• Argentina is the world’s eighth-largest country by area, though with a population of just over 40 million – one-third of whom live in Greater Buenos Aires – it is one of the least densely populated countries on the planet.

Some 97 percent of Argentines are of European origin, largely of Spanish or Italian descent. Most citizens are nominally Catholic, but under a fifth are practising. Although abortion is still restricted, Argentina has some of the world’s most progressive laws on matters like same-sex marriage and death with dignity.

Best known for its beef, Argentina is also a leading producer of wine, wheat, fruits and vegetables. In recent years much of the country’s land has been turned over to soya and exports of animal feed to China have helped to drive its strong economic growth since the 2001 crisis.

Argentines have long been distinguished in the field of science, with Dr Luis Agote carrying out one of the earliest successful blood transfusions in 1914, and three Argentines receiving Nobel prizes for medicine or chemistry in the twentieth century. Argentines have twice been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize: Carlos de Saavedra Lamas, in 1936, for his peace efforts in South America, and Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, in 1980, for his defence of human rights in the 1970s.

Argentina has a vibrant film industry and has twice carried off an Oscar for best foreign language film: La historia oficial (The Official Story) in 1985 and El secreto de sus ojos (The Secret in Their Eyes) in 2010; both movies deal with the “Dirty War” and its aftermath.

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