The city of Buenos Aires is neither part of Buenos Aires Province nor the Province's capital; rather, it is an autonomous district. In 1880, after decades of political infighting, Buenos Aires was federalized and removed from Buenos Aires Province. The city limits were enlarged to include the towns of Belgrano and Flores; both are now neighborhoods of the city. The 1994 constitutional amendment granted the city autonomy, hence its formal name: Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires. Its citizens first elected a chief of government in 1996; previously, the mayor was directly appointed by the President of the Republic.
Buenos Aires is considered an 'alpha city' by the study GaWC5. Buenos Aires' quality of life was ranked 81st in the world and one of the best in Latin America in 2012, with its per capita income among the three highest in the region. It is the most visited city in South America, and the second-most visited city of Latin America.
Buenos Aires is a top tourist destination, and is known for its preserved Spanish/European-style architecture and rich cultural life. Buenos Aires held the 1st Pan American Games in 1951 as well as hosting two venues in the 1978 FIFA World Cup. Buenos Aires will host the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics and the 2018 G20 summit.
Buenos Aires is a multicultural city, being home to multiple ethnic and religious groups. Several languages are spoken in the city in addition to Spanish, contributing to its culture and the dialect spoken in the city and in some other parts of the country. This is because in the last 150 years the city, and the country in general, has been a major recipient of millions of immigrants from all over the world, making it a melting pot where several ethnic groups live together and being considered as one of the most diverse cities of Latin America.
It is recorded under the archives of Aragonese that Catalan missionaries and Jesuits arriving in Cagliari (Sardinia) under the Spanish Crown, after its capture from the Pisans in 1324 established their headquarters on top of a hill that overlooked the city. The hill was known to them as Buen Ayre (or "Bonaria" in Sardinian language), as it was free of the foul smell prevalent in the old city (the castle area), which is adjacent to swampland. During the siege of Cagliari, the Aragonese built a sanctuary to the Virgin Mary on top of the hill. In 1335, King Alfonso the Gentle donated the church to the Mercedarians, who built an abbey that stands to this day. In the years after that, a story circulated, claiming that a statue of the Virgin Mary was retrieved from the sea after it miraculously helped to calm a storm in the Mediterranean Sea. The statue was placed in the abbey. Spanish sailors, especially Andalusians, venerated this image and frequently invoked the "Fair Winds" to aid them in their navigation and prevent shipwrecks. A sanctuary to the Virgin of Buen Ayre would be later erected in Seville.
In the first foundation of Buenos Aires, Spanish sailors arrived thankfully in the River de la Plata by the blessings of the "Santa Maria de los Buenos Aires", the "Holy Virgin Mary of the Good Winds" who was said to have given them the good winds to reach the coast of what is today the modern city of Buenos Aires. Pedro de Mendoza called the city "Holy Mary of the Fair Winds", a name suggested by the chaplain of Mendoza's expedition – a devotee of the Virgin of Buen Ayre – after the Sardinian "Madonna de Bonaria" (that is still to this day the patroness of Sardinia). Mendoza’s settlement soon came under attack by indigenous people, and was abandoned in 1541.
For many years, the name was attributed to a Sancho del Campo, who is said to have exclaimed: How fair are the winds of this land!, as he arrived. But Eduardo Madero, in 1882 after conducting extensive research in Spanish archives, ultimately concluded that the name was indeed closely linked with the devotion of the sailors to Our Lady of Buen Ayre.
A second (and permanent) settlement was established in 1580 by Juan de Garay, who sailed down the Paraná River from Asunción (now the capital of Paraguay). Garay preserved the name originally chosen by Mendoza, calling the city Ciudad de la Santísima Trinidad y Puerto de Santa María del Buen Aire ("City of the Most Holy Trinity and Port of Saint Mary of the Fair Winds"). The short form "Buenos Aires" became the common usage during the 17th century.
The usual abbreviation for Buenos Aires in Spanish is Bs.As. It is common as well to refer to it as "B.A." or "BA" / ).
While "BA" is used more by expats residing in the city, the locals more often use the abbreviation "Baires", in one word.
Seaman Juan Díaz de Solís, navigating in the name of Spain, was the first European to reach the Río de la Plata in 1516. His expedition was cut short when he was killed during an attack by the native Charrúa tribe in what is now Uruguay.
The city of Buenos Aires was first established as Ciudad de Nuestra Señora Santa María del Buen Ayre (literally "City of Our Lady Saint Mary of the Fair Winds") after Our Lady of Bonaria (Patroness Saint of Sardinia) on 2 February 1536 by a Spanish expedition led by Pedro de Mendoza. The settlement founded by Mendoza was located in what is today the San Telmo district of Buenos Aires, south of the city centre.
More attacks by the indigenous people forced the settlers away, and in 1542 the site was abandoned. A second (and permanent) settlement was established on 11 June 1580 by Juan de Garay, who arrived by sailing down the Paraná River from Asunción (now the capital of Paraguay). He dubbed the settlement "Santísima Trinidad" and its port became "Puerto de Santa María de los Buenos Aires."
From its earliest days, Buenos Aires depended primarily on trade. During most of the 17th century, Spanish ships were menaced by pirates, so they developed a complex system where ships with military protection were dispatched to Central America in a convoy from Seville the only port allowed to trade with the colonies, to Lima, Peru and from it to the inner cities of the viceroyalty. Because of this, products took a very long time to arrive in Buenos Aires, and the taxes generated by the transport made them prohibitive. This scheme frustrated the traders of Buenos Aires, and a thriving informal yet accepted by the authorities contraband industry developed inside the colonies and with the Portuguese. This also instilled a deep resentment among porteños towards the Spanish authorities.
Sensing these feelings, Charles III of Spain progressively eased the trade restrictions and finally declared Buenos Aires an open port in the late 18th century. The capture of Porto Bello by British forces also fueled the need to foster commerce via the Atlantic route, to the detriment of Lima-based trade. One of his rulings was to split a region from the Viceroyalty of Perú and create instead the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, with Buenos Aires as the capital. However, Charles's placating actions did not have the desired effect, and the porteños, some of them versed in the ideology of the French Revolution, became even more convinced of the need for independence from Spain.
During the British invasions of the Río de la Plata, British forces attacked Buenos Aires twice. In 1806 the British successfully invaded Buenos Aires, but an army from Montevideo led by Santiago de Liniers defeated them. In the brief period of British rule, the viceroy Rafael Sobremonte managed to escape to Córdoba and designated this city as capital. Buenos Aires became the capital again after its liberation, but Sobremonte could not resume his duties as viceroy. Santiago de Liniers, chosen as new viceroy, prepared the city against a possible new British attack and repelled the attempted invasion of 1807. The militarization generated in society changed the balance of power favorably for the criollos (in contrast to peninsulars), as well as the development of the Peninsular War in Spain. An attempt by the peninsular merchant Martín de Álzaga to remove Liniers and replace him with a Junta was defeated by the criollo armies. However, by 1810 it would be those same armies who would support a new revolutionary attempt, successfully removing the new viceroy Baltasar Hidalgo de Cisneros. This is known as the May Revolution, which is now celebrated as a national holiday. This event started the Argentine War of Independence, and many armies left Buenos Aires to fight the diverse strongholds of royalist resistance, with varying levels of success. The government was held first by two Juntas of many members, then by two triumvirates, and finally by a unipersonal office, the Supreme Director. Formal independence from Spain was declared in 1816, at the Congress of Tucumán. Buenos Aires managed to endure the whole Spanish American wars of independence without falling again under royalist rule.
Historically, Buenos Aires has been Argentina's main venue of liberal, free-trading and foreign ideas, while many of the provinces, especially those to the north-west, advocated a more nationalistic and Catholic approach to political and social issues. Much of the internal tension in Argentina's history, starting with the centralist-federalist conflicts of the 19th century, can be traced back to these contrasting views. In the months immediately following the 25 May Revolution, Buenos Aires sent a number of military envoys to the provinces with the intention of obtaining their approval. Many of these missions ended in violent clashes, and the enterprise fuelled tensions between the capital and the provinces.
In the 19th century the city was blockaded twice by naval forces: by the French from 1838 to 1840, and later by an Anglo-French expedition from 1845 to 1848. Both blockades failed to force the city into submission, and the foreign powers eventually desisted from their demands.
During most of the 19th century, the political status of the city remained a sensitive subject. It was already the capital of Buenos Aires Province, and between 1853 and 1860 it was the capital of the seceded State of Buenos Aires. The issue was fought out more than once on the battlefield, until the matter was finally settled in 1880 when the city was federalized and became the seat of government, with its mayor appointed by the president. The Casa Rosada became the seat of the president.
Health conditions in poor areas were negative, with high rates of tuberculosis. Public-health physicians and politicians typically blamed both the poor themselves and their ramshackle tenement houses (conventillos) for the spread of the dreaded disease. People ignored public-health campaigns to limit the spread of contagious diseases, such as the prohibition of spitting on the streets, the strict guidelines to care for infants and young children, and quarantines that separated families from ill loved ones.
In addition to the wealth generated by the Buenos Aires Customs and the fertile pampas, railroad development in the second half of the 19th century increased the economic power of Buenos Aires as raw materials flowed into its factories. A leading destination for immigrants from Europe, particularly Italy and Spain, from 1880 to 1930 Buenos Aires became a multicultural city that ranked itself with the major European capitals. The Colón Theater became one of the world's top opera venues, and the city became the regional capital of radio, television, cinema, and theatre. The city's main avenues were built during those years, and the dawn of the 20th century saw the construction of South America's then-tallest buildings and its first underground system. A second construction boom, from 1945 to 1980, reshaped downtown and much of the city.
Buenos Aires also attracted migrants from Argentina's provinces and neighboring countries. Shanty towns (villas miseria) started growing around the city's industrial areas during the 1930s, leading to pervasive social problems and social contrasts with the largely upwardly-mobile Buenos Aires population. These laborers became the political base of Peronism, which emerged in Buenos Aires during the pivotal demonstration of 17 October 1945, at the Plaza de Mayo. Industrial workers of the Greater Buenos Aires industrial belt have been Peronism's main support base ever since, and Plaza de Mayo became the site for demonstrations and many of the country's political events; on 16 June 1955, however, a splinter faction of the Navy bombed the Plaza de Mayo area, killing 364 civilians (see Bombing of Plaza de Mayo). This was the only time the city was attacked from the air, and the event was followed by a military uprising which deposed President Perón, three months later (see Revolución Libertadora).
In the 1970s the city suffered from the fighting between left-wing revolutionary movements (Montoneros, E.R.P. and F.A.R.) and the right-wing paramilitary group Triple A, supported by Isabel Perón, who became president of Argentina in 1974 after Juan Perón's death.
The March 1976 coup, led by General Jorge Videla, only escalated this conflict; the "Dirty War" resulted in 30,000 desaparecidos (people kidnapped and killed by the military during the years of the junta). The silent marches of their mothers (Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo) are a well-known image of Argentines' suffering during those times. The dictatorship's appointed mayor, Osvaldo Cacciatore, also drew up plans for a network of freeways intended to relieve the city's acute traffic gridlock. The plan, however, called for a seemingly indiscriminate razing of residential areas and, though only three of the eight planned were put up at the time, they were mostly obtrusive raised freeways that continue to blight a number of formerly comfortable neighborhoods to this day.
The city was visited by Pope John Paul II twice, firstly in 1982 and again in 1987; on these occasions gathered some of the largest crowds in the city's history. The return of democracy in 1983 coincided with a cultural revival, and the 1990s saw an economic revival, particularly in the construction and financial sectors.
On 17 March 1992 a bomb exploded in the Israeli Embassy, killing 29 and injuring 242. Another explosion, on 18 July 1994, destroyed a building housing several Jewish organizations, killing 85 and injuring many more, these incidents marked the beginning of Middle Eastern terrorism to South America. Following a 1993 agreement, the Argentine Constitution was amended to give Buenos Aires autonomy and rescinding, among other things, the president's right to appoint the city's mayor (as had been the case since 1880). On 30 June 1996, voters in Buenos Aires chose their first elected mayor (Jefe de Gobierno).
In 1996, following the 1994 reform of the Argentine Constitution, the city held its first mayoral elections under the new statutes, with the mayor's title formally changed to "Head of Government". The winner was Fernando de la Rúa, who would later become President of Argentina from 1999 to 2001.
De la Rúa's successor, Aníbal Ibarra, won two popular elections, but was impeached (and ultimately deposed on 6 March 2006) as a result of the fire at the República Cromagnon nightclub. Jorge Telerman, who had been the acting mayor, was invested with the office. In the 2007 elections, Mauricio Macri of the Republican Proposal (PRO) party won the second-round of voting over Daniel Filmus of the Frente para la Victoria (FPV) party, taking office on 9 December 2007. In 2011, the elections went to a second round with 60.96% of the vote for PRO, compared to 39.04% for FPV, thus re-electing Macri as mayor of the city with María Eugenia Vidal as deputy mayor.
The 2015 elections were the first to use an electronic voting system in the city, similar to the one used in Salta Province. In these elections held on 5 July 2015, Macri stepped down as mayor and pursue his presidential bid and Horacio Rodríguez Larreta took his place as the mayoral candidate for PRO. In the first round of voting, FPV's Mariano Recalde obtained 21.78% of the vote, while Martín Lousteau of the ECO party obtained 25.59% and Larreta obtained 45.55%, meaning that the elections went to a second round since PRO was unable to secure the majority required for victory. The second round was held on 19 July 2015 and Larreta obtained 51.6% of the vote, followed closely by Lousteau with 48.4%, thus, PRO won the elections for a third term with Larreta as mayor and Diego Santilli as deputy. In these elections, PRO was stronger in the wealthier neighbourhoods of northern Buenos Aires, while ECO was stronger in the south of the city.
The city of Buenos Aires lies in the pampa region, except for some zones like the Buenos Aires Ecological Reserve, the Boca Juniors (football) Club "sports city", Jorge Newbery Airport, the Puerto Madero neighborhood and the main port itself; these were all built on reclaimed land along the coasts of the Rio de la Plata (the world's widest river).
The region was formerly crossed by different streams and lagoons, some of which were refilled and others tubed. Among the most important streams are Maldonado, Vega, Medrano, Cildañez and White. In 1908 many streams were channelled and rectified, as floods were damaging the city's infrastructure. Starting in 1919, most streams were enclosed. Notably, the Maldonado was tubed in 1954, and runs below Juan B. Justo Avenue.
Under Köppen climate classification, Buenos Aires has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa) with four distinct seasons. As a result of maritime influences from the adjoining Atlantic Ocean, the climate is temperate with extreme temperatures being rare. Because the city is located in an area where the Pampero and Sudestada winds pass by, the weather is variable due to these contrasting air masses.
Summers are hot and humid. The warmest month is January, with a daily average of 24.9 °C (76.8 °F). Heat waves are common during summers. However, most heat waves are of short duration (less than a week) and are followed by the passage of the cold, dry Pampero wind which brings violent and intense thunderstorms followed by cooler temperatures. The highest temperature ever recorded was 43.3 °C (110 °F) on 29 January 1957.
Winters are cold with mild temperatures during the day and cold nights. Highs during the season average 16.3 °C (61.3 °F) while lows average 8.1 °C (46.6 °F). Relative humidity averages in the upper 70s%, which means the city is noted for moderate-to-heavy fogs during autumn and winter. July is the coolest month, with an average temperature of 11.0 °C (51.8 °F). Cold spells originating from Antarctica occur almost every year, and can persist for several days. Occasionally, warm air masses from the north bring warmer temperatures. The lowest temperature ever recorded in central Buenos Aires (Buenos Aires Central Observatory) was −5.4 °C (22 °F) on 9 July 1918. Snow is very rare in the city: the last snowfall occurred on 9 July 2007 when, during the coldest winter in Argentina in almost 30 years, severe snowfalls and blizzards hit the country. It was the first major snowfall in the city in 89 years.
Spring and autumn are characterized by changeable weather conditions. Cold air from the south can bring cooler temperatures while hot humid air from the north bring hot temperatures.
The city receives 1,236.3 mm (49 in) of precipitation per year. Because of its geomorphology along with an inadequate drainage network, the city is highly vulnerable to flooding during periods of heavy rainfall.
The Executive is held by the Chief of Government (Spanish: Jefe de Gobierno), elected for a four-year term together with a Deputy Chief of Government, who presides over the 60-member Buenos Aires City Legislature. Each member of the Legislature is elected for a four-year term; half of the legislature is renewed every two years. Elections use the D'Hondt method of proportional representation. The Judicial branch is composed of the Supreme Court of Justice (Tribunal Superior de Justicia), the Magistrate's Council (Consejo de la Magistratura), the Public Ministry, and other City Courts. Article 61 of the 1996 Constitution of the City of Buenos Aires states that "Suffrage is free, equal, secret, universal, compulsory and non-accumulative. Resident aliens enjoy this same right, with its corresponding obligations, on equal terms with Argentine citizens registered in the district, under the terms established by law."
Legally, the city has less autonomy than the Provinces. In June 1996, shortly before the City's first Executive elections were held, the Argentine National Congress issued the National Law 24.588 (known as Ley Cafiero, after the Senator who advanced the projemacct) by which the authority over the 25,000-strong Argentine Federal Police and the responsibility over the federal institutions residing at the City (e.g., National Supreme Court of Justice buildings) would not be transferred from the National Government to the Autonomous City Government until a new consensus could be reached at the National Congress. Furthermore, it declared that the Port of Buenos Aires, along with some other places, would remain under constituted federal authorities. As of 2011, the deployment of the Metropolitan Police of Buenos Aires is ongoing.
Beginning in 2007, the city has embarked on a new decentralization scheme, creating new Communes (comunas) which are to be managed by elected committees of seven members each. Buenos Aires is represented in the Argentine Senate by three senators (as of 2017, Federico Pinedo, Marta Varela and Pino Solanas). The people of Buenos Aires also elect 25 national deputies to the Argentine Chamber of Deputies.
In the census of 2010 there were 2,891,082 people residing in the city. The population of Greater Buenos Aires was 13,147,638 according to 2010 census data. The population density in Buenos Aires proper was 13,680 inhabitants per square kilometer (34,800 per mi2), but only about 2,400 per km2 (6,100 per mi2) in the suburbs.
The population of Buenos Aires proper has hovered around 3 million since 1947, due to low birth rates and a slow migration to the suburbs. The surrounding districts have, however, expanded over fivefold (to around 10 million) since then.
The 2001 census showed a relatively aged population: with 17% under the age of fifteen and 22% over sixty, the people of Buenos Aires have an age structure similar to those in most European cities. They are older than Argentines as a whole (of whom 28% were under 15, and 14% over 60).
Two-thirds of the city's residents live in apartment buildings and 30% in single-family homes; 4% live in sub-standard housing. Measured in terms of income, the city's poverty rate was 8.4% in 2007 and, including the metro area, 20.6%. Other studies estimate that 4 million people in the metropolitan Buenos Aires area live in poverty.
The city's resident labor force of 1.2 million in 2001 was mostly employed in the services sector, particularly social services (25%), commerce and tourism (20%) and business and financial services (17%); despite the city's role as Argentina's capital, public administration employed only 6%. Manufacturing still employed 10%.
The city is divided into barrios (neighborhoods) for administrative purposes, a division originally based on Catholic parroquias (parishes). A common expression is that of the Cien barrios porteños ("One hundred porteño neighborhoods"), referring to a composition made popular in the 1940s by tango singer Alberto Castillo; however, Buenos Aires only consists of 48 official barrios. There are a several subdivisions of these districts, some with a long history and others that are the product of a real estate invention. A notable example is Palermo — the city's largest district — which has been subdivided into various barrios, including Palermo Soho, Palermo Hollywood, Las Cañitas and Palermo Viejo, among others. A newer scheme has divided the city into 15 comunas (communes).
The majority of porteños have European origins, mostly from the Calabrian, Ligurian, Piedmont, Lombardy, Sicily and Campania regions of Italy and from the Andalusian, Galician, Asturian, and Basque regions of Spain. Unrestricted waves of European immigrants to Argentina starting in the mid-19th century significantly increased the country's population, even causing the number of porteños to triple between 1887 and 1915 from 500,000 to 1.5 million.
Other significant European origins include German, Scottish, Norwegian, Polish, French, Portuguese, Swedish, Greek, Czech, Croatian, Dutch, Russian, Montenegrinian, English, Hungarian and Bulgarian. In the 1980s and 1990s, there was a small wave of immigration from Romania and Ukraine. There is a minority of criollo citizens, dating back to the Spanish colonial days. The Criollo and Spanish-aboriginal (mestizo) population in the city has increased mostly as a result of immigration from the inner provinces and from other countries such as neighboring Bolivia, Paraguay, Chile and Peru, since the second half of the 20th century.
The Jewish community in Greater Buenos Aires numbers around 250,000, and is the largest in Latin America. Most are of Northern, Western, Central, and Eastern European Ashkenazi origin, primarily Swedish, Dutch, Polish, German, and Russian Jews, with a significant Sephardic minority, mostly made up of Syrian Jews and Lebanese Jews. Important Lebanese, Georgians, Syrian and Armenian communities have had a significant presence in commerce and civic life since the beginning of the 20th century.
Most East Asian immigration in Buenos Aires comes from China. Chinese immigration is the fourth largest in Argentina, with the vast majority of them living in Buenos Aires and its metropolitan area. In the 1980s, most of them were from Taiwan, but since the 1990s the majority of Chinese immigrants come from the continental province of Fujian. The mainland Chinese who came from Fujian mainly installed supermarkets throughout the city and the suburbs; these supermarkets are so common that, in average, there is one every two and a half blocks and are simply referred to as el chino ("the Chinese"). Japanese immigrants are mostly from the Okinawa Prefecture. They started the dry cleaning business in Argentina, an activity that is considered idiosyncratic to the Japanese immigrants in Buenos Aires. Korean Immigration occurred after the division of Korea; they mainly settled in Flores and Once.
In the 2010 census, 2.1% of the population or 61,876 persons declared to be Amerindian or first-generation descendants of Amerindians in Buenos Aires (not including the 24 adjacent Partidos that make up Greater Buenos Aires). Amongst the 61,876 persons who are of indigenous origin, 15.9% are Quechua people, 15.9% are Guaraní, 15.5% are Aymara and 11% are Mapuche. Within the 24 adjacent Partidos, 186,640 persons or 1.9% of the total population declared themselves to be Amerindian. Amongst the 186,640 persons who are of indigenous origin, 21.2% are Guaraní, 19% are Toba, 11.3% are Mapuche, 10.5% are Quechua and 7.6% are Diaguita.
In the city, 15,764 people identified themselves as Afro-Argentine in the 2010 Census.
According to a 2008 CONICET survey on creeds, Christianity is the most prevalently practiced religion in Buenos Aires (79.6%), and most inhabitants are Roman Catholic (70%), though studies in recent decades found that fewer than 20% are practicing. Buenos Aires is the seat of a Roman Catholic metropolitan archbishop (the Catholic primate of Argentina), currently Archbishop Mario Poli. His predecessor, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, was elected to the Papacy as Pope Francis on 13 March 2013. There are Protestant, Orthodox Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormon, and Buddhist minorities. The city is home to the largest mosque in South America. Also, irreligion in Buenos Aires is higher than in other parts of the country, with about an 18.0% of the porteños declaring themselves as either atheist or agnostic.
Villas miserias range from small groups of precarious houses to larger, more organised communities with thousands of residents. In rural areas, the houses in the villas miserias might be made of mud and wood. Villas miseria are found around and inside the large cities of Buenos Aires, Rosario, Córdoba and Mendoza, among others
Buenos Aires has below 2 m2 (22 sq ft) of green space per person, which is ten times less than New York, seven times less than Madrid and five times less than Paris. The World Health Organization (WHO), in its concern for public health, produced a document stating that every city should have a minimum of 9 m2 (97 sq ft) of green space per person. An optimal amount would sit between 10 and 15 m2 (161 sq ft) per person.
Buenos Aires is the financial, industrial, and commercial hub of Argentina. The economy in the city proper alone, measured by Gross Geographic Product (adjusted for purchasing power), totaled US$84.7 billion (US$34,200 per capita) in 2011 and amounts to nearly a quarter of Argentina's as a whole. Metro Buenos Aires, according to one well-quoted study, constitutes the 13th largest economy among the world's cities. The Buenos Aires Human Development Index (0.923 in 1998) is likewise high by international standards.
The port of Buenos Aires is one of the busiest in South America; navigable rivers by way of the Rio de la Plata connect the port to north-east Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay. As a result, it serves as the distribution hub for a vast area of the south-eastern region of the continent. The Port of Buenos Aires handles over 11 million revenue tons annually, and Dock Sud, just south of the city proper, handles another 17 million metric tons. Tax collection related to the port has caused many political problems in the past, including a conflict in 2008 that led to protests and a strike in the agricultural sector after the government raised export tariffs.
The city's services sector is diversified and well-developed by international standards, and accounts for 76% of its economy (compared to 59% for all of Argentina's). Advertising, in particular, plays a prominent role in the export of services at home and abroad. The financial and real-estate services sector is the largest, however, and contributes to 31% of the city's economy. Finance (about a third of this) in Buenos Aires is especially important to Argentina's banking system, accounting for nearly half the nation's bank deposits and lending. Nearly 300 hotels and another 300 hostels and bed & breakfasts are licensed for tourism, and nearly half the rooms available were in four-star establishments or higher.
Manufacturing is, nevertheless, still prominent in the city's economy (16%) and, concentrated mainly in the southern part of the city. It benefits as much from high local purchasing power and a large local supply of skilled labor as it does from its relationship to massive agriculture and industry just outside the city limits. Construction activity in Buenos Aires has historically been among the most accurate indicators of national economic fortunes (see table at right), and since 2006 around 3 million square metres (32 million square feet) of construction has been authorized annually. Meat, dairy, grain, tobacco, wool and leather products are processed or manufactured in the Buenos Aires metro area. Other leading industries are automobile manufacturing, oil refining, metalworking, machine building and the production of textiles, chemicals, clothing and beverages.
The city's budget, per Mayor Macri's 2011 proposal, included US$6 billion in revenues and US$6.3 billion in expenditures. The city relies on local income and capital gains taxes for 61% of its revenues, while federal revenue sharing contributes 11%, property taxes, 9%, and vehicle taxes, 6%. Other revenues include user fees, fines and gambling duties. The city devotes 26% of its budget to education, 22% for health, 17% for public services and infrastructure, 16% for social welfare and culture, 12% in administrative costs and 4% for law enforcement. Buenos Aires maintains low debt levels and its service requires less than 3% of the budget.
Strongly influenced by European culture, Buenos Aires is sometimes referred to as the "Paris of South America". The city has the busiest live theatre industry in Latin America, with scores of theaters and productions. In fact, every weekend, there are about 300 active theatres with plays, a number that places the city as 1st worldwide, more than either London, New York or Paris, cultural Meccas in themselves. The number of cultural festivals with more than 10 sites and 5 years of existence also places the city as 2nd worldwide, after Edinburgh. The Kirchner Cultural Centre located in Buenos Aires, is the largest of Latin America, and the third worldwide.
Buenos Aires is the home of the Teatro Colón, an internationally rated opera house. There are several symphony orchestras and choral societies. The city has numerous museums related to history, fine arts, modern arts, decorative arts, popular arts, sacred art, arts and crafts, theatre and popular music, as well as the preserved homes of noted art collectors, writers, composers and artists. The city is home to hundreds of bookstores, public libraries and cultural associations (it is sometimes called "the city of books"), as well as the largest concentration of active theatres in Latin America. It has a world-famous zoo and botanical garden, a large number of landscaped parks and squares, as well as churches and places of worship of many denominations, many of which are architecturally noteworthy.
The identity of porteños has a rich and complex history, and has been the subject of much analysis and scrutiny. The great European immigration wave of the early 20th century was integral to "the growing primacy of Buenos Aires and the accompanying urban identity", and established the division between urban and rural Argentina more deeply. Immigrants "brought new traditions and cultural markers to the city," which were "then reimagined in the porteño context, with new layers of meanings because of the new location." The heads of state's attempt to populate the country and reframe the national identity resulted in the concentration of immigrants in the city and its suburbs, who generated a culture that is a "product of their conflicts of integration, their difficulties to live and their communication puzzles." In response to the immigration wave, during the 1920s and 1930s a nationalist trend within the Argentine intellectual elite glorified the gaucho figure as an exemplary archetype of Argentine culture; its synthesis with the European traditions conformed the new urban identity of Buenos Aires. The complexity of Buenos Aires' integration and identity formation issues increased when immigrants realized that their European culture could help them gain a greater social status. As the rural population moved to the industrialized city from the 1930s onwards, they reaffirmed their European roots, adopting endogamy and founding private schools, newspapers in foreign languages, and associations that promoted adherence to their countries of origin.
Porteños are generally characterized as night owls, cultured, talkative, uninhibited, sensitive, nostalgic, observative and arrogant. Argentines outside Buenos Aires often stereotype its inhabitants as egotist people, a feature that Latin Americans commonly attribute to the entire Argentine population and use as the subject of numerous jokes. Writing for BBC Mundo Cristina Pérez felt that "the idea of the [Argentines'] vastly developed ego finds strong evidence in lunfardo dictionaries," in words such as "engrupido" (meaning "vain" or "conceited") and "compadrito" (meaning both "brave" and "braggart"), the latter being an archetypal figure of tango. Paradoxically, porteños are also described as highly self-critical, something that has been called "the other side of the ego coin." Writers consider that these behaviours are the consequence of the European immigration and prosperity the city experienced during the early 20th century, which generated a feeling of superiority in parts of the population.
Buenos Aires has a thriving arts culture, with "a huge inventory of museums, ranging from obscure to world-class." The barrios of Palermo and Recoleta are the city's traditional bastions in the diffusion of art, although in recent years there has been a tendency of appearance of exhibition venues in other districts such as Puerto Madero or La Boca; renowned venues include MALBA, the National Museum of Fine Arts, Fundación Proa, Faena Arts Center, and the Usina del Arte. Other popular institutions are the Buenos Aires Museum of Modern Art, the Quinquela Martín Museum, the Evita Museum, the Fernández Blanco Museum, the José Hernández Museum, and the Palais de Glace, among others. A traditional event that occurs once a year is La Noche de los Museos ("Night of the Museums"), when the city's museums, universities, and artistic spaces open their doors for free until early morning; it usually takes place in November.
The first major artistic movements in Argentina coincided with the first signs of political liberty in the country, such as the 1913 sanction of the secret ballot and universal male suffrage, the first president to be popularly elected (1916), and the cultural revolution that involved the University Reform of 1918. In this context, in which there continued to be influence from the Paris School (Modigliani, Chagall, Soutine, Klee), three main groups arose. Buenos Aires has been the birthplace of several artists and movements of national and international relevance, and has become a central motif in Argentine artistic production, specially since the 20th century. Examples include: the Paris Group - so named for being influenced by the School of Paris - constituted by Antonio Berni, Aquiles Badi, Lino Enea Spilimbergo, Raquel Forner and Alfredo Bigatti, among others; and the La Boca artists - including Benito Quinquela Martín and Alfredo Lazzari, among others - who mostly came from Italy or were of Italian descent, and usually painted scenes from this working-class port neighbourhood. During the 1960s, the Torcuato di Tella Institute - located in Florida Street - became a leading local center for pop art, performance art, installation art, experimental theatre, and conceptual art; this generation of artists included Marta Minujín, Dalila Puzzovio, David Lamelas and Clorindo Testa.
Buenos Aires has also become a prominent center of contemporary street art; its welcoming attitude has made it one of the world's top capitals of such expression. The city's turbulent modern political history has "bred an intense sense of expression in porteños," and urban art has been used to depict these stories and as a means of protest. However, not all of its street art concerns politics, it is also used as a symbol of democracy and freedom of expression. Murals and graffiti are so common that they are considered "an everyday occurrence," and have become part of the urban landscape of barrios such as Palermo, Villa Urquiza, Coghlan and San Telmo. This has to do with the legality of such activities —provided that the building owner has consented—, and the receptiveness of local authorities, who even subsidize various works. The abundance of places for urban artists to create their work, and the relatively lax rules for street art, have attracted international artists such as Blu, Jef Aérosol, Aryz, ROA, and Ron English. Guided tours to see murals and graffiti around the city have been growing steadily.
Despite its short urban history, Buenos Aires has an abundant literary production; its mythical-literary network "has grown at the same rate at which the streets of the city earned its shores to the pampas and buildings stretched its shadow on the curb." The city has at least 734 bookstores, more per person than any other city in the world. Gabriela Adamo, former president of the city's annual book fair, relates the popularity of reading among its inhabitants to the wave of mass immigration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which created "a multicultural environment in which culture and the arts thrived." Publishing experts have also linked it to the city's obsession with psychoanalysis. The city also ranks third in terms of secondhand bookshops per inhabitant, most of them congregated in Corrientes Avenue. Arguably the most famous bookstore is El Ateneo Grand Splendid, a reformed theatre. The Guardian ranked it second in its list of "The world's 10 best bookshops" in 2008.
Argentine literature began around 1550 with the work of Matías Rojas de Oquendo and Pedro González de Prado (from Santiago del Estero, the first important urban settlement in Argentina), who wrote prose and poetry. They were partly inspired by oral aboriginal poetry—in particular, according to Carlos Abregú Virreyra, by the lules, juríes, diaguitas and tonocotés. A symbiosis emerged between the aboriginal and Spanish traditions, creating a distinct literature, geographically limited (well into the 18th century) to the Argentine north and central regions, with the province of Córdoba as its center, due to the foundation of the National University of Córdoba. Two names stand out from this period: Gaspar Juárez Baviano, and Antonia de la Paz y Figueroa, also known as "Beata Antula".
Gradually, with the economic prosperity of the port, the cultural axis moved eastward. The letters of the colonial age (Viceroyalty-neoclassicism, baroque and epic) grew under the protection of the independentist fervor: Vicente López y Planes, Pantaleón Rivarola and Esteban de Luca.
The literary history of the country is strongly linked to Buenos Aires' cafés; some of the most important still exist, like Café Tortoni, Café La Biela, Esquina Homero Manzi, Confitería Las Violetas, Confitería London City and Confitería Hotel Castelar. The city hosts the National Library of the Argentine Republic, the largest library in the country. Every April, the Buenos Aires International Book Fair takes place, which describes itself as "the most important annual literary event in the Spanish speaking world." Every year, it gathers more than one million visitors, and usually features the presence of prestigious international authors.
Known as Rioplatense Spanish, Buenos Aires' Spanish (as that of other cities like Rosario and Montevideo, Uruguay) is characterised by voseo, yeísmo and aspiration of s in various contexts. It is heavily influenced by the dialects of Spanish spoken in Andalusia and Murcia.
In the early 20th century, Argentina absorbed millions of immigrants, many of them Italians, who spoke mostly in their local dialects (mainly Neapolitan, Sicilian and Genoese). Their adoption of Spanish was gradual, creating a pidgin of Italian dialects and Spanish that was called cocoliche. Its usage declined around the 1950s. A phonetic study conducted by the Laboratory for Sensory Investigations of CONICET and the University of Toronto showed that the prosody of porteño is closer to the Neapolitan language of Italy than to any other spoken language.
Many Spanish immigrants were from Galicia, and Spaniards are still generically referred to in Argentina as gallegos (Galicians). Galician language, cuisine and culture had a major presence in the city for most of the 20th century. In recent years, descendants of Galician immigrants have led a mini-boom in Celtic music (which also highlighted the Welsh traditions of Patagonia).
Yiddish was commonly heard in Buenos Aires, especially in the Balvanera garment district and in Villa Crespo until the 1960s. Most of the newer immigrants learn Spanish quickly and assimilate into city life.
The Lunfardo argot originated within the prison population, and in time spread to all porteños. Lunfardo uses words from Italian dialects, from Brazilian Portuguese, from African and Caribbean languages and even from English. Lunfardo employs humorous tricks such as inverting the syllables within a word (vesre). Today, Lunfardo is mostly heard in tango lyrics; the slang of the younger generations has been evolving away from it.
Buenos Aires was also the first city to host a Mundo Lingo event on July 7th 2011, which have been after replicated in up to 15 cities in 13 countries.
According to the Harvard Dictionary of Music, "Argentina has one of the richest art music traditions and perhaps the most active contemporary musical life" in South America. Buenos Aires boasts of several professional orchestras, including the Argentine National Symphony Orchestra, the Ensamble Musical de Buenos Aires and the Camerata Bariloche; as well as various conservatories that offer professional music education, like the Conservatorio Nacional Superior de Música. As a result of the growth and commercial prosperity of the city in the late 18th century, the theatre became a vital force in Argentine musical life, offering Italian and French operas and Spanish zarzuelas. Italian music was very influential during the 19th century and the early 20th century, in part because of immigration, but operas and salon music were also composed by Argentines, including Francisco Hargreaves and Juan Gutiérrez. A nationalist trend that drew from Argentine traditions, literature and folk music was an important force during the 19th century, including composers Alberto Williams, Julián Aguirre, Arturo Berutti and Felipe Boero. In the 1930s, composers such as Juan Carlos Paz and Alberto Ginastera "began to espouse a cosmopolitan and modernist style, influenced by twelve-tone techniques and serialism"; while avant-garde music thrived by the 1960s, with the Rockefeller Foundation financing the Centro Interamericano de Altos Estudios Musicales, which brought internationally famous composers to work and teach in Buenos Aires, also establishing an electronic music studio.
The Río de la Plata is known for being the birthplace of tango, which is considered an emblem of Buenos Aires. The city considers itself the Tango World Capital, and as such hosts many related events, the most important being an annual festival and world tournament. The most important exponent of the genre is Carlos Gardel, followed by Aníbal Troilo; other important composers include Alfredo Gobbi, Ástor Piazzolla, Osvaldo Pugliese, Mariano Mores, Juan D'Arienzo and Juan Carlos Cobián. Tango music experienced a period of splendor during the 1940s, while in the 1960s and 1970s nuevo tango appeared, incorporating elements of classical and jazz music. A contemporary trend is neotango (also known as electrotango), with exponents such as Bajofondo and Gotan Project. On 30 September 2009, UNESCO's Intergovernmental Committee of Intangible Heritage declared tango part of the world's cultural heritage, making Argentina eligible to receive financial assistance in safeguarding tango for future generations.
The city hosts several music festivals every year. A popular genre is electronic dance music, with festivals including Creamfields BA, SAMC, Moonpark, and a local edition of Ultra Music Festival. Other well-known events include the Buenos Aires Jazz Festival, Personal Fest, Quilmes Rock and Pepsi Music. Some music festivals are held in Greater Buenos Aires, like Lollapalooza, which takes place at the Hipódromo de San Isidro in San Isidro.
Argentine cinema history began in Buenos Aires with the first film exhibition on 18 July 1896 at the Teatro Odeón. With his 1897 film, La bandera Argentina, Eugène Py became one of the first filmmakers of the country; the film features a waving Argentine flag located at Plaza de Mayo. In the early 20th century, the first cinema theatres of the country opened in Buenos Aires, and newsreels appeared, most notably El Viaje de Campos Salles a Buenos Aires. The real industry emerged with the advent of sound films, the first one being Muñequitas porteñas (1931). The newly founded Argentina Sono Film released ¡Tango! in 1933, the first integral sound production in the country. During the 1930s and the 1940s (commonly referred as the "Golden Age" of Argentine ciema), many films revolved around the city of Buenos Aires and tango culture, reflected in titles such as La vida es un tango, El alma del bandoneón, Adiós Buenos Aires, El Cantor de Buenos Aires and Buenos Aires canta. Argentine films were exported across Latin America, specially Libertad Lamarque's melodramas, and the comedies of Luis Sandrini and Niní Marshall. The popularity of local cinema in the Spanish-speaking world played a key role in the massification of tango music. Carlos Gardel, an iconic figure of tango and Buenos Aires, became an international star by starring in several films during that era.
In response to large studio productions, the "Generation of the 60s" appeared, a group of filmmakers that produced the first modernist films in Argentina during that early years of that decade. These included Manuel Antín, Lautaro Murúa and René Mugica, among others. During the second half of the decade, films of social protest were presented in clandestine exhibitions, the work of Grupo Cine Liberación and Grupo Cine de la Base, who advocated what they called "Third Cinema". At that time, the country was under a military dictatorship after the coup d'état known as Argentine Revolution. One of the most notable films of these movement is La hora de los hornos (1968) by Fernando Solanas. During the period of democracy between 1973 and 1975, the local cinema experienced critical and commercial success, with titles including Juan Moreira (1973), La Patagonia rebelde (1974), La Raulito (1975), and La tregua (1974) – which became the first Argentine film nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. However, because of censorship and a new military government, Argentine cinema stalled until the return of democracy in the 1980s. This generation – known as "Argentine Cinema in Liberty and Democracy" – were mostly young or postponed filmmakers, and gained international notoriety. Camila (1984) by María Luisa Bemberg was nominated for the Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards, and Luis Puenzo's La historia oficial (1985) was the first Argentine film to receive the award.
Located in Buenos Aires is the Pablo Ducrós Hicken Museum of Cinema, the only one in the country dedicated to Argentine cinema and a pioneer of its kind in Latin America. Every year, the city hosts the Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema (BAFICI), which, in its 2015 edition, featured 412 films from 37 countries, and an attendance of 380 thousand people. Buenos Aires also hosts various other festivals and film cycles, like the Buenos Aires Rojo Sangre, devoted to horror.
Buenos Aires' inhabitants have been historically characterized as "fashion-conscious". National designers display their collections annually at the Buenos Aires Fashion Week (BAFWEEK) and related events. Inevitably being a season behind, it fails to receive much international attention. Nevertheless, the city remains an important regional fashion capital. According to Global Language Monitor, as of 2012 the city ranks third in Latin America after São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. In 2005, Buenos Aires was appointed as the first UNESCO City of Design, and received this title once again in 2007. Since 2015, the Buenos Aires International Fashion Film Festival Buenos Aires (BAIFFF) takes place, sponsored by the city and Mercedes-Benz. The government of the city also organizes La Ciudad de Moda ("The City of Fashion"), an annual event that serves as a platform for emerging creators and attempts to boost the sector by providing management tools.
The neighbourhood of Palermo, particularly the area known as Soho, is where the latest fashion and design trends are presented. The "sub-barrio" of Palermo Viejo is also a popular port of call for fashion in the city. An increasing number of young, independent designers are also setting up their own shops in the bohemian neighbourhood of San Telmo, known for its wide variety of markets and antique shops. Recoleta, on the other hand, is the quintessential neighbourhood for exclusive and upscale fashion houses. In particular, Avenida Alvear is home to the most exclusive representatives of haute couture in the city.
Primary education comprise grades 1–7. Most primary schools in the city still adhere to the traditional seven-year primary school, but kids can do grades 1–6 if their high schools lasts 6 years, such as ORT Argentina.
Secondary education in Argentina is called Polimodal ("polymodal", that is, having multiple modes), since it allows the student to choose his/her orientation. Polimodal is usually 3 years of schooling, although some schools have a fourth year. Before entering the first year of polimodal, students choose an orientation, among these five: Humanities and Social Sciences, Economics and Management of Organizations, Art and Design, Health and Sport and Biology and Natural Sciences.
Nevertheless, in Buenos Aires, secondary education consists of 5 years, called from 1st year to 5th year, as opposed to primary education's 1st to 7th grade. Most schools don't require students to choose their orientation, as they study the basic such as maths, biology, art, history and technology, but there are schools that do, whether they are orientated to a certain profession or they have orientations to choose from when they reach a specific year.
Some high schools depend on the University of Buenos Aires, and these require an admission course when students are taking the last year of high school. These high schools are ILSE, CNBA, Escuela Superior de Comercio Carlos Pellegrini and Escuela de Educación Técnica Profesional en Producción Agropecuaria y Agroalimentaria (School of Professional Technique Education in Agricultural and Agri-food Production). The last two do have a specific orientation.
In December 2006 the Chamber of Deputies of the Argentine Congress passed a new National Education Law restoring the old system of primary followed by secondary education, making secondary education obligatory and a right, and increasing the length of compulsory education to 13 years. The government vowed to put the law in effect gradually, starting in 2007.
There are many public universities in Argentina, as well as a number of private universities. The University of Buenos Aires, one of the top learning institutions in South America, has produced five Nobel Prize winners and provides taxpayer-funded education for students from all around the globe. Buenos Aires is a major center for psychoanalysis, particularly the Lacanian school. Buenos Aires is home to several private universities of different quality, such as: Universidad Argentina de la Empresa, Buenos Aires Institute of Technology, CEMA University, Favaloro University, Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina, University of Belgrano, University of Palermo, University of Salvador, Universidad Abierta Interamericana, Universidad John F. Kennedy, Universidad de Ciencias Empresariales y Sociales, Universidad del Museo Social Argentino, Universidad Austral and Torcuato di Tella University.
According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, tourism has been growing in the Argentine capital since 2002. In a survey by the travel and tourism publication Travel + Leisure Magazine in 2008, travellers voted Buenos Aires the second most desirable city to visit after Florence, Italy. In 2008, an estimated 2.5 million visitors visited the city.
Visitors have many options such as going to a tango show, an estancia in the Province of Buenos Aires, or enjoying the traditional asado. New tourist circuits have recently evolved, devoted to famous Argentines such as Carlos Gardel, Eva Perón or Jorge Luis Borges. Before 2011, due to the favourable exchange rate, its shopping centres such as Alto Palermo, Paseo Alcorta, Patio Bullrich, Abasto de Buenos Aires and Galerías Pacífico were frequently visited by tourists. The exchange rate today has hampered tourism and shopping in particular. Notable consumer brands such as Burberry and Louis Vuitton have abandoned the country due to the exchange rate and import restrictions. The city also plays host to musical festivals, some of the largest of which are Quilmes Rock, Creamfields BA, Ultra Music Festival (Buenos Aires) and the Buenos Aires Jazz Festival.
The most popular tourist sites are found in the historic core of the city, in the Montserrat and San Telmo neighborhoods. Buenos Aires was conceived around the Plaza de Mayo, the colony's administrative center. To the east of the square is the Casa Rosada, the official seat of the executive branch of the government of Argentina. To the north, the Catedral Metropolitana which has stood in the same location since colonial times, and the Banco de la Nación Argentina building, a parcel of land originally owned by Juan de Garay. Other important colonial institutions were Cabildo, to the west, which was renovated during the construction of Avenida de Mayo and Julio A. Roca. To the south is the Congreso de la Nación (National Congress), which currently houses the Academia Nacional de la Historia (National Academy of History). Lastly, to the northwest, is City Hall.
Buenos Aires has over 250 parks and green spaces, the largest concentration of which are on the city’s eastern side in the Puerto Madero, Recoleta, Palermo and Belgrano neighbourhoods. Some of the most important are:
Buenos Aires has over 280 theatres, more than any other city in the world. Because of this, Buenos Aires is declared "World's capital of theater". The city’s theatres show everything from musicals to ballet, comedy to circuses. Some of them are:
Buenos Aires has become a recipient of LGBT tourism. Due to the existence of some gay-friendly sites, the civil union law of 2002. Upon legalising same-sex marriage on 15 July 2010, Argentina became the first country in Latin America, the second in the Americas, and the tenth in the world to do so. Its Gender Identity Law, passed in 2012, made Argentina the "only country that allows people to change their gender identities without facing barriers such as hormone therapy, surgery or psychiatric diagnosis that labels them as having an abnormality". In 2015, the World Health Organization cited Argentina as an exemplary country for providing transgender rights.
Buenos Aires has various types of accommodations, from luxurious five star to quality budget located in neighborhoods that are further from the city centre, although the transportation system allows easy and inexpensive access to the city.
There were, as of February 2008, 23 five-star, 61 four-star, 59 three-star and 87 two or one-star hotels, as well as 25 boutique hotels and 39 apart-hotels; another 298 hostels, bed & breakfasts, vacation rentals and other non-hotel establishments were registered in the city. In all, nearly 27,000 rooms were available for tourism in Buenos Aires, of which about 12,000 belonged to four-star, five-star, or boutique hotels. Establishments of a higher category typically enjoy the city's highest occupation rates. The majority of the hotels are located in the central part of the city, within close proximity to most main tourist attractions.
The Buenos Aires international airport, which goes by the official name of Ministro Pistarini International Airport, is located in the suburb of Ezeiza and is often called the "Ezeiza International Airport". The Aeroparque Jorge Newbery airport, located in the Palermo district next to the riverbank, serves only domestic traffic and flights to Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. A smaller San Fernando Airport serves only general aviation.
Buenos Aires is based on a square, rectangular grid pattern, save for natural barriers or the relatively rare developments explicitly designed otherwise (notably, the neighbourhood of Parque Chas). The rectangular grid provides for square blocks named manzanas, with a length of roughly 110 metres (361 feet). Pedestrian zones in the city centre, like Florida Street are partially car-free and always bustling, access provided by bus and the Underground (subte) Line C. Buenos Aires, for the most part, is a very walkable city and the majority of residents in Buenos Aires use public transport.
Two diagonal avenues in the city centre alleviate traffic and provide better access to Plaza de Mayo. Most avenues running into and out of the city centre are one-way and feature six or more lanes, with computer-controlled green waves to speed up traffic outside of peak times.
The city's principal avenues include the 140-metre (459 ft)-wide July 9 Avenue, the over-35 km (22 mi)-long Rivadavia Avenue, and Corrientes Avenue, the main thoroughfare of culture and entertainment.
In the 1940s and 1950s the General Paz Avenue beltway that surrounds the city along its border with Buenos Aires Province, and the freeways leading to the new international airport and to the northern suburbs, heralded a new era for Buenos Aires traffic. Encouraged by pro-automaker policies that were pursued towards the end of the Perón (1955) and Frondizi administrations (1958–62) in particular, auto sales nationally grew from an average of 30,000 during the 1920–57 era to around 250,000 in the 1970s and over 600,000 in 2008. Today, over 1.8 million vehicles (nearly one-fifth of Argentina's total) are registered in Buenos Aires.
Toll motorways opened in the late 1970s by then-mayor Osvaldo Cacciatore provided fast access to the city centre and are today used by over a million vehicles daily. Cacciatore likewise had financial district streets (roughly one square km in area) closed to private cars during daytime. Most major avenues are, however, gridlocked at peak hours. Following the economic mini-boom of the 1990s, record numbers started commuting by car and congestion increased, as did the time-honored Argentine custom of taking weekends off in the countryside.
The Buenos Aires commuter rail system has seven lines:
The Buenos Aires commuter network system is very extensive: every day more than 1.3 million people commute to the Argentine capital. These suburban trains operate between 4 am and 1 am. The Buenos Aires commuter rail network also connects the city with long-distance rail services to Rosario and Córdoba, among other metropolitan areas. There are four principal terminals for both long-distance and local passenger services in the city centre: Constitucion, Retiro, Federico Lacroze and Once, while Buenos Aires station is a minor terminus.
Commuter rail in the city is mostly operated by the state-owned Trenes Argentinos, though the Urquiza Line and Belgrano Norte Line are operated by private companies Metrovías and Ferrovías respectively. All services had been operated by Ferrocarriles Argentinos until the company's privatisation in 1993, and were then operated by a series of private companies until the lines were put back under state control following a series of high-profile accidents.
Since 2013, there has been a series of large investments on the network, with all lines (with the exception of the Urquiza Line) receiving new rolling stock, along with widespread infrastructure improvements, track replacement, electrification work, refurbishments of stations and building entirely new stations. Similarly, almost all level crossings have been replaced by underpasses and overpasses in the city, with plans to replace all of them in the near future. One of the most major projects under way is the electrification of the remaining segments of the Roca Line – the most widely used in the network – and also moving the entire section of the Sarmiento Line which runs through the centre of the city underground to allow for better frequencies on the line and reduce congestion above ground.
There are also three other major projects on the table. The first would elevate a large segment of the San Martín Line which runs through the centre of the city and electrify the line, while the second would see the electrification and extension of the Belgrano Sur Line to Constitucion station in the centre of the city. If these two projects are completed, then the Belgrano Norte Line would be the only diesel line to run through the city. The third and most ambitious is to build a series of underground tunnels between three of the city's railway terminals with a large underground central station underneath the Obelisk, connecting all the commuter railway lines in a network dubbed the Red de Expresos Regionales.
In December 2010, the city government launched a bicycle sharing program with bicycles free for hire upon registration. Located in mostly central areas, there are 31 rental stations throughout the city providing over 850 bicycles to be picked up and dropped off at any station within an hour. As of 2013, the city has constructed 110 km (68.35 mi) of protected bicycle lanes and has plans to construct another 100 km (62.14 mi). In 2015, the stations were automated and the service became 24 hours through use of a smart card or mobile phone application.
The Buenos Aires Underground (locally known as subte, from "subterráneo" meaning underground or subway), is a high-yield system providing access to various parts of the city. Opened in 1913, it is the oldest underground system in the Southern Hemisphere and oldest in the Spanish-speaking world. The system has six underground lines and one overground line, named by letters (A to E, and H) and there are 100 stations, and 58.8 km (37 mi) of route, including the Premetro line. An expansion program is underway to extend existing lines into the outer neighborhoods and add a new north-south line. Route length is expected to reach 89 km (55 mi) by 2011.
Line A is the oldest one (service opened to public in 1913) and stations kept the "belle-époque" decoration, while the original rolling stock from 1913, affectionately known as Las Brujas were retired from the line in 2013. Daily ridership on weekdays is 1.7 million and on the increase. Fares remain relatively cheap, although the city government raised fares by over 125% in January 2012. A single journey, with unlimited interchanges between lines, now costs AR$7.50, which is roughly USD$0.45.
The most recent expansions to the network were the addition of numerous stations to the network in 2013: San José de Flores and San Pedrito to Line A, Echeverría and Juan Manuel de Rosas to Line B and Hospitales to Line H. Current works include the completion of Line H northwards and addition of three new stations to Line E in the centre of the city. The construction of Line F is due to commence in 2015, while two other lines are planned for construction in the future.
Buenos Aires had an extensive street railway (tram) system with over 857 km (533 mi) of track, which was dismantled during the 1960s in favour of bus transportation, but surface rail transport has made a small comeback in some parts of the city. The PreMetro or Line E2 is a 7.4 km (4.6 mi) light rail line that connects with Underground Line E at Plaza de los Virreyes station and runs to General Savio and Centro Cívico. It is operated by Metrovías. The official inauguration took place on 27 August 1987.
A 2 km (1.2 mi) modern tramway, the Tranvía del Este, opened in 2007 in the Puerto Madero district, using two tramcars on temporary loan. However, plans to extend the line and acquire a fleet of trams did not come to fruition, and declining patronage led to the line's closure in October 2012. A heritage streetcar maintained by tram fans operates on weekends, near the Primera Junta line A Underground station in the Caballito neighbourhood.
There are over 150 city bus lines called Colectivos, each one managed by an individual company. These compete with each other, and attract exceptionally high use with virtually no public financial support. Their frequency makes them equal to the underground systems of other cities, but buses cover a far wider area than the underground system. Colectivos in Buenos Aires do not have a fixed timetable, but run from four to several per hour, depending on the bus line and time of the day. With inexpensive tickets and extensive routes, usually no further than four blocks from commuters' residences, the colectivo is the most popular mode of transport around the city.
Buenos Aires has recently opened a bus rapid transit system, the Metrobus. The system uses modular median stations that serve both directions of travel, which enable pre-paid, multiple-door, level boarding. The first line, opened on 31 May 2011, runs across the Juan B. Justo Ave has 21 stations. The system now has 4 lines with 113 stations on its 43.5 km (27.0 mi) network, while numerous other lines are under construction and planned.
A fleet of 40,000 black-and-yellow taxis ply the streets at all hours. License controls are not enforced rigorously. There have been reports of organized crime controlling the access of taxis to the city airports and other major destinations. Taxi drivers are known for trying to take advantage of tourists. Radio-link companies provide reliable and safe service; many such companies provide incentives for frequent users. Low-fare limo services, known as remises, have become popular in recent years.
Buenos Aires is also served by a ferry system operated by the company Buquebus that connects the port of Buenos Aires with the main cities of Uruguay, (Colonia del Sacramento, Montevideo and Punta del Este). More than 2.2 million people per year travel between Argentina and Uruguay with Buquebus. One of these ships is a catamaran, which can reach a top speed of about 80 km/h (50 mph).
According to data released by Moovit in July 2017, the average amount of time people spend commuting with public transit in Buenos Aires, for example to and from work, on a weekday is 79 min. 23% of public transit riders, ride for more than 2 hours every day. The average amount of time people wait at a stop or station for public transit is 14 min, while 20% of riders wait for over 20 minutes on average every day. The average distance people usually ride in a single trip with public transit is 8.9 km, while 21% travel for over 12 km in a single direction.
The Guardia Urbana de Buenos Aires (Buenos Aires Urban Guard) was a specialized civilian force of the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, that used to deal with different urban conflicts with the objective of develop actions of prevention, dissuasion and mediation, promoting effective behaviors that guarantee the security and the integrity of public order and social coexistence. The unit continuously assisted the personnel of the Argentine Federal Police, especially in emergency situations, events of massive concurrence, and protection of tourist establishments.
Urban Guard officials did not carry any weapons in the performing of their duties. Their basic tools were a HT radio transmitter and a whistle.
As of March 2008, the Guardia Urbana was removed.
The Buenos Aires Metropolitan Police was the police force under the authority of the Autonomous City (or Federal District) of Buenos Aires. The force was created in 2010 and was composed of 1,850 officers.
In 2016, the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Police and part of the Argentine Federal Police were merged to create the new Buenos Aires City Police force.
The Buenos Aires City Police force began operations on 1 January 2017. Security in the city is now the responsibility of the Buenos Aires City Police.
The police is headed by the Chief of Police who is appointed by the head of the executive branch of the city of Buenos Aires.
There are four major departments:
Geographically, the force is divided into 56 stations throughout the city. All police station employees are civilians.
The Buenos Aires City Police force is composed of over 25,000 officers.
Football is a passion for Argentines. Buenos Aires has the highest concentration of football teams of any city in the world (featuring no fewer than 24 professional football teams), with many of its teams playing in the major league. The best-known rivalry is the one between Boca Juniors and River Plate, the match is better known as Superclásico. Watching a match between these two teams was deemed one of the "50 sporting things you must do before you die" by The Observer. Other major clubs include San Lorenzo de Almagro, Club Atlético Huracán, Vélez Sársfield, Chacarita Juniors, Club Ferro Carril Oeste and Asociación Atlética Argentinos Juniors.
Diego Maradona, born in Lanús Partido (county) south of Buenos Aires, is widely hailed as one of the greatest football players of all time. Maradona started his career with Argentinos Juniors, later playing for Boca Juniors, the Argentina national football team and others (most notably FC Barcelona in Spain and SSC Napoli in Italy).
Argentina has been the home of world champions in professional boxing. Carlos Monzon was a hall of fame World Middleweight champion, and the current undisputed linear Middleweight champion Sergio Martinez hails from Argentina. Omar Narvaez, Lucas Matthysse, Carolina Duer, and Marcos Maidana are five modern-day world champions as well.
Buenos Aires has been a candidate city for the Summer Olympic Games on three occasions: for the 1956 Games, which were lost by a single vote to Melbourne; for the 1968 Summer Olympics, held in Mexico City; and in 2004, when the games were awarded to Athens. However, Buenos Aires hosted the first Pan American Games (1951) and was also host city to several World Championship events: the 1950 and 1990 Basketball World Championships, the 1982 and 2002 Men's Volleyball World Championships and, most remembered, the 1978 FIFA World Cup, won by Argentina on 25 June 1978, when it defeated the Netherlands at the Estadio Monumental 3–1. In September 2013, the city hosted the 125th IOC Session, Tokyo was elected the host city of the 2020 Summer Olympics and Thomas Bach was new IOC President. Buenos Aires bid to host the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics. On 4 July 2013, the IOC elected Buenos Aires as the host city. Buenos Aires hosted the 2006 South American Games too.
Juan Manuel Fangio won five Formula One World Driver's Championships, and was only outstripped by Michael Schumacher, with seven Championships. The Buenos Aires Oscar Gálvez car-racing track hosted 20 Formula One events as the Argentine Grand Prix, between 1953 and 1998; it was discontinued on financial grounds. The track features various local categories on most weekends.
The 2009, 2010, 2011, 2015 Dakar Rally started and ended in the city.
The first rugby union match in Argentina was played in 1873 in the Buenos Aires Cricket Club Ground, located in Palermo neighbourhood, where the Galileo Galilei planetarium is located today. Rugby enjoys widespread popularity in Buenos Aires, most especially in the north of the city, which boasts more than eighty rugby clubs. The city is home to the Argentine Super Rugby franchise, the Jaguares. The Argentina national rugby union team competes in Buenos Aires in international matches such as the Rugby Championship.
Argentines' love for horses can be experienced in several ways: horse racing at the Hipódromo Argentino de Palermo racetrack, polo in the Campo Argentino de Polo (located just across Libertador Avenue from the Hipódromo), and pato, a kind of basketball played on horseback that was declared the national game in 1953.
Buenos Aires native Guillermo Vilas (who was raised in Mar del Plata) and Gabriela Sabatini were great tennis players of the 1970s and 1980s and popularized tennis Nationwide in Argentina. Vilas won the ATP Buenos Aires numerous times in the 1970s. Other popular sports in Buenos Aires are golf, basketball, rugby and field hockey.