Argentina is the southernmost country in the Americas. It is a federal constitutional Republic and a representative democracy. The Executive branch of government is led by a President, who serves a four-year term and may be elected to office no more than twice in a row. The Legislative Power consists of a bicameral Congress. The Lower House has 257 voting members who also serve a four-year term, while the Senate has 72 members to six-year terms, with each of the country’s 24 provinces (including the country’s capital) having three seats.
Even though there is no legislation that stipulates it, the country’s official language is Spanish. Since the 1994 constitutional reform, the indigenous peoples’ right to bilingual education has been recognized. Some provinces, like Chaco and Corrientes, have made their indigenous peoples’ languages official together with Spanish.
According to the last census of Argentina’s National Institute on Statistics and Census (INDEC) in 2010, Argentina had 40,117,096 inhabitants, while its current population (2018) is estimated at around 44,494.502, based on the country’s population growth rate. Around 51% of the population were women.
The country’s surface makes Argentina the eighth largest country in the world, though it is the 32nd most populated country (World Bank, 2017). Matching both figures, Argentina turns out as one of the least densely populated countries on Earth by holding the 196 position out of the 222 countries evaluated by the World Bank.
Within Argentina’s borders, population is distributed in a heterogeneous fashion: although it is a republic made up of 23 provinces, almost half of its population (46% ) lives within the borders of a single province: Buenos Aires. The city of Buenos Aires, the country’s capital, is also located within those borders. Within its 200 square-kilometer surface, it houses almost three million inhabitants, thus becoming the most densely populated district in the country with 14,216 inhabitants per square kilometer. The national average of population density is less than 11 inhabitants per square kilometre and thus illustrates the stark disproportion of Argentina’s population geographical distribution (INDEC, 2010). As voting is compulsory in Argentina, population distribution also plays a key role in the election of national officials.
Over the colonial period, Buenos Aires was part of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, its port being key in the journey of the continent’s goods to Spain. The Spanish conquest of the Americas led to the subjugation of indigenous peoples, while the National State creation process in the region further contributed to their isolation and decimation.
Although a million people declared themselves as indigenous people in the last census (2.4% of the total sample), the difficulties to survey those descendants from indigenous peoples suggest that the figure could be much higher. Argentina’s National State identified 38 indigenous peoples across the country, and Argentina’s National Institute of Indigenous Affairs (INAI) recorded 1,653 different indigenous communities. These communities are more concentrated in the provinces in the northern Argentina and in the southernmost Andean mountains.
Most of Argentina’s population has immigrant roots. Until 1940, immigrants came mainly from Western Europe. However, in the last decades, the country started to receive a higher number of immigrants from neighboring countries. Yet, the percentage of inhabitants who had been born in other countries accounted for 4.5% in the 2010 census.
Argentina’s population is mainly urban. The last national census shows that 91% of Argentines live in urban areas. However, due to the heterogeneous distribution of its population, two to three people every ten live in rural areas in the northern provinces. This is the case in Santiago del Estero (31%), Misiones (26%), Catamarca (23%), Formosa (19%) and Tucumán (19%).
With regard to basic services, it must be mentioned that three out of twenty people lack access to drinking water, and almost half of the population has no sewers. These figures are exacerbated in the north part of Argentina, where the percentage of people with unsatisfied basic needs may triple the percentage registered in the city of Buenos Aires (around 7% in 2010).
Although the Constitution does not enforce an official faith, it gives Roman Catholicism a preferential status. There are no official statistics on religion. However, according the last poll on religious orientation carried out by Argentina’s National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET) in 2008, 76.5% of all Argentines considered themselves Catholic, while 11.3% said they were non-religious.
Since 1884, when the first law on education was enacted, education has been free-of-charge. Overtime, education became compulsory for more educational levels. Today education is compulsory from the initial or kindergarten level (when the child is 4 years old) to the secondary or high school level, thus covering 14 years of education. The country’s literacy rate among inhabitants over 10 years old is 98%.
Trust in the media and safety of journalists
According to a January 2018 report by renowned US-based consulting company Pew Research Center, Argentines tend to distrust the media way below the global average. In the consulting company’s ranking about trust in the media, Argentina is 35 out of the 38 surveyed countries. Only 37% of all Argentines believes that the press covers political issues well; 38% thinks that Government-related news are well-covered; and 57% considers that the overall coverage is poor.
The figures are similar to those in Reuters Institute’s 2018 Digital News Report, which indicates that only 41% of Argentines generally trusts in the media. Similar results were published on the Latinbarométro’s 2018 report. As a summary, it can be said that three in every five people in Argentina distrust the media.
In addition, the country held the 52nd position in the Reporter without Borders (RSF) 2018 World Press Freedom Index, thus losing two positions when compared to 2017. RSF explains that “the most important Argentine media are often legally accused of slander, appear before civil courts and are punished with fines aimed at destroying their economy. In 2017 several reporters were attacked by the police during mass demonstrations.” A report issued by the Buenos Aires Press Union (SIPREBA) and Argentina’s Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS) found out that 45 journalists were injured by security forces during news coverages. Most of them were injured with short-distance rubber bullets. In addition, “thirteen media workers were detained while reporting police violence against demonstrators. They were locked up, and their work equipment was seized. "Now they must face fake lawsuits", the report reads.
Banco Mundial (2017) Ranking de Densidad de población mundial.
Banco Mundial (2017) Población total mundial
Bein, R. (2017) Legislación sobre lenguas en Argentina. Proyecto UBACyT 2011-2017
FONCYT-CONICET (2008) PRIMERA ENCUESTA SOBRE CREENCIAS Y ACTITUDES RELIGIOSAS EN ARGENTINA
INDEC (2010). Población estimada al 1 de julio de cada año calendario por sexo. Total del país. 2010-2040
INDEC (2010). Población de 5 años y más que asistió a un establecimiento educativo por nivel de educación alcanzado y completud del nivel, según sexo y grupo de edad.
INDEC (2010). Población de 10 años y más por condición de alfabetismo y sexo, según provincia. Total del país.
INDEC (2010). Población por sexo e índice de masculinidad, superficie censada y densidad, según provincia. Total del país.
INDEC (2010) Población urbana y rural por provincia. Total del país.
INDEC (2010). Porcentaje de hogares y de población con Necesidades Básicas Insatisfechas (NBI), según provincia. Total del país. Años 2001 y 2010
Informe Latinobarómetro (2018)
Plan Nacional de Agua Potable y Saneamiento: Cobertura universal y sostenibilidad de los servicios (2017)