Buenos Aires

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Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires (bwāˈnəs īˈrēz, ârˈēz, Span. bwāˈnōs īˈrās), city and federal district (2021 pop. 2,890,151; metropolitan area 15,257,673), the capital of Argentina, E Argentina, on the Río de la Plata. Buenos Aires is inhabited mostly by people of Spanish and Italian extraction, but there are many residents of French, British, German, Eastern European, and Syrian background and some communities of Paraguayans and other Latin Americans.


One of the largest cities of Latin America, Buenos Aires is Argentina's chief port and its financial, industrial, commercial, and social center. Located on the eastern edge of the Pampa, Argentina's most productive agricultural region, and linked with Uruguay, Paraguay, and Brazil by a great inland river system, the city is the distribution hub and trade outlet for a vast area. The historical importance of its port, one of the world's busiest, has led the citizens of Buenos Aires to call themselves porteños [people of the port]. Meat and dairy products, hides, wool, flax, and linseed oil are the chief exports. Buenos Aires, the most heavily industrialized city of Argentina, is a major food-processing center, with huge meatpacking and refrigeration plants and flour mills. Other leading industries are metalworking, automobile manufacturing, oil refining, printing and publishing, machine building, and the production of textiles, chemicals, paper, clothing, beverages, and tobacco products. Factories began to move into some of the suburbs in the 1980s.

Points of Interest

Buenos Aires is a modern city of great wealth. In its center are the Plaza de Mayo, a square whose buildings include the Casa Rosada [pink house], the office of the Argentine president, and the cabildo, the former meeting place of the colonial town council and now a national museum. The Avenida de Mayo extends from the square to the Palace of the National Congress, c.1 mi (1.6 km) away. Other famous streets are the Avenida 9 de Julio (commemorating the date of Argentina's independence from Spain, July 9, 1816), said to be the world's widest boulevard; Calle Florida, the main shopping thoroughfare; and the Avenida de Corrientes, which is the nucleus of the theater and nightclub district, often called the Broadway of Argentina. Buenos Aires also has many beautiful parks, including Palmero Park. The cathedral (completed 1804) is a well-known landmark containing the tomb of José de San Martín. Among the numerous educational, scientific, and cultural institutions are the Univ. of Buenos Aires and several private universities; the National Library; the Teatro Colón, one of the world's most famous opera houses; and the Museum of Latin American Art (Malba). La Prensa and La Nación are daily newspapers famous throughout the Spanish-speaking world. The city has a subway system and is a railroad hub as well as a center of inland seaborne traffic. Nearby, at Ezeiza, is a large international airport.


The city was first founded in 1536 by a Spanish gold-seeking expedition under Pedro de Mendoza. However, attacks by indigenous peoples forced the settlers in 1539 to move to Asunción (now the capital of Paraguay), and in 1541 the old site was burned. A second and permanent settlement was begun in 1580 by Juan de Garay, who set out from Asunción. Although Spain long neglected Buenos Aires in favor of the riches of Mexico and Peru, the settlement's growth was enhanced by the development of trade, much of it contraband.

In 1617 the province of Buenos Aires, or Río de la Plata, was separated from the administration of Asunción and was given its own governor; a bishopric was established there in 1620. During the 17th cent. the city ceased to be endangered by indigenous peoples, but French, Portuguese, and Danish raids were frequent. Buenos Aires remained subordinate to the Spanish viceroy in Peru until 1776, when it became the capital of a newly created viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, including much of present-day Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Bolivia.

Prosperity increased with the gradual removal of restrictions on trade, which formerly had to pass through Lima, Peru. The creation of an open port at Buenos Aires by Charles III of Spain, however, only made the porteños more desirous of separation from the Spanish Empire. In 1806, when Spain was allied with France during the Napoleonic Wars, British troops invaded Buenos Aires; their expulsion by the colonial militia without Spanish help further stimulated the drive for independence from Spain. Another British attack was repelled the following year. On May 25, 1810 (now celebrated as a national holiday), armed citizens of the cabildo, or town council, successfully demanded the resignation of the Spanish viceroy and established a provisional representative government. This action inaugurated the Latin American revolt against Spanish rule.

Argentina's official independence (July 9, 1816) was followed by a long conflict between the unitarians, strongest in Buenos Aires prov., who advocated a centralized government dominated by the city of Buenos Aires, and the federalists, mostly from the interior provinces, who supported provincial autonomy and equality. In 1853 the city and province of Buenos Aires refused to participate in a constituent congress and seceded from Argentina. National political unity was finally achieved when Bartolomé Mitre became Argentina's president in 1862 and made Buenos Aires his capital. Bitterness between Buenos Aires and the province continued, however, until 1880, when the city was detached from the province and federalized. A new city, La Plata, was built as the provincial capital.

Argentine railroad construction in the second half of the 19th cent. stimulated settlement and cultivation of the pampas, whose products Buenos Aires marketed and exported. The city's spectacular economic development attracted immigrants from all over the world through the 1920s. Shantytowns built on the city's margins remained through the 1950s. The development of the city's transportation system in the 1970s and 80s facilitated economic growth.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Buenos Aires


province in Argentina. Area, 307,600 sq km. Population, 7.7 million (1965 estimate). Its administrative center is the city of La Plata (southeast of the city of Buenos Aires). The La Pampa Plain makes up most of the province. The climate is mild. Precipitation varies from 250 mm in the south to 1,000 mm in the northeast. The soils are chernozems. Buenos Aires is the most economically developed and urbanized province of Argentina. Its economy is oriented to export. The greater part of the country’s industrial production—particularly heavy industry (which is located primarily around the city of Buenos Aires and on the lower reaches of the Paraná River)—is concentrated here, as is about half of the country’s production from livestock breeding and nearly a third of its production from plant growing (including more than half of the harvest of grains).

Buenos Aires


capital of Argentina; main economic, political, and cultural center of the country. It is located on the Río de la Plata estuary (where the Riachuelo River empties into it), in a well-protected inlet on the right bank, 275 km from the ocean. The average July temperature is 10° C, the average January temperature 24° C; precipitation is 987 mm a year. Buenos Aires is one of the largest cities in South America, with a population of 3,447,000 (1968). It forms an independent administrative unit, the Capital Federal District. Besides the federal district, Greater Buenos Aires includes 18 suburbs. The area of Greater Buenos Aires is 3,646 sq km; its population is 8 million (1968), constituting one-third of Argentina’s population and one-half of its urban population.

Administration. Under the country’s constitution, the capital is governed by the president of Argentina. In practice, the capital is administered by the president personally or by the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The municipality is headed by the intendente, who is appointed by the president and to whom the entire staff of municipal employees and district intendentes is subordinated. Immediate direction of city institutions, services, and enterprises is provided by two secretariats—the secretariat of public works, sanitation, and security, and the secretariat of finances and administration. The Ministry of Internal Affairs controls the city’s police, the Ministry of Education controls the schools, the Ministry of Economics controls the work of the municipal enterprises, and the Ministry of Public Works controls urban construction and the municipal economy. The functions of the municipal council, which is elected by the population of the city, include the confirmation of the budget and certain acts of the municipal administration, questions of city planning, and so on.

History. Buenos Aires was founded in 1536 (according to other data, 1535) by the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Mendoza under the name Ciudad de la Santísima Trinidad y Puerto de Nuestra Señora de Santa María de los Buenos Aires—city of the Holy Trinity and port of the Holy Mother St. Mary of the good (fair) winds (that is, the patroness of sailors). The city was devastated and burned by the Spanish in 1541; they abandoned it under pressure from the Indians, who waged a bitter struggle against the conquerors. Renewed building began in 1580. In 1776, Buenos Aires became the capital of the viceroyalty of Río de la Plata. From May 1810 it was one of the centers of the war of independence of the Spanish colonies in America. From 1816 to 1826, Buenos Aires was the capital of the United Provinces of Río de la Plata. In 1880 it was proclaimed the capital of the republic of Argentina. The city’s population has grown rapidly since the mid-19th century; it was 91,000 in 1853, 1 million in 1905, 1.5 million in 1914, and 3.8 million in 1958. Buenos Aires has been the center of the country’s workers’ movement since the beginning of the 20th century. The proletariat was involved in armed class battles in Buenos Aires in January 1919; there were large-scale strikes in the city during the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Economy. Buenos Aires is an important transportation center of the country. It is one of the largest seaports of Latin America, with a freight turnover of 20 million tons; through it pass 85 percent of Argentina’s imports and 40 percent of its exports. In the area of exports, agricultural products predominate: meat, wool, and grain. Among imports, industrial equipment, iron ore, coal, and oil predominate. Most of the railroads (18 radials), highways, river routes, and air lines cross in Buenos Aires. The city has a subway. Ezeiza, a major international airport, is 40 km from Buenos Aires.

Buenos Aires is the country’s most important industrial center; over half of the country’s industrial proletariat and over half of the industrial output are concentrated here. The main branches of industry are machine building (first and foremost, electrotechnical); oil refining; and chemical, food, and textile industries. Meat packing holds first place in the food industry. The city consumes three-fourths of the country’s electric power.

Architecture and city planning. The layout of Buenos Aires is based on a right-angle network of streets and the main square, which opens toward the Río de la Plata. Industrial enterprises are concentrated in the southern portion of Buenos Aires, around the port; the capital’s center—old Buenos Aires—is the city’s business and commercial center, the site of government institutions, the president’s residence, banks, and stores. The bourgeois sections of the city, with their luxurious private residences, are richly planted with trees and shrubs. There are slums on the outskirts and in the industrial sections of the city. The churches of San Ignacio (1710-34, architects H. Kraus and A. Blanqui) and El Pilar (1716-32, architects A. Blanqui and J. B. Primoli) and the town hall (1725-54) have survived from the 18th century. During the 19th and 20th centuries, the small houses of the colonial period were displaced by splendid, eclectic multistory structures, and then by buildings in the contemporary style. Main thoroughfares have been built—Avenida de Mayo (1889), Avenida Nueve de Julio (1930’s; 140 m wide, with an underground garage), and Avenida General Paz (1937-41; about 30 km long and 100 m wide). Multistory apartment houses, private residences, large public buildings (Congress Hall, early 20th century, and the Colon Theater, 1909, by the architect V. Meano; the Municipal Theater, 1958, by the architects M. R. Alvarez and M. O. Ruiz), and port, industrial, and sports buildings have been erected. During the 1960’s, tall residential buildings, the London and South American Bank (1966-67, architects C. Testa, Sanchez, and others), and a new university building were constructed. There are numerous monuments (including the monument to C. Alvear, 1915-23, sculptor E. A. Bourdelle; the monument to C. Columbus, marble, sculptor A. Zocchi).

Educational, scientific, and cultural institutions. Buenos Aires has a university, technological institute, conservatory, and other educational institutions; there are 11 branch academies and many other scientific research institutions. The National Historical Museum, Ethnographic Museum, Museum of the Natural History of Argentina, National Museum of the Fine Arts, National Museum of Decorative Art, Museum of Modern Art, Municipal Museum of Fine and National Arts, and others are located here, in addition to the National Library, Congress Library, Colon opera theater, and other libraries and theaters.


Buenos Aires de la fundación a la angustia. [Buenos Aires, 1967.]
Stolitsy stran mira. [Moscow, 1965.]


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Buenos Aires

the capital of Argentina, a major port and industrial city on the Río de la Plata estuary: became capital in 1880; university (1821). Pop.: 13 349 000 (2005 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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