63 Interesting Facts about Argentina

By Tayja Kuligowski, Junior Writer
Published November 14, 2016
  • The name “Argentina” comes from the Latin word for silver, argentum. The original European settlers believed the country was full of silver, and a legend existed about a mountain made of silver in Argentina that reached Spain in 1524.[10]
  • Argentina is said to possess the highest infidelity rate in all of South America. Divorce has been legal in the country since 1987, and now the country holds the highest divorce rate as well.[1]
  • Pope Francis, the current and 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, is a native of Argentina and the first non-European chosen to serve in that office. He once worked as a bar bouncer in Buenos Aires.[24]
  • Argentine Quirino Cristiani created the very first animated film in the world, El Apóstol, in 1917. The film was 70 minutes long and had over 58,000 frames.[5]
  • Quirino Cristiani from Argentina created the first animated film ever, El Apóstol
  • In Argentina, ferrets are given steroids from birth, groomed, and sold as toy poodles. They can sell for up to U.S. $150 a ferret.[15]
  • At 2.1 hours a week, Argentines spend the most time listening to the radio of any nation in the world.[19]
  • The Argentine lake duck has the longest bird penis ever measured. At nearly 3 feet (1 m), it is nearly as long as the bird’s body.[21]
  • At least one in 30 Argentines have undergone cosmetic surgery, and more than 30% have reported some form of eating disorder.[15]
  • Argentina was the first country in Latin or South America to legalize same-sex marriage, in 2010.[17]
  • Argentina is the birthplace of the first child in the world to be legally recognized as having two fathers. Born in Buenos Aires in 2012, the child has two dads listed on his birth certificate.[13]
  • Argentina has the world’s second highest rate of anorexia, after Japan, and 1 out of every 8 patients being treated is male.[11]
  • In Argentina, political parties have their own brands of beer.[15]
  • Argentina’s retired soccer legend Diego Maradona has his own religion made up by his fans.[7]
  • Argentina was the first place where fingerprinting was used to solve a crime
  • Argentina was the first country to use fingerprinting in order to determine if a person was guilty of a crime. The first known example of fingerprinting occurred in June, 1892, when police used a bloody fingerprint left on a door to match Francisca Rojas to the killing of her two children.[14]
  • Abortion is still officially restricted in Argentina, except in cases of rape or where the life of the mother is in danger. However, at least 500,000 illegal abortions are performed annually in the country.[10]
  • Argentina has been one of the world’s leading producers of wine since the 16th century and has approximately 1,800 wineries today. It is the world’s fifth leading producer of wine.[5]
  • Officials in current Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi’s hometown of Rosario have banned parents from naming their children “Messi” because they said it would lead to too much mass confusion.[22]
  • In 1977, Argentina sent a pregnant woman to Antarctica in order to claim a portion of the continent. Her baby boy, named Emilio Palma, became the first human to be born in Antarctica. Argentina also held the first wedding on Antarctica, and both Chile and Argentina have issued passport stamps there.[16]
  • Argentines like to kiss. They almost always greet each other with a kiss on the cheek, even among men.[3]
  • Mt. Aconcagua is not only the highest point in Argentina but it is also the tallest mountain in the Americas, measuring at 22,841 feet (6,962 m) high. Many mountaineers believe it is the highest nontechnical climb on Earth. Aconcagua means “stone guard” in an indigenous dialect.[10]
  • Argentine Spanish is referred to as lunfardo, which is a type of slang which emerged in Buenos Aires around 1900. It is more similar to Italian than Mexican Spanish and may have originated as a form of criminal slang.[10]
  • Argentina is the third biggest producer of beef in the world. It produces around 2.8 to 3.5 million tons a year.[10]
  • Instead of doing birthday spanks, Argentines pull the earlobes on the birthday boy or girl.[12]
  • Argentina was one of the first countries in the world to have radio broadcasting. The first relay was made on August 27, 1920. Only about 20 people had a radio receiver to listen to the broadcast at the time.[9]
  • Argentines have the highest rates of movie viewing in the world, and Argentina is the only Latin American country to have won an Academy Award, in 1985, for La Historia Oficial and, in 2010, for El Secreto de Sus Ojos.[8]
  • The Tango originated in the slaughterhouse district of Buenos Aires around the end of the 19th century. Sometimes described as “making love in a vertical position,” it was thought to originally be a dance for men. When the two men danced together, it resembled a duel. In the port community of Buenos Aires, prostitutes became the first official Tango dancers, and the dance became about seduction and sex.[17]
  • The tango was created in the slaughterhouse district in Buenos Aires
  • Buenos Aires has a special holiday called Friend’s Day (El Día del Amigo), which was founded by Dr. Febbraro, an Argentine dentist and philosopher, after he felt connected to everyone on Earth following the Apollo 11 moon landing. Friends gather together on July 20th every year to celebrate their friendship.[4]
  • Argentina has been home to multiple discoveries of gigantic dinosaurs, including the Giganotosaurus, which was one of the biggest land carnivores ever to roam the planet, and the Argentinosaurus, which was believed to have been as large as 125 feet (38 m) in length and weighed 75,000 kg (160,000 lbs). The oldest predator dinosaur found to date, the Eoraptor, was also discovered in Argentina in 1993.[10]
  • The city of Ushuaia, on the Argentine side of the island of Tierra del Fuego, lays claim to be the southernmost inhabited city in the world.[10]
  • Although his legacy is tied to his role in the Cuban Revolution, revolutionary and Marxist Ernesto “Che” Guevara was born in Rosario, Argentina. His photograph taken by Alberto Kordo has been named one of the most famous photographs in the world by the Maryland Institute College of Art.[10]
  • The Perito Moreno Glacier in Patagonia is the third largest reserve of freshwater in the world and one of only three glaciers in Argentina that is growing, not shrinking.[10]
  • In 1971, the embalmed body of Evita Perón was exhumed and flown to Spain, where her husband and ex-president of Argentina, Juan Perón, and his new wife Isabelita kept it in their dining room until he died in 1974.[23]
  • A farmer in Argentina honored the memory of his dead wife by shaping a forest to look like a guitar
  • Pedro Martin Ureta, a heartbroken Argentine farmer, spent decades cultivating a guitar-shaped forest to honor his late wife, who died tragically at the age of 25.[18]
  • In 2001, Argentina had 5 presidents in 10 days.[15]
  • There is a Welsh-speaking part of Argentina and it has its own dialect of Welsh.[1]
  • The world’s widest avenue is the 9 de Julio (July 9th) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with 14 lanes, plus 4 lanes of parallel streets.[10]
  • The nine-banded armadillo, which lives in Argentina, always gives birth to quadruplets of the same sex. The babies are always identical because they are always formed from one egg.[6]
  • There are no public school buses in Argentina, and students must buy their own books and uniforms.[20]
  • Yerba Mate is the national drink of Argentina. It is a type of tea made from the young leaves of the Brazilian holly, an evergreen tree of the holly family. It is drunk from a gourd or bowl through a metal straw called a bombilla.[10]
  • The popular Argentinian sport pato is a combination of polo and basketball. Pato is the Spanish word for "duck," and the sport was originally played by gauchos with live ducks in baskets.[5]
  • The earliest plants to grow on land have been discovered in Argentina. These newly discovered plants are called liverworts, very simple plants without roots or stems, which had appeared as early as 472 million years ago.[10]
  • The Italian population in Argentina is the second largest in the world outside of Italy, with some 25 million people. Only Brazil has a larger Italian population with 28 million people.[10]
  • The city of Buenos Aires contains more psychiatrists and psychoanalysts than any other city
  • Buenos Aires has more psychoanalysts and psychiatrists than any other city in the world. It even has its own psychoanalytic district called “Ville Freud.” It is estimated that there are 145 psychologists for every 100,000 residents in the city.[1]
  • Buenos Aires has the second largest population of Jews in the Americas, outside of New York City.[10]
  • Argentina has been the uninterrupted world polo champion since 1949 and is the source of most of the world’s top 10 polo players today.[10]
  • Matthias Zurbriggen from Switzerland was the first to reach the summit of Mount Aconcagua in 1897.[10]
  • The Andes Mountains form a great wall along Argentina’s western border with Chile. They are the world’s second highest mountain range, behind only the Himalayas.[5]
  • The name “Patagonia” came from European explorer Ferdinand Magellan who, when he saw the Tehuelche people wearing extra-large boots, called them patagones ("big feet").[5]
  • The short-tailed chinchilla is the most endangered animal in Argentina. It may already be extinct in the wild. Slightly larger than guinea pigs, they are famed for their soft hair, and millions were killed in the 19th and early 20th centuries to make fur coats.[5]
  • Howler monkeys, found in Argentina’s rain forests, are the loudest animals in the Western Hemisphere. The males have supersized vocal chords and they use the sound to locate and keep other males away.[5]
  • Argentina is home to the giant anteater, which has a tongue that can grow up to 2 feet (60 cm) long.[5]
  • Among the oldest evidence of ancient people living in Argentina is the Cave of Hands, in the western part of Patagonia, which has paintings dating from 9,370 years ago. Most of the paintings are of hands, and most of the hands are left hands.[5]
  • Guarani is one of the most widely spoken indigenous languages in the world. Several of its words have entered the English language, including jaguar and tapioca. In Argentina’s Corrientes province, Guarani has joined Spanish as an official language.[5]
  • Quechua, which is still spoken in northwest Argentina, was the language of the Inca Empire in Peru. Today, it is spoken by 10 million people in South America, which makes it the most widely spoken indigenous language in the Western Hemisphere. Quechua words that have entered the English language include llama, pampa, quinine, condor and, gaucho.[5]
  • Bandits Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid lived on a ranch in Argentina before being caught and executed for bank robbery
  • Legendary American bandits Butch Cassidy (nee Robert Leroy Parker) and the Sundance Kid (Harry Longbaugh) lived on a ranch near the Andes in Patagonia for a while before they were supposedly caught and executed in Bolivia for robbing a bank in 1908.[5]
  • Carlos Saúl Menem, the son of Syrian immigrants, became Argentina’s first Muslim president in 1989. He had had to convert to Catholicism earlier, though, because, until 1994, the law stated all presidents of Argentine had to be Roman Catholic. His Syrian ancestry earned him the nickname “El Turco” (The Turk).[5]
  • The bandoneon, also called the concertina, is an accordion-like instrument invented in Germany which has become synonymous in Argentina with the tango. Most bandoneons have 71 buttons, which can produce a total of 142 notes.[5]
  • Many gauchos, or Argentine cowboys, were of Jewish origin. The first recorded instance of mass Jewish immigration to Argentina was in the late 19th century, when 800 Russian Jews arrived in Buenos Aires after fleeing persecution from Czar Alexander III. The Jewish-Colonization Association began distributing 100-hectare parcels of land to immigrant families.[3]
  • Argentina’s workforce is 40% female, and women also hold over 30% of Argentina’s congressional seats.[3]
  • At its mouth, Argentina's Rio de la Plata is an amazing 124 miles (200 km) wide, making it the widest river in the world, although some consider it more of an estuary.[3]
  • Veneration for the dead is so widespread across Argentina that the Argentines have been described as being “cadaver cultists.” In La Recoleta Cemetery, in Buenos Aires, tomb space goes for as much as US $70,000 for a few square meters making this one of the most expensive plots of land in the world.[1]
  • A traditional Argentine cure for a stomach ache is to deftly pull the skin covering the lower vertebrae on the back and is called tirando el cuero.[2]
  • Argentine soccer hero Lionel Messi is arguably the world’s best footballer. His nickname is La pulga (the flea) because of his small stature and elusiveness.[2]
References

1 Adams, Fiona. Culture Shock! Argentina. Portland, OR: Graphic Arts Center Publishing Company, 2000.

2 Argentina (Insight Guides). Singapore: APA Publishing, 2012.

3 Bao, Sandra et al. Argentina (Lonely Planet). Oakland, CA: Lonely Planet, 2014.

4 Barnes, Amanda. “Friend’s Day in Argentina Left Me Feeling like Bridget Jones.” The Telegraph. July 23, 2014. Accessed: May 7, 2015.

5 Blashfield, Jean F. Argentina (Enchantment of the World). New York, NY: Children’s Press, 2007.

6 Blattner, Don. Amazing Facts about Mammals (Grades 5-8). Greensboro, NC: Carson-Dellosa Publishing Group, 2008.

7 Buenos Aires (Let’s Go Travel Guides). New York, NY: Macmillan, 2008.

8 Countries of the World. Edina, MN: ABDO Publishing Company, 2011.

9 Foster, David William, Melissa Fitch Lockhart, and Darrell B. Lockhart. Culture and Customs of Argentina. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998.

10 Gofen, Ethel Caro, Leslie Jermyn, and Yong Jui Lin. Argentina (Cultures of the World). 3rd Ed. Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish, 2012.

11 Hearn, Kelly. “Which Came First, Thin Women or Tiny Sizes?Christian Science Monitor. February 24, 2005. Accessed: April 30, 2015.

12 Heistad, Kari. Cultural Quick Tips for the Workplace. Newtown, MA: Culture Coach International, 2011.

13 Jost-Creegan, Kelsey. “First Baby Registered with Two Fathers in Argentina.” The Argentina Independent. August 2, 2012. Accessed: April 30, 2015.

14 Katz, Helena. Cold Cases: Famous Unsolved Mysteries, Crimes, and Disappearances in America. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, LLC, 2010.

15 Lopez, Linette. “20 Crazy Things that Only Happen in Argentina.” Business Insider. July 9, 2014. Accessed: April 30, 2015.

16 McCaffrey, Stephen C., Dinah Shelton, and John Cerone. Public International Law: Cases, Problems, and Texts. Los Angeles, CA: LexisNexis, 2010.

17 McCloskey, Erin. Argentina (Bradt Travel Guide). Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press, Inc, 2011.

18 Moffett, Matt. “Maybe Graciela Sees It From Heaven, This Huge Guitar Made of Trees.” The Wall Street Journal. Updated May 9, 2011. Accessed: April 30, 2015.

19NOP World Culture Score Index Examines Global Media Habits…Uncovers Who’s Tuning In, Logging On, and Hitting the Books.” PR Newswire. June 15, 2014. Accessed: April 30, 2015.

20 Pohl, Kathleen. Looking at Argentina. Pleasantville, NY: Gareth Stevens Publishing, 2008.

21 Salleh, Anna. “Found! The Longest Bird Penis Ever.” ABC Science Online. September 14, 2001. Accessed: May 7, 2015.

22 Schwartz, Nick. “Lionel Messi’s Hometown Bans Parents from Naming Their Children ‘Messi.’” USA Today. September 10, 2014. Accessed: April 30, 2015.

23 Sims, Calvin. “Eva Peron’s Corpse Continues to Haunt Argentina.” NY Times. July 30, 1995. Accessed: May 7, 2015.

24 Walsh, Courtney. “Pope Francis Reveals He Used to Work as a Bar Bouncer.” Fox News. December 3, 2013. Accessed: April 30, 2015.

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