What Country is Named After an Element?

Argentina is the only country in the world to be named after an element.
Argentina is the only country in the world to be named after an element.

The name Argentina is derived from the word “Argentum” which means silver. Early voyagers and explorers referred to the region as the land of silver due to the belief that there were vast deposits of the element there. The white, soft, lustrous, and precious metal readily forms alloys with other elements hence used in making of various gadgets, ornaments, and coins. On the Periodic Table, silver is atomic number 47 and symbolized as Ag.

History Of The Name

The name Argentina was first used by voyagers from Spain and Portugal at the beginning of the 16th Century. In 1516, Aleixo Garcia, one of the leading conquistadors led an exploration mission to what they had heard as a place rich in silver. He was a member of the Juan Díaz de Solís expedition that sought to find the route to the Pacific Ocean through the Atlantic Ocean. Although Garcia was later killed, the discovery of the silver-rich country had taken place with the remaining tribesmen heading back with silver items. The Guarani tribesmen also narrated of a great river called the Rio de la Plata that led to the country with plenty of silver or the silvery land. Rio de la Plata, a Spanish word for a river of silver is a funnel-shaped estuary that empties into the Atlantic Ocean.

Geography And Demographics

Argentina is the 4th largest country in America and the 8th largest in the world with the mainland covering a surface area of 1,073,518 square miles. The southern South American country shares a land border with Paraguay and Bolivia to the north, Brazil to the northeast and Chile to the west across the Andes. The South Atlantic Ocean and Uruguay are to the east while to the south is the Drake Passage. The highest elevation is Aconcagua at 22,837 feet above the sea level while the lowest elevation is Laguna del Carbon at – 344 feet below the sea level. The country hosts megadiverse ecosystems in the 7 geographical regions ranging from subtropics in the north to polar climate in the south. Continental zones, oceanic zones, and Antarctic regions are all found in Argentina.

The population of Argentina is 44.7 million people, hence a population density of 42 people per square mile. A majority are descendants from European ethnic groups making the country a hub of mixed races. The official and national language is Spanish with additional languages being Italian, Germany, English and indigenous dialects.

Politics And Governance

The Constitution defines checks and balance by establishing three independent branches namely the legislature, the executive and the judicial branch. The legislature is composed of the Deputy chambers and the Senate which have the mandate to make laws, approve treaties and has the power of the purse. The executive is headed by the President who is the commander in chief. The President appoints the cabinet and other state officers who assist in enforcing federal policies and laws. The third branch is the judiciary which is made up of the Supreme court and federal courts. The function is to interpret laws and ensures that laws made by the parliament are constitutional. Governance is through the 23 provinces which are subdivided into municipalities and departments. The capital city is Buenos Aires which is categorized as an autonomous region.


Other than silver, Argentina is rich in other natural resources that make the country one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The economy is ranked third in Latin America but second in South America due to great boost from the highly literate workforce, diverse industries, export-oriented agricultural production, and efficient railway system. Argentina has invested highly in science and technology making it highly competitive globally in all sectors of the economy.


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