As we gear up for the conclusion of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, we’re highlighting some interesting facts about the final four competing nations with information pulled right from the pages of the latest edition of Oxford’s Atlas of the World. Argentina and the Netherlands battled it out in a semi-final match on Wednesday 9 July; Argentina pulled through after a penalty shootout. The team will go head-to-head with Germany on Sunday, 13 July to determine the champion.
Argentina, a two-time World cup winner, reached its fifth final when it defeated the Netherlands. The last time it had advanced that far was 24 years ago in 1986. To celebrate their achievement, here are a few facts to think about the South American nation until the next Cup.
- In 2007 Cristina Fernández De Kirchner was the first directly elected woman president in Argentina. She succeeded her late husband, Néstor Carlos Kirchner, who had previously served for four years. She was later reelected in 2011.
- The country had a large indigenous population prior to European colonization; however 86% of Argentina’s population is now of European ancestry.
- Argentina is South America’s second largest nation after Brazil, and the world’s eighth largest country. It is the fourth largest Spanish-speaking nation in the world.
- Spain took control of Argentina in the 16th century and continued its reign until 1816, when the country won back its independence. Argentina later suffered from instability and periods of military rule.
- The World Bank classifies Argentina as an “upper-middle-income” developing country. Its form of currency is the Argentine Peso which is equivalent to 100 centavos.
- In 1991, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay set up an alliance, Mercosur, aimed at creating a common market. The agreement’s main purpose is to facilitate free trade.
- Roman Catholicism accounts for a whopping 92% of the country’s population (Pope Francis was born and raised there). Protestantism and Judaism tie at a distant second making up 2% each of the population.
Oxford’s Atlas of the World — the only world atlas updated annually, guaranteeing that users will find the most current geographic information — is the most authoritative resource on the market. The milestone Twentieth Edition is full of crisp, clear cartography of urban areas and virtually uninhabited landscapes around the globe, maps of cities and regions at carefully selected scales that give a striking view of the Earth’s surface, and the most up-to-date census information.
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Image credit: Buenos Aires desde el cielo (Estadio de River). By Elemaki. CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.