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It comes from the Latin word for silver (Argentum) and the stories of vast deposits of the metal carried home by Spanish explorers in the 16th century. The theme continues with the name of one of the country’s major rivers, Rio de la Plata, or Silver River (known in English as The River Plate).

Country Information
Population: A shade under 40 million
Capital city:    Buenos Aires (population 12 million in Greater BA)
Major cities: Cordoba, Rosario, Mendoza, Tucuman, La Plata
People:     85% European descent, 15% mixed Indian-European, Mapuche and Quechua and other minorities
Protected areas: 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 32 National and Provincial Parks.
Adult literacy 97%+
Language:   Spanish (without the European Spanish lisp), plus 17 indigenous languages
Religion: 93% Roman Catholic, 2.5% Protestant, 2% Jewish, 2.5% others
Time: GMT minus 3 hours. No daylight saving in summer.
Electricity: 220V, 50Hz. Plugs are similar to Europe (not UK) with 2 thin pins
Weights & measures: Metric

Entering Argentina

Nationals from neighbouring countries, Western Europe, Israel, Japan, South Africa and the USA do not need a visa for stays of up to 3 months.

Health Issues

Although tap water throughout the country is generally safe to drink, visitors should exercise caution in rural areas and in the desert north and consequently it is recommended that bottled water be drunk. Raw fruit and vegetables may normally be safety consumed as long as they are properly washed.
Full details of the latest health requirements should be obtained from a medical source such as your doctor or a travel clinic. There is no malaria risk in Buenos Aires or further south. There are no mandatory health requirements for Argentina.

Money Matters

Until comparatively recently, Argentina was an expensive country to visit, but the 2001 devaluation of the peso has made it one of the most attractively priced destinations in the World.
It is almost impossible to change any currency in Argentina except US Dollars and, more recently, Euros. Bring US Dollars or Euros or, preferably, take money when you need it from Automated Teller Machines (ATMs). They are everywhere, even in the smallest towns. There's a thriving black market in currency exchange, mostly for US Dollars but also for Euros. Avoid the black market - not only is it illegal, but you might end up with counterfeit pesos. You also don’t get such a good rate. Go to the Central Bank, Banco Nacion, to change money and you will usually get the best rate. There are branches in all main towns. There are also ATMs in the International Airport in Buenos Aires, so there is no need to buy Argentinean currency before you leave your home base. Check with your bank before you go that your cards can be used in foreign ATMs and ask them what transaction charges they make. It is often better to get the maximum amount you need each time you use an ATM than pay high bank charges at home for more frequent, lower value withdrawals.
The Euro is (at the end of 2006) worth roughly 4 pesos, the US Dollar is worth roughly 3 pesos and Pound is worth roughly 6 pesos. The international currency symbol for the peso is ARS and it is usually written using the $ sign. US Dollars are always shown as US$.
Visa and MasterCard are the most widely accepted credit cards, but don't rely on them – some merchants charge an extra fee if you pay by credit card. The same goes for traveller's cheques, which are difficult and time consuming to change outside Buenos Aires. The black economy is fed by cash purchases. In some cases, merchants outside the capital refuse to take credit cards and others will offer discount for cash, without a written bill. Tipping around 10% is customary in restaurants. Bargaining is uncommon.
Legal tender notes are 100, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 2 Pesos, and the coins 1 Peso, 50, 25, 10 and 5 cents (there are also 1 cent coins but they are rarely used). Smaller kiosks and shops rarely have change for 100 or 50 peso notes, so try and get smaller denominations.

Other Legal Requirements

You should carry your passport with you at all times. If you intend to drive, you may do so in Argentina on a photographic driving licence, which must be produced on demand. If you intend to drive in Chile, you must be in possession of a current International Driver’s Licence, available from the AA or RAC. You should carry a clear note of your blood group or write it inside your passport.


The country code for Argentina is 0054 and the city code for Buenos Aires is 011. Mobile phones work in virtually all urban areas of Argentina, but they must be Triband, as most modern phones are nowadays. In some parts of the country (including Trevelin), however, you have to use Quadband phones because of the ancient mobile system in use in these places. Check with your mobile service provider’s web site on how to access your voice mails from abroad and check that your phone is enabled for international roaming. Mobile numbers in Argentina do not have a separate number system like in the UK, for example, where all mobile numbers start with 07, but use the same local area code as non-mobiles, with the digits 15 added between the area code and the number to indicate a mobile number. Confusingly, this must be omitted and a 9 placed before the area code if the number is being dialled from outside Argentina! For example, dialling the Buenos Aires mobile number 4407 7207 within Argentina, you would dial 011 15 4407 7207. Dialling it from outside Argentina, you would dial +54 9 11 4407 7207.
It is relatively easy to buy a pre-paid sim for your phone and to top it up via the use of phone cards, available from most roadside kiosks. The biggest operator is Telefonica (Movistar). You can also easily make and receive calls from any one of the thousands of locutorios found in every town. Prices are reasonable and many of them can send and receive faxes. Internet access is also available in most locutorios.


The basic message is don’t, unless you have a very steady nerve and the patience of Job. In Buenos Aires, the Latin temperament always dominates over the innate courtesy of the Argentinean people and many drivers are, while they are in their cars, rude, inconsiderate, unpredictable and, occasionally, dangerous. Never drive at night in any large city and if you have an accident, have your video camera ready to record the scene and the attitudes of the people involved. In rural areas and outside the large cities things get a little better, but in these places you will find a greater number of untaxed and uninsured vehicles being driven by people with no knowledge of key issues such as who has priority at a roundabout and whether or not to give priority to traffic approaching from the right. Never assume, always be careful. Also ensure, especially outside Buenos Aires province, that you have plenty of fuel. It is quite common for whole towns to run out. Fuel is generally unadulterated and fuel stations, especially YPF, serve good coffee, croissants (medialunas), toasted sandwiches and cold drinks. Rental cars and 4x4s are expensive and special permission is needed to drive them over any of Argentina’s borders.

Other means of transport

Aerolineas Argentinas has a country-wide network, but to get from one place to another it is quite normal to have to be routed through Buenos Aires. With the advent of more competition from Lan Chile and Lade, more direct flights are now available between the main tourist centres. Aerolineas Argentinas charges much higher fares for internal flights if your international flight to Argentina is booked with another carrier. Often the best and most comfortable way to travel between tourist destinations is on the bus. They run regularly, are very competitively priced and are comfortable. A spacious first class seat costs very little extra and is well worth the additional outlay. Avoid all forms of rail travel except for the underground (Subte) in Buenos Aires and special tourist trains.

Dining and shopping and Mate

Argentineans go out late: restaurants and bars rarely open before 9 pm, but you can buy snacks and salads at most confiterias all day. Outside big cities, English menus are seldom found and, when they are, the eccentricity of the English used in them will delight. Many shops still take their siestas between 1 pm and 4 pm. Yerba Mate is the national drink and is drunk through a shared straw (bombilla). It is an acquired taste and once tried, never forgotten.


Esquel - Chubut - Patagonia - Argentina - Email: info@welshpatagonia.com