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Useful Information about Argentina

As varied is Argentina’s geography, so is its culture. It is composed of an ethnic mix of foreigners from Europe, including people from Italy, Germany, England, Spain, Basque, and the Irish. Because of the strong European migration, this influenced the demise of pre-Columbian cultures, leaving the present lack of dominant indigenous populations. Each culture established their own role throughout the country—the Basque and Irish controlled sheep farming, Germans and Italians established farms, and the British predominately invested in developing the country’s infrastructure.

Full country name:  Republic of Argentina
Area: 1,056,636 sq mi (2,736,690 sq km)
Population: 40,301,927 (growth rate: 0.9%)
Capital city:  Buenos Aires, 13,349,000 (metro. area)
People: White (mostly Spanish and Italian) 97%; Mestizo, Amerindian, Other 3%
Language: Spanish (official), English, Italian, German, French
Religion: Roman Catholic 92%, Protestant 2%, Jewish 2%, other 4%
Government: Democracy
President: Cristina Fernández de Kirchner
GDP: US$542.8 billion
GDP per head: US$13,700 per head
Annual growth: 8.7%
Inflation: 12.3%
Major industries: food processing, motor vehicles, consumer durables, textiles, chemicals and petrochemicals, printing, metallurgy, steel
Major trading partner: Brazil, Chile, U.S., China, Spain, Germany

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Seasons

Summer: 21st December to 20th March.
Autumn: 21st March to 20th June.
Winter: 21st June to 20th September.
Spring: 21st September to 20th December.

Learn Spanish in Argentina

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Climate

The four seasons are clearly distinguished in Buenos Aires. In winter (June to September), the temperatures do not usually go below 0º C, maintaining an average of 8-10º C. In the summer months (December to March), the temperatures are rarely higher than 32º C, maintaining an average of 27º C. Spring and Autumn see average temperatures between 18° C and 20° C.

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Daily expenses

Here's an indication of prices quoted in US Dollars:
Breakfast: croissant + coffee: USD 3.00
Lunch: sandwich (bocadillo) + drink: USD 5.00
Lunch: menú del día: USD 9.00
Dinner: grocery shopping: USD 5.00
Dinner: "cheap & cheerful" restaurant: USD 12.00
Transportation cost per day: public transport: USD 1.00
Glass of wine: USD 4.00
Glass of beer: USD 2.00

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Buenos Aires

Deeply influenced and self-consciously modeled after its European heritage, Buenos Aires is often called the 'Paris of South America'. Portenos, as the multinational people of Buenos Aires are known, possess an elaborate and rich cultural identity. They are a mix of contrasts: European sensibilities and Latin American passion; tango and rock and roll; culturally interested and soccer fanatics.

For all its diversity, the elusive spirit of Argentina as a country is present everywhere in Buenos Aires. The national dance, the tango, is perhaps the best expression of that spirit, combining an elegant reserve and an exuberant passion.

Buenos Aires is home of many public libraries and cultural associations as well as the largest concentration of active theaters in Latin America. The city has numerous museums related to history, arts and popular music, as well as the preserved homes of a number of art collectors, writers, composers and artists.

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Currency

The Argentine currency is the peso, and is signified by the same symbol as the US dollar ($). Paper money comes in denominations of: $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. Coins are available: 5 cents, 10 cents, 25 cents, 50 cents and 1 peso coins.

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Foreign currency

US dollars are by far the preferred foreign currency, although Euros, Chilean and Uruguayan pesos can be readily exchanged at cambios (exchange houses), but other currencies can be difficult to change. The Peso shares the same currency symbol ($) as the US dollar, so many tourists get confused by ticketed prices. Almost all prices displayed in Argentina are in Pesos. Those in USD are indicated by U, or US$.

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Cash Machines or ATM's

Cash machines are used by everybody and there are plenty around the city. Every bank has cash machines linked to international networks such as a Cirrus, Plus, MasterCard, Visa, Maestro, Citibank and others. Simply look for the companies' logos on bank windows and in cash machine booths. They only deliver pesos. You will not be able to get Dollars from them.

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Money Exchange

The best option for exchanging money is a bank (banking hours are 10am to 3pm). In certain areas of the city it is common to see people on the streets offering money exchange at better rates, but even if it seems tempting, DO NOT ACCEPT, most are fakes. Banks and Casas de Cambio (currency exchange offices) exchange foreign currency but remember that you must present your passport to make the transaction. The main banking area is located in the so-called 'city'. This area comprises the first five blocks (numbered 100 to 500) of San Martin, Reconquista, 25 de Mayo, Sarmiento, Presidente Juan Domingo Peron and Peron Streets.

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Credit Cards

Most businesses, stores, restaurants and bars accept credit cards.

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Traveler checks

Traveler checks are often refused by business establishments and can be difficult or expensive to change. So, be sure to bring an ATM card.

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Telephones

Buenos Aires has many public telephone booths. All accept coins; some have slots for phone cards. In addition to public phones, there are many phone centers, called locutorios or telecentros, throughout the city. Service is generally efficient and direct dialing-both long-distance and international-is universal. Locutorios are useful if you need to make lots of calls or don't have coins on you. Ask the receptionist for una cabina (a booth) and then pay as you leave. There's no charge if you don't get through.

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Phone cards

You can use prepaid calling cards (tarjetas prepagas) to make local and international calls from public phones. All cards come with a scratch-off panel, which reveals a pin number. You dial a free access number, the pin number, and the number you wish to call. Most kioscos (small street shops located basically around every corner) and small supermarkets sell prepaid cards from different companies: specify it's for llamadas internacionales (international calls), and compare each card's per-minute rates to the country you want to call.

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Prepaid Argentina SIM

A prepaid Argentina SIM card with an international cell phone is the most convenient and economical solution for staying in touch while in Argentina: rates will be cheaper than using your U.S. network or renting a phone. All incoming calls while in Argentina are FREE, regardless of where they originate. Pay the local rate for local calls and use a cellular phone in Argentina like you do at home. And unlike home, your Argentina SIM card and cell phone service is prepaid so there is no need for a contract. The SIM card ships are very cheap and they usually come with airtime vouchers. Additional credit is available through the purchase of airtime vouchers. These Airtime vouchers are available locally in Argentina, at convenience stores and petrol stations. It is easy to recharge your account, simply follow the instructions after you scratch off the protective layer to reveal your recharge voucher code. REMEMBER: Do NOT purchase another SIM card when your airtime credit is depleted! You only need a recharge voucher! To check your remaining airtime balance, follow the instructions below.

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Calling International calls

For international calls, dial: 00 + country code + area code + local number.

Calling cell phones
Any number that is prefixed by a 15 is a cell-phone number. If you need to contact a cell phone in Buenos Aires, dial this way: 00 + 54 + 9 + 11 + cell phone number without the first two digits (1 and 5). For example, if you want to call the cell phone 156 434 555, dial this way: 00 + 54 + 9 + 11 + 6434555

Calling from abroad
The country code for Argentina is 54, and the area code for Buenos Aires is 11.

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Hours

The time zone corresponds to GMT-3 and currently no change is made in the summer months. Activity in Buenos Aires starts in the first hours of the day and extends until late at night.

Shops
Most are open Monday through Friday, from 10 am to 8 pm, and Saturday from 10 am to 1 pm. In shopping centers, open at 11:00 am and close at 10 pm.

Banks
Almost all banks open at 10 am and close at 3 pm, although some banks extend their closing time to 4 pm. Cash extractions and other transactions may be made in ATMs, 24 hours a day.

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Meals

The hours in which portenos have their four meals are variable, since they are accommodated according to their activities. Breakfast is served between 7 and 10 in the morning. In coffee houses and confiterias (pastry shops), it is possible to find special offers for the typical coffee and milk with medialunas (croissants), both for breakfast and merienda (tea) time. Dinner is unquestionably the most important, and largest, meal of the day in Argentina. During the week most Argentines eat at 9 or 9:30 in the evening, but on Fridays and Saturdays it can start as late as 11 pm! Argentine dinners are usually quite heavy with traditional foods being asado, pasta, pizza, empanadas, milanesa, etc. If Argentines are dining with friends or family it often goes until the early hours of the morning. Restaurants open for dinner around 9:00 p.m. But, unless you want to glaringly advertise yourself as a tourist, do not arrive before 10:00 p.m. (11:00 p.m. is better.) Kitchens usually serve until 1:00 AM.

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Nightlife in BA

Buenos Aires is often called the city that never sleeps and for good reason. The streets are busy at all hours of the night, and you can feel a distinct energy throughout the city. The Porteno nightlife is one of the best you'll experience and has a little something for everyone One important thing to remember is that everything starts VERY late here. When people are planning to go out, they will usually start dinner sometime between 10PM and 12AM. Then everyone meets up at someone's house or a bar for a while. Around 2AM - 3AM, people go to the clubs. For most foreigners, this is a hard schedule to get used to, but if you try to go out earlier, you'll likely be the only ones there!

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Electric Power

If you are plugging in an appliance that was built for 220-240 volt electrical input, or an appliance that is compatible with multiple voltages, then an adapter is all you need.

Power outlets have 2 cylindrical holes or 2 flat holes with ground connection. It is practically interchangeable with the standards in Australia and China. However, many non-grounded sockets in Argentina are the 'Type C' Europlug type. If your appliance's plug doesn't match the shape of these sockets, you will need one or more travel plug adapters in order to plug in. Travel plug adapters simply change the shape of your appliance's plug to match whatever type of socket you need to plug into.

You may bring an adapter from your home country in order to use electric devices, although it is also easy and cheap to buy them once you arrive as they are sold in most hardware stores.

Remember: Travel plug adapters do not change the voltage, so the electricity coming through the adapter will still be the same 220-240 volts the socket is supplying. North American sockets supply electricity at between 110 and 120 volts, far lower than in most of the rest of the world. In this case you need an electrical transformer. But he majority of electric devices supply electricity at between 110 and 240 volts.

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Transportation

Argentina is one of the most advanced countries in Latin America in terms of transport, with modern facilities, and good accessibility. The Public transportation is an efficient service, usually running 24 hours.

Bus:
The urban bus is commonly known as 'Colectivos' or sometimes 'Bondis' in slang. The service is very frequent -you will rarely have to wait more than five minutes during the day. The bus system is a service with 'stops' (a place where passengers are waiting to take a bus) spread on the streets with a distance 400 meters among each one of them. Before you even think of boarding a bus, you will need to make sure you have coins ('Monedas') for your journey. Banknotes are not accepted. Introducing coins into the machine, you get a ticket to travel. There is a prepaid card named SUBE, that works with every city bus or metro. If you are visiting Buenos Aires for a week or more, you should definitely purchase a Guia T. For sale at most news stands and often on the subway, the Guia T is a little pocket-sized book providing detailed maps of city streets and outlines how to get around by bus.

By Subway:
The 'Subte' (as it's called in BUENOS AIRES) or Metro, is the faster and more frequent (every 5 minutes), though it can be very crowded during morning and evening peak hours. The service runs from 5am to 10pm (8am to 10pm on Sundays). The ticket is electro-magnetic and it's dispensed in the same station. Large parts of the city are not served by the network, including some important tourist areas such as Recoleta and Palermo Viejo.

By Taxi:
Taxis in Buenos Aires are reasonable priced and plentiful (except in rainy rush hours). Taxis are easy to identify because they are painted yellow and black (roof), and they are circulating in thousands through BUENOS AIRES. To take a taxi can be done from anywhere in the city, making signs to the driver or the Radio Taxi ( To request a taxi by phone ), it's the safer service to travel on taxi . Currently are circulating over 40,000 taxis by BUENOS AIRES

By Train:
There's a good deal of railway connections to the suburban area laid out in such a way that it resembles a shape of a star. The quality of the service ranges from excellent to not quite so desirable, depending of the line; ask before using them at night time. The main railway terminals are Retiro, Constitucion, Once and Federico Lacroze. From all of these you can then use the metro and bus network to get right into the center. The suburban fares are very cheap. Another train is 'Tren de la Costa'. It has a tourist profile that reaches the Delta del Tigre (The Great BUENOS AIRES, the Noth zone ), traveling across the coastline of Rio de la Plata. If you are making a tour to Delta or Tigre, we recommend to travel with this service.

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Safety

Buenos Aires is a safe city, but as in any big city in the world, tourists should take some precautions.

It is important to keep some basic safety rules in mind to prevent bad times:

Always walk around with as little money, jewelry and documents as possible. Do not take your passport with you. Avoid using jewelry and watches.
Keep purses and backpacks in a safe place. When sitting in a bar, restaurant, bus or subway, do not leave your belongings on a chair or hanging loose in an empty chair beside you.
Avoid walking around on dark or empty streets during the night
Do not exchange money on the street.
If you go to ATMs, check that the door is properly closed behind you and secure your money in a safe place before leaving.

Urban Guard
The Urban Guard will help and take care in emergencies or risky situations. The official body works in coordination with the security forces, firemen, medical urgency service and some other State organisms. The urban guard performs their tasks throughout the city of Buenos Aires 24 hours a day throughout the entire year.

Tourist Police Station
This police station headquarters receives any formal complaints from tourists in cases of offenses, thefts, petty steal, losses, whereabouts and failed meetings. It also works on crime prevention. You can also receive help in the case of extraordinary procedures before embassies or consulates. You will get information from people speaking in English, Italian, French, Portuguese, Ukrainian and Japanese.

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Tipping

As a custom, tipping can get tricky when traveling outside of your social or geographical bubble.

In any case, you have to know that tipping in Argentina is optional and the amount is flexible, in almost any situation.

Restaurants
In restaurants, 10% gratuity is considered the norm. Going over 10% is rare and considered pretty generous but leave less or leave nothing, if the service was particularly bad.

In some instances, restaurants will charge a 'cubierto'. Not to be confused with a 'service charge' this money goes directly to the restaurant and is not part of the tip.

Taxis
It is not necessary to tip cab drivers in Argentina, nor do they expect one. It is considered polite to round up to the nearest whole peso, so they don't have to count out coins for your change (which they almost never have anyway). If the cab driver helps load or unload your baggage from the curb, it is nice to give them something in gratitude.

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Airports

Ministro Pistarini International Airport
(Spanish: Aeropuerto Internacional Ministro Pistarini) (IATA: EZE, ICAO: SAEZ) Commonly known as Ezeiza International Airport

This airport is used for international flights to travel to and from Buenos Aires. It is located about 35km (20 miles) south of Buenos Aires. About 45 minutes from downtown by highway (can be much longer at rush hours).

Transportation from Ezeiza to city
As soon as you claim your baggage and exit the customs area of the airport, you will notice that many people will approach you and offer car services to the city. We recommend you not to accept any of these services since they usually take advantage of tourists.

You will also see when you get into the main section of the airport, a few booths run by remis companies. These are very expensive.

We can reserve the airport pick-up service from the airport of Ezeiza to downtown Buenos Aires. We usually book this service to our students, so you Orly have to g oto their offices at the airport, ask for your reservation under your name, and pay directly at their offices.

Prices, locations and hours of transit are available at Manuel Tienda Leon's website www.tiendaleon.com.ar

Jorge Newbery Airfield
Most domestic flights, as well as many flights to and from neighboring countries (Uruguay, Brazil, Chile and Paraguay) use the smaller but more convenient airport, a short distance from downtown Buenos Aires.
(Spanish: Aeroparque 'Jorge Newbery') (IATA: AEP, ICAO: SABE)

This airport is located in Palermo neighbourhood, 2 km (1.2 mi) northeast of the center of Buenos Aires. Originally it was the main airport for domestic flights in Buenos Aires and only handled international flights to Uruguay. However, since March 2010, there are also flights to Brazil, Chile and Paraguay.

From / To Aeroparque Jorge Newbery
It is very cheap to take a taxi and reach most hotels in downtown Buenos Aires. There is a taxi stop outside the arrivals hall. These are the local black and yellow taxis of Capital Federal. You should feel safe taking one of these taxis from Aeroparque Buenos Aires airport with these taxis as they are all registered before you take one and a camera is constantly taking pictures of the drivers as they leave the airport.

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Laundromats

Many apartments in Downtown, doesn't have laundry machines. To do this job, portenos will go to several laundromats located throughout the city. Most of these offer self service washing machines as well as 'valet service'. With this service, you can leave your laundry, and the 'lavanderia' will wash, dry, and fold it for you. You can pass by later that day or when it is convenient for you to pick up your laundry. Many lavanderias can also deliver your laundry to the place where you are staying.

It is best to pre-sort your dirty laundry by colors, and whites and place them in separate plastic bags. The Laundromat will ask you to dump your presorted clothes into plastic bins. Each bin equals one load. You will then be asked if you want 'cloro' bleach used on your whites. You'll be quoted a price, they'll ask for your name, give you a claim ticket and a pick up time.

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KEEP IN MIND:

- Local time in Argentina is 3 hours less than Greenwich. You can compare the local time at your city with the time in Argentina you can do so at the "World Clock - Time Zones", just look up your city and compare it to "Buenos Aires".

- Electricity used is 220v (volts) and 50 Hz (Hertz).

- For distances we use the "metres" not "miles". So we also use millimetres (0,001 metre), centimetreso (0,01 metre) and kilometres (1000 metres).

- For weight we use grams and kilograms (1000 grams).

- For capacity we use the litre and cubic centiliters (cc) (1000 cc = 1 litre).

- For temperature we use centigrades.

Equivalences - Weight:

- 1 gram = 0,035 onz.
- 1 kilogram (kg) = 2,205 pounds
- 1 pound (lb) = 0,454 kilos

Equivalences - Measurements:

- 1 millimetre (mm) = 0,039 inches
- 1 centimetre (cm) = 0,394 inches
- 1 metre (m) = 3,281 feet
- 1 kilometre (km) = 0,621 miles
- 1 inch = 2,542 cm
- 1 foot = 0,305 metres
- 1 mile = 1,609 km

Equivalences - Temperature:

- 0º centigrades = 32º fahrenheit

- 100º centigrades = 212º fahrenheit

Equivalences - Surface:

- 1 hectare = 2,471 acres
- 1 square kilometre (km2) = 0,386 square miles
- 1 acre = 0,405 hectares
- 1 square mile = 2,590 km2

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TOURIST VISA

(see further information here)

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See further information about:

- Buenos Aires city
- Patagonia (Bariloche city)
- Mendoza city
- Ushuaia city
- Santiago de Chile

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