Currency in Argentina
Carlos Menem’s administration of the 1990s controversially controlled inflation by pegging the peso to the dollar, which had disastrous consequences. In 2001, the peso radically devalued and Argentina defaulted on its foreign debt, considered the largest default in world economic history. Hyperinflation ensued causing a devastating recession that plunged a great deal of the middle class into poverty. Although the situation has improved the country still experiences high rates of inflation which leads to regular fluctuations in the exchange rates.
Please consult with your Enchanting Travels Trip Coordinator for assistance in changing currency at the most favorable rate to you.
Modern Argentinean culture is a result of the country’s tumultuous and illustrative history and is hugely influenced by Italian, Spanish and other European immigration.
Visitors to Argentina often notice that Argentineans are much more European than their other South American neighbors. Argentine people are extremely passionate, about life, about family, love, food, politics, and perhaps even above all, about fútbol (soccer). You will find on your Argentina tour that the people are warm and sentimental, family is paramount in daily life, and hospitality often extends to include close friends and neighbors. People can be open and direct or even blunt, not afraid to speak their minds and implement their quick wit and sarcasm.
In the interior provinces, residents lead a much more relaxed-pace country life than their city-dwelling counterparts in Buenos Aires. Local shops will close usually around midday for the siesta (naptime). Afternoon hours are marked by sharing yerba mateand long conversations.
Our Argentina tours are incomplete without sighting the country’s iconic cowboy figure – the authentic gaucho, very much alive in the country’s interiors where you will find traditionally-dressed gauchos on horseback. Jineteadas (rodeos), large-scale asados (barbecues) and folkloric music and dance are common in rural areas.
Top Argentina Tour Tips – Culture:
- Get used to being kissed -a lot! Argentineans greet one another by a kiss on the cheek (one cheek in Buenos Aires and sometimes both cheeks in interior provinces).
- While always respectful, don’t be surprised over casual physical contact in conversations – Argentineans are warm and physical communicators.
- Argentineans are rather infamously late: be patient.
- It is considered unfashionable to arrive on time for parties and social gatherings in Argentina. Arrive 30-40 minutes later than the time you have been invited.
Cuisine in Argentina
Argentina’s cuisine is characterised heavily by immigrant influence and by its chief national product, beef. Argentina toursintroduce you to the customary barbecues the country is famous for. Asados (traditional barbecues) traditionally feature various cuts of meat, sausages and blood sausages and other parts of the cow like sweetbreads and chitterlings.
Argentine beef is some of the very best in the world. Preparing meat in Argentina is a cultural ritual as well as a gastronomic event. Argentineans do not add any seasoning or sauces to their meat before cooking, only coarse salt, and it is grilled to perfection using parrillas (wood-burning grills).
In Patagonia, asados usually will be lamb rather than beef. A lamb asado is distinct in that the full lamb is roasted for several hours on an iron cross over hot coals from an open fire. A gaucho ritual, usually these asados are quite rustic, eaten without plates or silverware, cutting slices of meat right off the bone.
Aside from meat, typical food in argentina consists of delectable fresh pastas and pizzas, without a doubt a direct result of the dominant Italian immigrant influence. Also, be sure to try the artisanal ice creams which rival the best gelato in Italy. Dulce de leche is another Argentinean gift to the culinary world. This sweet milk caramel is found in almost everything from ice cream and cookies to cakes and pastries. You might find it so delicious you’ll eat it with a spoon directly from the jar!
Try some yerba mate during your trip to Argentina – a strong herbal tea drunk from a gourd with a metal straw, which is as much a cultural tradition and social activity as it is a national beverage. Loose leaves (yerba) are placed in the gourd and hot water is poured over the leaves and sucked up through the metal straw. Sharing yerba mate is layered with taboo and tradition, don’t touch the bombilla (metal straw), it is considered rude, and be sure to drink up all the water when you are served. Do not say gracias (thank you) unless you don’t want anymore.
Sample delicious wines on your Argentina tours. One of the chief wine-producers of the Americas, Argentinean wine is also famed worldwide and can be best experienced on through Argentina wine tours. Malbec is the characteristic full-bodied red while Torrontes is the well-balanced white grown in Northern regions.
Other popular Argentina food items include:
- Empanadas: small meat-filled pastries.
- Milanesa: breaded meat or veal cutlets fried or baked and served with french fries or mashed potatoes.
- Choripan: common street food, which is a simple yet delicious sandwich consisting of grilled pork sausage, crusty bread.
- Chimichurri: a seasoning made from finely chopped herbs and garlic.
History of Argentina
The country’s unique and tumultuous history is key to appreciating and understanding the idiosyncrasies that define Argentina’s modern culture.
Pre-Columbian Argentina consisted of many unique indigenous groups across the broad territories. In the Northeast region, the Guaraní culture flourished wherein the Northwest native cultures were part of the expansive Inca empire of the Andes. Nomadic tribes populated the rest of the territories, including the Querandí in Buenos Aires and the Tehuelche in Patagonia.
Spanish colonists arrived in the 16th century, and for the next 200 years Argentina was part of the Spanish colonial empire, originally forming part of the Viceroyalty of Peru. Buenos Aires emerged as an important port to rival Lima largely due to contrabanding and smuggling.
In 1806 Great Britain attempted to take over and invaded Buenos Aires. Without any Spanish military support, local Argentines fought against the British invasion and successfully drove them out. Independence was declared but not fully adopted until 1816. Argentina struggled for several years wrought with civil war and power disputes but eventually the burgeoning nation began to expand and grow, to slowly emerge as the modern nation you will see on your Argentina tour today.
European immigration was encouraged and campaigns were enacted to tame the wild uncolonized regions through what today might be considered genocide. Rugged pioneers, mostly of European immigrants, settled in the vast expanses of the pampas and Patagonia forming the huge estancias (ranches).
Argentina enjoyed a Golden Age in the early 1900s, brought on by the exportation of its wealth of raw materials like meat, leather, wool, wheat and other crops. During your Buenos Aires sightseeing during your trip to Argentina, you will see the French belle-epoch mansions and elegant buildings that characterize the city’s architectural style. In the 1970s the military took power and led an extreme right-wing military dictatorship. In 1980 Argentina declared war against England over the Falkland Islands (called Malvinas) and suffered a scarring defeat, which is still felt today.
In the 1990s Argentina experienced a short-lived stabilization to hyperinflation led by president Carlos Menem, who encouraged free trade and privatized most industries. Recent years have seen a sharp divide between supporters and critics of the previous president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who was in office from 2007 – 2015, and the current president Mauricio Macri who was inaugurated in late 2015.
Discover the country’s fascinating history for yourself on a private Argentina tour!
Spanish is the official language of Argentina. Argentineans, especially residents of Buenos Aires (known as porteños) speak a unique and distinctly recognizable dialect of Spanish. The pronunciation and musicality of their accents could be a result of Italian and French influences. In Argentina, particularly in Buenos Aires, lunfardo or local slang is layered into casual conversations, making it difficult to follow along yet extremely entertaining!
Elected in 1946, Peron revolutionized the country, implementing many socialistic policies and labor reforms, ruling by populist style, many say was a watered down version of European fascism such as Mussolini’s Italy. You will find that, to this day, Peron is a figure of debate – some Argentineans are stalwart devotees while others credit Peron with ruining the country.
After Peron the country once again slid into power struggles and instability with several controversial leaders and coup d’etats.
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