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Argentina

Background: Following independence from Spain in 1816, Argentina experienced periods of internal political conflict between conservatives and liberals and between civilian and military factions. After World War II, a long period of Peronist authoritarian rule and interference in subsequent governments was followed by a military junta that took power in 1976. Democracy returned in 1983, and numerous elections since then have underscored Argentina's progress in democratic consolidation.
Location: Southern South America, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean, between Chile and Uruguay Area: Total: 2,766,890 sq km land: 2,736,690 sq km water: 30,200 sq km Area - comparative: Slightly less than three-tenths the size of the US Land boundaries: Total: 9,665 km border countries: Bolivia 832 km, Brazil 1,224 km, Chile 5,150 km, Paraguay 1,880 km, Uruguay 579 km Coastline: 4,989 km
Climate and Terrain: Climate: Mostly temperate; arid in southeast; subantarctic in southwest Terrain: Rich plains of the Pampas in northern half, flat to rolling plateau of Patagonia in south, rugged Andes along western border Elevation extremes: Lowest point: Salinas Chicas -40 m (located on Peninsula Valdes) highest point: Cerro Aconcagua 6,960 m Natural resources: Fertile plains of the Pampas, lead, zinc, tin, copper, iron ore, manganese, petroleum, uranium
People: Population: 37,812,817. Ethnic groups: White (mostly Spanish and Italian) 97%, mestizo, Amerindian, or other nonwhite groups 3%. Religions: Nominally Roman Catholic 92% (less than 20% practicing), Protestant 2%, Jewish 2%, other 4%. Languages: Spanish (official), English, Italian, German, French.
Government: Government type: Republic. Capital: Buenos Aires. Independence: 9 July 1816 (from Spain).
Economy overview: Argentina benefits from rich natural resources, a highly literate population, an export-oriented agricultural sector, and a diversified industrial base. However, when President Carlos MENEM took office in 1989, the country had piled up huge external debts, inflation had reached 200% per month, and output was plummeting. To combat the economic crisis, the government embarked on a path of trade liberalization, deregulation, and privatization. In 1991, it implemented radical monetary reforms that pegged the peso to the US dollar and limited the growth in the monetary base by law to the growth in reserves. Inflation fell sharply in subsequent years. I At the start of 2002, newly elected president Eduardo Duhalde met with IMF officials to secure an additional $20 billion loan, but immediate action seemed unlikely. The peso's peg to the dollar was abandoned in January 2002, and the peso was floated from the dollar in February; inflation picked up rapidly. GDP - composition by sector: Agriculture: 6% industry: 28% services: 66%.
Statistics: Telephones - main lines in use: 7.5 million. Telephones - mobile cellular: 3 million. Radio broadcast stations: AM 260. Radios: 24.3 million. Television broadcast stations: 42. Televisions: 7.95 million. Internet users: 3.88 million. Railways: Total: 33,744 km. Highways: Total: 215,434 km. Airports: 1,369.

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