This is the second-largest country in South America in area, and the third largest in population. Argentina has a long, tapered shape and occupies most of the southern part of South America. The Andes Mountains stretch along the country's western border, with a bare, windswept plateau called Patagonia, which extends across the south. A grassy plain, called The Pampa, lies near the middle of the country. Most Argentines are of Italian or Spanish ancestry. Indians – the original inhabitants – make up only a small part of the country's population. Argentina's name comes from the Latin word for silver, argentum, because the first Spanish settlers came to Argentina in search of silver and gold during the 1500s. For almost three hundred years, Argentina was a Spanish colony. It finally gained its independence in the early 1800s.
Argentina began printing its own stamps in 1858.