Most Argentinians live and work in urban areas. About a third of the population lives in and around Buenos Aires. In
small cities and the suburbs, people live in single-family homes, but in Buenos Aires, most people
live in apartment buildings. The apartments have modern facilities, but rent and electricity are very expensive. Rent
can take a large portion of monthly earnings for some families.
Housing construction has not kept pace with the number of job seekers heading into the cities. The
housing shortage has resulted in the growth of villas miserias, shacks made of pieces of wood, tin and other
materials found by residents. There is no running water, sewage system or electricity in these areas, and the
residents often suffer health problems because of contaminated water.
There are still large farms or estancias in many areas of Argentina. Near Buenos Aires, they are usually cattle
ranches. Gauchos, who wear the traditional baggy pants and flat-topped hat, still work on some cattle ranches. In
Patagonia the estancias may be sheep ranches. In other
areas, the estancias may have vineyards, orchards or fields
of grain. Some very large estancias are like little villages, with their own chapels and schools. Sometimes the wife
and children of the owner live in the city while the children are at school.
The 300,000 indigenous people in Argentina live in small rural communities or in the cities. One important group
is the Wichí, who live in the marshy area near the river Pilcomayo in the north of the country and Mapuche in the
Neuquén province. Although many indigenous Argentinians have preserved their traditional way of life, others
have adopted a more European lifestyle.
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