Argentina, officially the Argentine Republic,
(Spanish: República Argentina) is a country in South America, constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city.
"It is the second largest country in South America and eighth in the world by land area and the largest among Spanish-speaking nations, though Mexico, Colombia and Spain are more populous."
Argentina's continental area is 2,766,890 km² (1,068,302 sq mi), between the Andes mountain range in the west and the southern Atlantic Ocean in the east and south. Argentina borders Paraguay and Bolivia to the north, Brazil and Uruguay to the northeast, and Chile to the west and south. Argentina also claims 969,464 km² (374,312 sq mi) of Antarctica, known as Argentine Antarctica, overlapping other claims made by Chile (Chilean Antarctic Territory) and the United Kingdom (British Antarctic Territory). All such claims have been suspended by the Antarctic Treaty of 1961.
Argentina has the second highest Human Development Index level and the third highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita in purchasing power parity in Latin America. Argentina’s nominal GDP is the 31st largest in the world; but when purchasing power is taken into account; its total GDP makes it the 23rd largest economy in the world.
Argentina is about 3,900 km (about 2,500 mi) long from north to south, and 1,400 km (about 870 mi) from east to west (maximum values). It can roughly be divided into four parts: the fertile plains of the Pampas in the center of the country, the source of Argentina’s agricultural wealth; the flat to rolling, oil-rich plateau of Patagonia in the southern half down to Tierra del Fuego; the subtropical flats of the Gran Chaco in the north, and the rugged Andes mountain range along the western border with Chile.
The highest point above sea level in Argentina is located in Mendoza. Cerro Aconcagua, at 6,962 meters (22,834 ft). It is the highest mountain in the Americas, the Southern, and Western Hemisphere. The lowest point is Laguna del Carbón in Santa Cruz, −105 meters (−344 ft) below sea level. This is also the lowest point on the South American continent. The geographic center of the country is located in south-central La Pampa Province.
Argentina‘s easternmost continental point is northeast of the town of Bernardo de Irigoyen, Misiones, the westernmost in the Mariano Moreno Range in Santa Cruz. The northernmost point is located at the confluence of the Grande de San Juan and Mojinete rivers, Jujuy, and the southernmost is Cape San Pío in Tierra del Fuego.
The country has a territorial claim over a portion of Antarctica, where it has maintained a constant presence since 1904.
The country is traditionally divided into several major geographically distinct regions:
These are the plains west and south from Buenos Aires. Called the Humid Pampa, they cover most of the provinces of Buenos Aires and Córdoba and large portions of the provinces of Santa Fe and La Pampa. The western part of La Pampa and the province San Luis are also mostly plains (the Dry Pampa); but they are drier and used mainly for grazing. The Sierra de Córdoba in the homonymous province (extending into San Luis) is the most important geographical feature of the pampas.
The Gran Chaco region in the north of the country is seasonal dry/wet, mainly cotton growing and livestock rising. It covers the provinces of Chaco and Formosa. It is dotted with subtropical forests, scrubland, and some wetlands, home to a large number of plant and animal species. The province of Santiago del Estero lies in the drier region of the Gran Chaco.
NEA or Mesopotamia
The land between the Paraná and Uruguay rivers is called Mesopotamia, and it is shared by the provinces of Corrientes and Entre Ríos. It features flatland apt for grazing and plant growing, and the Iberá Wetlands in central Corrientes. Misiones Province is more tropical and belongs within the Brazilian Highlands geographic feature. It features subtropical rainforests and the Iguazú Falls.
The steppes of Patagonia, in the provinces of Neuquén, Río Negro, Chubut and Santa Cruz, are of tertiary origin. Most of the region is semiarid in the north to cold and arid in the far south, but forests grow in its western fringes which are dotted with several large lakes. Tierra del Fuego is cool and wet, moderated by oceanic influences. Northern Patagonia (Río Negro, south of the homonymous river, and Neuquén) can also be referred as the Comahue region.
West-central Argentina is dominated by the imposing Andes Mountains. To their east is the arid region known as Cuyo. Melting waters from high in the mountains form the backbone of irrigated lowland oasis, at the center of a rich fruit and wine growing region in Mendoza and San Juan provinces. Further north the region gets hotter and drier with more geographical accidents in La Rioja Province. The region’s easternmost border is marked by the Sierras Pampeanas, a series of three low mountain ranges that spread from north to south in the northern half of the province of San Luis.
NOA or Northwest
This region is the highest in average elevation. There are parallel mountain ranges, several of which have peaks higher than 6,000 m (20,000 feet), dominate the area. These ranges grow wider in geographic extent towards the north. They are cut by fertile river valleys, the most important being the Calchaquí Valleys in the provinces of Catamarca, Tucumán, and Salta. Farther north Jujuy Province near Bolivia lies mainly within the Altiplano plateau of the Central Andes. The Tropic of Capricorn goes through the far north of the region.
Argentina is a megadiverse country, hosting one of the greatest ecosystem varieties in the world: 15 continental zones, 3 oceanic zones and the Antarctic region are all represented within its territory. This vast diversity of habitats positions the country high in the list of world biological. There are currently
- 9,372 catalogued vascular plant species (ranked 24th)
- 1,038 catalogued bird species, 16 of which are endemics (ranked 14th)
- 375 catalogued mammal species (ranked 12th)
- 338 catalogued reptilian species (ranked 16th)
- 162 catalogued amphibian species (ranked 19th)
From this total, 529 species of vertebrates and at least 240 plants are threatened, mostly by conversion of natural land for agriculture and deforestation, but also by industrialization, urbanization and a growing number of alien invasive species.
Argentina is also the 9th most biocapable country in the world. As of 2013 it has a protected area network consisting of 299 continental areas (6.3% of total mainland area), 21 Ramsar sites and 11 biosphere reserves, partially sampling most of its 24 terrestrial ecoregions.
Argentina has exceptional climate diversity, ranging from subtropical in the north to subpolar in southern Patagonia. Climate patterns match roughly the geographic regional division.
- Climate in the Northwest is varied, with rainfall diminishing north to south and east to west. The high Andean Puna to the west, is dry and with great temperature fluctuation but cold overall, frequently falling below freezing point at night. The Yungas to the east are subtropical montane forests, generally hot and humid.
- Mesopotamia is hot and very humid overall, with subtropical climate in the north, gradually becoming temperate and semi-humid to the south.
- Gran Chaco's climate is hot subtropical, with humid summers and mild, drier winters. Rains are heavy and seasonal, and the region is subject to periodic droughts.
- Cuyo is generally mild, although mountainous areas have alpine climate with temperatures below freezing most of the year.
- The Pampas are temperate, with hot, stormy summers and cool winters. Humidity is higher in the east.
- Patagonia is very windy, with mild summers and cold to very cold winters. Heavy snowfall and frost occurs specially in the western mountainous areas. Rainfall diminishes dramatically from west to east.