Argentina, the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world, known locally as "The Land of the Six Continents" for its geographic and climatic diversity, has a long and fascinating history and is a major economic and political power in South America.
The capital city, Buenos Aires, famous for its 47 historically and culturally distinctive neighborhoods such as La Boca and La Recoleta, is arguably the most cosmopolitan city on the continent, largely as a result of a wave of European immigration in the early 20th century. Almost half of the population of 36 million Argentines are said to live in Greater Buenos Aires and its province. Even so, the city is renowned for its parks and squares, which give it a sense of spaciousness. A major economic and political center, it is also a lively and cultured city with a European feel. Tango was, of course, invented here and is today a virtual obsession; that and a wide variety of other musical styles are at the very core of the local, "porteño" culture along with the "gaucho" heritage of freedom and independence. Yet, Buenos Aires is also home to innumerable art galleries, some 100 museums, countless historical and architectural monuments (including art deco), a cemetery that rivals Paris' Père Lachaise, over 90 theaters, classical music groups and orchestras, ballet, and opera (the Colón Theater is ranked among the top three in the world), while the ubiquitous sidewalk cafés offer unparalleled opportunities for people-watching.
One of the oldest, largest (over 200,000 students), and most prestigious public institutions in Latin America, the Universidad de Buenos Aires' history of social activism and political opposition during the era of dictatorship resulted in a decline from which it is now emerging. Students enroll in the faculty of social sciences (FSOC: ciencias sociales). While UBA is a typical large urban university, coursework is nonetheless widely regarded as among the most demanding available; students are highly motivated and socially involved; and many courses are equivalent to two U.S. college courses.