In an effort to highlight places of interest in countries across the world, their varied culture, economy and history, The Statesman brings to you a Weekly Focus on countries with which India shares diplomatic ties and friendship. This week's focus is on Argentina. Know all about the country.
Capital: Buenos Aires, Currency: Argentine peso, Argentine austral Language: Spanish (official), Italian, English, German, French, indigenous (Mapudungun, Quechua). Religion: Nominally Roman Catholic 92 per cent (less than 20 per cent practising), Protestant 2, Jewish 2, others 4 per cent.
Argentina's climate ranges from the great heat and extensive rains of the subtropical Chaco in the north, through to the pleasant climate of the central Pampas, and the sub-Antarctic cold of the Patagonian Sea in the south. The main central area is temperate, but hot and humid during summer (December to February) and chilly in winter. The most pleasant times to visit Buenos Aires are September-November and FebruaryMarch. The city is best avoided in January, when the heat is at its most intense. The northern regions are at the most hospitable in the spring, autumn and winter.
Ice Trekking Tours
Iguazú Falls - Unesco World Heritage Site: Along Argentina's border with Brazil, the Iguazu National Park is on the Argentinian side and Iguaçu National Park is on the Brazilian side. Iguazu is in fact made up of 150-300 individual falls along its nearly three-km edge, a number that changes depending on the season, varying in height from 60 to 82 metres and each as spectacular as the next.
Perito Moreno Glacier ~ Unesco World Heritage Site: A massive 30-km-long ice formation (also world's third largest freshwater reserve). Ice trekking tours are available that ranges from an hour's walk over the ice formation to longer five-hour excursions.
Ushuaia: Most adventures here start in Ushuaia, the world's southernmost city. Popular attractions include the San Juan de Salvamento Lighthouse, the End of the World Museum and the Maritime Museum of Ushuaia.
Historic Córdoba Cathedral Argentina's second largest city. The main attraction is Cathedral of Córdoba, which dates from the 18th century and includes a delightfully ornate interior with exquisite 20th-century frescoes and murals painted by leading Argentinian artists, a unique silver altar, and an important collection of gold votive offerings. Another attraction is Plaza San Martin (Unesco World Heritage Site).
Other major attractions are La Boca, Fashionable Recoleta, Palermo and Belgrano (Buenos Aires), Puerto Madryn (city), Valdés Peninsula (Unesco World Heritage sites and wildlife), Mar del Plata (beach), Bariloche and Lake District.
A Lot of Paperwork
Visa is valid upto three months. Documents required for a tourist visa are passport, application form, photo, covering letter from applicant stating the applicant's details and all travel details (in Spanish), original leave letter from the employer confirming that the applicant is currently employed by the company and how long as well as his/her monthly wage or yearly salary. Hotel reservation in Argentina (either guaranteed by a credit card or paid in full), confirmed air tickets, income tax returns or Form 16 for last three years, original bank statements for last six months with bank seal and signature. Copy of an international credit card copy with statement and salary slips for last three months if employed is also needed. Retirement proof, school/college ID/bonafide letter for students and travel insurance for the entire duration.
Bilateral trade on the decline
Bilateral trade between both the countries has decreased from $2,935 million (2015) to $2,782 million (2016). Major items of India's exports include organic chemicals, vehicles and auto-parts, lubricants, machinery, sound and image devices and garments and major items of imports from Argentina include soybean oil, petroleum, copper, sunflower oil, leather, wool and ferro alloys. Several Indian companies have established operations in Argentina with investment of $1 billion. These include TCS, CRISIL, Bajaj, Hero, Cellent, UPL, Sintesis Quimica, Glenmark and Godrej. Argentinian investment in India stands at $120 million. Sonalika Pvt Ltd has signed a joint venture with the Argentine company Apache of Santa Fe for manufacturing tractors and Bajaj Auto has signed a joint venture with Corven Argentina to produce and sell motorbikes in the local market. There are few other joint ventures between different companies of both countries.
Italian influence in coffee and ice-cream
A strong Italian influence means quality coffee and ice-cream is popular. Some of the specialities are Bife de ancho, Bife de chorizo, Bife de lomo, Empanadas, Choripan, Milanesa,Medialunas etc. It produces some excellent wines, famous ones are pinot noir from Patagonia, a silky red from Malbec and Argentina's celebrated white, the aromatic Torrontés. Mate is an invigorating green tea made from the yerba mate plant and drunk anytime, anywhere, as a staunchly Argentine custom. Quilmesis is the national lager. Argentine cuisine is largely exceptional, although choices can often be restricted to meat, pasta and pizza. The traditional parrillada (mixed grill) is the very heart and soul of Argentina's cuisine. Other staples include morcilla, chinchulines or the feted Argentine steak. Vegetarians may struggle to find many options, particularly outside Buenos Aires, though fruits and salads are widely available.
Join the celebrations
Though holidays of many faiths are respected, public holidays usually include most Catholic holidays. Historic holidays include the celebration of the May Revolution (25 May), Independence Day (9 July), National Flag Day (20 June) and the death of José de San Martín. Other widely observed holidays include Christmas, New Year, Good Friday, Easter, Labour Day and Veterans Day.
Indians living in Argentina
There are around 2,400 Indians living in Argentina. Most of the NRIs live in Buenos Aires, some having lived here for over thirty years. Majority of them are from the Sindhi community. Others are professionals working with Indian companies. About 300 Sikhs from Punjab had settled down in Salta province in the course of the early and mid-twentieth century. Most of them are in retail and wholesale trade. The first generation immigrants speak Punjabi.
There are no direct flights to Argentina from India. Airlines flying from India are Ethiopian Airlines, Air Canada, British Airways, Etihad Airways, Air France and others. The major layover airports while travelling from Delhi to Argentina are London, Toronto, Amsterdam and Abu Dhabi. It takes 27 hours and 35 minutes to reach from Delhi to Buenos Aires.