Area: 1 million square miles.
Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil and Uruguay.
Argentina’s climate, although mainly temperate, varies from subtropical in the north to subantarctic in the south-west. Its terrain ranges from fertile Pampas in the north to Patagonian steppes in the south. The Andes lie to the west (Aconcagua 6,960 metres).
18 deaths/1,000 live births.
Buenos Aires conurbation (17.9 million).
Cordoba (1.4 million); San Justo (1.2 million); Rosario (1.2 million).
European (especially Spanish and Italian) 81%; Mestizo 10%; Amerindian, including Quechua 4%; others, including Arabs, Jews, Korean, Japanese and Chinese 5%
Spanish (official), other European, indigenous.
Argentina has rich natural resources. Its rolling grasslands produce beef, dairy products and grain. In the north-east, rice, tea and citrus fruit are grown; in the west, peaches, plums, apples, wine and olives. Copper and gold are mined in the north-west, oil and natural gas in the southern cold desert. But unemployment stands at 16%, and 37% of the population are below the poverty line.
Exports include meat, oil seeds, cereals, animal feed, petroleum products and motor vehicles.
Roman Catholic 91% (mainly nominal); non religious 3%; Protestant 2%; Muslim 1%; Jewish 1%; cults 1%; others 1%. Roman Catholicism is officially favoured.
Various Pentecostal and Baptist, Christian Brethren, Evangelical Lutheran, Anglican, and over 100 others.
Argentina gained independence from Spain in 1816. After World War 2, there was a long spell of Peronist dictatorship, followed by a military junta from 1976. Argentina disputes ownership of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) with the UK.