South America is shaped somewhat like an ice-cream cone, and Argentina forms most of the “cone.” Slender Chile occupies the western side of the long, narrowing end of South America, while much larger Argentina occupies the eastern side.
With an area of more than 1 million square miles, Argentina is the eighth largest country on earth and the second largest in South America. It stretches about 2,300 miles from north to south, reaching from the tropics almost to Antarctica!
Mountains, plains, and forests, frigid cold and sweltering heat, you’ll find it all in Argentina. The northern part of the country has a hot, tropical climate, and the western part is covered by the towering Andes Mountains. The cool southern part of Argentina is a land of mountains, forests, and lakes, called Patagonia after the Patagonian, or “Big Feet,” Indians who once lived there.
The heartland of Argentina is the treeless, temperate plain known as the Pampa. Covering an area of 300,000 square miles, nearly twice the size of California, the Pampa is the home of Argentinian cowboys known as gauchos. This area is the center of Argentina’s huge livestock industry.
In the 1980s, only the United States and the Soviet Union produced more beef than Argentina, and Argentina was the world’s number-one beef exporter. With a population of 27 million and some 58 million cattle, Argentina had more than two head of cattle for every citizen!
Argentinians also love to eat beef, with the world’s highest consumption rate of beef, at 68 kg a year per capita.