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Argentina at the beginning of the 20th century


Valley of the moon
Valley of the moon

In the 1880s Argentina made rapid economic progress. British capital financed one of the largest railroad systems in the world. European immigrants flowed into Argentina; by 1914 nearly 6 million people had come to the country. Argentina became a major exporter of wool, wheat, and beef. In the first decade of the 20th century, Argentina became the richest nation in Latin America, its wealth symbolized by the opulence of its capital city. The growth of Argentina occurred rapidly but not smoothly. Following a steep upturn in growth during the late 1880s, the economy crashed in 1890. Five years elapsed before growth finally resumed.

The early 20th century in Argentina had some features in common with the 1880s and 1890s. A period of economic disruption followed an era of rapid growth. From 1901 to 1913, Argentina achieved greater prosperity. The population swelled, particularly in Buenos Aires. In response to social unrest in urban areas, the conservative ruling class adopted political reforms. In 1912 legislation known as the Sáenz Peña law democratized the political system by granting universal male suffrage (right to vote). This law enabled wider political participation for the middle class and segments of the working class. In 1916 the Radical Party under Hipólito Irigoyen took power. At the time of Irigoyen’s election, Argentina was suffering the ill effects of World War I (1914-1918).

In the early stages of the war, European countries imported fewer Argentine products, which caused a recession in Argentina and resulted in declining living standards for workers. Workers held strikes to protest economic conditions, and in early 1919 the army fired on the participants of a widely supported general strike. People who opposed the strike also attacked the Jewish community of Buenos Aires in an episode known as the Tragic Week. Instability continued until 1924 when Argentina experienced another burst of rapid prosperity sustained by foreign investment, immigration, and rising exports. "Argentina" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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