Argentina, meaning "land of silver," is a rich and vast land—second largest (after Brazil) in South America and eighth largest in the world. Its heartland is a broad grassy plain known as the Pampas (pronounced PAHM-pahs). Here Argentina's gaucho, like the U.S. cowboy, has galloped into the country's folklore.
The recent past has been tumultuous. Some 30,000 people disappeared—the Desaparecidos—in the "dirty war" during the military junta's 1976-1983 rule. In April 1982 Argentine forces invaded the British-held Falkland Islands, which Argentina calls the Islas Malvinas. Defeat by Britain during the 1982 Falkland Islands war loosened the military dictatorship's stranglehold on democracy.
Capital: Buenos Aires; 13,349,000
Area: 2,780,400 square kilometres (1,073,518 square miles)
Language: Spanish, English, Italian, German, French
Religion: Roman Catholic
Currency: Argentine peso
Life Expectancy: 74
GDP per Capita: U.S. $10,500
Literacy Percent: 97
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