Argentina Essay

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Argentina is the second largest country in size in South America after Brazil and ranks as one of the highest in the region on human development indicators for life expectancy, educational attainment, literacy, and gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. The strong agricultural sector, abundance of natural resources, diversified industrial base, and a large middle class have made Argentina a popular target for global business. In addition, the democratic political structure with executive, judicial, and legislative branches operating at the national and provincial level has enhanced the attractiveness of the country. Despite a fragile economy in the past, this upper-middle income country is now flourishing. Nevertheless, the sustainability of the economy in the long term is questionable because of limited investment in infrastructure and in planning growth.

Several sectors are major contributors to Argentina’s GDP, including manufacturing, telecommunications, the service industry, and agriculture. Manufacturing is the largest sector operating in areas such as the production of automobiles, farming equipment, cement, and industrial chemicals. The telecommunications, service, and tourism sectors are also important to the country’s GDP. Nevertheless, much of the infrastructure in these areas still needs to catch up with the vigorous expansion that the economy has experienced since the beginning of the 21st century. In addition, domestic transportation is limited, and services are localized to major population areas.

Argentina contains an abundance of fertile land in the region covering several provinces known as the Pampas, which has thrived because of easy access to fresh water, low population density, and a mild climate. The primary staples produced for export include soy and vegetable oils as well as fruits and vegetables. These agreeable conditions have also led Argentina to become one of the largest wine producers in the world and enabled a vibrant cattle industry to prosper. This environment coupled with a flexible exchange rate has allowed the country to be extremely competitive in the export market at the turn of the 21st century and to achieve real annual average GDP growth of over 9 percent for five consecutive years. Participation in the free-trade agreement Mercosur with neighboring countries has also facilitated exports in the region.


Argentina suffered a political, economic, and financial crisis in 2001, marked by widespread protests, several interim presidents, the collapse of the banking and financial system, and the default on foreign debt. This crisis was long expected, as the country had been undergoing a recession for a number of years. From 1991 to 2001, President Carlos Menem had upheld a fixed currency exchange rate with the U.S. dollar that was initially intended to control the rampant hyperinflation of the 1980s. Unfortunately this exchange policy led to massive imports with the consequent demise of the national industry and generalized unemployment as well as large trade deficits and high levels of foreign debt.

The country has rebounded from the crisis under the leadership of President Nestor Kirchner, who was elected in 2003. He unilaterally restructured the country’s foreign debt, took steps to curb political corruption, exponentially expanded social programs and supported policies to increase exports and lower inflation. In 2007 his wife Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner became the first female president of Argentina.

History And Culture

Although indigenous groups lived in Argentina prior to the European conquest, they now make up less than 1 percent of the population. The country Argentina as it is currently known was largely molded by the arrival of the Spaniards in 1516. The Spanish created the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, of which Argentina was a part, by 1776, but by 1816 under the leadership of General Jose de San Martin the country was declared independent from Spain. A large wave of European immigrants primarily from Spain, Italy, and to a lesser extent France arrived in the country at the turn of the 20th century and at the time contributed to making Argentina one of the wealthiest countries in the world by expanding the agricultural sector.

Nevertheless, during the 20th century recurring economic crises, numerous military coups, waves of high inflation, escalating external debt, and capital flight plagued the country. In addition, constant changes in civilian and military factions in power led to many periods of political unrest after independence. An important and controversial figure who shaped the political landscape of the country was President Juan Peron, who from 1946 to 1955 helped develop unions and other policies to protect the working class. Also of note is the military dictatorship that from 1976 to 1983 led a “dirty war” in which thousands of dissidents “disappeared.”

Spanish is the official language of the country. Argentina is predominately Roman Catholic, but Arab and Jewish communities are also prevalent. The typical cuisine includes turnovers (empanadas), meat (asado), and pastries (facturas). Argentina is also one of the largest consumers of wine in the world. As in many Latin American cultures, the most popular sport is soccer. Tango, a melancholic style of music, came into being in Argentine brothels at the turn of the 20th century and is enjoyed worldwide.


  1. CIA, “Argentina,” World Factbook, (cited March 2009);
  2. Floria and C. García, Historia de los Argentinos I and II (Larousse Argentina, 1971);
  3. Lanata, Argentinos (Ediciones B, 2003);
  4. K. Lewis, The History of Argentina (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003);
  5. L. Nolan, Argentina Business: The Portable Encyclopedia for Doing Business with Argentina (World Trade Press, 1996);
  6. A. Romero, A History of Argentina in the Twentieth Century (Fondo de Cultura Economica, 2006);
  7. World Bank, Argentina Country Brief, (cited March 2009).

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