Argentina is the eighth largest country in the world and is located in Latin America, which means its culture, also known as cultura rioplatense (River Plate culture from the name of the River Plate Basin region, where the country is situated), is a result of intermixture of the extremely diverse European immigrant and local cultures ("Culture of Argentina"). It is deemed that historically the prevalent impact on the Argentine culture was made by the Spanish rule and Roman Catholic traditions. At the same time, although the migration of Europeans led to the demise of the indigenous culture, their influence is still palpable in the northeast and northwest of the country, where the Andean and the Guaraní native traditions have made an impact on the local food, music, customs and beliefs respectively ("Culture of Argentina"). Sometimes, when talking about the Argentine culture, people usually refer to the culture of Buenos Aires metropolitan area, where the vast majority of population, about 70%, resides.
This area has been greatly influenced by the modern Western culture, and therefore the national identity sees Argentinians as “sophisticated and highly-educated people of European origin” ("Culture of Argentina"). The rural symbol of national culture are gauchos, Argentine cowboys of usually mixed heritage, who looked after the cattle in the fields called pampas, although they do not exist anymore due to the modernization of agriculture. Among other important symbols of the Argentine culture are tango, soccer, which is a national Argentine pride, and the Mate drink that grows in the northeast of the country and was popularized worldwide by the emigrants.
Argentine Famous Music
The first thing that comes to mind when talking about the popular Argentine music is tango, a complex of music, dance and lyrics that came to existence at the end of the 19th century in the low-income communities of Buenos Aires and was first considered a moral and political threat. Not only has it challenged the morality of the rich classes and promoted sensuality and lower class views, but the dance was also popular within the tango men, who often attended bordellos that were, inter alia, associated with political activism ("Culture of Argentina"). As music that combines the elements of Africans, Italians, Spaniards, French, German and other cultures, including the native ones, it is now gaining back its popularity in the country, and such famous musicians as Carlos Gardel and Astor Piazzolla made sure that the genre is popular all over the world ("Culture and Traditions"). The rural traditional music is represented by the folklore genre, including such dances as Gato, Chamamé, Zamba, and separate genres like Candombe, carnavalito, cumbia, polka, and rasquido doble that are celebrated during such famous folklore festivals as Cosquín Festival and the Jesús María Festival ("Culture and Traditions"; Ilich).
Among the modern and non-traditional styles the most popular are rock and pop music. The 1970s have influenced the country giving birth to such artists as Fito Paez and Los Fabulosos Cadillacs (Ilich). The most popular inland genres of music are also Cuarteto, especially praised in the Province of Cordoba, and cumbia that is played in the special dance halls called “bailantas” ("Culture and Traditions"). Some of the Argentine artists have gained international recognition, including the Buenos Aires female band Bandana that was nominated for Grammys ("Argentina Music & Dance").
People of Argentine specifically enjoy beef and pasta dishes because of the Spanish and Italian influence on the country’s cuisine; at the same time the French dishes are cooked at special days or for celebrations ("Culture of Argentina"). The Italians have made the steak houses, pizzerias and ice-cream store especially popular.
Among the most popular Argentine dishes are asado or beef prepared on an open fire pit usually by men during the weekends, when the families can gather for a dinner. Among other meat dishes are parillada mixta that are the combination of spicy sausages, sweetbreads, kidneys and small intestines ("Argentina Culture "). Pasta is usually eaten as spaghettis (fideos), gnochis, sorrentinos, canelones and lasagnas ("Argentina Culture "). One more national dish is empanadas, a baked dish that can be stuffed with either ham, or chicken, or cheese, or any meat. Matambre is a also a meat dish popular in some regions and is a stuffed cold steak.
Among the desserts the most popular are helado or ice-cream, which is often made in the local shops, alfajor and facturas. Alfajor have a yo-yo shape and are filled with the special Argentine sweet butter called dulce de leche, which reminds of the traditional spread and is also often used on top of the toast and pastries. Facturas are medialunas or simply croissants that can be filled with any sweet ingredient, including the traditional dulce de leche or jam ("Argentina Culture ").
Argentines love drinking wine, tea, coffee, mate and clericó, their most popular drinks. The country is a famous producer and importer of both wine and mate yerba leaves that are used to prepare the traditional tea-like stimulating drink that became widespread all over the world, after the emigrants took the leaves with them to their new homes. Clericó is also a very special drink that consists of the fruits immersed into wine or soda ("Argentina Culture ").
Argentine Soccer History
Soccer is the most famous sport in the country that takes pride in its achievements in this field. Soccer was introduced to the Argentine people in the beginning of the 1860s by the British immigrants, but the sport did not become popular until the government launched a campaign to promote soccer among the people ("Culture of Argentina"). The politicians wanted to reduce the influence of the condemned tango that was considered a dirty dance that was destroying the morality in the country, and soccer was seen as an active and healthy sport that would win the interest of the tango men. The reforms took place between 1920s and 1940s, and since then soccer became the passionate activity for both men and women.
The first team and the first official soccer club of Argentina was created in 1899 and was called Argentinos de Quilmes ("Football in Argentina"). The first soccer association was created in 1934 and was called Asociación de Fútbol Argentino (AFA) or Argentinian Football Association ("Football in Argentina"). Nowadays, the most famous soccer clubs are the rivals River Plate and Boca Juniors, and others are Independiente, Racing Club and San Lorenzo. The popularity of the game is nowadays so big that there are 19 stadiums in Buenos Aires alone.
The achievements of the country in this game cannot be underestimated, as it won the FIFA World Cup in 1978 and 1986, the gold medal in 2004 Olympics, and the silver medal in 1928 and 1996 Olympics. The worldwide famous and incredible Argentine soccer players include the renown Lionel Messi, Gabriel Batistuta, who has the highest score in the history of Argentine soccer, and Diego Maradona, who is considered one of the best, if not the best soccer player in history.
Argentine Population and Religions
The population of Argentina amounts to over 42 million of people, and their main language is Spanish. Because of the gradual extinction or assimilation of the indigenous people with the immigrants, it is currently not easy to define who belongs to the native Indian people, and the policy differs from one region to another ("Culture of Argentina"). Argentine is considered to be a Latin American melting pot because of the immigration of people from various European countries, including Italy, France, Germany, Spain, the Eastern European countries. Although during the colonial period many black slaves have been brought to the country, the intermarriage, epidemics and civil wars led to the huge decrease in the numbers of Afro-Argentines ("Culture of Argentina"). The technological and economic progress made Buenos Aires metropolitan are the most populated place in the country, and nowadays 70% of the country’s population live there, with the remaining part being spread in other cities and rural areas ("Culture of Argentina").
The Spanish and Catholic influence on Argentine during four centuries made an impact on the religious life of the country. The most popular religion is currently Roman Catholicism, but at the same time many people do not observe the religious traditions. The other two popular religions are Protestantism and Judaism. The first is represented by the Pentecostalism and other Protestant denominations in the majority of communities ("Culture of Argentina"). The second has been brought to the land by the Jewish immigrants from the Eastern Europe, Middle East and during and after the Second World War ("Culture of Argentina"), but the number of Jews in the country has reduced during the previous decades because of return to Israel and Europe. Nonetheless, the Jewish community in Argentina is the seventh largest in the world, as of 2012 (Dashefsky).
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