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Buenos Aires

From Academic Kids

Buenos Aires ("Good Air" in Spanish, originally meaning "Fair Winds") is the capital of Argentina and its largest city and port, as well as one of the largest cities in South America. Buenos Aires is located at the southern side of the River Plate, on the southeast coast of the South American continent. Montevideo, Uruguay is located across the river. Buenos Aires is located at 34°40' South, 58°24' West (-34.667, -58.40).

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Former coat of arms of Buenos Aires, used from 1591 until 1649

After the internal conflicts of the 19th century, Buenos Aires was federalized and removed from Buenos Aires province; its city limits were enlarged to include the former towns of Belgrano and Flores (both are now neighbourhoods in the city).

Argentines sometimes refer to the city as Capital Federal to differentiate the city from the province of the same name.

Under the original federalization scheme, the mayor was elected directly by the President of the Republic. The 1994 constitution granted the city autonomous status, and citizens now elect both the city council and the mayor in direct elections. The current mayor is Anibal Ibarra.

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Population

The people of Buenos Aires are known as porteos (people of the port), recognizing the huge historical importance of the port in the development of the nation.

The population of Buenos Aires consists primarily of Argentines of Spanish, mixed Spanish-aboriginal (mestizo) and Italian descent, although there are sizable communities of people with Arab, Jewish, Armenian, Anglo-Irish, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean origins (see also: Asian-Argentines). Most inhabitants are Roman Catholic. Sizable Jewish and Muslim communities have existed for over 100 years, and evangelist churches have been steadily increasing their ranks since the 1980s.

The city proper has a population of 2,776,234 according to the 2001 census, while the Greater Buenos Aires suburbia, which belongs to Buenos Aires province, has more than 12 million inhabitants. Suburbanites are called porteos and also bonaerenses; only the last term applies to the rest of the province.

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Buenos Aires as seen from the Nature Reserve (Reserva Ecolgica

Economy

Buenos Aires is the financial, industrial, commercial, and cultural hub of Argentina. Its port is one of the busiest in the world; navigable rivers connect it to the Argentine North-East, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay. As a result, it serves as the distribution hub for a vast area of the south-eastern region of the continent.

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Puerto Madero district near downtown Buenos Aires

To the west of Buenos Aires is the Pampa Hmeda, the most productive agricultural region of Argentina (which is different from the dry and sterile south-Argentina pampa, where only bovine livestock is produced). Meat, dairy, grain, tobacco, wool and hide products are processed or manufactured in the Buenos Aires area. Other leading industries are automobile manufacturing, oil refining, metalworking, machine building, and the production of textiles, chemicals, clothing, and beverages.

The Buenos Aires international airport, Ministro Pistarini International Airport, is located in the suburb of Ezeiza and is often called simply "Ezeiza". The Aeroparque Jorge Newbery airport, located within city limits near the riverbank, serves mostly domestic traffic.

History

Spanish seaman Juan Daz de Sols discovered the Rio de la Plata river (River Plate) in 1516 but his expedition was cut short by an attack in which he was killed (and cannibalized) by the native Charrua tribe.

The city was first founded as Santa Mara del Buen Ayre on February 2, 1536 by a Spanish gold-seeking expedition under Pedro de Mendoza. The name was chosen by Mendoza's chaplain, who was a devout follower of the Virgine de Bonaria (Our Lady of the Fair Winds) of Cagliari, Sardinia. The location of Mendoza's city was on today's San Telmo district (south of the present city center).

More attacks by the indigenous peoples forced the settlers away and in 1541 the site was abandoned. A second (and permanent) settlement was established in 1580 by Juan de Garay, who sailed down the Paran river from Asuncin.

From its earliest days the success of Buenos Aires depended on trade. The Spanish administration of the 17th and 18th centuries insisted that all trade to Europe initially pass through Lima, Peru so that taxes could be collected. This scheme frustrated the traders of Buenos Aires and a thriving contraband industry developed. Unsurprisingly, this also instilled a deep resentment in porteos towards Spanish authorities.

1888 German map of Buenos Aires
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1888 German map of Buenos Aires

Sensing this instability, Charles III of Spain progressively eased the trade restrictions and finally declared Buenos Aires an open port in the late 1700s. Those placating actions did not have the desired effect, and the porteos, some of them versed in the ideology of the French revolution, became even more desirous of independence from Spain.

During the British invasions in Rio de la Plata British forces invaded Buenos Aires three times in 1806-1807 but were rebuffed by the local colonial militia. Ultimately, on May 25, 1810, while Spain endured the Peninsular War and after a week of mostly pacific deliberations, the creole citizens of Buenos Aires successfully ousted the Spanish Viceroy and established a provincial government; the date is now celebrated as a national holiday (independence from Spain was declared only in 1816).

Railroad construction during the 19th century only increased the economic power of Buenos Aires as raw materials flowed into its factories. By the 1920s Buenos Aires was a favored destination for immigrants from Europe, as well as from the poorer provinces and neighboring countries, and large shantytowns (villas miseria) started growing around the city's industrial areas, leading to extensive social problems.

At the same time, Buenos Aires was a multicultural city that ranked itself with the major European capitals. For example, the Teatro Coln was one of the world's top opera venues.

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A NASA satellite photo of the Ro de la Plata area. Gran Buenos Aires can be seen on the right.

Buenos Aires historically was Argentina's main stage for liberal and free-trade ideas, with many of the provinces advocating for a more conservative-Catholic approach. Many tensions within Argentine history, starting with the Unitarios-Federales wars of the 19th century, can be traced back to this contrast. During the 20th century, military juntas seized power several times, to impose a combination of political repression and neoliberal economics. The last episode, which started in 1976, produced more than 10,000 desaparecidos. The silent marches of their mothers (Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo) are the most well-known image of Argentine suffering during the dictatorship.

Buenos Aires was also the cradle of Peronism: the now-mythical demonstration of October 17 1945 took place in Plaza de Mayo. Industrial workers of the Buenos Aires suburbia have been Peronism's main support base ever since.

On March 17, 1992 a bomb exploded in the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires killing 29 and injuring 242. Another explosion, on July 18, 1994 destroyed a building housing several Jewish organizations killing 96 and injuring many more. See AMIA bombing.

Culture

Language variations

In the early 20th century, Argentina absorbed millions of immigrants, mostly from Italy and Spain. Italian immigrants spoke mostly local dialects (mainly Nnapulitano, Sicilianu and Genoese), and their adoption of Spanish was gradual. The pidgin of Italian dialects and Spanish was called cocoliche. It was used roughly until the 1950s, and today survives mostly as comic relief.

The lunfardo argot originated within the prison population, and spread to all porteos with time. Lunfardo uses words from Italian dialects, and tricks such as inverting the syllables within a word (vesre). Lunfardo is used by porteos mostly in informal settings.

Yiddish was common in Buenos Aires, especially in the Balvanera garment district, until the 1960s. A lively Korean language and Chinese language press has developed since the 1980s, but younger immigrants assimilate into Spanish quickly.

The dialect of Spanish spoken in Buenos Aires (as well as in other large cities like Rosario and Montevideo, Uruguay) is characterized by voseo, yesmo and aspiration or loss of syllable-final -s. Due to its geographical location, it receives the name of Rioplatense Spanish.

Tango

Many immigrants arrived in Buenos Aires without their families, which led to a significant phenomenon of prostitution starting around 1870. The erotically charged tango dance originated in brothels, but later found a wider audience. In 1902, the Teatro Opera started organizing tango balls. In the 1920s, tango was adopted by the Parisian high society and then all over the world.

The Buenos Aires style of tango music evolved into an elaborated genre. In its heyday, tango had many famous orchestras such as those led by Aníbal Troilo and Juan D'Arienzo, and singers such as Carlos Gardel and Edmundo Rivero.

Buenos Aires now holds an annual "Tango Day" each December 11.

In San Telmo, Sundays are devoted to tango shows on the streets and antiques trade in the bazaars around Dorrego Square.

Miscellaneous

Buenos Aires was home for writers Jorge Luis Borges, Ernesto Sabato, and Julio Cortzar (who emigrated to France).

The University of Buenos Aires, which used to be the premier learning institution in all of South America, has produced five Nobel Prize winners.

Transportation

Historically, Buenos Aires used to be relatively congestion-free for a city of its size. Toll freeways opened in the late 1970s by then-mayor Osvaldo Cacciatore provided fast access to the downtown area, increasing the number of cars coming into the city. In parallel, the streets of the downtown financial district (roughly one square kilometer in size) were declared off-limits to private cars during daytime.

Following the economic mini-boom of the 1990s, more people started commuting by car, and congestion increased. Most major avenues are gridlocked at peak hours, and congestion also results from people driving from and to their weekends in the country.

A majority of commuters use public transportation. An original Buenos Aires invention is the colectivo (a small bus built out of a truck chassis and sitting 21 to 27). Renovation of the fleet is severely lagging, and colectivos are now decried as old, noisy and polluting. The diferenciales (differential-rate buses) have better sitting arrangements and air conditioning, which is quite appreciated in the summer months.

Buenos Aires has an extensive subway network, known as the subte (short for subterrneo "underground"). Also, all of Argentina's extensive railway network converges on Buenos Aires. Commuter trains are popular with suburbanites, but some lines have serious crime issues.

A large number of black-and-yellow taxis roam the streets at all hours. Many units are unlicensed, and trips on them may end with the passangers being mugged by the driver (or his associates). Thus, it is advised to phone a reputable radio-link company and avoid hailing taxis on the street. Limousine services (known locally as remises) have become more popular in the last few years.

Barrios

The city is divided into 47 barrios (neighbourhoods).

See: List of Buenos Aires neighbourhoods

Sports

Football (soccer) is a passion for Argentines. The city has many teams playing in the major league. The best-known rivalry is the one between Boca Juniors and River Plate.

Diego Armando Maradona, who was born in a poor suburb of Buenos Aires and is widely hailed as one of the greatest players ever, started his career with Argentinos Juniors and later played for Boca Juniors (he also played for other clubs, notably Italian side SSC Napoli).

Buenos Aires hosted the first Pan American Games which started on February 25, 1951, as well as the 1950 and 1990 basketball world championships and the 1978 football (soccer) World Cup (Argentina won the final on June 25, 1978, defeating the Netherlands by a score of 3-1).

Buenos Aires Oscar Galvez track hosted twenty editions of the Formula One Argentine Grand Prix between 1953 and 1998; its discontinuation was due to financial reasons. The track also hosts local categories on most weekends.

Other popular sports in Buenos Aires are basketball, rugby, tennis, field hockey... Also horse racing can be seen in the Jockey Club as well as the national game pato, a kind of basketball played on horseback (sometimes called "horseball" in english). Argentina is also the uninterrupted world champion of Polo since 1949, and source of most world's 10 goal players.

See also: Cities of the world, List of national capitals

External links

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Online newspapers
  • The Buenos Aires Herald (http://www.buenosairesherald.com/) Online edition of a local English language newspaper
  • Clarn (http://www.clarin.com/)
  • La Nacin (http://www.lanacion.com.ar/)
  • Pgina 12 (http://www.pagina12web.com.ar/)

Buenos Aires is also a canton in Puntarenas Province, Costa Rica.


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