Monday, July 20, 2015

Map on Monday: ARGENTINA

Stratfor - short for Strategic Forecasting, Inc. - is a private global intelligence company that offers geopolitical insight into the interplay of nations. Stratfor has developed an excellent series of short (~2-4 minute) videos which provide the viewer with a specific nation, along with its basic history, geography, culture, and geopolitical allies and adversaries. In the following video, they present the geographic challenges facing Argentina.

With a population of about 43 million people, Argentina is South America's third largest nation behind Columbia (48 million) and Brazil (204.5 million). The vast majority of Argentina's population are of European descent with roughly one half of all Argentinians (including Pope Francis) of Italian ancestry. Argentina derives its name from the Latin word for silver - the natural resource colonizers had (wrongly) expected to find. Argentina is, however, rich in zinc, copper, lead and is the world's third largest Boron supplier.

Argentina's substantial coast is oriented towards the Atlantic, but it also shares land borders with Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, and Chile. With its neighbors, Argentina shares a colonial history in the Spanish Empire. Like central America, Spain's South American holdings began to emerge as independent nations following Napoleon's sacking of Spanish King Ferdinand VII and replacing him with a Bonaparte. In 1810, areas of what would become Argentina, Bolivia, and Uruguay declared independence and formed a republic known as the United Provinces of South America or the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata (River Plate) with Buenos Aires as its capital. The republic, however, soon fell into civil war and broke into several nations by 1831.

By the early twentieth century, Argentina had become the seventh wealthiest nation in the world - but a military coup in 1930 was the beginning of economic decline for Argentina. While the rule of Juan Perón brought about a brief return to economic prosperity, an ensuing "Dirty War" left thousands dead (or "disappeared") as the military ruled the nation and cracked down on dissidents. With the reestablishment of democracy, Argentina's leaders have taken the nation in a decidedly liberal direction. In 2010, it became the first nation in Latin America to legalize gay marriage. Néstor and Cristina Kirchner - Argentina's own Bill and Hilary - have run the nation since 2002 with Néstor in power for one term and his wife in her second. In 2014, Argentina defaulted on its international debts and remains today a mid-level world power.

For a very informative video on Argentina, see this video from the series Geography Now!

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