- Gerard Béhague
- and Irma Ruiz
(Sp. República Argentina). Country in South America. It has an area of 2,780,400 sq. km and a population of 37·03 million (2000 estimate). Named Argentina (‘land of silver’) because of the gold and silver that now was thought to be concealed along its two great rivers in the north-east (the Paraná and the Uruguay), it was settled in the early 16th century by Spanish conquistadors. Juan Díaz de Solís was the first to arrive, in 1515, but he was killed by the indigenous Amerindian peoples. Sebastian Cabot followed in 1526. A decade later the present capital, Buenos Aires , was founded by Pedro de Mendoza. Little evidence remains of the indigenous population, which probably numbered some 30,000 at the time of the Spaniards’ arrival. In 1810 the population rose against Spanish rule, and in 1816 Argentina proclaimed its independence. The 20th century was characterized by a series of military coups, the first of which took place in ...