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Buenos Aires, Argentina

The Metropolitan Area of Buenos Aires (MABA) is located in the province of Buenos Aires. The province lies between 33º 16' and 41º 2' S latitude and 59º 39' and 63º 23' W longitude. Its boundaries are the provinces of Córdoba, Santa Fe and Entre Ríos in the North ; the Río de la Plata ("River of Silver") and the Argentine Sea in the East ; the province of Río Negro in the South, and the provinces of Córdoba, La Pampa and Río Negro in the West.

This area is characterised as the "Pampas" (flat grassland or plains). The western area is higher, with predominant sandy soils. The eastern area is a depressed zone, known as the Salado basin. The area along the riverside of Paraná-Plata, between the boundary with the province of Santa Fe and the Matanza river, is an undulated plain. The MABA covers the Capital Federal (Federal District) and 19 Municipalities or Communities of the province of Buenos Aires, called Gran Buenos Aires.


The climate in MABA is mild and humid, with regularity in the rain cycles. Being adjacent to an aquatic environment increases the relative humidity in the coastal littoral of the region, fluctuating in different periods during the year : in fall and winter the humidity is higher, in spring and summer it decreases by the influence of warm and dry winds from the Northwest. The average humidity in summer is around 65%. In winter, the mean value increases to 80%, reaching 95%. In addition, over the littoral and the courses of rivers and streams fog banks are frequently formed during great part of fall and winter. Rainfall is around 1000 mm/year, mostly during summer. Important rainfall is also registered in May, October and November. The North winds (warm) are predominant in summer, the East winds are predominant in spring and summer and the Northwest winds are predominant in fall and spring. The East winds are the strongest. There is an important effect of two local winds : Sudestada (Southeastern) and Pampero (Southwestern). The first is caused by the rotation of Northern winds; it comes from the Atlantic as a cold and humid wind originating persistent drizzles that stop with the arrival of the Pampero, causing heavy rains and weather change. The Sudestada causes flooding in the coastal area of Río de la Plata. The West, Southwest and Northwest winds start strengthening inland. In no case the average speed exceeds 20 km/h. The mean annual temperature is around 17ºC ; inland the temperature decreases as the moderating effect of the river environment decreases. The mean maximum temperature is 24ºC in January, and the mean minimum temperature is 10ºC in July.


The MABA has a population of around 12,000,000 inhabitants and around 18,000,000 trips are made each day, combining 295 lines of buses, 5 lines of subways, 1 pre-metro, 6 lines of metropolitan trains, 50,000 taxis and 2,000,000 private cars. The bus system daily transports 9,200,000 passengers (83% of the movement in public transportation and 50% of the total trips). The trains transport a total of 1,200,000 passengers (11% of the movement in public transportation and 3% of the total trips). The subways and the pre- metro daily transport a total of 700,000 passengers (6% of the public transportation movement and 3% of the total trips).

The metropolitan road infrastructure is formed by the urban network of the Capital Federal and the different urban and rural roads of the province of Buenos Aires. The total extension of highways, avenues and streets, paved or not, is approximately 25,000 km. In the northern sector cars represent an average of around 70% of the average traffic near Capital Federal, decreasing to 50% as we move away, while buses and trucks increase their participation. In the West there is also a predominance of cars, in less proportion (50%), observing a greater participation of buses and trucks near Capital Federal. An analogous situation occurs in the South.

The railway system in MABA is in extension the fifth in the world, with 901 km, of which 164 km (18%) is powered with electricity, joining more than 250 stations with 4 terminals in the centre of the region.

There are three international airports in MABA. In order of importance these are:

  • Aeropuerto Internacional de Ezeiza
  • Aeroparque Jorge Newbery
  • Aeropuerto Don Torcuato

The bus system is formed by 295 lines with more than 25,000 km of roads and a fleet of 15,000 units. It is operated by 250 private companies. There are 143 national lines operating within Capital Federal. Other 59 provincial lines operate between two or more Communities of Great Buenos Aires, but do not enter Capital Federal. There are 93 communal lines operating within a single Community of Great Buenos Aires. The density of routes is 11.5 km/km2 in Capital Federal and 3.6 km/km2 in Great Buenos Aires.


In spite of the vast spaces with excellent natural resources for exploitation, the province of Buenos Aires only produces 36% of the Internal Gross Product for agricultural and livestock industry. This has not only caused the a relative withdrawal in the participation of red meats and cereals in the world market, but also a strangling of the external sector of the national economy, which depends in great part on the Pampean agricultural exportation. In 1930 the exportations from Argentina represented 25, 65 and 38% of the world commerce of wheat, corn and meats, respectively. In the 70s those values decreased to 4, 12 and 13%, respectively. This situation meant a decrease of the traditional wheat area and the stagnation of the oleaginous crops (sunflower and linseed), as opposed to the great increment in corn's yield and, as from 1974, the expansion of sorghum and the rise of soybean as a wheat substitute.

In MABA, the expansion of the urban area has transformed its immediate borders. The drop of extensive agricultural uses gives rise to other activities (quarries, brick fabrication, lumbering). An opposite trend can also be identified: The proximity of a growing market that allows to simplify the commercialisation mechanisms enhances the development of agricultural activities in the peri-urban border, such as horticulture, floriculture, animal and poultry breeding, apiculture.

The Residential Areas

The urban structure of MABA is characterised by great differences, given in first instance by its distribution in different metropolitan rings. In second place, there are big variations relative to residential structure respecting other mixed structures. The MABA is a complex in which diverse structures succeed one another defining sub-centres, corridors and neighbourhoods very different from each other. As we move away from the first ring, the differences between absolute densities per block and densities per block for residential use become less evident. This indicates the decrease of the specific weight of the territories affected to production. Even though the incidence of agglomeration decreases the residential use prevails simultaneously over other uses.

In general terms, the typical settlement in the City of Buenos Aires is in blocks, even though there are frequently atypical, radial, concentric, diagonal drawings, on rectangular blocks, etc.. The most frequent alteration of this criterion is observed in the big housing projects built by the State, where the plan of the housing area does not reproduce the logic of the lot division, but the implanting of autonomous volumes in an "open" area, following the urbanistic patterns of the "Letter of Athens" (as a result of the IV International Congress of Modern Architecture, in 1941, this document points out four functions as key issues of urbanism: inhabit, work, recreate and circulate). Other residential patterns of settlement have appeared in the framework of legislation requiring previous urban studies. The first, known as Country Club, has specialised in second residence (week-end) and is developed, generally, in a not subdivided lot on very low densities. The increment of irregular settlements keeps a relationship with the difficulty of accessible land for the popular sectors.

The consolidation of urban areas is generally followed by a rise in the value of properties. The first urbanisation induces a second one, where new social sectors push over the previous settlers. This produces, by the effect of market laws, a noticeable transformation of the neighbourhood. This is typical of some sectors of the first and second ring. Nevertheless, there are factors that buffer this trend, strengthening the roots of the old populations in their settlements. On the other hand, the existence of favourable conditions for the location of productive activities tends towards the transformation of housing into industries, which also implies a migration of the population. The characteristics of the third ring is that the urban area extends over rural areas through a process of subdivision of land. In this stage, on the border lands settle frequently brick manufacturers and quarries. In a second stage, the building of housing projects multiply, giving rise to pavement, equipment, commerce, services, etc., that define the internal structure of the residential area. This is characteristic of the second ring. In a third stage, the self-constructed city presents an important profile of consolidation, when a qualification of the built space is produced. This stage is not developed uniformly; in areas where the presence of productive activities is very important, this process presents greater resistance. In the second ring, where this presence is less frequent, this transference of the popular residential areas towards the middle sectors is much more evident. The transformation of neighbourhoods of second residence into permanent residence of middle-high sectors is a trend verified in the North area. This new pattern corresponding to young sectors of high socio-economic level, indicates a certain valuation of non urbanised areas. The consolidation of these rich neighbourhoods in poor surroundings is very conflictive, causing an evident strengthening of private security systems, implementing ways of exclusion as rule for living together. The city consolidates around a system of centres and corridors. A system of attraction towards the different scales of centre will allow the formulation of magnetic relationships in the link between centres and residential areas. On the other hand, a mobile city coexists that questions the nature of this centrality, proposing the location of new centralities in new sites. The consequence of this trend, which identifies the massification of the individual car as a condition for its implementation, is that of an extensive weave of low density, on which buildings concentrating elements of centrality are located on a relatively temporary basis. The dislocation and the agile circulation breaks the limits between the urban and the rural, the productive and the residential, centre and periphery. This pattern of settlement models the northern area of the city, from the area of Pacheco following the Panamericana highway.


The industrial profile of the Capital Federal changed drastically with the modernization of processes, generating a recession of textile and food industry and an increase of metallurgical, automotive and equipment industry. This change caused a decrease in the amount of facilities from 40,080 in 1954 to 28,838 in 1974. In 1985, the amount of industries decreased to 15,864, and in 1994, to 15,644. Almost all the growth in the manufacturing sector after the 60s was produced in the "belt" of Great Buenos Aires. Facing the urban growth, the industry migrated to the periphery. Within the Capital Federal, the facilities tend to nucleate in a few neighborhoods for some textile and chemical industries.

In the 60s, the value of the manufacturing production of the province of Buenos Aires got to be three times greater the value of agricultural and livestock production. In 1985, the amount of industrial facilities was 27,904, having reached the amount 75,580 by the end of the 60s, giving evidence of the recession in this productive sector of the economy. From 1985 to nowadays, the reduction in the amount of industries in the whole province of Buenos Aires has been of around 11%, being 25,894 the number of industrial facilities in the area of Great Buenos Aires.


The original vegetation was herbaceous characteristic of the steppes, but man has transformed it in cultivated plains. The marginal forest of the Paraná-Plata riverside is the continuation of the vegetation found in the northern, warmer and more humid areas.


There are three main basins which drain in the direction of the Río de la Plata. These are the basins of the Luján, Reconquista and Matanza-Riachuelo rivers. To these, we must add systems with less extension, such as the Escobar, Garín and Claro streams in the North (all of them tributaries of the Luján river in its right bank), the Vega, White and Medrano streams in the Northeast, the Maldonado and Cildáñez streams in the South, and the streams Sarandí, San Franciso-Santo Domingo, Jiménez, Conchitas-Plátanos, Baldovinos, Pereyra, Carnaval, Rodríguez, Del Gato, Maldonado and El Pescado in the Southeast.

Luján basin:
Area: 2,940 km2
Average Flow/Maximum Flow: 5.37 m3/s / 400 m3/
Length : 130 km
Headwaters: Community of Suipacha
Mouth : Río de la Plata, Communities of San Fernando and Tigre
Average slope of the basin : 0.44 m/km
Reconquista basin:
Area: 1,670 km2
Average Flow/Maximum Flow: 3.00 m3/s / 286.5 m3/s
Length: 87 km
Headwaters : Community of General Rodríguez
Mouth: Luján river
Matanza-Riachuelo basin:
Area: 2,034 km2
Average Flow/Maximum Flow: m3/s / m3/s
Length: 80 km
Headwaters : Community of
Mouth: Río de la Plata, Communities of Avellaneda and Capital Federal

The difficulty in drainage in the lower areas has derived in the piping of numerous streams near the main course of the Riachuelo; one of these (Vega stream) is entirely within the Capital Federal, while the others have their headwaters in Gran Buenos Aires (Medrano, Maldonado and Cildáñez). In the Southeast, the rivers Sarandí and Santo Domingo have been partially piped before their discharge to the Río de la Plata. With an extension of 14,000 km2, the Delta de Paraná can be split into regions with different characteristics. The most urbanised section is located between the Luján and the Paraná de las Palmas rivers. Besides the Luján river, the main waterways are the Sarmiento and the Carapachay rivers. There are about 30 km of islands, rivers, streams and artificial canals between the Paraná de las Palmas and the Paraná Guazú rivers, which extend upstream for 100 km.

Population size and distribution

The population in MABA is of approximately 12,000,000 inhabitants, of which approximately 9,000,000 correspond to Gran Buenos Aires and 3,000,000 to Capital Federal. The distribution and projections are shown in the corresponding tables and graphics. Population density decreases from the centre towards the periphery, except the residential density is lower than in the second ring, corresponding to the substitution of residential use for tertiary use. Density decreases from North to South, passing through the West. Nevertheless, the there is tendency of inverse growth; the increase in density is higher in the South than in the North, levelling the intensity of land use.

Income distribution by districts and crowding per room are linearly correlated:

    1. Almirante Brown
    2. Avellaneda
    3. Berazategui
    4. Esteban Echeverría
    5. Florencio Varela
    6. General San Martín
    7. General Sarmiento
    8. La Matanza
    9. Lanús
    10. Lomas de Zamora
    11. Merlo
    12. Moreno
    13. Morón
    14. Quilmes
    15. San Fernando
    16. San Isidro
    17. Tigre
    18. Tres de Febrero
    19. Vicente López

Ethnic mix

The people of Buenos Aires call themselves "porteños" ("people of the port"). In the second half of the 19th Century a massive immigration of Europeans greatly increased the size of the city. Most part of the population are European, mainly Italian (38 %) and Spanish (25%). The city also has an important English community, as well as French and German, and smaller number of Poles, Russians, Portuguese, Syrians, Turks. There is also an important presence of Paraguayans, Bolivians and people from other South American countries.


Buenos Aires city is one of the biggest cities of the world. Is also the more elegant and active of South America and the one that summarize the vary and heterogeneous argentines' essence. Is indeed, the big cosmopolitan door of South America

Though is a city with modern structure and dynamic activity, Buenos Aires has preserved old traditions and lovely sites. The environment, the diversity of neighborhoods, people cordiality and the huge quantity of cultural or commercial offers, is really fascinating. Buenos Aires has considerable museums, cultural centers and art galleries.

To Discover the beauty of Buenos Aires you should visit its Civic Center: the impressive National Congress and Plaza de Mayo (May Square) surrounded by Government House (Casa Rosada), the Metropolitan Cathedral and City Hall (Cabildo) from colonial days. You may also see the famous Teatro Colón, one of the world's best known opera houses or have a tour for the traditional barrio of San Telmo where the magical atmosphere of the district will take you back in time. You must not miss this. At the famous San Telmo Market you will see typical antiques of Buenos Aires or you can have lunch at the Viejo Almacén Restaurant. At La Boca, you can observe its picturesque and colourful architecture and at Palermo, the residential neighbourhood, the City Zoo, Palermo Park and the Planetarium. Recoleta is known for its famous cementery, elegant boutiques, gourmet restaurants and side walk cafes under the ficus (gomeros).

Buenos Aires has a varied night life, which extends to early hours of the morning, and eating is part of the fun for most porteños. The night is so active as the day, with lots of cinemas, theatres, restaurants, bars, cultural centres, commercial centres open until the daybreak.

A good night tour may consist of dinner with typical meals, including wine and soft drinks and a tango or folklore show. The "Tango": appeared at the end of the XIX century, from the fusion of different rithms that were danced in the suburbs and nowadays there are many academies that teach tango and places where you can dance it.

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