Argentina Main Facts
Standing out at 6,962 meters (22,834 ft) in the Province of Mendoza, Mount Aconcagua is the highest point above sea level in Argentina and highest mountain in the Americas and the Southern and Western hemispheres. Argentina’s lowest point is Laguna del Carbón in the Province of Santa Cruz, at −105 meters (−344 ft) below sea level. This is also the lowest point in the south of the American Continent. The geographic center of the country is located in south-central La Pampa Province.
Argentina‘s easternmost continental point is located in the Province of Misiones, in the small town of Bernardo de Irigoyen, and its westernmost point in the Mariano Moreno Range, Santa Cruz Province. The northernmost point is located at the confluence of the Grande de San Juan and Mojinete rivers, Jujuy Province, and the southernmost point is Cape San Pío, in Tierra del Fuego.
Argentina spreads north to south for roughly 3,900 km (about 2,500 mi) and, at maximum values, 1,400 km (about 870 mi) east to west. It can be divided in six general areas or geographical regions. The country also has a territorial claim over a portion of Antarctica, where it has maintained a constant presence since 1904.
Argentina 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 Misiones, Corrientes and Entre Ríos. It features flatland apt for grazing and plant growing, and a vast marshland: Esteros del Iberá Wetlands in central Corrientes. Misiones Province is more tropical and belongs within the Brazilian Highlands geographic feature. It features subtropical rainforests and the awe-inspiring 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. The island of Tierra del Fuego, in the southernmost tip of the American Continent, 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 rugged Andes or Cordillera de los Andes. To their east is the arid region known as Cuyo. Melting waters from high in the mountains form the backbone of this irrigated lowland oasis, at the center of a rich fruit and wine growing region, in the provinces of Mendoza and San Juan. Further north and into La Rioja Province, the region gets hotter and drier with more geographical accidents. Cuyo’s easternmost border is marked by the Sierras Pampeanas, a series of three low mountain ranges that spread north to south in northern San Luis Province.
NOA or Northwest
This region is the highest in average elevation. Many Andean peaks here raise above 6,000 m (20,000 feet), standing out of the general landscape. These mountains grow wider in geographic extent to the north. They are cut by fertile river valleys, the most important being the Calchaquí Valleys, in the provinces of Catamarca, Tucumán and Salta. Jujuy is the north westernmost province in Argentina, sitting right in the border with Bolivia. It lays mainly within the Altiplano plateau of the Central Andes. The Tropic of Capricorn crosses this region at Humahuaca Valley or Quebrada de Humahuaca.
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’s biologically rich territories. Current species list account for:
- 9,372 catalogued vascular plant species (ranked 24th)
- 1,071 catalogued bird species, 16 of which are endemics (ranked 14th)
- 375 catalogued mammal species (ranked 12th)
- 338 catalogued reptile 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 had 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.
Suggested tours for Argentina
These tours give you a starting point for what your trip to Argentina could entail. They cover routes we’ve found work particularly well and feature some of our favourite places to stay. Treat them as inspiration, as each trip is created uniquely for you.
Contact a specialist
The specialist who designs your trip will have explored the country many times and, in some cases, lived there. Their first-hand knowledge gives us the belief that no other travel company can match our expertise in helping you plan your trip. Your dedicated specialist will take the time to understand your preferences and build them into an itinerary to match, working to your budget. He or she will keep perfecting it until you’re completely happy and ready to book.