticism for the increasing
institutionalized corruption and gradual political control
of the judiciary and business, despite a radical wave of
privatization. Menem, like its Mexican presidential
colleague Salinas (1988–94), made vigorous attempts to step
into the ranks of the industrialized rich countries and
therefore pursued a very US-friendly policy.
"Tango crisis" and chaos
Carlos Saúl Menem was re-elected in 1995 after the
constitution was reformed to allow this. The country was now
in a period of economic growth, in which the privatization
of state business and a deliberate strategy for attracting
foreign capital were important elements of government
policy. But major tasks remained, to ensure sustainable
development. This was related, among other things, to a
public sector and a pension system, both of which had a
stronger growth than there was a financial basis for.
Corruption prevented the implementation of business and
district measures - and promoted the currency flight. Uneven
distribution and a poverty gap were a visible result of
political mistakes and neglect. A government debt that
passed $ 100 billion also placed increasing demands on
ability to pay. These problems were exacerbated, and it
developed into a crisis when a dramatic decline in
neighboring Brazil hit the Argentine economy fully towards
the end of 1998. The two largest South American countries
are economically closely linked; Almost a third of
Argentina's exports went to Brazil. The decisions on
measures and countermeasures now led to a strained
relationship between the two countries.
Menem's peronist party suffered defeat in the 1999
presidential election. With 51% of the votes, Fernando de la
Rúa, who was at the head of an alliance between his own
radical people's party UCR and the left-wing solidarity
front Frepaso, triumphed. In his first year as president,
unemployment rose to over 15%, later rising to over 25%.
Crisis measures based on tax increases, in part drastic
salary reductions for public employees and cuts in public
measures triggered social unrest and several rounds of
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the United
States were still resilient as creditors, more to prevent
the crisis from spreading than in confidence that Argentina
would manage its loans. At the turn of the year 2001/02,
however, the creditors stopped. The country was in effect
bankrupt - and had five presidents in just two weeks. The
weekend before Christmas was de la Rúa literally chased out
of the presidential palace, and after three very brief
interlude was Eduardo Duhalde - Peronist left populist
profile and vice president under Menem from 1989 to 1991 -
was appointed interim head of state until elections in 2003.
His coalition government seized on what seemed to be the
prelude to a political and economic recovery, but first
things were to get worse.
As one element of their crisis packages, the Duhalde
government abolished the fixed exchange rate policy from the
early 1990s, which linked the peso to the dollar in a 1: 1
ratio. In the wake of the devaluation of the peso, 70% in
six months followed in 2002. Gross national income (GNI)
declined, and purchasing power reached a historic bottom.
The so-called "tango crisis", which was considered the most
serious in the country's history, was constantly
exacerbated. Dozens of lives were lost in riots, mass
demonstrations surfaced in the street scene.
Nearly 50% of the population fell below the poverty line.
The authorities took emergency measures to prevent regular
hunger. Many "ordinary people" stood in the queue for food
distribution, participated in shoplifting - or emigrated;
middle class weathered. The country's numerous small farmers
experienced a dramatic deterioration. Access to withdraw
savings was limited, desperate crowds also gathered outside
the bank premises. Inflation was again out of control. The
distrust of the politicians took hold. The local elections
this fall had to be suspended. At the presidential election
in April of the following year, 85,000 police officers were
Towards the end of 2002, however, the crisis seemed to
culminate. Néstor Carlos Kirchner, from the center/left
wing of the Peronist Party, won the presidential election.
The only real opponent, President Carlos Menem, resigned
shortly before the second round. This was the first time
that two rounds had to be conducted - because none of the 19
candidates achieved more than 50% of the vote in the first
Menem had been acquitted of corruption charges, but was
considered to carry a heavy political responsibility for the
crisis. Kirchner gathered a large majority in Congress, and
soon gained an unusually high popularity in the population.
With more political power than his predecessors, he
advocated for social equalization, the fight against
corruption and to give the state a more important role in
the restructuring work. The IMF had tightened its
requirements for budget cuts and repayments, but was now
able to enter into new loans.
The economy again showed clear growth trends, and
optimism was about to return both on the stock exchanges and
among most people. Creditworthiness further increased when
President Kirchner in 2005 got the largest debt settlement
in the country's history, where a necessary majority of
creditors agreed to repayment agreements of up to 40 years.
But government debt still accounted for nearly
three-quarters of gross national income, in the country that
has Latin America's third-largest economy.
In 1998/99, relations with the United Kingdom were
normalized after the Falklands War in 1982. However, the
theme was undermined and flared up again in the autumn 2007
election campaign, where there were both demands and
promises to regain the archipelago as Argentine territory.
And as late as the year before, the issue was brought to the
surface by the British - who again determined that the
colonial status of 1833 was not a negotiating topic. The
darkest clouds from the junta era dissolved, into the new
century, in line with President Kirchner's promise of full
settlement of the past. The laws that secured police
officers and military impunity for torture and murder during
the "dirty war" were declared invalid shortly before the
25th anniversary of the military coup in 2001 and formally
repealed in subsequent years - following replacements by
Supreme Court judges.
Around 400 charges were thus expected, and sentencing
followed on a continuous basis. At the 30-year mark in 2006,
the government decided to open all the junta-era archives,
with information on those between 10,000 and 30,000 who
still had "disappeared" status. International human rights
organizations noted victory for a protracted struggle, and
the well-known activist group Mothers on Maiplassen ended
Nestor Kirchner's center/left wing in the Peronist
Party - Partido Justicialista (PJ) - strengthened
its position in the national election supplementary
elections in 2005 and now got both a majority in the Senate
and the largest block in the lower house. However, Kirchner
chose to resign after his first term in office, and in the
fall of 2007, Argentina got its first elected female
president - his wife, the 55-year-old lawyer Cristina
Fernández de Kirchner.
Already in the first round of elections, she defeated by
a solid margin a total of 14 opponents from a weak and
divided opposition. She entered politics as a senator from
Buenos Aires at the 2005 election, following a duel with
President Eduardo Duhaldes wife Hilda. The ensuing
popularity wave reminded many of Juan Peron, and the
financial windfall was good at the presidential inauguration
in December 2007. But the challenges were also significant.
Unemployment and poverty continued to pose serious social
problems, despite an economic growth rate of 8-9%; The gap
between the richest and the poorest parts of the population
has doubled since the military coup in 1976. Crime
increased, statistics told of more deaths than traffic
deaths in Buenos Aires, and Argentina emerged as a major
country in drug exports from South America to the United
States and Europe.
Cristina de Kirchner proposed to curb its predecessor's
collaboration with Hugo Chávez 'Venezuela and consolidated
the cooperation with Lula da Silvas Brazil, thus building on
a broad-based cooperation agreement signed in 2004, as a
counterbalance to the United States in the work on an
All-American Free Trade Area. But she also signaled a
foreign policy course with more room to improve relations
with the United States than under its predecessor. However,
the vision for Argentina to take on a more active
international role soon had to give way to domestic
A strong escalation of the export tax on key agricultural
products maize, soy and cereals triggered roadblocks, strike
actions and mass demonstrations - the battle also broke down
in the Peronist Party - while a tax bill ended with a
thunderous political defeat in the National Assembly for the
new president. In addition, food prices increased by 30-40%
in 2008, and economists estimated real inflation to be
around 25%, compared to officially 9%.
However, a controversial plan was adopted to nationalize
the country's ten private pension funds and increase state
ownership in the business sector, as the financial crisis in
the autumn of 2008 became noticeable in Argentina as well.
Kirchner's popularity dropped like a rock, including among
her core voters, workers and the lower middle class. The
president promised to continue the spouse's policy, but
critics believed it was mostly made when Nestor Kirchner,
now the leader of the Peronist Party, figured as her only
real adviser. In the June 2009 by-election, the party lost
its pure majority in both chambers of the National Assembly,
and Nestor Kirchner did not reach the regional elections in
the Peronist High Court of Buenos Aires.