Gaucho of San Luis province
A typical Cafe of Buenos Aires City
Learning ballet at The Colón Theater School
Unlike the people in other areas of Hispanic America,
Argentines are mostly of European origin. At least 85 percent of the population
is from that origin, with the remainder classified as Mestizo, Native
American (Indian), or other groups. Anyhow a recent study of Buenos Aires University shows that at least 56% of the Argentinean
inhabitants would have indian background. Read about the study here
Between the 1850s and 1940, more than
3.5 million immigrants arrived in Argentina, about 45 percent of them from
Italy and 32 percent from Spain. Prior to the 1960s, substantial numbers
also came from Britain, Germany, France, Switzerland, Scandinavia, Poland,
Russia, Wales, the middle East, and Japan. Spanish is the official language
and is spoken universally, but a number of Argentines also speak English,
Italian, German, French, or Native American languages (Guarani, Quechua,
Mapuche, etc.). Despite the mix of ancestries and languages, Argentines
are fiercely nationalistic.
Approximately 90 percent of the population is nominally
Roman Catholic. However, some studies indicate that fewer than 10 percent
of Argentines are actively practicing Catholics. Protestants and Jews each
account for about 2 percent of the population, with the remaining 6 percent
representing adherents of various other religions.
Argentines place a high value on individuality. One of
the most vibrant symbols of the past which is supposed to represent
the national character is the Gaucho -that
near-mythical legendary historical plainsman who is independent, brave,
athletic, a bold warrior, loyal, and generous. The gaucho is the
idealized version of a complex historical figure who has become etched
into the Argentine consciousness. Modern Argentines believe that they have
incorporated the values associated with the gaucho into their own system.
At the same time, Argentines can express their concern for others with
gauchadas, gaucho-like acts of generosity, such as going out of
one's way to help someone else solve a problem. Argentines take great pride
in being in a position to offer a gauchada.
Argentines believe in being open, frank, and direct, but
also take pride in being tactful and diplomatic. In both speech and writing,
they may be indirect, elaborate, and complimentary. They can be almost
poetic in the way they express themselves.
They place a premium on not offending. This impressionistic
approach to language is not meant to mislead, and they themselves are seldom
confused: they are just trying to be polite and tactful.
It is a matter of pride for Argentines to know the correct response
to any query, and they will offer detailed directions if asked for help
in finding a destination. Both social and business invitations may be accepted,
whether or not the invitee intends to attend.
Argentines are warm and effusive, seldom trying to hide
passion or sentimentality. They may touch each other when speaking, and
they maintain little physical distance between speakers, much less than
is customarily maintained in many other cultures. In their earnest desire
to compliment and be warm and friendly, Argentines will lavish praise and
compliment extensively even something that-from another point of view-could
be considered an insignificant event or achievement. This is not insincerity,
and a visitor would be making a grave mistake by deprecating these expressions
or misinterpreting them.
Argentines do have strong opinions on many issues, and
although they can be circumspect and reserved, they can also voice their
opinions forthrightly or publicly. Groups of gesticulating men can usually
be found arguing sports, economic policy, or politics. On these subjects
the Argentines´ usual circumspection gives way to heated debates
full of emotional displays. Football (soccer to a North American) is the
national sport, basketball, rugby, tennis, volleyball are also important.
Argentines are generally well informed about politics
and economic policies, and they take great interest and pride in discussing