Origin and history of the name of Argentina
The name Argentina is derived from the Latin argentum (silver), which in turn comes from the Ancient Greek argintos (argentos), gen. of argieis (argeeis), "white, shining". The origin of this name goes back to the first voyages made by the Spanish and Portuguese conquerors to the Rio de la Plata, on the first years of 16th Century.
Alejo Garcia, one of the survivors of the shipwrecked expedition mounted by Juan Diaz de Solis at 1516, heard notices about a powerful White King in a very rich in silver country, at the mountains, called "Sierra de Plata". Garcia then organized an expedition and reached Potosi's area, gaining several silver objects and gifts. He was killed by the payaguas, returning to Santa Catarina (Brazil), but the guarani people who where part of the exedition took the silver objects back and spread de Sierra de Plata legend, and explained that it was possible to reach that fabulous land through the wide river south located.
Because of this the Portuguese named the river found by Vespucio or Solis Rio da Prata ("River of the Silver"). The news about the legendary Sierra del Plata (a mountain rich in silver) reached Portugal and Spain around 1524.
The first mention of the Argentina name was in Martin del Barco Centenera's poem La Argentina, published at Spain in 1602.
Ten years later (1612) Ruy Diaz de Guzman published the book Historia del descubrimiento, poblacion, y conquista del Rio de la Plata , naming the territory discovered by Solis as Tierra Argentina .
In 1776 the Virreinato del Rio de la Plata (Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata) was created, named after the river; it included present-day Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay.
During the South American Wars of Independence, the territory used a number of names, mainly Provincias Unidas del Rio de la Plata (United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata), but also Provincias Unidas de Sud America (United Provinces of South America), which were used for the union of today's Argentina and Uruguay (by then one of the provinces) since the beginning of the May Revolution, and until around 1836. Nevertheless, the Constitution of Argentina, sanctioned on December 24, 1826 was entitled Constitucion de la Republica Argentina (This Constitution ruled partially for about six months only).
During the second government of Juan Manuel de Rosas Confederacion Argentina (founded in 1832) was the main name used for the young country, but others were also used, including Estados Unidos de la Republica Argentina (United States of the Argentine Republic), Republica de la Confederacion Argentina (Republic of the Argentine Confederation) and Federacion Argentina (Argentine Federation).
The 1853 constitution used the Confederacion Argentina denomination, but its 1860 amendment changed it to Nacion Argentina, though including a paragraph with the historical names as "equivalent and valid" denominations. Then on October 8, 1860, President Santiago Derqui decreed the official name to be Republica Argentina.
List of meanings of countries' names
United Provinces of the River Plate
What's our name?
My name is Argentina
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