Spanish Argentines

Spanish settlement in Argentina, that is the arrival of Spanish emigrants in Argentina, took place first in the period before Argentina's independence from Spain, and again in large numbers during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Between the 15th and 19th centuries, the Spanish Empire was the sole colonial power in the territories that became Argentina after the 1816 Argentine declaration of independence. Thus, before 1850, the vast majority of European settlers in Argentina were from Spain and they carried the Spanish colonial administration, including religious affairs, government, and commercial business. A substantial Spanish descended Criollo population gradually built up in the new cities, while some mixed with the indigenous populations (Mestizos), with the black slave population (Mulattoes) or with other European immigrants.

Spanish Argentines
Hispano argentinos
Total population
The majority of Argentines have at least partial Spanish ancestry.[1]
Regions with significant populations
Throughout Argentina
Rioplatense Spanish. Minority speaks Galician, Catalan and Basque.
Roman Catholicism
Related ethnic groups
Spaniards, Galicians, Castilians, Catalans, Asturians, Cantabrians, Aragonese, Basque Argentines

Since a great portion of the immigrants to Argentina before the mid-19th century were of Spanish descent, and a significant part of the late-19th century/early-20th century immigrants to Argentina were Spaniards, the large majority of Argentines are at least partly of Spanish ancestry. Indeed, the 20 most common surnames in Argentina are Spanish. However this prevalence and the numerous shared cultural aspects between Argentina and Spain (the Spanish language, Roman Catholicism, Criollo/Hispanic traditions) has been mitigated by massive immigration to Argentina at the turn of the 20th century involving an overall majority of non-Spanish peoples from all over Europe. This has led to a hybrid Argentine culture which is among the most distinct from traditional Spanish culture in Latin America. Furthermore, a large proportion of Spanish immigration to Argentina during the 20th century was from the North Western region of Galicia, which has a separate language and distinct culture from other parts of Spain.


The interplay between Argentine and Spanish culture has a long and complex history. Spanish settlements date back to 16th century, and from then on, many criollo Spaniards populated the area of Argentina, some of whom intermarried with non-Spaniards. Spain established a permanent colony on the site of Buenos Aires in 1580, although initial settlement was primarily overland from Peru. The Spanish further integrated Argentina into their vast empire by establishing the Vice Royalty of Rio de la Plata in 1776, and Buenos Aires became a flourishing port. Argentina would become a crucial part of the Spanish Empire in South America.

The Argentine independence movement drastically changed earlier Argentine-Spanish relations. The Argentine movement for independence from Spain began in the powerful city of Buenos Aires on May 25, 1810, and the whole new country formally declared independence from Spain on July 9, 1816 in the city of San Miguel de Tucumán. Following the defeat of the Spanish, centralist and federalist groups engaged in a lengthy conflict to determine the future of the nation of Argentina. Prior to its independence, Spaniards in Argentina who were against the rule of the Spanish Empire and desired their independence came to be known as Argentines, and those who were opposed to independence continued to be identified as Spaniards. But a few generations after independence, and particularly after recent immigration, most Argentines began to see themselves as purely Argentine out of pride in their new developing nation.

Spanish Immigration

During the colonial period (1492 -1832) a total of 2.4 million Spaniards emigrated to Virreinato of Buenos Aires, forming the basis of modern-day Argentine population. In the post-colonial period (1832-1950), there would be a further influx of Spanish immigrants to Argentina from all over Spain during the Great European immigration wave to Argentina, after the creation of the modern Argentine state. Between 1857 and 1960, more than 2.5 million Spanish people emigrated to Argentina, mostly from Galicia, the Basque Country, Asturias, Cantabria, and Catalonia in northern Spain, while significantly smaller numbers of immigrants also arrived from Andalusia in southern Spain.

Galicians make up 70% of the Spanish post-colonial immigrant population in Argentina. The city with the world's second largest number of Galician people is Buenos Aires, where immigration from Galicia was so profound that today all Spaniards, regardless of their origin within Spain, are referred to as gallegos (Galicians) in Argentina. The Rio PLatense Spanish language spoken in Buenes Aires has a strong influence from Gallego Portugues (The Language of the Galicians) amongst Italian and others. Very notable for Spanish speaker is the use of y and ll sounds. For example, the pronunciation of the ll and y uses the Gallego sound to say llorar (Spanish uses English you sound)-chorar (Gallego-Portugues uses the English she sound) and llegar (Spanish) -chegar (Gallego-Portugues) meaning to cry and to arrive. Or ya and xa (already). Both are pronounced the Gallego-Portuguese way with ch and x and not the Spanish way with ll and y. comparable to an English you sound (yorar). So the Argentines write Spanish but pronounce Gallego-Portugues in these occasions.

Roughly 10-15% of the Argentine population are descended from Basque people, both Spanish and French, and are described as Basque Argentines. They gather in several Basque cultural centers in most of the large cities in the country. A common practice among Argentinians of Basque origin is to identify themselves "French-Basques", in spite of being no ethnic or cultural difference between Basques from either side of the border between France and Spain. This is because of French culture being considered more "fashionable" than Spanish among the average Argentinian.

In 2013, there were 92,453 Spanish citizens born in Spain living in Argentina and another 288.494 Spanish citizens born in Argentina.[2]

Modern times

While there continues to be strong interest among the population in European affairs and their European heritage, the Argentine culture today varies considerably from the Spanish just like the American or Australian cultures vary from the British.

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Yale university report says 2,080,000 Spanish immigrants entered Argentina between 1857-1940. Spain provided 31.4% (Italy 44.9%) of all immigrants in that period.[3] Nevertheless, due to prior Spanish immigration occurring throughout the colonial period, the modern day Argentine population is overwhelmingly Spanish in origin, with the 20 most common surnames in the country being all from Spain. [1]

Another report gives net migration data as follows:

Spanish net migration to Argentina from 1857 to 1976
Year period Spanish immigrants
1857–1860 1,819
1861–1870 15,567
1871–1880 24,706
1881–1890 134,492
1891–1900 73,551
1901–1910 488,174
1911–1920 181,478
1921–1930 232,637
1931–1940 11,286
1941–1950 110,899
1951–1960 98,801
1961–1970 9,514
1971–1976 -2,784
Total 1,380,140

See also


  1. "Cuáles son los 200 apellidos más populares en la Argentina". Retrieved April 22, 2018.
  2. (in Spanish)
  3. "90.01.06: South American Immigration: Argentina". Retrieved April 22, 2018.
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