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  Battle Atlas of the Falklands War 1982

ARGENTINE INVASION & BRITISH RESPONSE (Parts 1-6)

Part 2. ARGENTINA

Argentine Air Force Hercules C-130

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This huge country occupies most of the southern part of South America, and stretches a total of 2,300 miles from Bolivia in the north to near Cape Horn far away to the south. Just smaller than India and the eighth largest country in the world, Argentina totals 1,080,000 square miles. To the west, bordering the length of Chile are the Andes Mountains and to the east, down to the Atlantic are the great plains and pampas. Climate ranges from sub-tropical to cold temperate.

Population and Economy - Out of a 1980 population of 27,900,000, nearly 10 million lived in and around the seaport capital of Buenos Aires on the River Plate estuary. The great majority of the people are of European origin, mainly from Spain and Italy and the native Indian population is small. Language is Spanish, the main religion Roman Catholic and much of the country's culture is European Mediterranean in character. Agriculture and livestock have long been an important part of the country's economy, and the meat-packing and food processing industries reflected this. Apart from oil and mineral production, there had been a considerable growth in recent years in the textile, plastics, machine tool, car and steel product industries. Exports to Britain in 1980 were worth 144 million, and imports 173 million.

Communications by rail, road and airline, and through the medium of television and radio were well developed, and education compulsory from 6 to 13, with secondary education up to 17 plus in most of the big cities and towns. Literature flourished, and around 450 newspapers were published throughout the country.

History - The Spanish first went ashore in what was to become Argentina in 1515. Following three centuries of colonisation, a six year long struggle led by General Jose de San Martin brought independence in 1816. Then a long period of dictatorship by Juan de Rosas was ended in 1852, Buenos Aires became the seat of federal government, and the country developed rapidly. The military took over in 1930, Juan Peron was later elected president in 1945 with the strong support of his wife Evita who died in 1952, and he was then ousted three years later. Political and economic instability over the next eighteen years led to Peron being recalled from exile and becoming president again in 1973, but he died within a year.

Further difficulties brought about a bloodless military coup in 1976 along with repressive and often brutal government by a junta composed of the commanders of the armed forces. Lieutenant General Videla served as the first president for the five years until 1981, but after a few months, his successor Viola was moved out and replaced in December by Army General Leopoldo Galtieri, with the support of the other members, Air Force Brigadier General Basilio Lami Dozo and Admiral Jorge Anaya.

As the 150th anniversary of British control over the Falkland Islands neared, the junta gave priority to the recovery of the Islas Malvinas, if necessary by force.

Argentina would thus resolve what to them was a major and long-standing territorial dispute, but to Britain a distant and almost forgotten remnant of empire.

 
 

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revised 31/5/13