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Buenos Aires and its neighborhoods

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Argentina > Understanding Buenos Aires
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Buenos Aires sprawls along the banks of the muddy La Plata river, stretches inland in new developments, and is often gray and gloomy. It is a huge city is composed of neighborhoods, or barrios. The older ones surrounding the city center are the most famous ones: the barrios which attract tourism. Apart from the colorful tin buildings of the La Boca barrio and the famed pink tones of the Casa Rosada the presidential palace the city is mostly monochromatic. What then is the allure? For one thing, it is the main entry and exit point for Argentina. It is a city with deep anchors to the past and the ethnic and cultural heritages of its residents, but it is also the center of business, government and progressive development.

The people of Buenos Aires who refer to themselves as porteños, or port people, relish their ties to Europe, flaunt their creative energy, delight in culture, fashion and food and share a traditional melancholy for things past. Buenos Aires was founded in 1536 when Pedro de Mendoza established a settlement on the bluffs above the river but native resistance forced the Spaniards out for nearly fifty years. They came back and tried again. It was slow going particularly under the restrictions of the Spanish crown regarding trade but the growing number of criollo residents persisted. They established trade with other South American and European countries creating traditions still in force today. Argentina proclaimed its Independence from Spain in 1816 and encouraged immigration from Europe. The emigrants settled mostly in Buenos Aires bringing with them their culture and customs. These influences were slow to reach the provinces where landowners retained their older more conservative way of life. By 1900, following the beef boom of the 1880's, Buenos Aires was South America's largest city with a million or more European residents.

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