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Argentina - population, GDP and economy

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Argentina > Energy and infraestructure in Argentina
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Argentina, the 8th-largest country in the world and the second largest in South America, has a land area approximately equal to that of the United States east of the Mississippi River. Its climate varies from subtropical in the north to subarctic in the south. Argentina shares borders with Bolivia, Brazil, and Paraguay in the north, Uruguay to the east, and Chile to the west. The southeast border is a 3,000-mile coastline on the South Atlantic Ocean. The population of almost 37 million is primarily European, mostly of Spanish and Italian descent; Spanish is the national language. There are 23 administrative regions (called 'provincias') in Argentina, plus the city of Buenos Aires which is its own autonomous administrative region; these administrative regions are shown in Figure 1. The capital city, Buenos Aires, is located on the Atlantic coast in the east central part of the country and has a population of about 11.7 million.

Argentina's currency, the peso, has an exchange rate of 3.74 pesos per U.S. dollar (as of October 2002). The gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $282 billion in 1999. Argentina is a member of Mercado Comun del Sur (Mercosur), a regional common market which includes Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay; Chile and Bolivia are associate members. Mercosur came into effect on January 1, 1995, and includes a free trade area and common external tariffs on most traded goods. Argentina is also a member of the World Trade Organization. The United States and Argentina have a close bilateral relationship, due in part to Argentina's recent efforts to open its economy and realign its foreign policy. Since the 1990s, Argentina has been one of Latin America's most politically and economically stable countries. In 1999, Fernando de la Rua became the president, replacing Carlos Menem who had led the country for ten years. Mr. de la Rua has pledged to continue similar policies to his predecessor and has stressed attracting foreign investment. Cutting the budget deficit is a major push of his administration.

Energy Policy and Regulation
Argentina's fuel and energy exports rose sharply following extensive energy sector privatization in the early 1990s. The domestic oil industry, which had been an inefficient supplier to the noncompetitive domestic market prior to privatization, has become a major driver of export growth. Energy exports in 1996 totaled $3.0 billion dollars, of which the majority was accounted for by crude oil (net exports of $1.8 billion). Exports to Brazil are a significant percentage of the total, and the Transandean oil pipeline supplies approximately half of Chile's oil. The Department of Natural Resources and Human Environment (Secretaria de Recursos Naturales y Ambiente Humano) and the Department of Energy and Transport (Secretaria de Energia y Transporte) are the federal regulatory bodies responsible for the energy sector, regulating environmental compliance by industry operators. Organizations facilitating interactions between government and industry include the Argentine Petroleum and Gas Institute (Instituto Argentino del Petroleo y del Gas) and the Association of Sanitary Engineering and Environmental Sciences.

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