Argentina, Chile and Uruguay

The southern part of South America is occupied by three countries: Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. Lying between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, South America’s southernmost point, Cape Horn, lies only about 1,000 km (600 miles) from the northern tip of Antarctica. Once part of the Spanish empire, all three countries still show strong European influences. Their vast mineral resources have resulted in some prosperity, but all have agricultural economies and have suffered under a series of unstable governments

Physical Features:

Dominating the west of the region, the Andes Mountains form a rugged frontier between Chile and Argentina. The hot, humid land of the Grand Chaco covers the northeast turning to rolling grassland, known as PAMPAS in the centre. South of this and the arid plateau of Patagonia lie the windy islands of Tierra del Fuego.

Atacama Desert:

The hot Atacama Desert is one of the world’s driest places. It covers the northern 965km (600 miles) of Chile’s long coastal strip and receives less than 13mm (1/2 in) of rain in a year. By contrast, the Patagonian Desert, in the far south of Argentina, near Antarctica, is a vast, icy – cold expanse of windswept rocks.


Forming a barrier between Chile and its eastern neighbours, Bolivia and Argentina, the vast Andes mountain chain stretches for about 8,000 km (5,000 miles). Nearly half of its mighty snow-capped peaks lie along Chile’s long eastern border with Argentina, including Mount Aconcagua, an extinct volcano, which, at 69,60 m ( 22, 835 ft), is the highest peak in South America.


Also known as the Entre Rios, the natural grasslands of the PAMPAS cover about 20percent of Argentina and extend north into Uruguay where three – quarters of the land is rich pasture. Much of the vast pampas has hot summers, warm winters, plenty of rain and deep, fertile soil, making the area ideal for growing crops and for raising cattle and sheep.


More than three – quarters of the people in this region descend from Europeans most of who moved from Spain or Italy in the 20th century. Many of the Europeans intermarried with Native Americans, giving rise to Mestizos, people of mixed ancestries. Like their ancestors, most people are Roman Catholics and are close to their extended families. Many of them run successful businesses.

Regional Climate:

Chile’s long, narrow shape gives it an extremely varied climate. Desert and mountains in the north give way to fertile valleys, with hot, dry summers and mild, moist winters. Argentina’s southern Andean peaks and Patagonian Glaciers have year – round snow. The north is hotter and wetter. Uruguay is mild and pleasant.


After Brazil, Argentina is the second largest country in South America. It is separated from Uruguay by the Rio de la Plata estuary, on which its capital, Buenos Aires, stands. Argentina is one of the wealthiest countries in South America with fertile soils, a wealth of mineral resources and a skilled work - force. However, years of political instability have left huge overseas debts which caused the economy to collapse at the end of 2001.


More than 89 per cent of Argentina’s people live in towns and cities and most enjoy a high standard of living. However, city slums or gorillas illustrate the sharp contrast between the country’s rich and poor. It was in the slums that the tango, the traditional dance of Buenos Aires, originated, in the late 1800s. Many tangos contain lyrics that express the frustrations of the immigrants who came from Spain, Italy, Austria, France, Germany, and Britain. The TANGO is now famous worldwide.

Buenos Airiest:

Situated on the south Atlantic coast, Argentina’s capital has been an important trade port since it was founded by the Spanish in 1536. Buenos Aires is a wealthy, sophisticated city, with expensive shops, fine avenues and modern buildings as well as a spectacular old cathedral. The city is the centre of government, industry and culture. Almost 40 percent of Argentineans numbering about 14,000,000 live in the metropolitan capital, referring to it as Baires.


High quality beef which is produced throughout Argentina is used as a base for many local dishes such as empanadas or savory mince pastries. Every restaurant has barbeque grill or parillada. As a cheaper alternative to meat, many people eat small potato dumplings called noquis which were introduced by Italian immigrants.


More than 180 daily newspapers are published every day in Argentina. Most are in Spanish, but English, French and Germaine papers are widely available. In the past, dictatorships have imposed censorship on the media and today’s government withdraws advertising from those who do not support its policies.


Literacy is high in Argentina and free – state primary and secondary education is provided. Schooling is compulsory for all children between the ages of six and 14 and more than one – third of all students go on to one of Argentina’s 45 universities. Buenos Aires has the largest university in South America with 140,000 students.


Agriculture accounts for about 60 per cent of Argentina’s export earnings. The country is a major producer of wheat barely and maize which flourishes on the pampas and is the world’s third largest producer of Soya beans. Fruit, especially oranges, grows well in the warm climate and grapes are produced for wine – making.


Tough, independent Gauchos or cowhands have roamed the pampas on horseback for more than 300 years, tending cattle and horses, modern gauchos work mainly on huge estancias or ranches owned by wealthy landlords where they rear animals and mend fences. Gauchos are experts in handling herds and are the national heroes of Argentina.


About 30 percent of the labor force works in industry. Textiles, food production and chemical products dominate business. The country is self sufficient in oil and gas and rich in minerals.

Falkland Island:

Britain and Argentina have fought over ownership of the Falkland Islands or isles Malians, since the British claimed the islands from the Spanish in 1833. In 1982 an Argentine invasion of the islands was overthrown and the British continue to hold them.

Argentina Facts:

• Capital City: Buenos Aires
• Area: 2,766,890 sq km (1,068,296 sq miles)
• Population: 37,500,000
• Main Language: Spanish
• Major Religion: Christianity
• Currency: Argentinean Peso
• Life Expectancy: 73 years
• People per Doctor: 370
• Government: Multi-Party Democracy
• Adult Literacy: 97%


A long and extremely narrow country, Chile measures, at most, only about 430km (267 miles) wide. Most Chileans live in cities and towns in the central valley between the low coastal mountains to the west and the towering Andes on the east. The cold, stormy southern coast is flanked by thousands of islands whose waters provide rich fishing grounds. Chile has a strong economy rooted in its natural resources minerals, fruit, sea products and timber.


Descended from the original inhabitants of South America, the Mapuche people are also known as the Araucanians. About 675,000 Mabuchi live in the central and Southern regions of Chile. They follow the Roman Catholic Religion and speak their own language as well as Spanish. The Mapuche people have fought for independence since the 16th century and are still at odds with the Chilean government. Quechua and Aymara Indians also live in the country in the north.


Located in the heart of Chile, the capital Santiago is a bustling and Modern City. The city and suburbs house about five millions people. Santiago is known for severe traffic congestion and has one of the highest taxi dentition in the world with one per 100 inhabitants. About 3,600 km (2,236 miles) of Pan-American Highway runs through Santiago but high smog levels over the city concern environmentalists.


Chile leads the world in the production of copper ore of which it owns about 20 per cent of known reserves. The Central valley which extends for 1,600 Km (994 miles) has the world’s larges underground copper mine, located at EI Teniente. Chuquicamata, in the bleak Atacama Desert, is one of the largest open – cast copper mines in the world. The country also mines iron, gold and silver.


Vineyards first planted by Spanish colonists in the 1500s have benefited from the hot dry summers in the central valley. Today, about 320,000 tonnes (350,000 tons) of Chilean wines, red from Cabernet sauvignon grapes and white from Chardonnay grapes, are exported all over the world.


Although less than one percent of the people work in the fishing industry, Chile leads the world in fishnets production. In a good year, around 6,000 tones of sardines, anchovertas, mackerel and salmon are caught and proceed. Punta Arena, on the Strait of Magellan in the south, is the industry’s centre.

Chile Facts:

• Capital City: Santiago
• Area: 756,950 sq km (292,258 sq miles)
• Population: 15,400,000
• Main Language: Spanish
• Major Religion: Christianity
• Currency: Chilean Peso
• Life Expectancy: 75 years
• People per Doctor: 909
• Government: Multi-Party Democracy
• Adult Literacy: 96%


One of the smallest countries in South America, Uruguay is also one of the most prosperous and harmonious. More than 40 per cent of its people, about 1,449,900 live in Montevideo, in Capital, chief port and largest city. The rest are scattered over the vast lowland pastures. Uruguay has a high tourist rate mainly because of its sandy beaches and fine weather.


There are 11 times as many sheep cattle and horses as people in Uruguay. Most Uruguayans are of Spanish or Italian descent. They enjoy considerable property, largely due to the wealth from earlier cattle ranching in the country.


More than 90 percent of Uruguay’s power is generated through hydroelectricity. The main hydroelectric plants are situated on the country’s major rivers, the Uruguay and its tributary, the Rio negro, which both widen out into the Rio do la Plata estuary. Huge turbines have been built across the river, so that as the water rushes through, it turns the turbines and makes electricity.


There quarters of Uruguay is rich, Green pasture that provides excellent gazing land for its 25,000,000 sheep and 10,000,000 cattle. The land provides work for nearly half the population Uruguay is the world’s second biggest producer of wool and textiles made from wool account for about 20 per cent of Uruguayan exports.

Uruguay Facts:

• Capital City: Montevideo
• Area: 176,220 sq km (68,039 sq miles)
• Population: 3,400,000
• Main Language: Spanish
• Major Religion: Christianity
• Currency: Uruguayan Peso

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