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Argentina

This vast country occupying a large chunk of southern South America is topographically diverse and infinitely enchanting. From the snow-capped peaks and glaciers of the Andes to the dusty plains of Patagonia, Argentina never fails to amaze. Whether exploring the lush rainforest of Missiones, horse riding in the scorched red mountains of Salta, trekking the turquoise lakes and evergreen forests of the Lake District or playing the gaucho in the fertile Pampas, the country is one of ceaseless wonder and boundless adventure. At the heart of all this is the capital city Buenos Aires. Unfairly described as a grimy Paris, Buenos Aires is a smart, contemporary city that is full of life and bursting with energy.

Practical Information

Area: 2 780 400 km² (1 073 518 miles²)

Capital: Buenos Aires. Population: 3 million

Population: 39.9 million

Currency: Peso (ARS symbol AR$) = 100 centavos

Government: Federal and Democratic Republic. Gained independence from Spain in 1816.

Tipping: Service charge is sometimes added in hotel restaurants but tipping is largely discretionary. It is normal to leave a 10% tip in restaurants and bars.

Legal drinking age: The legal age for drinking alcohol in a bar/cafe is 18

Time zone: GMT - 3

Languages: Spanish

Additional descriptions

Argentina: Social customs

The most common form of greeting between friends is kissing cheeks. When invited to somebody’s house it is quite common to take a homemade dish or dessert. Dinner is usually served between 2100-2200. AvoidRead more casual discussion of the Falklands/Malvinas war. Dress is not usually formal, though clothes should be conservative away from the beach. Formal wear is worn for official functions and dinners, particularly in exclusive restaurants. Smoking is prohibited on public transport, in cinemas and theatres.

Argentina: Food and local specialties

Argentina boasts an exceptional standard of food and drink and eating out is an experience in itself. But be warned: Argentines tend to dine very late (2100 is considered early). Famed for the quality of its steaks, Argentina is a meat-eater’s dream and a visit to a parrillada restaurant should be on a visitor’s to-do list. Conversely, pure vegetarian food is hard to find but most restaurants have a veggie option and salads are widely available. The country’s Italian heritage is evident in the popularity of pizza and pasta eateries throughout the country. Japanese, Thai and Asian fusion food is increasingly popular in Buenos Aires, while North American and European style dishes are readily available in large hotels and tourist areas. Argentine wines have flooded the international market in recent years and are famed for their quality and value. Many international beers are available but local brand Quilmes is eternally popular. All the big brand spirits are found in Argentina, and there are many fine local varieties. Whisky, gin and rum are the most popular and form the basis for some exotic and potent cocktails. Mate is a national institution in Argentina (like tea is to the English). Made from dried yerba leaves, mate is served in a gourd and is shared between friends. The national specialties are: Charrasco Argentino (a large, juicy gaucho steak). Carbonada en Zapallo (squash stuffed with a beef and vegetable stew). Empanadas (tasty little pastry pies usually stuffed with meat). Ñoquis (gnocchi - potato pasta dumplings usually served with a tomato and herb sauce). Alfajores (shortbread-type biscuits sandwiched with dulce de leche - caramelised milk sauce). Yerba mate (tea-like drink). Quilmes is the national brand of lager. Malbec wine. Read more of its steaks, Argentina is a meat-eater’s dream and a visit to a parrillada restaurant should be on a visitor’s to-do list. Conversely, pure vegetarian food is hard to find but most restaurants have a veggie option and salads are widely available. The country’s Italian heritage is evident in the popularity of pizza and pasta eateries throughout the country. Japanese, Thai and Asian fusion food is increasingly popular in Buenos Aires, while North American and European style dishes are readily available in large hotels and tourist areas. Argentine wines have flooded the international market in recent years and are famed for their quality and value. Many international beers are available but local brand Quilmes is eternally popular. All the big brand spirits are found in Argentina, and there are many fine local varieties. Whisky, gin and rum are the most popular and form the basis for some exotic and potent cocktails. Mate is a national institution in Argentina (like tea is to the English). Made from dried yerba leaves, mate is served in a gourd and is shared between friends. The national specialties are: Charrasco Argentino (a large, juicy gaucho steak). Carbonada en Zapallo (squash stuffed with a beef and vegetable stew). Empanadas (tasty little pastry pies usually stuffed with meat). Ñoquis (gnocchi - potato pasta dumplings usually served with a tomato and herb sauce). Alfajores (shortbread-type biscuits sandwiched with dulce de leche - caramelised milk sauce). Yerba mate (tea-like drink). Quilmes is the national brand of lager. Malbec wine.

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