Argentina celebrates the 197th anniversary of its declaration of independence


Today on the 9th July 2013, Argentina celebrates the 197th anniversary of its declaration of independence from the United Provinces of South America.

What today is commonly referred to as the Independence of Argentina was declared on 9th July 1816 by the Congress of Tucuman. On that day independence was declared of the United Provinces of South America, which is still today one of the legal names of the Argentine Republic.

The first country to recognise it was Kingdom of Hawaii in 1818, followed by Portugal in 1821 and then in 1822, Brazil and the United States of America in 1822.


A quick history to Argentina
In the beginning of the 16th century, long before the Argentine independence, the Spanish arrived to the Argentinian territory, where they were met with an indigenous population of around 330,000 inhabitants that belonged to different ethnic groups, many of whom were influenced by the Incan Empire.

After the arrival of Columbus and the conquest, the American territory was divided into two viceroyalties that directly represented the Spanish King: The Viceroyalty of New Spain (which included the Spanish colonies of North and South americium Venezuela and the Phillipines) and the viceroyalty of Peru (which included all of South america from Panama to Patagonia, with the exception of Venezuela and Brazil, as Brazil belonged to the Portuguese crown).

Due to the region of Argentina’s ranching industry and the importance of the port that the estuary of the Rio de la Plate offered, it was a region of great importance and value. Motivated by the economic importance and trade within the Provinces of the Rio de la Platea, Carlos III created the Viceroyalty of the Rio de La Plata in 1776, with its capital Buenos Aires. This Viceroyalty included the countries we know today as Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and part of Brazil.


The May Revolution
By 1810, tensions between the creoles (Spaniards born in the Americas) and the peninsulars (newly arrived Spaniards in the Americas) for control of the region’s trade increased. A series of revolutionary groups found an excuse in the capture of the Spanish king Fernando VII, and the French occupation of Spain during the Peninsular war, to call an open cabildo with the hopes of discussing the political situation.

May 22, 23 and 24 were days of great agitation: Many people wanted to despise Viceroy Cisneros from his post, while others proposed the creation of a junta in which the Viceroy along with Buenos Aires residents would play an active role. However, when it was decided that the Viceroy would stay, increasing disappointment among the people led crowds to pound at the gates of the open cabildo and shout “the people want to know what this is all about”. Crowds were hoping for the Viceroy’s resignation and the junta’s dissolution.  This finally happened and then the First National Government Independent of Spain was formed.

On July 9, 1816, the independence of the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata was declared (which included modern-day Argentina, Uruguay and part of Bolivia) in a meeting of congress in Tucuman.

Independence was put into effect in 1817, when General San Martin’s troops won definitive victory over the Spanish army. The Argentine War of Independence which began in 1817 and would end in the following year of 1818.



Argentine Independence day traditions and activities
Argentina celebrates their Independence day in a relatively modest way compared to other countries such as the USA. There are political parades in the capital Buenos Aires and the schools are closed but there are no fireworks or festivities such as seen in other countries.

On both Independence Day and Revolutionary Day, special services are held at the Cathedral and dramatic performances take place in the Colon Theatre.

Argentine National Independence Day is a public holiday and there is no school or government operations on this day. Many people do have the day off work and school in order to attend some of the commemoration and festivities. There are parades in the capital cities and military exhibitions, with some cities having outdoor festivals including music and dancing.

The capital city of Buenos Aires has one of the largest Argentine National Independence Day ceremonies with hundreds of thousands of people gathering each year to watch parades and join together in celebration.

Many families have developed their own Argentine National Independence Day traditions, where they have a meal or a feast and spend the day together. It is not unusual to see many flags displayed on the balconies and fronts of houses and hear the honking of cars in celebration.

How will you celebrate Argentina’s independence? With some Yerba Mate (the national infusion of Argentina), Argentine Malbec (the national drink of Argentina) or perhaps some empanadas, followed by a great Argentine steak and alfajores to finish?

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