History of Argentina: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Vinicius Pereira

Vinicius has taught History for elementary and high school students and is currently pursuing a PhD in History at the Freie Universität Berlin.

In this lesson, we'll explore Argentina, a country in South America. We will learn about Argentina's history, the people who first lived there, the silver mines that inspired the name Argentina and other interesting stories about this fascinating country.

Natives Argentines

Who were the first people to live in Argentina? How did they live? Well, the oldest villages in the country date from 11,000 BCE. Native Argentinians were divided into various groups, with different cultures, religions, and habits. Native Argentinians from the north, for example, farmed corn, while native Argentinians from the south hunted small animals like birds and skunks.

Native peoples of Argentina
Native peoples of Argentina

Spanish Colonization

Europeans found Argentina while trying to discover a new route to Asia in 1502. However, it was not until the 1530s that Spain decided to send people to build a village and explore the river region near Rio de la Plata (or what is referred to in English as River Plate). The village is now Argentina's capital city, Buenos Aires.

Location of Buenos Aires
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Soon after Spaniards began to colonize Argentina, they noticed the natives were wearing silver earrings and bracelets. Argentina had so much silver that Spaniards even named it because of that. The name Argentina comes from the Latin word for silver, Argentum. Spaniards began making native Argentinians work as slaves, and the Spaniards forced these slaves to find and collect silver for them. The Spaniards sent the silver mined in Argentina back to the Spanish king, making him richer and richer.

The Catholic Church was also interested in the native Argentinians. The Pope sent priests and monks to convert some of the natives to the religion of Catholicism. However, in 1767, the Spanish king became afraid these priests could become too powerful and forced them to leave Argentina.

Independence from Spain

Buenos Aires was an important port. Ships departed from there with products from all of South America. That attracted the attention of other European empires, and in 1806, the British tried to invade the Argentinian capital. They were defeated by the Argentinians but tried again the next year. Spain did not support Argentina against Britain since it was also fighting wars in Europe.

Argentinians had heard stories about people in other countries taking power from the king, such as in America's fight for independence, and thought it would be a good idea to do the same and become independent. Led by General Jose de San Martin, Argentinians defeated the armies loyal to the king of Spain and declared their independence in 1816.

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