As varied as Argentina’s geography is, so is its culture. It is composed of an ethnic mix of foreigners from Europe, including people from Italy, Germany, England, Spain, Basque, and the Irish. Because of the strong European migration, this influenced the demise of pre-Columbian cultures, leaving the present lack of dominant indigenous populations. Each culture established their own role throughout the country—the Basque and Irish controlled sheep farming, Germans and Italians established farms, and the British predominately invested in developing the country’s infrastructure. Small populations of Japanese, Chileans, Bolivians, Paraguayans, and Uruguayans are also found scattered throughout the country.
Due to the array of cultural diversity, a particularly diverse arts, crafts, and music scene exists. There are many cinemas and galleries in major urban centers and are popular with the majority of the elite—seen as a type of status symbol. The Argentina cinema widely respected throughout the world and is used as a vehicle to manifest the horrors of the Dirty War. Tango is the medium of dance and is believed to be one of the most amorous ways of expressing love in Argentina. Folk music is also popular, containing Amerindian influence.
The cities are more modern-styled, complete with colonial influences from throughout Europe giving unique characteristics to each city. More than one third of the country’s 32 million residents live in Buenos Aires, the capital—almost 90% of the total population. A small population of natives still live in the country, mainly the Quechua in the northwest region and the Mapuche in Patagonia. Other marginal groups include Matacos and Tobas in Chaco and northeastern cities.
Soccer is the past-time of choice, where Argentina has won the World Cup twice, once in 1978 and again in 1986. Diego Maradona is a national hero due to his great soccer skills.
Roman Catholicism is the official religion of the country, where spiritualism and devotion to the dead are also deeply engrained in society. Pilgrimages are not uncommon to the grave sites of relations and famous people who have since passed away. Judaism also makes up of a percentage of the religions found in Argentina.
The official language of the country is Spanish where Italian is widely used as well, with pockets of Anglo societies offering English-speaking citizens. 17 native languages include Quechua, Mapuche, Guarani, Tobas, and Matacus.
Typical food in Argentina is meat—predominately beef which is cooked on mixed grills known as “parrilladas.” Vegetarian food is not uncommon either. Ice cream is popular due to its Italian influence, as well as Paraguayan tea which is offered as a special expression of acceptance. The leaves are related to holly and are elaborately prepared in a mixture which is drunk from a shared gourd.
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