10 Interesting Things You Didn’t Know About Argentina

Many just have a passing knowledge of Argentina, the world’s largest Spanish-speaking nation and the second-largest country in South America after Brazil. You may hear Argentina and think of steak, Tango dancing and Evita, but below are ten interesting facts that may surprise you and even inspire you to visit one of Latin America’s top holiday destinations.

1. First animated feature film

Despite common misconceptions, the first animated feature film was actually created in Argentina by Quirino Cristiani back in 1917. The film, El Apóstol which was constructed using cardboard cutouts, consisted of 58,000 frames and ran for 70 minutes. This film supposedly inspired Walt Disney after he visited Cristiani’s studio in Buenos Aires, and was destroyed in 1926 by fire, now considered a lost film.

2. First use of fingerprints for forensic evidence

In 1982 Francisca Rojas’s two children were found stabbed to death in their rural home in the Province of Buenos Aires. She denied murder, instead blaming the crime on her neighbour. However, after more investigation the detective found a bloody fingerprint at the scene of the crime which he removed and brought in for investigation. Rojas became the first person in the world to be found guilty through fingerprint evidence.

3. Home to southernmost city in the world

Ushuaia is the southernmost city in the world. Although this is in fierce competition with Puerto Williams in Chile, who both use the slogan as a tourist attraction for their towns!

4. Impressive waterfalls

Due to diverse landscapes and extreme temperatures, Argentina sets records for its exotic array of wildlife and natural wonders such as the amazing Iguazu Falls. On the border of Brazil and Argentina Iguazu Falls are some of the most impressive waterfalls in the world, made up of 275 cascades of water and reaching up to heights of 80 metres!

5. Birthplace of Che Guevara

Ernesto “Che” Guevara was actually born in Rosario, Argentina and not in Cuba as many people tend to believe. After growing up in Argentina Guevara trained as a medical doctor at Buenos Aires university before travelling throughout Latin America. The poverty and inequality that he witnessed inspired him to become a scholar of Marxism and a key figure in the Cuban revolution.

6. Friends Day

Argentinians celebrate ‘Friends Day’. In the early 1970s, an Argentinian scholar founded Dia del Amigo after he felt a unity with everyone on Earth after Apollo 11 landed on the moon. The celebrations, held on 20th July are so popular that it is not unusual for mobile phone networks to break down due to high levels of use!

7. Official sport – ‘pato’

The game is played on horseback and combines elements of both polo and basketball, with accounts of the game recorded as far back as 1610. Pato literally translates to ‘duck game’ as early games involved using a live duck inside a basket instead of a ball.

8. Siestas

Many adults and children across Argentina travel home after lunch each day for a siesta, which can sometimes last for up to 3/4 hours. During siestas many businesses and schools close, and everyone in the country relaxes. However, many businesses and offices in Buenos Aires have adopted more conventional working hours due to greater efficiency.

9. Once home to biggest animals to walk the earth

Many dinosaur fossils have been discovered in Argentina – most recently the 98-million-year-old remains of the gigantic “titanosaur”. Palaeontologists are yet to identify just how big the skeleton is and the largest dinosaurs have been mostly discovered in the same area of Patagonia.

10. Most psychiatrists per person

Argentina has the highest number of psychiatrists per person in the world, and it is not unusual for families to regularly visit psychiatrists together. There is even an area in Buenos Aires nicknamed Villa Freud due to the high numbers of psychiatrist offices.

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