Argentina or Argentine Republic, country in South America, occupying most of the southern half of the continent east of the Andes Mountains. It is the second largest country in area in South America, after Brazil, and the eighth largest country in the world. Argentina’s capital and largest city is Buenos Aires. Argentina consists of diverse landscapes, stretching from the tropics in the north to the subpolar region in the south. Within it are the rugged Andes and the highest peak in the Western Hemisphere, Aconcagua. But most of the people live in cities on the Pampas, the vast fertile prairies that cover the middle of the country.
The Pampas traditionally produced much of the country’s agricultural wealth and became famous as the home of the gaucho, the South American cowboy. From the late 19th century on, Argentina exported large amounts of agricultural goods, including meat, wool, and wheat. It also became the first South American country to industrialize and was long the wealthiest country on the continent, enjoying a living standard equivalent to that of European countries. From the 1940s on, however, Argentina has experienced recurring economic difficulties, including severe inflation, high unemployment, and a large national debt.
Argentina has had a volatile political history. Its most famous president, Juan D. Perón, was very popular with working-class and poor Argentineans. However, he ruled as a dictator and suppressed all opposition. The country’s economic decline eventually led to Peron’s ouster in 1955. An infamous military dictatorship that ruled from 1976 to 1983 tortured and executed many Argentineans without trial. After the military stepped down in 1983, Argentina recommitted itself to democratic government but struggled with economic problems. In the early 2000s Argentina was still trying to revitalize its economy. © "Argentina" © Emmanuel Buchot and Encarta
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