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MMore European than South American in flavor, Buenos Aires' heart boasts bustling streets, grand avenues, old-time cafes and stylish restaurants. The locals are renowned for their flair and cockiness, even in times of adversity. It's a city of tragedy and elation; a vibrant, cosmopolitan capital..

Area: 4,326 sq km
Population: 16 million
Country: Argentina
Time Zone: GMT/UTC -3 (Standard Time)
Telephone Area Code:(054) 011

Orientation
Although Gran Buenos Aires has swollen to 13 million people, most tourists stick to the Capital Federal, which is home to a mere 3 million porteños (locals) and is divided into 48 barrios (neighborhoods). Once you get your head around the barrios and sub-neighborhoods that complicate the city's layout, Buenos Aires becomes easier to navigate. The Microcentro, or downtown precinct, provides access to the most interesting barrios and entertainment areas along the Avenidas of Corrientes, Córdoba and Santa Fe, and the pedestrian-only streets of Florida and Lavalle. The Avenida 9 de Julio is an unmistakable point of reference; its 16 lanes of traffic run from San Telmo in the south to Retiro up north, with a sky-piercing white obelisk at its centre. The dockside barrio of Puerto Madero runs north-south along the Río de la Plata and is very pedestrian friendly.

At the eastern end of Avenida de Mayo, one of Microcentro's main east-west boulevards, the Plaza de Mayo attracts a bountiful blend of tourists, students and political activists and is surrounded by many important buildings, including the famous Presidential Palace (Casa Rosada).

Buenos Aires is famous for its tango heritage, and on December 11 each year locals celebrate Día del Tango, the birthday of Carlos Gardel, who took tango to the world. Many events take place around the city to mark the occasion and the singer's tomb at Chacarita draws Elvis-like worshipping hordes. For those interested in Argentina's traditional gaucho (cowboy) heritage, the Campeonato Abierto de Pato in December is the championship play-off for the pato crown; it's a bit like watching a game of horseback rugby. Also in December is the Campeonato Abierto Argentino de Polo, the slightly more highbrow polo championship season finale.


 
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