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"Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity".
(surah Al-Imran,ayat-104)
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User Name: DrSajid
Full Name: Dr Sajid Khakwani
User since: 22/May/2010
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In The Name of Allah The Almighty

Argentina

(9 July: National Day)

 

Dr Sajid Khakwani

drsajidkhakwani@gmail.com

 

 Country of South America, covering most of the southern portion of the continent. The world's eighth largest country. The country is bounded by Chile to the south and west, Bolivia and Paraguay to the north, and Brazil, Uruguay, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Its undulating Atlantic coastline stretches some 2,900 miles. It encompasses immense plains, deserts, tundra, and forests, as well as tall mountains, rivers, and thousands of miles of ocean shoreline. Argentina also claims a portion of Antarctica, as well as several islands in the South Atlantic, including the British-ruled Falkland Islands. In 1982 Argentina invaded this South Atlantic islands it claimed as its own and was defeated by British forces in a short but bloody campaign.

 In Argentina the independence movement began in 1806–07, when British attacks on Buenos Aires were repelled in the two battles. An assembly representing most of the viceroyalty met at San Miguel and on July 9, 1816, declared the country independent. Argentine nationalists were instrumental in revolutionary movements elsewhere, South America's independence was, to a great extent, an Argentine enterprise. The country's Spanish name means “Land of Silver,” and Argentina is indeed a great source of valuable minerals.

 Heavy immigration, particularly from Spain and Italy, has produced in Argentina a people who are almost all of European ancestry. In the colonial period, though, the Spanish explorers and settlers encountered a number of native peoples. Most other Argentine Indians were hunters and gatherers who fought the Spanish tenaciously but were eventually exterminated or driven away. The Indians traveled over the mountains from Chile and raided Spanish settlements in the southern Argentina until the Conquest of the Desert in the 1870s. Population estimates of the colonial period suggest that by 1810 Argentina had more than 400,000 people. Of these perhaps 30 percent were Indian, their numbers drastically depleted from a pre-Columbian regional population estimated at 300,000. Ten percent of the total were either African slaves or descendants of slaves who had been smuggled into the country through Buenos Aires, and there was a large element of mestizos (European and Indian mixture). European descendants were in the minority.

 A great wave of European immigration after the mid-1800s molded the present-day ethnic character of Argentina. The Indians and mestizos were pushed aside or absorbed, and the blacks and mulattos disappeared, apparently also absorbed into the dominant population. Since that time mestizos from Chile, Bolivia, and Paraguay have grown numerous in bordering regions, but only since the late 20th century has there been substantial immigration from Paraguay and Uruguay into the urban areas of Argentina. The Italian influence on Argentine culture became the most important of any immigrant group, and Italian is still widely spoken in Buenos Aires. Other major foreign influences have come from Spanish and Polish immigrants. Smaller groups have also made notable contributions, however. British capital and management, in particular, built railroads and created the meat-processing industry; the British also left a relatively small but influential community. The Germans established farm settlements and cooperatives; the French contributed their viticulture expertise; and the Japanese invested in business, as did the Syrians and Lebanese. Spanish is the national language, although in Argentina it is spoken in several accents and has absorbed many words from other languages, especially Italian. The vast majority of Argentine people are adherents of Roman Catholicism. Of the remainder, about equally small percentages are Protestants and Jews. Roman Catholic influence is strongly reflected in government and society, and Catholicism is constitutionally recognized as the official state religion, although freedom of worship is guaranteed.

          Argentina's economy, which is one of the more powerful in the region, is dependent on services and manufacturing, although agribusiness and ranching dominated the economy for much of the 19th and 20th centuries. Argentina still produces more grain than any other country in Latin America and is second in cattle rising only to Brazil, and its receipts from tourism are second in the region only to those of Mexico. Meat and grain were exported to expanding markets in Europe in exchange for fuel and manufactured products. Fruits, vegetables, oilseed crops such as soybeans and sunflowers, and industrial crops such as sugarcane and cotton increased their share of total agricultural production at the expense of the dominant grain crops. Overall, however, Argentina remained one of the world's major agricultural producers.

Wheat is Argentina's largest crop in harvested land area. Argentina is one of the world's major exporters of soybeans and wheat, as well as meat. It is also one of the largest producers of wool and wine, but most of its wine is consumed domestically. More than nine-tenths of the country's grapes are used for wine making. Although agriculture is an important source of export earnings, and it employs only a tiny portion of the nation's workforce. The forestry industry does not supply all of Argentina's needs. Most of the harvest is used for lumber, with smaller amounts for firewood and charcoal. The fishing industry is comparatively small, owing in part to the overwhelming preference among Argentines for beef in their diet.

 Manufacturing, which accounts for about one-fifth of GDP and nearly one-sixth of the workforce, is a mainstay of the Argentine economy. A large sector of the country's industry is involved with the processing of agricultural products. The growth of beef production in Argentina gave rise to a host of associated industries, including those producing tinned beef, meat extracts, tallow, hides, and leather. Argentina has been a consistent world leader in the export of hides. Leather processing occurs locally, and fine leather clothing can be obtained at retail outlets in the cities.

 Argentina is a federal union of 23 provinces and a federal capital district, the city of Buenos Aires. Federalism came to Argentina only after a long struggle between proponents of a central government and supporters of provincial interests. The constitution of 1853 was modeled on that of the United States. The constitution promulgated in 1994 provides for consecutive presidential terms, but few other changes distinguish it from the 1853 document; in its largely original form, the constitution has sustained Argentina with at least a nominal form of republican, representative, and federal government.

 Executive power resides in the office of the president, who is elected with a vice president to a four-year term (only two terms can be consecutive). The president is commander in chief of the armed forces and appoints all civil, military, and federal judicial officers, as well as the chief of the Cabinet of Ministers, the body that oversees the general administration of the country. The Argentine legislature, or National Congress, consists of two houses: a 72-seat Senate and a 257-seat Chamber of Deputies. The Senate, whose members are elected to six-year terms, consists of three representatives from each province and the federal capital. The Chamber of Deputies, whose members are elected to four-year terms, is apportioned according to population.

 

 Each province has its own government, with executive, legislative, and judicial branches similar to those of the federal government. The provinces retain all power not specifically reserved to the federal government in the constitution. Local government was nullified in 1966 and restored in 1973, only to be taken over again in 1976 by the military dictatorship. With the restoration of constitutional government in 1983, the provinces and municipalities once more exercised the authority of local government. Municipal governments vary in structure, but many towns and cities have elected mayors. The executive of Buenos Aires is directly elected to a four-year term and is eligible for immediate reelection.

 The Argentine judicial system is divided into federal and provincial courts. The nine federal Supreme Court judges are appointed by the president with approval of the Senate. Lower federal court judges are nominated by a Council of Magistrates and chosen by the president. Reforms begun in the 1990s addressed long-standing problems of inefficiency, corruption, and unfilled vacancies. There are federal courts of appeal in Buenos Aires and other large cities. The provincial justice system includes supreme courts, appellate courts, courts of first instance, and justices of the peace.

 The judiciary has been criticized as inefficient and open to political influence, despite recent reforms. Among the persistent problems cited are arbitrary arrests, lengthy pretrial detentions, and harsh prison conditions. However, cases involving human rights abuses have received increasing attention since the 1980s. The government has designated a prisons ombudsman since 1993 to monitor conditions and recommend prison reforms.

 Argentina has one of the more educated populations in Latin America, which is reflected in its large number of schools and a nearly universal literacy rate. Primary education is compulsory and free; secondary and higher education is offered in free public schools and in private schools subsidized by the state.

Though early Spanish and Portuguese explorers and immigrants to the New World were very familiar with Muslims and Islamic culture due to 800 years of Muslim rule, it is doubtful that any Muslims were among the first wave of the largely Spanish and Italian settlers who formed the majority of the immigrant population in colonial Argentina. The 20th century saw an influx of Arab migrants to the country, mostly from Syria and Lebanon. It is estimated that today there are about 3.5 million Argentinians of Arab descent. The majority of these Arab immigrants were Christians and Sephardic Jews, and though accurate information is unavailable, probably less than a quarter of Arab migrants were actually Muslim. The descendants of Arab Jews are more likely to identify themselves as Jewish rather than Arab today. In any case, by force conversion to Catholicism, Argentina's state religion, was common amongst these early Muslim pioneers.

Among other notable Arab immigrants is the Menem family, who were of Syrian origin and Muslim themselves. Islam in Argentina is represented by one of Latin America's largest Muslim minorities. Although accurate statistics on religion are not available  the actual size of Argentina's Muslim community is estimated around 1.5% of the total population (500,000 to 600,000)

 There is a prominent mosque on Alberti St. in Buenos Aires, in the city center, that was built in 1989 by local Argentine Muslims. There are also several mosques in other cities and regions throughout the country. The King Fahd Islamic Cultural Center, the largest mosque in South America, was completed in 1996 with the help of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, on a piece of land measuring 20,000 m². The total land area granted by the Argentine government measures 34,000 m², The and includes a mosque, library, two schools, a park, is located in the middle-class district of Palermo, Buenos Aires.

 The Islamic Organization of Latin America (IOLA), headquartered in Argentina, is considered the most active organization in Latin America in promoting Islamic affiliated endeavors. The IOLA holds events to promote the unification of Muslims living in Latin America, as well as the propagation of Islam.

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