Despite early evidence of "Argentine exceptionalism" a new trend emerged in the mid-nineteenth century. The core economies' growth accelerated as the industrial revolution spread, but Latin America, beset by wars and economic chaos, stood still, or even fell backward...Argentina was still richer than its neighbors, by roughly the same amount, but it had not kept up with the core.
Peronism had divided Argentine society into two irreconcilable sectors. For the great majority of the working class and other previously marginalized groups, Peron's regime had brought concrete improvements in their living conditions and a redefinition of their place in society. Other sectors, in particular the middle class and intelligentsia, interpreted the ten years of Peronist government as the result of a pathological development in the history of the country.
In Argentina during the late 1970s, thousands of people were kidnapped, secretly imprisoned, tortured, and then never again seen alive. The nation's highest military leadership instituted these measures and justified them by the need "to save western Christian civilization." When the military's terrorist state, as it became widely known, finally collapsed in 1983, Argentines reflected grimly on "the greatest and most savage tragedy of our history."
Petroleum altered the course of Argentine political and economic history, but when government drillers struck oil on state land in Patagonia in 1907, the discovery stirred little excitement. The major newspapers in Buenos Aires hardly mentioned the event---an ironic attitude in view of the fact that South America's second-largest country depended almost entirely on imported fuel...Free trade liberalism dominated Argentine economic thought, and it is unlikely that the state would have become involved in the petroleum business as early as it did had oil not been found on government land.
At the end of the nineteenth century, international opinion predicted that Argentina would develop into one of the world's leading nations. Its natural resources, its size, and its lucrative trade with Europe provided what seemed to many to be a solid foundation. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Argentina is engaged in struggle. The legacy of military rule and decades of economic chaos placed major burdens upon the country and its leaders.
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.
Although Argentina's official language is Spanish, Argentinian Spanish is different from the Spanish spoken in Spain. In some ways it sounds more like Italian than Spanish. There are also many other languages spoken in Argentina, including Italian, German, English and French. Indigenous languages that are spoken today include Tehuelche, Guarani and Quechua.
The Argentine economy has grown 94 percent for the years 2002-2011, using International Monetary Fund projections for the end of this year. This is the fastest growth in the Western Hemisphere for this period, and among the highest growth rates in the world. It also compares favorably to neighboring economies that are commonly seen as quite successful, such as Brazil, which has had less than half as much growth over the same period.
Argentina adopted comprehensive legislation to regulate broadcast and print media in 2009. The impact of this legislation on freedom of expression will depend on how it is implemented by a new regulatory body. Argentina has yet to adopt legislation to regulate access to official information. Significant ongoing human rights concerns include deplorable prison conditions, torture, and arbitrary restrictions on women’s reproductive rights.
Argentina is a federation of 23 provinces, plus the Federal Capital District (Buenos Aires City). The system of government (at both the federal and provincial levels) is based on the separation of powers into the Executive branch, the Legislative branch and the Judiciary. The President and Vice-President are chosen by direct popular vote for a four-year presidential term, and may run for one consecutive re-election. The President appoints the ministers.