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Country Reports

Argentina Country Report

Overview

INTRODUCTION

Trips to Argentina (population 44.2 million) are typically carried out without incident, but travelers should be aware of a few potentially concerning issues.

CRIME

While Argentina remains one of the safest Latin American countries, crime rates - and, specifically, a public sense of rising general insecurity - have become a hot-button issue in Argentinean media and political discourse in recent years. Government statistics indicate, however, that crime rates have fallen in recent years.

Petty crime (pickpocketing, purse-snatching, scams) is widespread in cities and foreigners can be targeted due to their presumed affluence. In the capital Buenos Aires it is advised to avoid the La Boca neighborhood at night, as well as the city's slums - known as villas, and mostly located in the extreme south of the city - at all times.

For-profit abductions, usually so-called "express kidnappings," have become more common in recent years, with most perpetrated in the capital region. According to official statistics, 150 kidnappings were reported in the first nine months of 2017. Victims are generally freed once their ransom is paid or after being forced to withdraw money from ATMs. For now, the vast majority of these victims are Argentineans; however, foreign businessmen could also be targeted. The abductions typically take place between 20:00 and midnight and last for less than four hours, during which time the victims (usually adult males) are held captive within vehicles. In 2016, no kidnapping was reported in Buenos Aires's central and business area, known as the microcentro.

Kidnappers and other criminals have been known to drug their victims (e.g. with scopolamine [date rape drug], known locally as burundanga), which can render a victim unconscious for over 24 hours, and in large doses can cause brain damage and death. It is therefore advisable to never accept food, drink, or cigarettes offered by strangers and to keep an eye on drinks while in public.

"Virtual kidnapping" scams have also become more common, particularly in Buenos Aires and Santa Fe provinces; these crimes are generally carried out by gangs who call the victim and falsely inform them that they have kidnapped a family member, sometimes a child, and demand a ransom for their release.

That said, Argentina enjoys one of the lowest homicide rates in the Americas, with approximately six murders per 100,000 inhabitants.

Victims of crime can reach a 24-hour police hotline with English-speaking operators by dialing 101; a multi-lingual tourist assistance hotline can be reached by dialing 0800 999 5000.

SOCIAL UNREST

Strikes and anti-government protests are very common, particularly in the capital. While generally peaceful, such demonstrations can be highly disruptive to daily life and often include roadblocks and transportation disruptions. General strikes held in recent years have had a near-paralyzing effect on transportation and commerce, particularly in the capital region. In 2016-2017, massive public and private sector layoffs, high rates of inflation (more than 40 percent in 2016, around 25 percent expected in 2017), price hikes (gas, water, electricity, and public transportation, etc.), rising poverty, and various other conservative policies introduced by the relatively new government of President Mauricio Macri (inaugurated in late 2015) have led to an increase in the frequency of protests.

As is the case in many countries, social tensions and unrest increase during electoral periods. The next presidential and legislative elections will take place in October 2019.

TRANSPORTATION

It should be noted that rail networks are limited and, as such, long-distance travel is usually taken by airplane or by bus.

Buenos Aires is served by commuter rail lines as well as a metro. However, the metro only serves a relatively small part of the city. The rest of the city is served by buses. Public transit is safe in the capital, although users should be on alert for pickpockets. Uber has been banned in the capital region although the application is still active (drivers risk up to ten days in prison).

Taxi scams are relatively common at international airports. Here, the safest types of taxi are private remises, which generally charge by the kilometer, though there is often a set fee when traveling from airports which is paid at the taxi company's kiosk located at the airport. Radio taxis are also safe, as well as plentiful and inexpensive, and can be picked up at taxi stands or hailed off the street; in Buenos Aires they are yellow and black, while outside the capital they are white and blue.

Police checkpoints are common on roads outside the capital and, as such, it is important to always carry your photo ID (passport), driver's license, vehicle registration documents, and car insurance information when driving. The country suffers from relatively high rates of traffic accidents (7896 road fatalities in 2013) and road conditions vary throughout the country.

Adverse weather conditions, such as snow and wind, regularly lead to land border closures with neighboring Chile, many of which are located in the Andes mountain range. On a related note, long waiting times have become common at the border - in particular, at the Los Libertadores border crossing - with Argentineans flocking to shop in Chile, where many products are sold at cheaper prices. There are strict importation laws in Argentina and cars are subject to search. Waiting times tend to be particularly long on weekends, particularly in the weeks preceding Christmas.

NATURAL RISKS

Coastal areas of Argentina, including Buenos Aires, and low-lying areas in Santa Fe province are vulnerable to flooding. Some 80 people died in April 2013 in flooding in Buenos Aires province, including within the city limits.

The Andes mountain range, in which Argentina is partially located, is a seismic zone; as such, earthquakes regularly strike in Argentina, particularly in the north and west. However, major damage or loss of life is rare.

Volcanic eruptions in neighboring Chile can lead to major flight disruptions in Argentina, sometimes lasting days or even weeks.

INFRASTRUCTURE

Power outages are relatively common in Buenos Aires due to insufficient energy supplies, especially during periods of particularly high temperatures during the summer months (October-March). The outages regularly result in protests as well as traffic disruptions due to nonfunctioning traffic lights.

HEALTH

All travelers are advised to take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance prior to departure.

Health conditions are generally good and tap water is potable in the vast majority of the country. However, mosquito-borne diseases are present in certain areas, notably in the north and the capital region during the summer months (October-March). 

  • Argentina was hit by a major dengue fever epidemic in 2016, with nearly 80,000 confirmed or probable cases reported. However, only a few hundred cases have been reported in 2017. 
  • There is a low risk of contracting malaria in the northern provinces of Salta, Chaco, Corrientes, and Misiones; however, no cases have been reported in recent years.
  • There is a risk of contracting chikungunya in the extreme northwest of the country.
  • There is a low to moderate risk of contracting the Zika virus in the north of the country.
  • Yellow fever is sometimes reported in the north of the country, near the Brazilian border (e.g. Corrientes and Misiones provinces)

Various infectious diseases (Hantavirus, Junin virus, etc.) are present in Argentina and are often deadly. The risk of infection is low but not insignificant. Hantavirus, transmitted by small rodents and transmitted to humans through the air or by direct contact, is mainly present in Patagonia.

Rabies is present in northern Argentina. To reduce the risk of contracting rabies, avoid contact with both domestic and wild animals, especially street dogs. If you are scratched or bitten, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Climate

In the northeast the climate is subtropical (hot and humid); the rainy season there lasts from November until March during which period violent but brief thunderstorms are common. From May until September, temperatures are pleasant during the day and sometimes cool at night.

In the Buenos Aires region, humidity levels are high all year long. The summer is hot and humid and the winter mild and humid. Springtime is pleasant.

In the northwest the rainy season, when temperatures are high during the day and cool at night, begins in October and ends in March. The rest of the year temperatures are mild and it rain is rare.

In Patagonia, rain is rare throughout the year. Conditions in the winter are dry, sunny, and very windy while summers are mild. In Tierra del Fuego (extreme south), winters are cold and summers cool.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +54 Police (Buenos Aires): 911 Fire Department: 100 Ambulance: 107

Electricity

Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

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