Buenos Aires,(Spanish:), Argentina, the nation's capital, largest city, and chief port. Buenos Aires is on the western bank of the Rio de la Plata, about 150 miles (240 km) from the Atlantic Ocean. The city limits coincide with those of the federal district of the same name, which covers about 80 square miles (210 km2). Metropolitan Buenos Aires, however, extends well beyond the district's boundary and forms one of the world's most populous urban areas.
Since colonial times, Buenos Aires has been the center of the economic, cultural, and political life of Argentina. Much of the city has been built or renovated since 1900 and has a fairly modern appearance, with wide streets and many tall buildings. In general, the street pattern resembles a grid, which is crossed by two main diagonals. Some old, narrow streets remain and are usually reserved for pedestrians.
The heart of the city lies near the waterfront and centers around the Plaza de Mayo, the main square. Facing the squate are several of the city's principal public buildings. The Avenida de Mayo, a broad east-west street, connects the Plaza de Mayo with another major square—the Plaza del Congreso. Crossing the Avenida de Mayo at its midpoint is the Avenida 9 de Julio, one of the widest boulevards in the world. The main shopping and commercial district is north of the Plaza de Mayo and centers around Calle Florida, a narrow street open only to pedestrians for most of the day.
As an industrial center, Buenos Aires ranks first among Argentina's cities. Food processing, particularly meat packing and flour milling, is the chief industry. Others include the making of metal goods and machinery, electrical equipment, chemicals and drugs, leather goods, and textiles. Buenos Aires is one of the major printing and publishing centers of Latin America.
Most of Argentina's commercial and business activity takes place in Buenos Aires. It is the main center of wholesale and retail trade. Also, the headquarters of many of the nation's major banks, insurance companies, and large corporations are located here.
The port of Buenos Aires is one of the busiest in the world. It handles most of the tremendous tonnage of Argentina's agricultural exports and most of its imported goods. The nation's principal highways and railway routes converge on Buenos Aires. Ezeiza is the nation's busiest airport. The city has an extensive public transportation system, including a subway.
Several of Buenos (Aires' major landmarks are clustered around the Plaza de Mayo. On the east side of the square is the state house, called the Casa Rosada (Pink House), which takes its name from the color of its exterior. Here the president of the republic conducts state business. Opposite the Casa Rosada is the Cabildo, the colonial town hall, where Argentina's independence movement began in May, 1810. It now houses a museum. In the Cathedral of Buenos Aires, on the north side of the square, is the tomb of General José de San Martín, one of the liberators of South America.
On the Plaza del Congreso is the impressive Palacio del Congreso Nacional, the meeting place of the national legislature. Another major landmark, on the Avenida 9 de Julio, is an obelisk commemorating the settlement of the city in 1536. Nearby is the Teatro Colón, a lavishly furnished theater, built as an opera house.
Buenos Aires has a great number of parks. Among the most popular is Palermo, featuring gardens, ponds, and a renowned horse racing track. Nearby are the city's zoo and botanical gardens.
The University of Buenos Aires, with more than 100,000 students, is one of the largest universities in the world. Also in the city are the National Technical University, the Catholic University of Argentina, the National Conservatory of Music, and many colleges and technical schools. The National Library is also here. Major museums include the National Museum of Fine Arts and the National Historical Museum. There are also a number of museums specializing in Spanish-American art, national and local history, and natural sciences. The city's chief center for the performing arts is the Teatro Colón, which offers opera, ballet, and symphonic music.