About 97 percent of Argentina’s population is of European origin. Unlike most Latin American countries, Argentina has relatively few mestizos (people of mixed European and Native American ancestry). However, the number of mestizos has increased in recent decades, primarily through emigration, mostly from Paraguay and Bolivia. Argentina also has a small number of indigenous peoples and its 1994 constitutional reforms guaranteed them certain rights, including the right to bilingual and intercultural education.
Argentina’s government has long encouraged European immigration, and for decades the country’s stable government, good communications, and economic opportunities attracted new residents. From 1850 to 1940, more than 6 million Europeans settled in the country. Spanish and Italian immigrants predominated, with significant numbers of French, British, German, Russian, Polish, and Syrian immigrants. Since the 1950s more than 50,000 Asians, primarily South Korean, have migrated to Argentina. However, since the 2002 economic collapse, many thousands of Argentines have left the country, migrating back to Italy, Spain, Germany, and other countries outside the region.
In 2009, Argentina had a population of 40,913,584, giving the country an overall population density of 15 persons per sq km (39 per sq mi). More than one-third of the population lives in or around Buenos Aires; 91 percent of the people live in urban areas.
Argentina’s people enjoy levels of per capita income, urbanization, literacy, and social welfare that rank among the highest in Latin America. The country’s entrepreneurial class, large middle class, and comparatively well-organized working class, together with a small indigenous population and the absence of a significant rural peasantry, distinguish Argentina from most other Latin American societies.
Nevertheless, in few countries has the population been so clearly divided as in Argentina between the residents of the largest city and those living in the rural areas and smaller cities. Buenos Aires resembles a European capital with its wide boulevards and cafes, and its residents, who identify themselves as porteños or “people of the port,” are oriented more toward Europe and the United States in outlook than toward the rest of Argentina or South America. With the growth of manufacturing, large numbers of rural laborers moved to Buenos Aires in search of a better life. These laborers have crowded into mushrooming slums on the edges of the capital, living in neighborhoods known as “villas miserias.” In many cases they have found only part-time employment. © "Argentina" © Emmanuel Buchot and Encarta
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