Buenos Aires, capital of the Argentine Republic, is located on the Western coast of the Río de la Plata (Silver River). The estuary of the river is by far the largest in the world, with a mouth that extends from 37 to 200 km. The city sits upon a wide plain named Pampa of rolling hills no higher than 30 meters. In its 202 km² live more than 3 million people, and some 10 million counting the Greater Buenos Aires.
Founded twice by the Spanish, the second time in 1580 by Juan de Garay, Buenos Aires is today a cosmopolitan city, dynamic and traditional all at the same time, with both predominance of European -mainly Spanish and Italian- and local customs. In its eclectic architecture, although predominantly European, you'll see styles from art deco to art nouveau, from the neo-Gothic to French Bourbon or the Spanish colonial style, to modern skyscrapers. Or even singular styles such as the multi-colored La Boca neighborhood.
The city offers a wide range of attractions: monuments, churches, museums, art galleries, theaters; plazas, parks, and gardens with old grove-paths; distinctive neighborhoods, large shopping centers, and fairs. It has also a good service infrastructure, including accommodations from hostels to five-stars hotels of the main world chains. The gastronomical offer is very rich, with traditional Argentine restaurants as well as international cuisine.
The city must not be mistaken with the Buenos Aires Province: the first refers to the capital city of the country, and is geographically contained by the second, but are politically independent. From now on, Buenos Aires will refer to the city.
Ezeiza's Ministro Pistarini Airport
The international airport servicing Buenos Aires is located in the Ezeiza locality, 40 km southeast of the city. Officially known as Ministro Pistarini (IATA code: EZE). Depending on traffic, the car trip to the city centre takes from half an hour to an hour.
It is strongly advisable to hire a taxi or remisse from authorised stands. It can be insecure to take services offered by bystanders.
The Aeropuerto Jorge Newbery or Aeroparque (IATA code: AEP) connects Buenos Aires city with main cities in Argentina and neighbouring countries. It's located inside the city, by the Río de la Plata, some 15 minutes from the city centre.
City docks are located near the neuralgic centre of the city, servicing everything from small yachts to luxury cruises. Two ferry companies (Buquebús and Colonia Express) run several services a day between Buenos Aires and the Uruguayan cities of Colonia del Sacramento and Montevideo.
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The historic Plaza de Mayo (May Square). On the back is the Pink House
, government house
The historic area of the city has its centre around the Plaza de Mayo, founding point where are located several buildings that hold government seats from both national —the so called Pink House— and city's government
The area, excepting two diagonal avenues, is mainly shaped in squared blocks of roughly 100 meters side, separated by streets going South-North or East-West. Following the checkers disposition, the house numbering assigns 100 numbers per block, with the even numbers on one side of the street, and on the other side the odds.
On the side of the Plaza de Mayo begins, the Rivadavia Avenue, important artery of great length that cuts the city in two, changing the names of the streets it crosses (except the Nueve de Julio Avenue) —for instance, the Florida Street is named Perű on Rivadavia's the southern side.
El Tortoni, a classic Porteño café
, Boca Juniors's stadium
The term Porteños (people from the port) highlights the cultural and economic importance of the port to the city, though of difficult access as is the whole coast of the Río de La Plata.
One of the things that surprises foreigners most is the city's night-life: cinemas, theatres, discotheques, show venues, restaurants and pizzerias remain open practically the entire night. Bars and cafés do as well, as for porteños drinking their café is more than just that; it's also an excuse for chatting, closing some business, getting to know someone or interchange ideas. Consequently public transportation runs 24 hours a day.
Argentines tend to be friendly, as seen when they meet each other, especially in Buenos Aires, greeting in an affectionate way, with arms, patting and cheek kissing. In several places throughout Argentina, especially in the capital city, the custom is for a man and a woman, to meet their cheeks for a kiss. This is the case for women but also among men, if they know each other well enough. Shaking hands is reserved for a first meeting or formal situations.
In spite of this, knowing that foreigners have different customs, saying ¡Hola!, and gesturing with the head, or shaking hands, would suffice. It is just advisable to be prepared if, after a handshake, the interlocutor goes further into cheek contact.
It began as a language used by the prisoners. Many of its expressions arrived with the European immigrants (mainly Italians), others of the language gaucho. Some terms have been incorporated into the usual language of Argentina
The official language is Spanish. However, they use (especially if there is a familiarity with the party) what is called el voseo, which is to say, the use of the pronoun vos instead of tú for the informal second person of the singular. It is also common to use che as a familiar vocative. There are also many words and modism incorporated from lunfardo, a slang used in the Río de La Plata region.
In any case, Argentine Spanish is easy to understand, and any variant of Spanish will be easily understood.
English is spoken by many people - with most workers involved in tourism able to speak English. Also, to a lesser extent, Portuguese and French are spoken. Italian and Portuguese are widely spoken given their similarity with Spanish.
Argentina has no official religion or state church. The president, for example, can profess any religion, or chose none. Nonetheless, the religion that dominates (thus the defacto "official" religion) is the Roman Catholic Church.
In spite of the Argentine government's long secular tradition in the church-state relationship, the Constitution of Argentina mandates in article 2 that "The federal government supports the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church". Despite the preferential treatment, the constitution has been interpreted as not granting Catholicism official status.
There is no religious violence in Argentina. Many religious affiliations exist in the nation. Together with Catholicism, there are over 2,500 registered religious groups in Argentina, including Protestant, Pentecostal, Jewish, and Islamic groups - among others. The Jewish community in Argentina, and the Islamic Cultural Centre in Buenos Aires, are the largest of their kind in Latin America.