Argentina is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires. It is the eighth-largest country in the world by land area and the largest among Spanish-speaking nations. Argentina's continental area is between the Andes mountain range in the west and the Atlantic Ocean in the east. It borders Paraguay and Bolivia to the north, Brazil and Uruguay to the northeast, and Chile to the west and south. Argentine claims over Antarctica, as well as overlapping claims made by Chile and the United Kingdom, are suspended by the Antarctic Treaty of 1961. Argentina is Latin America's third-largest economy, with a high rating on the Human development index. Within Latin America, Argentina has the fifth highest nominal GDP per capita and the highest in purchasing power terms. Argentina is a founding member of the United Nations, Mercosur, the Union of South American Nations, the OEI, the World Bank Group and the World Trade Organization, and is one of the G-15 and G-20 major economies. Argentina is derived from the Latin argentum ("silver").
Cueva de las Manos, over 10,000 years old is among the oldest evidence of indigenous culture in the Americas. The earliest evidence of humans in Argentina dates from 11,000 BC and was found in Patagonia. European explorers arrived in 1516. Spain established the Viceroyalty of Peru in 1542, encompassing all its holdings in South America. Their first settlement in modern Argentina was the Fort of Sancti Spiritu established in 1527 next to the Paraná River. Buenos Aires, a permanent colony, was established in 1536 but was destroyed by natives. The city was established again in 1580 as part of the Governorate of the Río de la Plata. The area which encompassed much of the territory that would later become Argentina was largely a territory of Spanish immigrants and their descendants known as criollos, mestizos, native cultures, and descendants of African slaves. A third of Colonial-era settlers gathered in Buenos Aires and other cities, others lived on the pampas, as gauchos for example. Indigenous peoples inhabited much of the remainder and most of Patagonia and Gran Chaco remained under indigenous control.
Buenos Aires became the capital of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata in 1776, which was created over some former territories of the Viceroyalty of Peru. The Río de la Plata area was forced to import goods overland via Lima after 1595, and a reliance on contraband emerged. After 1776, however, Buenos Aires flourished as a commercial hub. In 1806 and 1807 the city was the site of two ill-fated British invasions. The resistance was headed both times by the French Santiago de Liniers, who would become viceroy through popular support. The news of the overthrow of the Spanish King Ferdinand VII during the Peninsular War created great concern in the Viceroyalty. The May Revolution of 1810 took place in Buenos Aires, removing Viceroy Cisneros from government and replacing him by the Primera Junta.During the following decade a war for independence ensued in the former Viceroyalty, its regions divided between patriots and royalists. While the cities of present-day Argentina would align with the independents after 1811, the other regions would follow differing paths: Paraguay seceded, declaring its independence from Spain 1811 and from Argentina in 1842. Upper Peru was disputed with the royalists from Peru until it declared independence as Bolivia in 1824. The eastern bank of the Uruguay river was invaded by the Brazilian-Portuguese Empire in 1817 and declared independence as Uruguay in 1828 after the Argentina-Brazil War. Internal conflicts would cause political instability within the patriots. In just four years the Primera Junta was replaced by the Junta Grande, the first and second triumvirates, and the first Supreme Director. In 1813 an Assembly convened to declare independence but it could not do so due to political disputes. A Civil War ensued between the provinces joined into the Federal League and the Supreme Directorship.