192-PART GUIDE TO THE WORLD

PART 6 ARGENTINA

OFFICIAL NAME:

Argentine Republic

POPULATION:

34,768,455

SIZE:

2,780,400sq km. The second largest country in South America in terms of both area and population, and Belgium would fit into it 91 times.

ENVIRONMENT:

A dramatically varied landscape, from the rugged Andes mountains that run along the country's western border, to the bare windswept Patagonian plateau in the south. In the middle of the country lies the pampas, a fertile grassy plain, and in the north, forests cover much of Argentina along its borders with Bolivia and Paraguay.

BEST MONUMENT:

Until recently, the Casa Rosada (the Presidential Palace) in Buenos Aires was off limits, under the military dictatorship of 1976-1983. Now you can visit it and even photograph the grenadiers guarding it.

MOST FAMOUS CITIZEN:

For most it would have to be Eva Peron. The second wife of President Juan Peron "Evita" occupies an important position in Argentina's political history. She died in 1952 and is remembered for her moving speeches, her part in helping to improve workers' conditions and for securing voting rights for women.

NATIONAL DISH:

Beef. Prepared in a variety of ways, but the most traditional is parrilla or parrillada - basically barbecued. The Spanish word carne (meat) is synonymous with beef there, and a typical dish will include offal - small and large intestines, kidneys and blood sausage - alongside the meat. Even the udder is eaten.

BEST MOMENT IN HISTORY:

Independence from Spanish rule in 1816 and winning the World Cup on home turf in 1978.

WORST MOMENT IN HISTORY:

Perhaps losing the World Cup in 1990.

ESSENTIAL ACCESSORY:

Tango shoes and a meat-knife.

HOW NOT TO BEHAVE:

Never refuse to tomar un mate. In other words, don't refuse to take tea with an Argentinian. Drinking mate is an important ritual there. To turn down an invitation would be seen as impolite.

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