Latinamerica Collection
History of Argentina

Pre-Columbian Period
Traces of Argentina's history of human inhabitants date back to 11000BCE and are located in the Patagonia region of the country. Since the beginning of the Common Era, many small civilizations were formed, and eventually the northwestern region of the country was conquered by the Incan Empire in 1480CE and integrated into their territory. However, the country on the whole was inhabited by many different cultural groups such as nomadic peoples before the arrival of the Spanish.


Colonial Period
The Spanish settlers arrived in Argentina in the year 1516CE and later established present day Buenos Aires in 1580. In 1776 the Spanish Empire established the Vice Royalty of Rio de la Plata which strengthened the empire's presence there and helped Buenos Aires become a bustling port city. In the year 1816, Buenos Aires declared its independence from Spain thanks to the famous General Jose de San Martin who campaigned for independence in the region. Following the failure of the Spanish to maintain Buenos Aires as part of the empire, two Argentinean groups spent years in conflict over the best way to establish the country. Finally, in 1861 a unified government was established in what is now known as Argentina.

 

Independent Argentina
Into the late 1800s, Argentina began to gain world recognition and experienced economic prosperity. With their newly acquired modern technology, Argentina was able to expand their agricultural markets. Also, many European nations began making investments in the country and sent workers to work on railroad and port production which allowed the country a spot on the top ten wealthiest countries list from 1880 to 1930.

 

In 1916 Conservative forces lost dominant control of the government which allowed the new acting party to open the door to more opportunities for the middle and lower classes in Argentina's government and politics. Additionally, this group was known for its push, though sometimes overly radical, for free elections and democratic institutions. However, in 1930 the military forced the president from power reestablishing a period of Conservative rule. The government of the 1930s continued using force whenever necessary to control the country. Eventually, the military disposed of the constitutional government in 1943 leading to the placement of Juan Domingo Peron who continuously focused his energy on the empowerment of the country's working class.

 

Peron was elected president and was reelected once before the military again ousted him in 1955. Throughout the 1950s and 60s military and civilian governments alternated power but could never reestablish the country's faded economic prosperity.

 

This led to the return of Peron in the early 1970s who was elected president in 1973. However, this period experienced a dramatic increase in violence and led to emergency decrees that allowed the imprisonment of suspected terrorists for an indefinite amount of time. After Peron's death a year later, his wife and vice president succeeded him but was removed once again by the military which retained power until the early 1980s. The military ruled viciously in hopes of reducing the strength of opposition groups throughout the country; it has been said that as many as 30,000 people simply disappeared during this phase, a tragic period in Argentina's history that will never be forgotten.

 

Serious economic and social problems eventually led to the government's lifting of a ban on political parties. This also led to the reestablishment of many civil liberties. In 1983 Argentina held free elections and began an attempt to resolve the country's many problems. Since then the country has passed through numerous presidents fighting to improve the economic and social problems that exist even today. These issues continue to be addressed and are slowly improving with time. Today, Argentina is experiencing strong economic growth and political stability.