Argentina

Electricity

Argentine electricity is officially 220V, 50Hz. Adapters and transformers for North American equipment are readily available.

The best way to use imported electrical equipment in Argentina is to purchase an adapter once there. These are available in the Florida shopping area in Buenos Aires for around USD2 or less in hardware stores outside the city centre. Buildings use a mix of European and Australian plug fittings. The Australian-style plugs are IRAM-2073, which are physically identical to the Australian AS-3112 standard two blades in a V-shape, with or without a third blade for ground. However, the live and neutral pins in the Australian fittings are reversed. Therefore Australian equipment may be incompatible despite the apparent plug-compatibility. This is not a problem for battery chargers for devices such as Thinkpad, iPod, iPhone, and Blackberry.

European standard CEE-7/7 "Schukostecker" or "Schuko" outlets and the non-grounded, but compatible, European CEE-7/16 "Europlug" outlets may still be found in some older buildings. US and Canadian travellers may want to pack adapters for these outlets as well.

Many sockets have no ground pin. Laptop adapters should have little problem with this. If your laptop adapter requires a ground pin you will need a plug adapter that takes three pins from the laptop and requires only two from the wall socket. This does work but may reduce electrical safety or affect your warranty.

Some Argentine sockets accept North American plugs, particularly ones on power strips. Beware - this does not mean that these sockets deliver 110 volts. Make sure that your equipment can handle 220 volts! Simply changing the shape of the socket with a USD2 adapter will not allow 110 volt equipment to operate on 220 volt Argentinian sockets, unless the device is specifically designed to work on both 110 and 220 volts, irreparable damage and even fire can result. Most laptop power adapters and many portable electronics chargers are designed to work on either voltage; check the specifications for your equipment to be sure. If your equipment cannot accept 220 volt current, you can purchase a '220 to 110' volt transformer for approximately USD6 in most Argentinian electronics shops. This is much heavier and bulkier than a small adapter. There are two types of these transformers. One supports heavy loads for short durations, for example a hair dryer. The other supports light loads for long durations, for example an inkjet printer. Do select the right one.

Terrain

The central region of Argentina is the rich plain known as La Pampa. There is jungle in the extreme northeast. The southern half of Argentina is dominated by the flat to rolling plateau of Patagonia. The western border with Chile is along the rugged Andes mountains, including the Aconcagua, the highest mountain outside the Himalayas. The western Cuyo regions at the base of the Andes are mostly rocky desert with some poisonous frock trees.

Understand

Argentina officially the Argentine Republic is the eighth-largest country in the world. The highest and the lowest points of South America are also located in Argentina: At 6,960m, Cerro Aconcagua is the tallest mountain in the Americas while Laguna del Carbón, at 105m below sea level, is the lowest point in the Americas.

At the southern tip of Argentina there are several routes between the South Atlantic and the South Pacific Oceans including the Strait of Magellan, the Beagle Channel, and the Drake Passage---as alternatives to sailing around Cape Horn in the open ocean between South America and Antarctica.

The name Argentina derives from argentinos, the Ancient Greek diminutive tinos form for silver argentos, which is what early Spanish explorers sought when they first reached the region in the sixteenth century.

Climate

Buenos Aires and the Pampas are temperate; cold in the winter, hot and humid in the summer.

The deserts of Cuyo, which can reach temperatures of 50°C, are extremely hot and dry in the summer and moderately cold and dry in the winter. Spring and fall often exhibit rapid temperature reversals; several days of extremely hot weather may be followed by several days of cold weather, then back to extremely hot.

The Andes are cool in the summer and very cold in the winter, varying according to altitude.

Patagonia is cool in the summer and cold in the winter. Extreme temperature shifts within a single day are even more common here; pack a variety of clothes and dress in layers.

Don't forget that seasons are reversed from those of the Northern Hemisphere.

History

Following independence from Spain in 1816, Argentina experienced periods of internal political conflict between conservatives and liberals. In the first decade of the 20th century, Argentina became the richest nation in Latin America, its wealth symbolized by the opulence of its capital city.

European immigrants flowed into Argentina, particularly from the northern parts of Italy and Spain; by 1914 nearly 6 million people had come to the country.

After World War II, a long period of Peronist rule in subsequent governments was followed by a military junta that took power in 1976.

Democracy returned in 1983 after the battle over the Islas Malvinas Falkland Islands with the United Kingdom.

A painful economic crisis at the turn of the 21st century devalued the Argentine peso by a factor of three and ushered in a series of weak, short-lived governments along with social and economic instability.

However, later in the decade Argentina seemed to find some new stability, and currently has a much better economic outlook - albeit with the eternal problem of high inflation.