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.
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 them.