Argentines (argentinos in Spanish), also called Argentinians, are the citizens of Argentina, or their descendants abroad. Argentina is a multiethnic society, which means that it is home to people of many different ethnic backgrounds. As a result, Argentines do not consider their nationality as an ethnicity but as a citizenship with various ethnicities. Aside from the Indigenous and Mestizo population, nearly all Argentines or their ancestors immigrated within the past five centuries. In fact, Argentina was the second country in the world that received the most immigrants, with 6.6 million, second only to the US with 27 million, and ahead of countries such as Canada, Brazil, and Australia.
According to the 2010 census [INDEC], Argentina had a population of 40,091,359 inhabitants, of which 1,805,957 or 4.6%, were born abroad. The population growth rate in 2008 was estimated to be 0.917% annually, with a birth rate of 16.32 live births per 1,000 inhabitants and a mortality rate of 7.54 deaths per 1,000 inhabitants.
Argentina's population has long had one of Latin America's lowest growth rates (recently, about one percent a year) and it also enjoys a comparatively low infant mortality rate. Strikingly, though, its fertility rate is still nearly twice as high (2.3 children per woman) as that in Spain or Italy, despite comparable religiosity figures. The median age is approximately 30 years and life expectancy at birth is 75 years.
Argentina is a multiethnic society, which means that it is home to people of many different ethnic backgrounds. As a result, the people there usually treat their nationality as a citizenship, but not an ethnicity. Argentines usually refer to their country as a "crisol de razas" ("crucible of races"), or, a melting pot.
In the mid-19th century a large wave of immigration started to arrive to Argentina due to new Constitutional policies that encouraged immigration, and issues in the countries the immigrants came from such as wars, poverty, hunger, famines, pursuit of a better life, among other reasons. The main immigration sources were from Europe, the countries from the Near and Middle East, Russia and Japan. Eventually Argentina became the second country that received the most immigrants in the world, only second to the US.
Therefore, most Argentines are of European descent, and are either descendents of colonial-era settlers and/or of the 19th and 20th century immigrants from Europe, with about 86% of the population being of ethnic European descent.
The most common ethnic groups are Italian and Spanish (including Galicians and Basques). It is estimated that up to 25 million Argentines, up to 60% of the total population, have Italian ancestry, wholly or in part. There are also Germanic, Slavic, British and French populations. Smaller Jewish, Native, Arab, Asian, Gypsy, and African communities contribute to the melting pot.
Argentines of European descent constitute the majority of Argentina's population. Ethnic Europeans include the Argentine descendants of colonists from Spain during the colonial period prior to 1810, and mainly of immigrants from Europe in the great immigratory wave from the mid 19th century to the mid 20th century. Although a named category "Argentines of European descent" is not officially used, and no official census data exist, some international sources claim the European component of the population to be as low as 82.9%, to as high as 97% of Argentina's population.
The current most numerous immigrant European communities are: Italian, Spanish (including Basque and Galician), German, Slavic (including Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, Czech, Bulgarian, Slovene, Macedonian and Croat), French (including Basque), Irish, Portuguese, Dutch, among many others.
Arabs and Argentines with partial Arab ancestry comprise around 2.9% of Argentina's population. They represent about 1.2 million people, whose ancestry traces back to any of various waves of immigrants, largely of Arab cultural and linguistic heritage and/or identity, originating mainly from what is now Syria and Lebanon. Due to the fact that many Arab countries were under control of the Ottoman Empire by the time the large immigration wave took place, most Arabs entered the country with Turkish passports, and so they are colloquially referred to as los turcos.
Contemporary Native cultures are represented in the country mainly by the Mapuche, Kolla, Wichí and Toba peoples. According to the provisional data of INDEC's Complementary Survey of Indigenous Peoples (ECPI) 2004 – 2005, 600,329 Natives (about 1.49% of the total population) reside in Argentina. The most numerous of these communities are the Mapuches, who live mostly in the south, the Kollas and Wichís, from the northwest, and the Tobas, who live mostly in the northeast. Some Mestizo population may identify with Native ethnicity.
Within the population totals, there may be an imprecise amount of mixed Mestizo population. Many genetic studies have shown that Argentina's genetic footprint is not overwhelmingly European. In one of the most comprehensive genetic studies involving the population of Argentina, 441 Argentines from across the North East, North West, Southern, and Central provinces (especially the urban conglomeration of Buenos Aires) of the country, it was observed that the Argentine population comprised on average of 65% European, followed by 31% Amerindian, and finally 4% of African ancestry. It was also found there were great differences in the ancestry amongst Argentines as one traveled across the country. Some sources provide estimates that state Mestizo people represent insignificant amount of the population, around 1.5%, or as high as 15%.
The Afro-Argentine population resulting from the slave trade during the centuries of Spanish domination of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata had a major role in Argentine history, so much so, that one of the national heroes, Antonio "Falucho" Ruiz was of African descent. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries they comprised up to fifty percent of the population in some provinces, and had a deep impact on national culture. In the 19th century the Afro-Argentine population declined sharply due to several factors, such as the Argentine War of Independence (c. 1810-1818), high infant mortality rates, low numbers of married couples in this ethnic group, the Paraguayan War, cholera epidemics in 1861 and 1864, and a yellow fever epidemic in 1871. By the late 19th century the Afro-Argentine population consisted mainly of women, who mixed with the large numbers of European immigrants.
Over 5% of Argentines state they have at least 1 black ancestor, and a further 20% state they do not know whether or not they have any black ancestors. Genetic studies carried out in 2005 showed that the average level of African genetic contribution in the population of Buenos Aires is 2.2%, but that this component is concentrated in 10% of the population who display notably higher levels of African ancestry. Blacks, Mulattos (mixed Black and European ancestry) and Zambos (mixed Black and Native ancestry) in Argentina might be about 67,000 people; this figure includes 53,000 direct descendants from slaves, plus 12,000–15,000 Caboverdian Mulatto immigrants and their descendants, who arrived in the 1950s and 1960s. With constant wars in the 19th century, spread of diseases like the yellow fever, thousands of immigrants from Europe arriving to Argentine soil, and most black women intermarrying with them; noting that their populations were already low, the Afro-Argentine population faded into oblivion.
A new wave of Black immigration started in the 1990s, from African countries (Cape Verde, Nigeria, Senegal, Angola, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Ghana, Sierra Leone, etc.).In recent years Africa Vive, an organization that helps to keep alive afro-Argentine heritage, calculates that there are between 1 and 2 million Afro-descendants in Argentina.
Argentines of Asian ancestry are defined as either born within Argentina, or born elsewhere and later to become a citizen or resident of Argentina. Asian Argentines settled in Argentina in large numbers during several waves of immigration in the 20th century. Primarily living in their own neighbourhoods in Buenos Aires, many currently own their own businesses of varying sizes – largely textiles, grocery stores, and buffet-style restaurants. The small Asian Argentine population has generally kept a low profile, and is accepted by greater Argentine society.
The first Argentines of Asian descent were a small group of Japanese immigrants, mainly from the Okinawa prefecture, which came in the period between the early and mid 20th century. In the 1960s, Koreans began to arrive, and in the 1980s, Taiwanese immigrants. The 1990s brought the largest so far wave of Asian immigration to Argentina, from mainland Chinese immigrants, eventually becoming the 4th largest foreigner community in 2013, after Paraguayans, Bolivians, and Peruvians.
Recent genetic studies concluded in 2005 have shown that a significant portion of the population has varying degrees of Amerindian and to a lesser extent African ancestry. The first study on the matter in Argentina was conducted in 1985. A scientific team from the University of Buenos Aires School of Medicine analyzed the blood types of 73,875 donors from the Blood Bank of the Policlínico Ferroviario Central, with the purpose of finding European and Amerindian genetic components. The samples were organized following a map of the country, and the study concluded that "the percentages found in native population were: European component, 81.47%-81.77%, and Amerindian component 18.23%-18.57%." Another study of the Amerindian ancestry of Argentines was headed by Argentine geneticist Daniel Corach of the University of Buenos Aires. The results of this study in which DNA from 320 individuals in which 9 Argentine provinces were examined showed that 56% of these individuals had at least one recent Amerindian ancestor. Another study on African ancestry was also conducted by the University of Buenos Aires in the city of La Plata. Nevertheless, it must be said here that this type of genetic studies -meant only to search for specific lineages in the mtDNA or in the Y-Chromosome, which do not recombine- may be misleading. For example, a person with seven European great-grandparents and only one Amerindian/Mestizo great-grandparent will be included in that 56%, although his/her phenotype will most probably be Caucasian.
Although Spanish is dominant, being the national language spoken by virtually all Argentines, the spoken languages of Argentina number at least 40. Languages spoken by at least 100,000 Argentines include Native American languages such as Southern Quechua, Guaraní and Mapudungun, and immigrant languages such as German, Italian, or Levantine Arabic.
Two native languages are extinct (Abipón and Chané), while some others are endangered, spoken by elderly people whose descendants do not speak the languages (such as Vilela, Puelche, Tehuelche and Selknam).
There are also other communities of immigrants that speak their native languages, such as the Chinese language spoken by at least half of the over 60,000 Chinese immigrants (mostly in Buenos Aires) and an Occitan-speaking community in Pigüé, Buenos Aires Province. Welsh is also spoken by over 35,000 people in the Chubut Province. This includes a dialect called Patagonian Welsh, which has developed since the start of the Welsh settlement in Argentina in 1865.
A majority of the population of Argentina is Christian. According to CONICET survey on creeds, about 76.5% of Argentines are Roman Catholic, 11.3% religiously indifferent, 9% Protestant (with 7.9% in Pentecostal denominations), 1.2% Jehovah's Witnesses, and 0.9% Mormons.
Although Jews account for less than 1% of Argentina's population, Buenos Aires has the second largest population of Jews in the Americas, second only to New York City. Argentina also has the largest Muslim minority in Latin America (see Islam in Argentina).
Most Argentines outside Argentina are people who have migrated from the middle and upper middle classes. According to official estimates there are 600,000 worldwide Argentine, according to estimates by the International Organization for Migration are about 806,369 since 2001. It is estimated that their descendants would be around 1,900,000. The first wave of emigration occurred during the military dictatorship between 1976 and 1983, with principally to Spain, USA, Mexico and Venezuela. During the 1990s, due to the abolition of visas between Argentina and the United States, thousands of Argentines emigrated to the North American country. The last major wave of emigration occurred during the 2001 crisis, mainly to Europe, especially Spain, although there was also an increase in emigration to neighboring countries, particularly Brazil, Chile and Paraguay.
The rate of Argentine emigration to Europe (especially to Spain and Italy) peaked in the late 1970s and early 1980s and is noteworthy. Spain and Italy have the largest Argentine communities in Europe, however, there are also important communities in France, the United Kingdom and Germany.
The most popular immigration destinations in the Americas are: the United States, Mexico and Canada, and to a lesser degree, South America (mostly to Uruguay and Brazil): Chile, Paraguay and Bolivia, while other communities settled in Venezuela, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Costa Rica.
Israel is home to the largest Argentine diaspora group in Asia.
- Perfil migratorio de Argentina 2012 (PDF). Buenos Aires: International Organization for Migration. 2012. p. 184. ISBN 978-92-9068-657-6. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
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- "Proyecciones provinciales de población por sexo y grupos de edad 2001–2015" (PDF). Gustavo Pérez (in Spanish). INDEC. p. 16. Retrieved 2008-06-24.
- UN Demographic Yearbook, 2007
- "Enrique Oteiza and Susana Novick maintain that "Argentina since the 19th century has become, as have Australia, Canada and USA, a 'land of immigrants', meaning a society formed by massive immigration from a minute native population". (Oteiza, Enrique; Novick, Susana. Inmigración y derechos humanos. Política y discursos en el tramo final del menemismo. [en línea]. Buenos Aires: Instituto de Investigaciones Gino Germani, Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, 2000 [Citado FECHA]. (IIGG Documentos de Trabajo, Nº 14). Available on: http://www.iigg.fsoc.uba.ar/docs/dt/dt14.pdf)]; "The Brasilian anthropologist Darcy Ribeiro places Argentina in a group of 'transplanted countries' with Uruguay, Canada and United States. (Ribeiro, Darcy. Las Américas y la Civilización (1985). Buenos Aires: EUDEBA, pp. 449 ss.); The Argentine historian José Luis Romero defines Argentina as a 'flood country'". (Romero, José Luis. «Indicación sobre la situación de las masas en Argentina (1951)», en La experiencia argentina y otros ensayos, Buenos Aires: Universidad de Belgrano, 1980, p. 64). (Spanish)
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- About Argentine population at www.Argentina.gov.ar (English)