The 2010 census counted 40,117,096 inhabitants, up from 36,260,130 in 2001. Argentina ranks third in South America in total population, fourth in Latin America, and 33rd globally. Its population density of 15 persons per square kilometer of the land area is well below the world average of 50 persons. The population growth rate in 2010 was an estimated 1.03% annually, with a birth rate of 17.7 live births per 1,000 inhabitants and a mortality rate of 7.4 deaths per 1,000 inhabitants. Since 2010, the crude net migration rate has ranged from below zero to up to four immigrants per 1,000 inhabitants per year.
Argentina is in the midst of a demographic transition to an older and slower-growing population. The proportion of people under 15 is 25.6%, a little below the world average of 28%, and the proportion of people 65 and older is relatively high at 10.8%. In Latin America, this is second only to Uruguay and well above the world average, which is currently 7%. Argentina has one of Latin America’s lowest population growth rates as well as a comparatively low infant mortality rate. Its birth rate of 2.3 children per woman is considerably below the high of 7.0 children born per woman in 1895, though still nearly twice as high as in Spain or Italy, which are culturally and demographically similar. The median age is 31.9 years and life expectancy at birth is 77.14 years.
In 2010, Argentina became the first country in Latin America, the second in the Americas, and the tenth worldwide to legalize same-sex marriage.
Argentina is considered a country of immigrants. Argentines usually refer to the country as a crisol de razas (crucible of races, or melting pot).
In colonial times, the ethnic composition of Argentina was the result of the interaction of the pre-Columbian indigenous population with a colonizing population of Spanish origin and with sub-Saharan African slaves. Before the middle 19th century, the ethnic make up of Argentina was very similar to that of other countries of Hispanic America.
Between 1857 and 1950 Argentina was the country with the second biggest immigration wave in the world, at 6.6 million, second only to the United States in the numbers of immigrants received (27 million) and ahead of other areas of new settlement like Canada, Brazil, and Australia. However, mass European immigration did not have the same impact in the whole country. According to the 1914 national census, 30% of Argentina’s population was foreign-born, including 50% of the people in the city of Buenos Aires, but foreigners were only 2% in the provinces of Catamarca and La Rioja (North West region).
Strikingly, at those times, the national population doubled every two decades. This belief is endured in the popular saying “los argentinos descienden de los barcos” (Argentines descend from the ships). Therefore, most Argentines are descended from the 19th- and 20th-century immigrants of the great immigration wave to Argentina (1850–1955), with a great majority of these immigrants coming from diverse European countries, particularly Italy and Spain. The majority of Argentines descend from multiple European ethnic groups, primarily of Italian and Spanish descent, with over 25 million Argentines (almost 60% of the population) having some partial Italian origins.
Argentina is home to a significant Arab population; including those of partial descent, Arab Argentines number 1.3 to 3.5 million, mostly of Syrian and Lebanese origin. As in the United States, they are considered white. The majority of Arab Argentines are Christians belonging to the Maronite Church, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Eastern Rite Catholic Churches. A minority are Muslims, albeit the largest Muslim community in the Americas. The Asian population in the country numbers around 180,000 individuals, most of whom are of Chinese and Korean descent, although an older Japanese community originating from the early 20th century still exists.
A 2010 study conducted on 218 individuals by the Argentine geneticist Daniel Corach established that the genetic map of Argentina is composed of 79% from different European ethnicities (mainly Italian and Spanish), 18% of different indigenous ethnicities, and 4.3% of African ethnic groups; 63.6% of the tested group had at least one ancestor who was Indigenous.
From the 1970s, immigration has mostly been coming from Bolivia, Paraguay, and Peru, with smaller numbers from the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Romania. The Argentine government estimates that 750,000 inhabitants lack official documents and has launched a program to encourage illegal immigrants to declare their status in return for two-year residence visas—so far over 670,000 applications have been processed under the program.
- Homburger et al., 2015, PLOS One Genetics: 67% European, 28% Amerindian, 4% African, and 1,4% Asian.
- Avena et al., 2012, PLOS One Genetics: 65% European, 31% Amerindian, and 4% African.
- Buenos Aires Province: 76% European and 24% others.
- South Zone (Chubut Province): 54% European and 46% others.
- Northeast Zone (Misiones, Corrientes, Chaco & Formosa provinces): 54% European and 46% others.
- Northwest Zone (Salta Province): 33% European and 67% others.
- Oliveira, 2008, on Universidade de Brasília: 60% European, 31% Amerindian and 9% African.
- National Geographic: 52% European, 27% Amerindian ancestry, 9% African, and 9% others.
The de facto official language is Spanish, spoken by almost all Argentines. The country is the largest Spanish-speaking society that universally employs voseo, the use of the pronoun vos instead of tú (“you”), which imposes the use of alternative verb forms as well. Due to the extensive Argentine geography, Spanish has a strong variation among regions, although the prevalent dialect is Rioplatense, primarily spoken in the Pampean and Patagonian regions and accented similarly to the Neapolitan language. Italian and other European immigrants influenced Lunfardo—the regional slang—permeating the vernacular vocabulary of other Latin American countries as well.
There are several second languages in widespread use among the Argentine population:
- English, taught since elementary school. 42.3% of Argentines claim to speak it, with 15.4% of them claiming to have a high level of language comprehension.
- Italian, by 1.5 million people.
- Arabic, especially its Northern Levantine dialect, by one million people.
- Standard German, by 400,000 people.
- Yiddish, by 200,000 people, the largest Jewish population in Latin America and 7th in the world.
- Guaraní, by 200,000 people, mostly in Corrientes (where it is official de jure) and Misiones.
- Catalan, by 174,000 people. Quechua, by 65,000 people, mostly in the Northwest.
- Wichí, by 53,700 people, mainly in Chaco where, along with Kom and Moqoit, it is official de jure.
- Vlax Romani, by 52,000 people.
- Albanian, by 40,000 people.
- Japanese, by 32,000 people.
- Aymara, by 30,000 people, mostly in the Northwest.
- Ukrainian, by 27,000 people.
- Welsh, 5,000 people in Patagonia. Some districts have incorporated it as an educational language.
The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion. Although it enforces neither an official nor a state faith, it gives Roman Catholicism a preferential status.
According to a 2008 CONICET poll, Argentines were 76.5% Catholic, 11.3% Agnostics and Atheists, 9% Evangelical Protestants, 1.2% Jehovah’s Witnesses, and 0.9% Mormons, while 1.2% followed other religions, including Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism. These figures appear to have changed quite significantly in recent years: data recorded in 2017 indicated that Catholics made up 66% of the population, indicating a drop of 10.5% in nine years, and the nonreligious in the country standing at 21% of the population, indicating an almost doubling over the same period.
The country is home to both the largest Muslim and largest Jewish communities in Latin America, the latter being the seventh most populous in the world. Argentina is a member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.
Argentines show high individualization and de-institutionalization of religious beliefs; 23.8% claim to always attend religious services; 49.1% seldom do and 26.8% never do.
On 13 March 2013, Argentine Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires, was elected Bishop of Rome and Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church. He took the name “Francis”, and he became the first Pope from either the Americas or from the Southern Hemisphere; he is the first Pope born outside of Europe since the election of Pope Gregory III (who was Syrian) in 741.
Argentina is highly urbanized, with 92% of its population living in cities: the ten largest metropolitan areas account for half of the population. About 3 million people live in the city of Buenos Aires, and including the Greater Buenos Aires metropolitan area, it totals around 13 million, making it one of the largest urban areas in the world.
The metropolitan areas of Córdoba and Rosario have around 1.3 million inhabitants each. Mendoza, San Miguel de Tucumán, La Plata, Mar del Plata, Salta and Santa Fe have at least half a million people each.
The population is unequally distributed: about 60% live in the Pampas region (21% of the total area), including 15 million people in Buenos Aires province. The provinces of Córdoba and Santa Fe, and the city of Buenos Aires have 3 million each. Seven other provinces have over one million people each: Mendoza, Tucumán, Entre Ríos, Salta, Chaco, Corrientes and Misiones. With 64.3 inhabitants per square kilometer (167/sq mi), Tucumán is the only Argentine province more densely populated than the world average; by contrast, the southern province of Santa Cruz has around 1.1/km2 (2.8/sq mi).
Largest cities or towns in Argentina
(2015 INDEC metro area estimate)
|1||Buenos Aires||(Autonomous city)||3,054,000||11||Resistencia||Chaco||409,000|
|2||Córdoba||Córdoba||1,519,000||12||Santiago del Estero||Santiago del Estero||406,000|
|5||San Miguel de Tucumán||Tucumán||868,000||15||San Salvador de Jujuy||Jujuy||338,000|
|6||La Plata||Buenos Aires||836,000||16||Neuquén||Neuquén||309,000|
|7||Mar del Plata||Buenos Aires||633,000||17||Bahía Blanca||Buenos Aires||307,000|
|9||Santa Fe||Santa Fe||530,000||19||Formosa||Formosa||258,000|
|10||San Juan||San Juan||513,000||20||San Luis||San Luis||218,000|
The Argentine education system consists of four levels:
- An initial level for children between 45 days to 5 years old, with the last two years being compulsory.
- An elementary or lower school mandatory level lasting 6 or 7 years. In 2010 the literacy rate was 98.07%.
- A secondary or high school mandatory level lasting 5 or 6 years. In 2010 38.5% of people over age 20 had completed secondary school.
- A higher level, divided in tertiary, university, and post-graduate sub-levels. in 2013 there were 47 national public universities across the country, as well as 46 private ones. In 2010 7.1% of people over age 20 had graduated from university. The public universities of Buenos Aires, Córdoba, La Plata, Rosario, and the National Technological University are some of the most important.
The Argentine state guarantees universal, secular, and free-of-charge public education for all levels. Responsibility for educational supervision is organized at the federal and individual provincial states. In the last decades, the role of the private sector has grown across all educational stages.
Health care is provided through a combination of employer and labor union-sponsored plans (Obras Sociales), government insurance plans, public hospitals, and clinics, and private health insurance plans. Health care cooperatives number over 300 (of which 200 are related to labor unions) and provide health care for half the population; the national INSSJP (popularly known as PAMI) covers nearly all of the five million senior citizens.
There are more than 153,000 hospital beds, 121,000 physicians and 37,000 dentists (ratios comparable to developed nations). The relatively high access to medical care has historically resulted in mortality patterns and trends similar to developed nations’: from 1953 to 2005, deaths from cardiovascular disease increased from 20% to 23% of the total, those from tumors from 14% to 20%, respiratory problems from 7% to 14%, digestive maladies (non-infectious) from 7% to 11%, strokes a steady 7%, injuries, 6%, and infectious diseases, 4%. Causes related to senility led to many of the rest. Infant deaths have fallen from 19% of all deaths in 1953 to 3% in 2005.
The availability of health care has also reduced infant mortality from 70 per 1000 live births in 1948 to 12.1 in 2009 and raised life expectancy at birth from 60 years to 76. Though these figures compare favorably with global averages, they fall short of levels in developed nations, and in 2006, Argentina ranked fourth in Latin America.