The Argentine Republic is the eighth largest country in the world with a continental surface area of 2.780.400 km² (1.073.518 square miles). The distance from the extreme north (near the city of La Quiaca) to the extreme south (near the city of Ushuaia) is 3.695 km (2.296 miles). This extension crosses different latitudes that go from the tropical climate in the north to the subpolar in the continental south (and polar in Antarctica).
Within the continental area, Argentina is divided into 9 regions with their own geographical and climatic characteristics. In the north are the regions called Mesopotamia, Chaco and NOA (which means “northwestern Argentina”); in the central area are the regions called Pampa Húmeda (humid Pampas), Pampa Seca (semi-arid Pampas), Sierras Pampeanas (Pampas Mountains) and Cuyo; and in the south are the Andean Patagonia and Extra-Andean Patagonia regions. And outside the continental area, the polar and subpolar region which corresponds to the Argentine Antarctic sector and the South Atlantic Islands.
1 – Mesopotamia: It covers the provinces of Entre Ríos, Corrientes and Misiones. These three provinces are surrounded by different rivers, it is for this reason that it has been called Mesopotamia (meaning “land between two rivers” derived from the Arabic language). This region located in the northeast of Argentina is based on the Brazilian massif presenting sediments of volcanic origin; much of its surface is part of the Guaraní aquifer basin (the second largest freshwater reservoir in the world). In the province of Misiones is the subtropical jungle with the greatest biodiversity in the country. Among the fauna and flora species that stand out in this region are: jaguar (panthera onca), puma (puma concolor), capybara (hydrochoerus hydrochaeris), yacaré (caiman), swamp deer (blastocerus dichotomus), toucan ( ramphastos toco), capuchin monkey (cebus capucinus), pindó palm (syagrus romanzoffiana) and guatambú (balfourodendron riedelianum) among others.
The protected natural areas of Mesopotamia are:
2 – Chaco: It covers the provinces of Chaco, Formosa, and part of the provinces of Salta, Tucumán, Santiago del Estero, Córdoba and Santa Fe. The Chaco region extends to the extreme central northern area of Argentina. Its name derives from the Quechua language spoken by one of the local aboriginal tribes and means “hunting ground”. It is a great plain with an extremely hot and humid climate in summer, and a cold and dry season in winter. Among the species of fauna and flora that stand out in this region are: jaguar (panthera onca), puma (puma concolor), carayá monkey (alouatta caraya), aguará guazú (chrysocyon brachyurus), tapir (tapirus), peccary (tayassuidae ), yacaré (caiman), quebracho (schinopsis) and palo borracho (chorisia) among others.
The protected natural areas of the Chaco are:
3 – NOA: It covers the province of Jujuy and part of the provinces of Salta, Tucumán and Catamarca. In the NOA region (short for northwestern Argentina) is located the majestic Andes mountain range. Different types of climates and landscapes coexist in the NOA: the arid semi-desert high mountain sector, the high mountain plateau known as puna (which derives from the Quechua language spoken by the aborigines meaning “altitude sickness”) and the mountain jungle with tropical climate known as yunga. Among the species of fauna and flora that stand out in this region are: vicuña (vicugna vicugna), llama (lama glama), alpaca (vicugna pacos), spectacled bear (tremarctos ornatus), taruca (hippocamelus antisensis), cardón ( echinopsis atacamensis) and white tipa (tipuana tipu) among others.
The NOA protected natural areas are:
4 – Humid Pampas: It covers part of the provinces of Buenos Aires, Santa Fe, Córdoba, San Luis and La Pampa. With rare exceptions, it is a large plain with a moderate temperate climate. It is the most populated region in Argentina because its lands, exceptional for agricultural and livestock production, allow two abundant harvests a year. Since the end of the 19th century, Argentina received the nickname “granary of the world”, this was precisely due to the immense amount of food products that were obtained, and still are, from this region of the country and then exported throughout the world. Among the species of fauna and flora that stand out in this region are: vizcacha (lagostomus maximus), wild cat (leopardus geoffroyi), gray fox (lycalopex griseus), skunk (conepatus chinga), ombú (phytolacca dioica) and pampa grass ( danthonioideae) among others.
The protected natural areas of the humid Pampas are:
5 – Semi-arid Pampas: It covers part of the provinces of Buenos Aires, San Luis, La Pampa and Río Negro. The semi-arid Pampas is located to the west of the humid Pampas, both regions owe their name to their location on the great Argentine plain known as the Pampas region (precisely the word “pampa” derives from the Quechua language which means plain). The difference between the two is due to the rainfall regime, while in the humid Pampas there are regular rains, in the Semi-arid Pampas the rains are scarce and the value of the land is reduced. Among the fauna and flora species that stand out in this region are: weasel (didelphis albiventris), hairy armadillo (chaetophractus villosus), overo lizard (salvator merianae), calden (prosopis caldenia) and chañar (geoffroea decorticans) among others.
The protected natural area of the semi-arid Pampas is:
6 – Pampas Mountains: It covers part of the provinces of Córdoba, Santiago del Estero, Tucumán, Catamarca, La Rioja and San Luis. It is a mountain sector located in the central region of our country, it is the continuity of the humid Pampas and the semi-arid Pampas to the north. In this region there are plateaus, peneplains (almost flat terrain with slight undulations) and mountain ranges (lower than the neighboring Andes mountains). Most of this region has a temperate and semi-arid climate. Among the species of fauna and flora that stand out in this region are: puma (puma concolor), condor (vultur gryphus), marmosa (thylamys pusillus), taruca (hippocamelus antisensis), burrowing parrot (cyanoliseus patagonus), mistol (ziziphus mistol) and white carob (prosopis alba) among others.
The protected natural area of the Pampas mountains is:
7 – Cuyo: It covers the province of San Juan and part of the provinces of Catamarca, La Rioja, San Luis and Mendoza. Cuyo is located in the central-western region of Argentina. In this region the Andes mountains have some of the highest peaks in the world and, due to movements of the tectonic plates, tremors and earthquakes are frequent. The origin of this word is not clear, but it is believed that it comes from the language spoken by the aboriginal population called Huarpe. The Huarpes used to call this region “cuyum pulli” which means “land of deserts”; this is due to the fact that the rains are scarce causing a desert landscape. It is a semi-arid sector with a marked thermal amplitude. Among the fauna and flora species that stand out in this region are: puma (puma concolor), gray fox (lycalopex griseus), black-necked swan (cygnus melancoryphus), flamingo (phoenicopterus chilensis), wild cat (leopardus geoffroyi) , white carob (prosopis alba) and chañar (geoffroea decorticans) among others.
The protected natural areas of Cuyo are:
8 – Andean Patagonia: It covers part of the provinces of Mendoza, Neuquén, Río Negro, Chubut and Santa Cruz. The Andean region is dominated by the southern end of the Andes mountains, which in this region is known as the Patagonian Andes, narrower and lower than the central Andes. It is a region shared between Argentina and Chile where rainfall is abundant, giving rise to the formation of beautiful temperate forests. In this region the ice fields stand out (third in the world for their size, preceded only by Antarctica and Greenland). Among the species of fauna and flora that stand out in this region are: huemul (hippocamelus bisulcus), pudú (pudu puda), condor (vultur gryphus), black-necked swan (cygnus melancoryphus), macá tobiano (podiceps gallardoi), lenga (nothofagus pumilio) and ñire (nothofagus antarctica) among others.
The protected natural areas of Andean Patagonia are:
9 – Extra-Andean Patagonia: It covers part of the provinces of Mendoza, La Pampa, Neuquén, Río Negro, Chubut, Santa Cruz and Tierra del Fuego. This region is delimited by the humid forests corresponding to the Andean Patagonia to the west, and by the Atlantic Ocean to the east. It is a great plateau where the arid and semi-arid climate predominates due to the scarcity of rainfall, for this reason it is known as the “Patagonian desert”. The first Spaniards who arrived on these coasts called the local settlers “Patagones”; that is the reason why this land is known as Patagonia. Among the species of fauna and flora that stand out in this region are: choique (rhea pennata), guanaco (lama guanicoe), Patagonian skunk (conepatus humboldtii), gray fox (lycalopex griseus), sea lion (otaria flavescens), sea elephant (mirounga leonina), Magellanic penguin (spheniscus magellanicus), southern right whale (eubalaena australis) and fueguino coirón (festuca gracillima) among others.
The protected natural areas of Extra-Andean Patagonia are:
10 – Argentine Antarctica and South Atlantic Islands: Region claimed by the Argentine Republic corresponding to the Antarctic sector (where Argentina administers 13 bases, the most important being the Marambio Base), the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich. In the Argentine Antarctic sector, the ice sheet is 2 km (1.24 miles) thick on average and extreme polar temperatures range from 0 ° C (32 ° F) in summer to -60 ° C (-76 ° F ) in winter with records of -82 ° C (-116 ° F). Among the species of fauna and flora that stand out in this region are: Weddell seal (Leptonychotes weddellii), Ross seal (Ommatophoca rossii), killer whale (Orcinus orca), wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans), Emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri ), gentoo penguin (pygoscelis papua), giant petrel (macronectes giganteus) and Antarctic grass (deschampsia antarctica) among others.
When you decide to visit the Argentine Republic, keep in mind this great variety of landscape mosaics that make it up; it is a beautiful and extensive country with fascinating places to discover. Do not forget to visit the most renowned tourist destinations in our country such as the City of Buenos Aires, the Iguazú Falls and the Perito Moreno Glacier; but if you still have more time, go further and explore those wonderful places not mentioned in travel guides.