Argentina had various indigenous peoples that lived across the Chaco, the Pampas and Patagonia. Some were basic hunters and food gatherers without development of pottery, such as the Selknam and Yaghan in the extreme south. Others were advanced hunters and food gatherers which include the Puelche, Querandí and Serranos in the centre-east; and the Tehuelche in the south. And there were farmers with pottery, like the Charrúa, Minuane and Guaraní in the northeast, with slash and burn semisedentary existence and the advanced Diaguita sedentary trading culture in the northwest, which was conquered by the Inca Empire around 1480. (1& 2)
Ancient and Pre-Colombian Period
7,370 BCE An unknown ancient indigenous group created hands paintings in a cave in the Santa Cruz known as “La Cueva de las Manos”in a province in Patagonia. It is a National Historic Monument in Argentina and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
1400’s CE The Incas conquer the tribes of the Quebrada under Tupac Inca Yupanqui, who used the Pucará del Tilcara in the Argentine province of Jujuy. as a military outpost and to secure the supply of metals such as silver, zinc, and copper which were mined nearby.
1516 Juan Díaz de Solíz, a Portuguese explorer is considered by many as the First European that landed in Argentina by Sailing into the Río de la plata.\
1520 Ferdinand de Magellan stops at the same river in his historic journey around the world.
1527 Sebastian Cabot, an Italian serving the Spanish crown, founded the first European settlement near present day Rosario. He was the one that named the river “Río de Plata” (River of Silver) after the silver worn by the locals. (1)
1500 The history of Argentina is part the greater story of conquest and colonization of South America by the Spanish and Portuguese. Because most of the Spanish that arrived by sea were attacked and driven away by the indigenous peoples, the first settlements founded by Spanish were actually near the Andes, from Spaniards that crossed the mountains from Peru and Chile after conquest of the Incas. Because of this Argentina was part of the Viceroyalty of Perú until 1776.
1550-53 After a series of exploratory expeditions from Chile starting in 1543, Santiago del Estero del Nuevo Maestrazgo was founded on July 25, 1553 by Francisco de Aguirre (although some historians consider its true foundation to be in 1550). Although it is the oldest city in Argentina, it preserves little of its former Spanish colonial architecture, except for several churches.
1533 Diego de Almagro explored the Argentine Northwest, including Tucumán. In 1549 the Peruvian governor Pedro de la Gasca granted Juan Núñez de Prado the territory of Tucuman. Prado established the first Spanish settlement at the town of Barco on the Dulce River. Prado named his province “Tucumán” after Tucumamahao, one of the leaders of the local people who formed an alliance with him. (2)
San Miguel de Tucuman’s leadership lasted from the latter part of the 16th through the 17th century. Its political and ecclesiastical jurisdiction extended over most of northern Argentina, including Córdoba. San Miguel de Tucumán also dominated trade, which was the chief economic activity, by supplying the rich silver-mining area of Upper Peru (now Bolivia) with foodstuffs and livestock in return for European manufactures and other goods brought from Spain. (3)
1536 First founding of Santa Maria del Buen Aire. (Our Lady St. Mary of the Good Air) by the Spaniard Pedro de Mendoza. This settlement was named after the Madonna of Bonaria in Sardinia, Italy. It fell victim to local Indians and to deficient supplies. (1) (3)
1580 Founding of Buenos Aires as Ciudad de Trinidad (City of Trinidad) by Juan de Garay.
These two settlements along with Cordoba, achieved a kind of leadership in the area and thereby sowed the regional seeds that later grew into an Argentine national identity. (3)
1776 The Spanish crown establishes the Viceroyalty of Rio de la Plata.
1806-7 Great Britain attempts to invade Buenos Aires.
1810 Rio de plata declares its independence from Spain.
1816 July 9 Formal Declaration of Independence at Tucuman. Jose de San Martin led the fight for independence. A provisional government was created, and Buenos Aires was named capital of the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata. The more distant provinces of the former viceroyalty—Bolivia, Uruguay, and Paraguay—refused to become part of a new country dominated by the port city, however. For nearly 30 years, the provinces were held together by federalism, which meant virtual autonomy for each province. (3). This is Argentina’s official independence date.
1826 A constitution is drawn up that gave Buenos Aires control over the interior and its first president Bernardino Rivadavia.
1828-52 Civil war/ Civil unrest caused by the political struggle between the Centralists or “Portenos” and the Federalists. Juan Manuel de la s Rosas, a dictator, a caudillo or strongman who was a landowner from the pampas ruled Argentina from 1829-1852. He persecuted and murdered many of his political enemies and wiped out a large amount of the remaining indigenous peoples.
1853-54 A new constitution is created.
1860 The country’s new name is changed to Argentina and becomes a Confederation of 14 provinces.
1868-74 President Domingo Faustino Sarmiento rules Argentina vigorously promoting public education. Today the country has one of the highest literacy rates in the world at 97.2 percent.
Late 1870’s early 1880’s Pressure to obtain more grazing land results in many wars with the indigenous people in the pampas and Patagonia, they are virtually exterminated, their lands taken by the officers who led the wars against them.
1880 Buenos Aires that had refused to join the confederation joins and becomes a federal district, similar to the District of Columbia in the United States.
The Golden Age and The Perón Era.
1890-1914 Golden Age of economic expansion. A huge number of immigrants and a great deal of foreign investment arrives to the country form Europe. The railroad system expanded rapidly. Refrigerated ships began to carry beef and hides to Europe in 1877. During this period the streets were paved, broad and big avenues were built. Argentina became the most urbanized country in South America. (1)
1944 Juan Perón becomes president. He appealed to the working classes by giving the people higher wages, pensions and other benefits, and by strengthening their unions. The British controlled most of the railroads. The United States controlled the automotive business. The meat production was also dominated by foreigners. Perón took control of many of the country’s industries. Later in his term he looked to stay in power for a second term. He altered the constitution and suspended the freedom of speech and of the press. Even though he was able to stay in power during a second term his popularity declined as he lost the support of the Catholic church and the military.
Evita Perón was born in a poor farming family in the village of Los Toldos. She became a radio actress and met Perón a widower when he was 48 and she was 24. She was a powerful leader in her own right and played a huge part in Perón success. She gained the right to vote for women in 1947 and founded women’s political and social service organizations. She also brought health and welfare benefits to the poor. For many her poise, her beautiful outfits and her rags to riches story symbolized a proud and wealth Argentina. She was so beloved that her sudden and painful death to cancer at 33, immortalized her all over Argentina and the world.
1945 Argentina declares war on Germany and Japan.
1955 The army and the navy rebel against Juan Perón and he flees to Spain.
1973 Juan Perón elcted president.
1974 Perón dies. His wife, Isabel who was vice president, becomes president.
The Dirty War and The Falklands Islands War
1976-1983 The military removes Isabel Perón from office. Under the name “The National Reorganization Process” they seized the government, dissolved the congress, outlawed all political parties, censored the press and banned all strikes. These new leaders began what was called a “Guerra Sucia” or “Dirty War” against their opponents. They kidnapped and killed many of their opponents including thousands of innocent people that got caught in between without ever revealing their fates. Later investigations revealed hundreds of detentions centers where people were tortured and killed and many mass graves were discovered.
1982 The British troops defeat Argentinian forces in the Falklands War. The war lasted fro 72 days taking 2000 Argentinians and British lives. Still to this day, Argentina does not give up its claim to these islands.
1999 Fernando de la Rúa is elected president.
2001 Towards the end of 2001 Argentina faced grave economic problems. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) pressed Argentina to start paying ints external debt. De la Rúa inherited a massive foreign debt, a deficit that was larger than expected, and a continuing recession. His administration responded by raising taxes, cutting the salaries of government employees, and encouraging the early retirement of others. As conditions deteriorated, the economy minister resigned, as did his replacement.
On December 20, following antigovernment protests in Buenos Aires, both Cavallo and de la Rúa resigned. Under a succession of interim presidents, the government restricted access to bank accounts, defaulted on its foreign-debt payments, and allowed the Argentine peso to decline in value. The country was rocked by a complete economic collapse, the biggest in its history. (3)
2003 Nestor Kirchner is sworn in as president. Boosting economic policies laid by Duhalde, Kirchner ended the economic crisis attaining significant fiscal and trade surpluses, and rapid GDP growth. Under his administration, Argentina restructured its defaulted debt with an unprecedented discount of about 70% on most bonds, paid off debts with the International Monetary Fund, purged the military of officers with dubious human rights records, nullified and voided the Full Stop and Due Obedience laws, ruled them as unconstitutional, and resumed legal prosecution of the Junta’s crimes.
2005 President Kirchner declares the restructuring of the country’s debt a success.
2007 Christina Fernandez de Kirchner, wife of Nestor Kirchner is elected and sworn in as president.
2010 Argentina legalizes same-sex marriages. Ex president Néstor Kirchner dies.
2011 Unofficial inflation estimates hit 25 to 30 percent.
2015 Mauricio Macri becomes president. Macri is the first democratically elected non-peronist president since 1916 that manages to complete his term in office without being overthrown. He took office on 10 December 2015 and inherited an economy with a high inflation rate and in a poor shape. In April 2016, the Macri Government introduced neoliberal austerity measures intended to tackle inflation and overblown public deficits. Under Macri’s administration, economic recovery remained elusive with GDP shrinking 3.4%, inflation totaling 240%, billions of US dollars issued in sovereign debt, and mass poverty increasing by the end of his term.
2019 Alberto Fernández is the current president and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is once more the Vice President. On 14 November 2021, the center-left coalition of Argentina’s ruling Peronist party, Frente de Todos (Front for Everyone), lost its majority in Congress, for the first time in almost 40 years, in midterm legislative elections. The election victory of the center-right coalition, “Juntos por el Cambio “(Together for Change), meant a tough final two years in office for President Alberto Fernandez. Losing control of the Senate made it difficult for him to make key appointments, including to the judiciary. It also forced him to negotiate with the opposition every initiative he sends to the legislature.
- Book: Cultures of the World. Argentina. Marshall Cavendish Publishers. 2012 Third Edition.
- Encyclopedia Britannica