9 things you didn't know about Argentina

Argentine’s love lists. Anything from the first baby born each year to the first tourist to reach the tourist town of Mar del Plata each summer, in Argentina everything is list-worthy. That’s why we’ve collected some curious information and done the same… A list of 9 things you didn’t know about Argentina. Take a look!

1. It’s the birthplace of the first animated film

Way back in 1917, the Italian settler Quirino Cristiani gave Argentina what the rest of the world today takes for granted… Animation! His 70-minute “El Apostol” was the first animation of its kind and included around 58,000 frames. The piece spoke about corruption and immortality in the City of Buenos Aires at the time. Has much changed? Come find out!

2. Education and healthcare are completely free

While not without their problems, the healthcare and education systems in Argentina are completely free. The country has around 50 universities, with all public institutions among them free and open to all students, no matter your school marks or nationality. A system does, however, exist for entry to public universities, but it’s not nearly as “cut-throat” as a level test. The same rule applies to the healthcare system, though the testing and “cutting” is of a different variety.

3. Argentina was once (almost) an economic powerhouse

Between 1850 and 1930, Argentina was on par with budding economies like Australia and Canada to develop into the powerhouses that the latter two countries are today. With its robust agricultural sector and natural resources, Argentina lived through various periods of economic growth during that time and snuck by (but only just) quite a few global downturns. This economic scenario drew hundreds of thousands of migrants from all across the world to settle here. So, what happened? Well, it’s a little complicated.

4. Shrinks galore

In a fast-paced metropolis likes Buenos Aires, it might come as no surprise that half of the country’s psychologists operate here. But what might shock you is this: there are twice as many psychologists in Argentina than any other country on earth! That is if you take local figures, which place Argentina’s shrinks at 200 per 100,000 residents (compared to the WHO’s estimate for the nearest country, Austria, which is 80 per 100,000 residents).

5. You can forget spices!

Argentina is known worldwide as a culinary heaven for its bounty of fine-dining restaurants, its steak, its attention to detail. But what you might find surprising is the resistance of residents towards spices. Sushi has only recently taken off here to give you an idea, and you’ll have to get your strongest canine nose on to sniff out anything remotely Indian if you’re looking for hearty curries. For those reading this in desperation from Buenos Aires… head to China town for spice shopping!

6. Gualeguaychu

Guale-why-what? Guale-guay-chu. The name sounds fun, and we guarantee that this town in Entre Rios province is just the same. In February it hosts Argentina’s very own carnival. So forget hopping on an overpriced flight to an over-priced Rio de Janeiro in February. Gualeguaychuis just few hours from Buenos Aires.

7. Argentina has had 2 female presidents, not 1

For those of us out there who don’t read the newspapers, Argentina’s current president is a woman: Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. But did you know she wasn’t the first? Like CFK – as the current president is otherwise known – the country’s first female leader Isabel Perón succeeded her husband. So, here goes: CFK’s late husband was ex president Néstor Kirchner, while Isabel Perón was married to Juan, who was also married to Eva Perón, who died the country’s “spiritual leader” before Juan was exiled and met Isabel, who took over when Juan died. Complicated? Welcome to the world of Argentine politics.

8. Gnocchi is best served on the 29th

Customary in Argentina is gnocchi (ñoqui in Spanish) on the 29th of each month, simple as that. You’ll find eateries all across the country offering a gnocchi deal that day, something that has occurred in this little Italy since the days that the Marios, Luigis, Lucias and Giovannas began flocking to Argentina generations ago. If you’re living in Argentina, don’t forget to get your ñoqui ahead of time or make them yourself… flour, water, salt and potato: easy!

9. Face lift… lift… lift… lifts

It’s hard being a woman in Argentina, where the emphasis on beauty falls much heavier on the shoulders of women than men… Just watch the nightly news broadcasts for a comparison! While it might be hard to tell (unless you’re in certain parts of Buenos Aires), some say the country has the highest rates of plastic surgery on earth… In fact, it's believed around 30 percent of women here have had some form of plastic surgery in Argentina.

Confused? Curious? Find out why you should study Spanish in Argentina!

Jayson McNamara

Jayson McNamara

I'm an Australian freelance journalist, writer and a TV production fixer in Buenos Aires. I have reported for broadcast media in Australia and New Zealand. I'm passionate about travel and history.

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