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Argentina is a South American country, constituted as a federation of twenty-three provinces and an autonomous city. It is second in size on the South American continent to Brazil and eighth in the world. Argentina occupies a continental surface area of 2,766,890 km² (1,068,302 sq mi) between the Andes mountain range in the west and the southern Atlantic Ocean in the east and south. It is bordered by Paraguay and Bolivia in the north, Brazil and Uruguay in the northeast, and Chile in the west and south. The country claims the British-administered overseas territories of the Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. Argentina also claims 969,464 km² (374,312 sq mi) of Antarctica, known as Argentine Antarctica, overlapping other claims made by Chile and the United Kingdom (British Antarctic Territory).

Argentina has the highest Human Development Index level and the second highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita in purchasing power parity in Latin America after its neighbor Chile[6] and its total national GDP is the 23rd largest in the world.The country is currently classified as an Upper-Middle Income Country or as a secondary emerging market by the World Bank. Argentina's nominal GDP makes it the 31st largest economy in the world.

Economy of Argentina

Argentina benefits from abundant natural resources, a highly literate population, an export-oriented agricultural sector, and a diversified industrial base, that was once one of the wealthiest nations with a large middle class but this segment of the population has suffered by a succession of economic crises. Argentina otherwise maintains a relatively high standard of living.

Argentina's economy started to slowly lose ground after 1945 when it went from a wealthy nation with a strong and prosperous economy to a deep recession in the mid 50s, losing its place in the position of prosperous industrialized nations.The economy further declined during the military dictatorship that lasted from 1976 to 1983.

During this period, the government took out large loans with high interest rates from the IMF and private banking institutions. The country engaged in a disorganized and corrupt rapid liberalization that marked the end of its industrial hegemony in Latin America. During the military dictatorship over 400,000 companies of all sizes went bankrupt. The economic decisions made from 1983 till 2001 failed to revert the situation. Finally, in 2001, after 3 years of recession, the economy broke down and reached its worst point in history.

Although significant since then, the result is that, today, while a significant segment of the population is still financially well-off, they stand in sharp contrast with the millions who have seen their purchasing power drastically reduced. Since 2002, there has been an improvement in the situation of the poorer sectors and a strong rebound of the middle class.

The urban poverty rate dropped to 26.9% by 2007, down from 48 percent observed in 2003, but is still above the level prior to the recession. From the late 1970s the country piled up public debt and was plagued by bouts of high inflation. In 1991, the government pegged the peso to the U.S. dollar and limited the growth in the money supply. It then embarked on a path of trade liberalization, deregulation and privatization. Inflation dropped and gross domestic product grew, but external economic shocks and failures of the system diluted benefits, causing the economy to crumble slowly from 1995 until the collapse in 2001.

By 2002, Argentina had defaulted on its debt, its GDP had shrunk, unemployment was more than 25%, and the peso had depreciated 75% after being devalued and floated. However, careful spending control and heavy taxes on then-soaring exports allowed the state to regain resources and conduct monetary policy.

In 2003, import substitution policies and soaring exports, coupled with lower inflation and expansive economic measures, triggered a surge in the GDP. This was repeated in 2004 and 2005, creating millions of jobs and encouraging internal consumption. Capital flight decreased, and foreign investment slowly returned. An influx of foreign currency from exports created a huge trade surplus. The Central Bank was forced to buy dollars from the market, and continues to do so from time to time to prevent the Argentine peso from appreciating significantly and cutting competitiveness.

The situation by 2006 was further improved. The economy grew 8.8% in 2003, 9.0% in 2004, 9.2% in 2005, 8.5% in 2006, and 8.7% in 2007, though inflation, estimated at around 12 to 15% (official numbers are 9.8% for 2006), has become an issue again, and income distribution is still considerably unequal.

In 2007, agricultural output accounted for 10% of GDP, and nearly one third of all exports. Soy and vegetable oils are major export commodities at 32% of exports. Wheat, maize, oats, sorghum, and sunflower seeds totalled 7%. Cattle is also a major industry. Beef, milk, leather products, and cheese were 6% of total exports.Sheep and wool industries are important in Patagonia, pigs and caprines elsewhere.

Fruits and vegetables made up 4% of exports: apples and pears in the Río Negro valley; oranges and other citrus in the northwest and Mesopotamia; grapes and strawberries in Cuyo, and berries in the far south. Cotton and yerba mate are major crops in the Gran Chaco, sugarcane and tobacco in the northwest, and olives and garlic in Cuyo. Bananas (Formosa), tomatoes (Salta), and peaches (Mendoza) are grown for domestic consumption. Argentina is the world's fifth-largest wine producer, and fine wine production has taken major leaps in quality. A growing export, total viticulture potential is far from met. Mendoza is the largest wine region, followed by San Juan.As a strike by farmers, who are protesting an increase in export taxes for their products, continued for a 13th day March 25, 2008 with no solution in sight, butchers and supermarkets were among the first hit.

Industrial petrochemicals, oil, and natural gas are Argentina's second group of exports, 20% of totals. The most important oil fields lie in Patagonia and Cuyo. An impressive network of pipelines send raw product to Bahia Blanca, center of the petrochemical industry, and to the La Plata-Rosario industrial belt. Coal is also mined.

Mining is a rising industry. The northwest and San Juan Province are main regions of activity. Metals mined include gold, silver, zinc, magnesium, copper, sulfur, tungsten and uranium. In only ten years exports soared from US$ 200 million to 1.2 billion in 2004, 3% of total. Estimates for 2006 are US$ 2bn, a 10 fold rise from 1996.

In fisheries, argentine hake accounts for 50% of catches, pollack and squid follow. Forestry has expanded in Mesopotamia; elm for cellulose, pine and eucalyptus for furniture, timber, and paper products. Both sectors each account for 2% of exports.
The Yacyretá Dam hydroelectric complex is the second largest in the world.
The Yacyretá Dam hydroelectric complex is the second largest in the world.

Manufacturing is the nation's leading single sector in GDP output, with 35% of the share.[33] Leading sectors are motor vehicles, auto parts, and transportation and farming equipment (7% of exports), iron and steel (3%), foodstuffs and textiles (2%). Other manufactures include cement, industrial chemicals, home appliances, and processed wood. The biggest industrial centers are Buenos Aires, Rosario and Córdoba.

The telecommunication sector has been growing at a fast pace, with an important penetration of mobile telephony (More than 75% of the population)internet (with more than 16 million people online),and broadband services (4.1%). Regular telephone (with 9.5 million lines)and mail are robust.

The service sector is the biggest contributor to total GDP. Argentina produces energy in large part through well developed hydroelectric resources; nuclear energy is also of high importance. The country is one of the largest producers and exporters (with Canada and Russia) of Cobalt-60, a radioactive isotope widely used in cancer therapy. Construction has led employment creation in the current economic expansion, and is 5% of GDP.

Tourism is increasingly important, now providing 7% of economic output.Argentines are traveling more within their borders, and foreigners are flocking to a country seen as affordable, safe, and incredibly diverse:Cosmopolitan Buenos Aires and Rosario; the Iguazu Falls and colonial Salta; the South American indigenous Jujuy Province and fun-filled Córdoba; the wineries of Mendoza; the ski-suitable scenic Bariloche to the beaches of Pinamar; and Perito Moreno Glacier to Tierra del Fuego. 3.7 million tourists visited in 2005.