The arrival of immigrants to Argentina

When the arrival of immigrants to Argentina in the 19th century, occurred, Argentina was a vast territory with a low demographic density. The need to attract European immigration was a permanent desire.

While Europe was industrialized, Argentina was a farming and cattle raising country which provided the old continent with farming products and breeding animals. In turn, it received Europe’s children in search of new horizons in a new world.

From the 19th century onwards, men seeking their place in the world arrived from Europe with their suitcases packed with illusions. With rejections, coincidences and the search for a unitary thought between European immigrants and the natives inhabiting the new country began writing a new history.

The Río de la Plata region received different immigratory waves which brought the spirit and habits of Spaniards and Italians, with the basic addition of Swiss, French, German and also Paraguayan people, all of these to a lesser extent.

Immigration in the 19th Century

Immigrant mothers to Argentina at the end of the 19th century
Immigrant mothers to Argentina at the end of the 19th century

Since the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth century, all the countries of America received strong immigration flows. America received between 1830 and 1950 65 million Europeans.

The great immigration process begins in Argentina in 1856, when the first immigrants arrived from Switzerland, settling in Santa Fe Esperanza on September 8, now remembered as the “Farmers’ Day”. Thus began a process that culminated in the twentieth century.

During this period, 4.5 million Europeans arrived in Argentine territory, making Argentina the second country by immigration flow worldwide.

Immigrant family having lunch
Immigrant family

The arrival of immigrants to Argentina in 20th Century

Trades and occupations of immigrants to Argentina at the beginning of the 20th century: Newspaperman, fruit vendor
Trades and occupations of immigrants to Argentina at the beginning of the 20th century

In the beginning of the century, 3 out of every 10 inhabitants were foreigners. In 1914 29.9% of the population was foreign.

When the immigration movements finished by 1970, only a 10 per cent of the inhabitants had been born abroad. By 1980, this figure had decreased to a 7 per cent, and by 1991, it was 5 per cent. The trend of the foreign population, decreasing remained until 2001.

Where immigrants come in the 21th Century

The 2010 Census recorded a slight increase, 4.2% to 4.5%, immigration to Argentina in relation to the 2001 census.

According to the 2010 Census the foreign-born population comes mainly from Paraguay, Bolivia, Chile and Peru; and make up 68.9% of the total foreign-born.

Del total de inmigrantes a la Argentina, el 41.1% se ubica en el Gran Buenos Aires y el 21% en la Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, donde los extranjeros representan un 13,2% de la población total de CABA
Of all immigrants to Argentina, 41.1% are located in Gran Buenos Aires and 21% in the City of Buenos Aires, where foreigners represent 13.2% of the total population of the city.

For details on Argentina population, we suggest see Argentina Population – The Argentine present

Internal migrations in Argentina

But at the same time, there were internal migration movements due to the regional characteristics of some jobs such as the sugar cane harvest in the north-west, which still attracts workers from everywhere in the July-October period. Much the same situation occurs with the grape harvest in Cuyo in late summer.

There are also permanent migration, caused by socioeconomic changes. With the end of the agro-export model, there was mass migration to the cities during the rural exodus.

In 1940’s the migratory process accompanying the industrialization of Buenos Aires, Rosario y Córdoba and neighboring districts deepened, going on up to this day. According to the 1991 Census, about 6,500,000 of Argentine people live far from their original province. A 25 per cent of the population of Capital Federal, a 35 per cent in the province of Buenos Aires and a 44 per cent in Tierra del Fuego are from other provinces.

According to the 2010 Census, the population that emigrated, and live outside their province of origin, reach 20%.

The internal migrations produced some possibly unforeseen phenomena. The inland cities lost their young population and quickened their economic decay. Those cities which took the immigratory flows had to face the lack of infrastructure to put up with the process and still today, they cannot help the social conflict brought about by overcrowding.


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