|Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina, currently the third-largest Metropolitan Area in South America, after São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. It is located on the southern shore of the Río de la Plata, on the southeastern coast of the South American continent. The city of Buenos Aires is not part of Buenos Aires Province, nor is it its capital; rather, it is an autonomous federal district. Greater Buenos Aires is the fourth-largest conurbation in Latin America, with a population of around 13 million.
After the internal conflicts of the 19th century, Buenos Aires was federalised and removed from Buenos Aires Province in 1880. The city limits were enlarged to include the former towns of Belgrano and Flores, which are both now neighbourhoods of the city.
Buenos Aires (English: Fair Winds or Good Air), was originally named after the sanctuary of "Nostra Signora di Bonaria" (Italian for "Our Lady of Bonaria") in Cagliari, Sardinia. In the 1994 constitution the city became autonomous, hence its formal name: Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, in English, Autonomous City of Buenos Aires.
People from Buenos Aires are called porteños (people of the port).
Seaman Juan Díaz de Solís, navigating in the name of Spain, was the first European to reach the Río de la Plata in 1516. His expedition was cut short when he was killed during an attack by the native Charrúa tribe in what is now Uruguay.
The city of Buenos Aires was first established as Ciudad de Nuestra Señora Santa María del Buen Ayre (literally "City of Our Lady Saint Mary of the Fair Winds") on 2 February 1536 by a Spanish expedition led by Pedro de Mendoza. The city founded by Mendoza was located in what is today the San Telmo district of Buenos Aires, south of the city center.
More attacks by the indigenous peoples forced the settlers away, and in 1541 the site was abandoned. A second (and permanent) settlement was established in 1580 by Juan de Garay, who arrived by sailing down the Paraná River from Asunción (now the capital of Paraguay). He dubbed the settlement "Santísima Trinidad" and its port became "Puerto de Santa María de los Buenos Aires."
During most of the 19th century, the political status of the city remained a sensitive subject. It was already capital of Buenos Aires Province, and between 1853 and 1860 it was the capital of the seceded State of Buenos Aires. The issue was fought out more than once on the battlefield, until the matter was finally settled in 1880 when the city was federalised and became the seat of government, with its Mayor appointed by the President. The Casa Rosada became the seat of the President.
In addition to the wealth generated by the fertile pampas, railroad construction in the second half of the 19th century increased the economic power of Buenos Aires as raw materials flowed into its factories. Buenos Aires became a multicultural city that ranked itself with the major European capitals. The Colón Theater became one of the world's top opera venues. The city's main avenues were built during those years, and the dawn of the 20th century saw the construction of South America's then-tallest buildings and first underground system.
By the 1920s Buenos Aires was a favoured destination for immigrants from Europe, particularly Spain and Italy, as well as from Argentina's provinces and neighbouring countries. Shanty towns (villas miseria) started growing around the city's industrial areas, leading to extensive social problems which contrasted sharply with Argentina's image as a country of riches. A second construction boom from 1945 to 1980 reshaped downtown and much of the city.
Buenos Aires was the cradle of Peronism: the now-mythologized demonstration of 17 October 1945 took place in Plaza de Mayo. Industrial workers of the Greater Buenos Aires industrial belt have been Peronism's main support base ever since, and Plaza de Mayo became the site for demonstrations and many of the country's political events. On 16 June 1955, a splinter faction of the Navy bombed the Plaza de Mayo area, killing 364 civilians (see Bombing of Plaza de Mayo). This was the only time the city was attacked from the air; this event was followed by a military uprising which deposed President Perón three months later (see Revolución Libertadora).
In the 1970s the city suffered from the fighting between left-wing revolutionary movements (Montoneros, E.R.P. and F.A.R.) and the right-wing paramilitary group Triple A, supported by Isabel Perón, who became president of Argentina in 1974 after Juan Perón's death.
The military coup of 1976, led by Jorge Rafael Videla, only escalated this conflict; the "Dirty War" resulted in 30,000 desaparecidos (people kidnapped and killed by the military during the years of the junta). The silent marches of their mothers (Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo) are a well-known image of Argentines suffering during those times.
The dictatorship also drew up plans for a network of freeways intended to relieve the city's acute traffic gridlock. The plan, however, called for a seemingly indiscriminate razing of residential areas and, though only three of the eight planned were put up at the time, they were mostly obtrusive raised freeways that continue to blight a number of formerly comfortable neighborhoods to this day.
The city was visited by Pope John Paul II twice: in 1982, due to the outbreak of the Falklands War (Spanish: Guerra de las Malvinas/Guerra del Atlántico Sur), and a second visit in 1987, which gathered crowds never before seen in the city.
On 17 March 1992 a bomb exploded in the Israeli Embassy, killing 29 and injuring 242. Another explosion, on 18 July 1994 destroyed a building housing several Jewish organizations, killing 85 and injuring many more, these incidents marked the beginning of Middle Eastern terrorism to South America.
Following a 1993 agreement, the Argentine Constitution was amended to give Buenos Aires autonomy and rescinding, among other things, the president's right to appoint the city's mayor (as had been the case since 1880). On 30 June 1996, voters in Buenos Aires chose their first elected mayor (Chief of Government).
On 30 December 2004 a fire at the República Cromagnon nightclub killed almost 200 people, one of the greatest non-natural tragedies in Argentine history.