Effective family research requires some understanding of the historical events that may have affected your family and the records about them. Learning about wars, governments, laws, migrations, and religious trends may help you understand political boundaries, family movements, and settlement patterns. These events may have led to the creation of records such as land and military documents that mention your family.
Your ancestors will become more interesting to you as you use histories to learn about the events in which they may have participated. For example, by using a history you might learn about the events that occurred in the year your greatgrandparents were married.
Few Indian tribes occupied what is now known as Argentina when the conquerors came into the region. Most of the farming communities that these indians established were in the highlands of the northwest and the tropical forests of the northeast. Some roaming indians were in the regions of Pampa and Patagonia.
The Spanish explorer Juan Díaz de Solís was the first to reach Argentine soil in the area of Rio de la Plata. The first permanent settlements in Argentina came during the mid–1500s from the west as colonists, coming over the Andes Mountains from Peru, settled Santiago del Estero, Tucumán, and other northwestern mountain towns. As Argentina did not have the silver and gold the Spaniards were seeking, Buenos Aires (which had been settled in 1580) and other coastal towns grew much slower than their counterparts in the northwestern mountains. The Spanish government had limited trade through Buenos Aires for many years, but when the Portuguese settlers established a trading post on the banks of the Rio de La Plata in 1680, the Spaniards begin to encourage the growth of Buenos Aires in order to protect their colony.
In 1776, Spain created one large colony in the southeastern part of South American and named it Viceroyalty of La Plata (Virreinato del Rio de la Plata). It consisted of what are now Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and parts of Bolivia, Brazil, and Chile. Buenos Aires became the capital of the vice-royalty and began to thrive as a trade center.
By this time many of the Indians had either died by sickness or were killed by Europeans. Some Indians intermarried with the Europeans. Indians in the south kept control of the Patagonia province and most of the Pampa province.
The early 1800s was a period of independence for South America. Countries were in the process of declaring or fighting for independence from Spain.
The people of Buenos Aires had been able to fight off the British attempt to seize Buenos Aires in 1806–7 without the help of the Spanish army. This and the fact that Spain was busy fighting the France encouraged Argentina to form an independent government for the viceroyalty of La Plata in 1810. Provinces outside of Argentina opposed this action and eventually broke away.
Argentina declared independence at the Congress of Tucumán on July 9, 1816. The new country became known as the United Provinces of La Plata (Provincias Unidas del Rio de la Plata).
The beginning for the Argentine government was rocky. Residents of Buenos Aires wanted a strong central government while the large rural landowners outside of Buenos Aires area wanted more local authority. From 1829 to 1852, Juan Manuel de Rosas, a landowner from the rich land area of the pampa (extensive plain in central East Argentina) of the Buenos Aires province, ruled as a dictator. After another period of unrest the country was first united under President Bartolomé Mitre in 1862 and named Argentina with the nation’s capital established at Buenos Aires. Both President Mitre and his successor President Sarmiento tried to attract European immigrants. By the late 1800s, the Buenos Aires province had become the heart of Argentina, having been settled by many European farmers.
The reform movements started in the late 1800s.
Argentina’s economy flourished and immigrants and foreign investment poured into the country.
During the first half of the 1900s immigrants kept coming to Argentina. Today over 85% of the Argentines live in cities and towns. Most Argentines have Spanish or Italian ancestry, speak Spanish, and are Roman Catholics.