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the exploitation of the country and to enjoy its wealth. The
heroic period is over for the Argentine ; its independence is
to-day definitely assured ; it pursues no dreams of conquest
now, but seeks only pacific victories for its products in the
great international markets.

Prosaic as the present generation is, it is not, from our
point of view, completely without nobility ; it loves its native
soil and glorifies it ; not, assuredly, after the fashion of Virgil
saluting the Latin soil, fertile of heroes, but as a land produc-
tive of rich harvests, and the source of material prosperity.


This it is that explains the powerful attraction which the
Argentine exercises upon all those who have trodden its soil.
The country progresses with such rapidity, the value of the
soil increases in such proportions, that the most indifferent
end by being drawn into the stream. Those who come to
live here without any idea of final residence make up their
minds to settle as soon as they hold the smallest parcel of
property. When a man has lived some little time in the
Argentine, and has watched the spectacle of its rapid
development, he is quickly seized by the business vitality
which forces him to take part in the great movement.

This love of the Argentine for his land may certainly
have its noble side, but he knows nothing of the moving
spirit of poetry which clothes that love in the old countries
of Europe, where man becomes attached not only to the
cultivable land, but to all the memories of the native village ;
the familiar hills and meadows, the old church, and all that
puts us into communication with the soul of places. It
would seem as though one holds more closely to the earth
that demands the most labour, the greatest efforts, even the
greatest disappointments.

No one was ever more attached to the land than the Boer,
who lived at peace in an ungrateful soil, indifferent to the
mineral wealth which it might conceal. It was this land,
where he lived an independent life, that he defended so
stubbornly ; not the gold, which was yet the true wealth of
the country.
Y The Argentine also has seen pass over its soil the same
rude generation, having no other dream than independence.
The " guacho " of old, a mixed type of the Indian and
Spanish races, the true son of the pampa, was truly attached
to the immense plain upon which he lived at the call of
caprice, a wild rider in every sense. To-day the type tends
to disappear, as civilisation, and more especially administra-
tion, everywhere make their influence felt ; as the ancient
virgin pampa is transformed into cultivable soil, bristling
on all hands with barbed wire. As he was not easy to
domesticate, nor break in to any continuous labour, the
"guacho" has been supplanted little by little by the foreign
farmer, the colonist ; and to-day he is almost submerged by



the wave of immigration which has invaded the country,
and which forms now tlie major part of the population.

From the men of this new generation one must ask no other
love for the soil than that which is born of the profits they
draw from it. They can move indifferently from north to
south, from east to west ; the soil for them is everywhere
the same, provided the harvest be good. But, apart from that,
they nevertheless love this land of promise, and interest
makes them its children.

From this generation, whose principal traits we liave
noted, it seems that we may in the future expect great things.

To be sure, if the world were to return to its old ideal,
that of glory or imperialism, we hardly know what place the
Argentine would find in the scheme of things. It is unsuited
to a military policy ; it has no ambition to measure itself
with neighbouring nations, which are far more eager for

But if we stand on the economic plane, the only one which
interests us, we must alfew that this generation is well
armed for self-defence in every field of the commercial
struggle. From the fusion of the Latin genius with the
Anglo-Saxon energy has issued a new product, extremely
capable in business, full of practical sense, and very open to
progress, which will be fully able to hold its own in a century
in which money is the great instrument of domination. This
race, formed haphazard of immigration, is yet the very race
for Argentine soil ; between the two there is a correspond-
ence, an adaptation, as perfect as if it were the result of
long-continued design.

To sum up : the Argentine nationality appears to a
foreigner under two distinct aspects: there is its political
side, characterised by instability and lack of organisation,
and the economic side, in which an intense national life and
progress are manifested. Will this truly abnoi-mal situation,
containing both very bad and very good elements, perhaps,
terminate favourably, making of the Argentine people not
merely a rich, but also a great nation ? Will the develop-
ment of public aff'airs, left so far to the hazard of politics,
even reach the plane of our economic development? Will
the Argentine nation eliminate, under the pressure of material


progress, the leaven of anarchy left behind by a century of
civil dissension ? This is the secret of the future ; this is the
great achievement which remains to be accomplished in
order to consolidate the present prosperity of the country.

In short, we must not lose sight of the fact that this
prosperity has hitherto been less the work of man than of
nature, which has been prodigal of her gifts to this fortunate
land. This is a thought which has been expressed in a
speech in the Argentine Senate, in which Senator Uriburu
shows that Providence is always coming to the rescue by
repairing the fault of the State.

" It is Providence," he says, " which so opportunely sends
us the rains to water our lands and to raise our marvellous
crops; it is Providence that has given us the greatest
Minister of Finance we Have ever known, our fertile soil and
our clear sky; the supreme Minister who looks after all our
needs, who saves us from all difficulties, and who, despite
our errors, continues to ensure the greatness of the Republic.
Let man appropriate his work, but let him render unto Caesar
that which is Caesar's."

And now if by some impossibility the situation were to
change : if in spite of the enormous extension of cultivated
Aands a period of bad harvests were to follow the present
/ period of fat cattle : would there not be reason to fear that the
whole national edifice, founded as it is on prosperity, might
become disintegrated, and crumble under the stroke of
adversity ? This is the peril we must indeed seek to avoid ;
it is for this reason that the intervention of a strong power
seems necessary, in order to restrain the germs of evil brought
by so many races, and to prevent the Argentine from falling
back into the state of anarchy and revolution which for her
is only a distant memory.

Taking even a more elevated standpoint, we may add
that in order to amalgamate all the elements of immigration
and to attach them to the country, through good and evil
fortune, we need another solvent than personal interest or
profit. To create a people it may suffice to give it a body,
but to make it live it must also be given a soul, at whose
breath the collectivity of individuals will be transformed
into that moral unity which we call the nation. This is


a question of prime importauce in a country such as the
Argentine, where the struggle for existence has taken a
particularly keen form, which scarcely favours the develop-
ment of disinterested sentiments.

It is for the State to develop among its people this'^''^
national idea, and to turn all individual efforts to its profit.
Its duty is to raise its authority above the medley of interest,
to restrain ambition within a just limit by the influence of
moral and patriotic ideas, and so to ensure the reign of
justice and social peace, without which national prosperity
will never be more than ephemeral.

In imagining, from this aspect, the formation of a
nationality, we have no intention of criticising the country ;
still less do we deny the process of evolution which has
gradually transformed its organis'ation. A nation is not
created in a day, especially when it is a question of a country
so young as the Argentine, which in less than a century has
issued from the struggle for independence, and even to-day
has hardly rid itself of the revolutionary spirit.

For a nation to become self-conscious, centuries must pass ;
traditions must be formed, and the great moral or intellectual
forces of humanity — religion, science, literature, even poetry
— must develop the sense of a collective life other than
the life of business. And hitherto the Argentine has had
no time to produce generations of thinkers, philosophers,
and historians ; still less poets. The most it has are
statisticians, who give it the precise figures of her com-
mercial balance.

We do not doubt, however, that, thanks to material
progress, this slow elaboration of a new race will eventually
be completed. In the first phase of her existence as a nation
Argentina, according to the spirit of her Constitution,
fraternally opened her doors to all who wished to inhabit
her soil. No restriction was placed upon the entry nor on
the permanent immigration of foreigners ; on the contrary,
legislation and social customs combined to favour immigra-
tion. The result is, that the new arrivals have regarded
themselves as alien, in matters of economics and politics, to
the nationality with which they have become incorporated ;
believing that their mission consisted solely in creating and


circulating wealth, while regarding the solution of the great
national problems with indifference.
\ But to-day the Argentine has entered upon a new phase ;
it must no longer merely receive, it must also incorporate
all these elements of immigration, and, without awakening
antagonism towards the foreigner, it must set to work to
absorb him into the soul of the nation.

This faculty of assimilation is a virtue of the American
soil. The United States have proved as much for North
America, and it now remains for the Argentine to do the
same for South America. The new generation of immigrants,
having struck root into its hospitable soil, must live
completely in the national life, absorbing those feelings
of patriotism which animate the new citizen of the United

To give expression to these loyalist tendencies, we will
confine ourselves to quoting the memorable words which
were spoken in the Congress of Wisconsin, by an American
congressman, born in Germany, the Hon. Richard Glinther;
words which were equally applauded and approved in Latin
America. We shall perceive, through the very exaltation of
his phrases, what unreserved devotion a naturalised foreigner
may bring to his new country :

" We know as well as any other class of American citizens
where our duty lies. We labour for our country in times
of peace, and we shall fight for her in time of war, if ever
such time arrive. When I say our country, I naturally
mean our country of adoption, the United States of America.
After passing through the alembic of naturalisation we are
no longer Germans ; we are Americans. Our attachment to
America cannot be measured b}^ the length of our residence
here. We are Americans from the moment when we reach
the American shore, until the day when we are laid to rest
in an American grave."





Climatb — Soil — Geographical situation of the Argentine ; its boundarioB,
its area.

Climate of various districts. The prevailing winds. Nature of the soil ; its
fertility; adaptation to the oulture of cereals and the raising of live-
stock — Transformation of virgin into fertile land —The Pampa — The
cultivable area — Conditions favourable to production — The plagues of

Rivers — Their exceptionally favourable influence — The hydrographic system —
Network of navigable river-ways : the Rio de la Plata, the Rio Parana —
Conditions of navigability — Canals.

Ports — List of the principal ports, with a summary of their trade — Buenos
Ayres: description of the port, its area, its capacity, tonnage ; its docks —
The Central Produce Market — Importance of Buenos Ayres in comparison
with the great ports of the world — The port of La Plata — The port of
Rosario ; increase of its traffic ; construction of the new harbour
conceded to a French company — Bahia Blanca ; its development — The
decentralisation of traffic.

THE Argentine Republic occupies the southern extremity
of South America and runs from north to south from
21° 30' to 54° 52' of south latitude ; or 33° in a meridian
line. From east to west it occupies a width of 20°, between
54° and 74° of longitude.

Its territory is bounded to the north by Bolivia and
Paraguay; to the east by Brazil and Uruguay; to the
west by Chili. Its boundaries by land are 2980 miles in
extent on the west ; 993 miles on the north ; the river
boundaries on the east are 745 miles in length. Finally, the
shores of the estuary of the Rio de la Plata and the Atlantic
form a stretch of 1614 miles; all of which represents a
total boundary-line of about 6334 miles.

The superficial area of the Republic has not hitherto
been calculated on the basis of a geodesical survey ; it has
been arrived at only by calculation from charts which are
more or less approximate. According to the estimates most
worthy of credence, and allowing for the latest rectifications


of the frontier, its present area is equivalent to 11,328,321
square miles. This is about six times the area of France,
which contains only 203,905 square miles. The Province
of Buenos Ayres alone is more than half as large as France.

The seasons in the Argentine, compared to those of the
northern hemisphere, are of course reversed. The summer
corresponds to December, January, and February ; the
autumn to March, April, and May ; the winter to June, July
and August ; and the spring to September, October, and

In the matter of climate, the Argentine may be divided
into three regions; those of the coast, the centre, and the

The coastal region comprises the Provinces of Buenos Ayres,
Santa F^, Entre Rios, and Corrientes. The average annual
temperature is about 66*2° Fahr. ; at Buenos Ayres it is only
62'6°. The average summer temperature is about 77°, that of
the autumn 64*4° ; of the winter, 53"6°, and of the spring,
62*6°. The hottest month is January, when the average is
77°; the coldest is July, with an average of 51 "8°.

In this coastal region the extremes of temperature
are 1076° in summer and 41° in the winter; but these
temperatures are both exceptional. However, a temperature
of 95° is very usual on summer afternoons. It is a very
unusual thing for the mercury to fall below freezing-point
in winter or to remain there. Snow is also a very rare
phenomenon, only to be seen perhaps once in five years.

A peculiarity of the Argentine climate in general is that
the temperature will change very rapidly during the day, or
even during a few hours ; the change representing sometimes
a difference of more than 36°, especially in the spring, which
is the most usual season for these rapid variations.

The climate of the coast region — that is, of a country con-
sisting almost entirely of plains — is, in general, influenced by
the winds, which blow in gales at all seasons. Northerly
and southerly gales are the most common ; the first especi-
ally are very frequent. In Buenos Ayres one finds, during
the summer, an alternation of sea and land breezes ; the one
during the day, the other during the night.

The northerly winds are always hot and even suflTocat-


ing ; they influence the nervous system, afflictinrj some people
with neuralgic troubles. When these winds blow, the air is
charged with electricity, until, the tension of the atmosphere
having grown insupportable, a tempest comes to restore the
equilibrium, to give place to another wind, coming from the
south-west, and known as the pampero. This wind does not
often last long, but it attains a velocity equal to that of a
full hurricane. The pampero, so called because it is formed
in the region of the pampas, is a wind full of ozone, and as
such plays its part in disinfecting the vitiated air of the urban
centres. But the effects of the pampero, and especially of the
south-westerly winds, on the Rio de la Plata, where they
produce a violent swell, are sometimes terrible.

As for the rain, there is no regularity in its fall ; which
naturally tends to render the results of culture and of cattle-
breeding variable. Rains are more frequent in summer and
autumn than at other times ; while the least rainfall is that
of winter. At Buenos Ayres it is rare for a month to pass
without rain, which is often torrential, and accompanied by

The climate of the central region, if we except the moun-
tainous portions of the Provinces of San Luis and Cordoba, is
distinguished from the seaboard region by its greater dryness
and its sudden variations of temperature. In the plain the
summers are very hot, and it is not uncommon to see the
thermometer at 104° ; while during the winter there are very
hard frosts. As on the coast, northerly and southerly winds
are the most frequent. Rain is rarer than on the coast, and
falls almost exclusively in summer and in autumn : with
rare exceptions the winter is perfectly dry.

In the Andean region the climate varies according to the
height above sea-level, but is always characterised b}^ sudden
variations in the daily temperature, and by excessive dry-
ness. On the eastern slope of the Andes and the plateaux of
the north it never rains. These regions are c(jntinually
swept by furious winds, which make agriculture impossible.
To the intense heat of the day succeeds the cold of the night,
with differences of temperature that sometimes amount to
68° in twenty -four hours.

The climate of the Argentine, with a few exceptions, has


the reputation of being extremely healthy, on account of the
sudden changes of temperature and the dryness of the air
predominant over the greater part of the country. These
atmospheric conditions are, to be sure, not favourable to
affections of the lungs ; but, on the other hand, they contribute
to prevent epidemics. We find that among adults and adoles-
cents the figures of mortality are no higher than the average
figures for the healthiest countries in the world. The
statistics drawn up by the City of Buenos Ayres even show
that foreigners have a longer expectation of life than the
indigenous population.

In matters of climate one must be careful not to become
confused, as so many Europeans do, between our Argentine
Republic and the neighbouring country of Brazil, which is
nearer the equatorial zone. Favourable to human health,
the Argentine climate is also, as we shall see, particularly
favourable to most kinds of agriculture and to the breeding
of cattle ; from this point of view it is a privileged land,
which calls only for labour to become productive.

For a greater part of its area the Argentine soil unites
the geological and climatic conditions favourable to the pro-
duction of cereals and for stock-raising. It is in the fertility
of the cultivated lands and the richness of the pastures that
the whole economic value of the country resides.

According to recent investigations by competent persons,
the surface of the Argentine is largely composed of sandy
soil ; but a sandy loam is often found, also, more rarely, a
gravelly clay ; but there is very little actual clay. Other
soils, such as absorbent calcareous earth, are not often found.
In the subsoil a sandy clay abounds, the occurrence of clay
and calcareous earths being greater in the subsoil than in the

From the chemical point of view, the high percentage of
potash — which remains practically undiminished — long ago
attracted the attention of the agronomist. Phosphoric acid
is also found, though in less proportions. Lime is often
found in small quantities in the best soils in those districts
most devoted to agriculture ; and nitrogen is often abundant,
except in the southern region of the Republic, and in
some parts of the western region, where the rains are less


frequeut, the winds violent, and the vegetation poor and

(Saltish soils are of frequent occurrence in the west and
south, but in general the salt is not in sufficient proportions
to hinder agriculture, especially when suitable means of
culture are employed.

Soils of great fertility are found in the central and
southern regions, and occupy vast areas in the Provinces of
Buenos Ayres and Santa Fe, and in parts of Cordoba and
Entre Rios. " There are areas which are apparently of poor
fertility," says M. Charles Girola, from whom we derive these
data, " which yield magnificent crops, thanks to irrigation or
a better distribution of the water supply ; especially in the
west and the south." *

But in the Argentine Republic experience has shown that
there is scarcely any soil which is not capable of profitable
use, either for agriculture or stock-raising. It is very
frequently remarked that lands which for a long time had
been regarded as poor and almost sterile, unfit for exploita-
tion, are to-day converted into admirable natural or artificial
prairies, feeding numerous herds of sheep or cattle ; or have
more often been cleared by the colonist, and are now yielding
excellent crops. This wonderful transformation is chiefly
due to the pasturing of flocks and herds, which break up and
enrich the soil ; also to the fertilising organic matter contained
in the turf ; and finally to the addition of innumerable
dead insects, which are brought by the wind and form a
deposit on the soil, which acts as a kind of natural manure.

These favourable conditions of fertility are all united in
the region known as the Pampa, which occupies the greater
part of the temperate zone of the country. It consists of
immense and virgin plains, which stretch to the horizon
•almost without landmarks or changes of level, and offer
admirable opportunities both for agriculture and stock-

Nearly all those Argentine lands which to-day bring
fabulous prices were referred to, at an earlier period, as

* Invcstif/aci'jn ayricoJa en la RqnlhUca Argentina, by Charles Girola,
Agronomic Engineer, Head of the Agronomic Bureau in the Ministry of
Agriculture. (1004).


" lands good for nothing." For this reason a considerable
premium should be put on the theoretical estimate, made a
priori, of the areas suitable for advantageous cultivation, in
proportion as human labour works its transformation.

It is difficult to estimate, except in the most approximate
manner, the cultivable area of the Argentine. It should
be not less than half the total area, or, in round figures, 370
millions of acres. Of this estimate at least two-thirds
represents land suitable for stock-raising, leaving available
for the production of cereals about 122 millions of
acres; of which, at the present time, only a fifth part is
under cultivation. We may see, by this simple comparison
between the future and the present, that agriculture has still
a great future before it and a large margin of development.

To give a true idea of this power of production, it is enough
to recall, with M. Emile Daireaux, who has described the
great farms of the Argentine pampa, that the plough, under
the most favourable of climates, meets no obstacles in the
way o"f hills or forests ; not a tree, not a rock, not even a
pebble in the soil. All European crops give there aji
abundant harvest, without expenditure upon manure, with-
out shelter for the stock ; the colonist may even content
himself with a modest wattled hut, protecting him from the
mid-day sun or the cold breeze of the night. The soil is
everywhere friable ; no painful struggles retard the speed of
the plough, which traces at one stretch a furrow miles in
length without turning the ploughshare. The plough is drawn ,
by four horses, reared at hazard in the open air, knowing no

Online LibraryAlberto B MartínezThe Argentine in the twentieth century [microform] → online text (page 6 of 33)