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Background: In 1816, the United Provinces of the Rio Plata declared their independence from Spain. After Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay went their separate ways, the area that remained became Argentina. The country's population and culture were heavily shaped by immigrants from throughout Europe, but most particularly Italy and Spain, which provided the largest percentage of newcomers from 1860 to 1930. Up until about the mid-20th century, much of Argentina's history was dominated by periods of internal political conflict between Federalists and Unitarians and between civilian and military factions. After World War II, an era of Peronist populism and direct and indirect military interference in subsequent governments was followed by a military junta that took power in 1976. Democracy returned in 1983 after a failed bid to seize the Falkland (Malvinas) Islands by force, and has persisted despite numerous challenges, the most formidable of which was a severe economic crisis in 2001-02 that led to violent public protests and the successive resignations of several presidents.
Location: Southern South America, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean, between Chile and Uruguay
Area land: 2,736,690 sq km
Area water: 43,710 sq km
Coastline: 4,989 km
Country name conventional long form: Argentine Republic
Country name conventional short form: Argentina
Country name former: Argentine Republic
Population: 41,769,726 (July 2011 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 25.4% (male 5,429,488/female 5,181,289); 15-64 years: 63.6% (male 13,253,468/female 13,301,530); 65 years and over: 11% (male 1,897,144/female 2,706,807) (2011 est.);
Population growth rate: 1.017% (2011 est.)
Birth rate: 17.54 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Death rate: 7.38 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.052 male(s)/female; under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female; 15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female; 65 years and over: 0.7 male(s)/female; total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2011 est.);
Infant mortality rate: total: 10.81 deaths/1,000 live births; male: 12.08 deaths/1,000 live births; female: 9.48 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.);
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 76.95 years; male: 73.71 years; female: 80.36 years (2011 est.);
Total fertility rate: 2.31 children born/woman (2011 est.);
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.5% (2009 est.);
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 110,000 (2009 est.);
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 2,900 (2009 est.);
Nationality: noun: Argentine(s); adjective: Argentine;
Ethnic groups: white (mostly Spanish and Italian) 97%, mestizo (mixed white and Amerindian ancestry), Amerindian, or other non-white groups 3%;
Religions: nominally Roman Catholic 92% (less than 20% practicing), Protestant 2%, Jewish 2%, other 4%;
Languages: Spanish (official), Italian, English, German, French;
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write; total population: 97.2%; male: 97.2%; female: 97.2% (2001 census);
GDP (purchasing power parity): $596 billion (2010 est.); $554.5 billion (2009 est.); $571.6 billion (2008 est.);
GDP (official exchange rate): $351 billion (2010 est.);
GDP - real growth rate: 7.5% (2010 est.); -3% (2009 est.); 5% (2008 est.);
GDP - per capita (PPP): $14,700 (2010 est.); $13,700 (2009 est.); $14,100 (2008 est.);
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 8.5%; industry: 31.6%; services: 59.8% (2010 est.);
Population below poverty line: 30% (2010);
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 1.2%; highest 10%: 32.6% (2009);
Labor force: 16.62 million;
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 5%; industry: 23%; services: 72% (2009 est.);
Unemployment rate: 7.9% (2010 est.); 8.7% (2009 est.);
Budget: revenues: $86.67 billion; expenditures: $91.29 billion (2010 est.);
Industries: food processing, motor vehicles, consumer durables, textiles, chemicals and petrochemicals, printing, metallurgy, steel;
Industrial production growth rate: 6.7% (2010 est.);
Electricity - production: 109.5 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - consumption: 99.21 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - exports: 2.628 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - imports: 10.28 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Statistics: CIA World Factbook.
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The Macri government has embarked on a rapid-fire series of conservative economic reforms, threatening public-sector employment and social programs.
Two regional blocs have formed in Latin America that have come to highlight an ideological schism between left-leaning and right-leaning governments.
With the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War approaching, Britain and Argentina have renewed diplomatic tensions over the small territory.
Food-insecure countries are outsourcing food production to countries like Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil through agreements that threaten indigenous people and the environment.