South America

Spending a Little History in Argentina

Melinda Cleaver

Melinda Cleaver  |  22 August 2015

The famous faces of Argentina's currency.

When we travel in other countries we are eager to learn about history and culture.  We visit museums and art galleries, see important statues and paintings.  Often we don't realise we already have some of this at our finger tips - literally.  
The money we spend going to museums or galleries is filled with history and culture.  Some have important people from the past; others have unique animals or architecture. The currency in Argentina is the Peso.  They choose to highlight people from their past on each note.

ARG 2 PESO - BARTOLOME MITRE   (1821-1906)

2 pesos argentina travel
As a politician Mitre was a very liberal man of the times, in fact he was forced into exile while in opposition against Rosas (the man on the 20 peso note).  He returned after Rosas’ defeat and was the founder of one of South America’s most prominent newspapers, La Union.  Mitre was the sixth President of Argentina.  He dedicated a majority of his later life to writing and although some might say controversial, Mitre ranks as an important South American historiographer.

ARG 5 PESO - JOSE DE SAN MARTIN   (1778-1850)

5 pesos argentina travel

Arguably one of South America's greatest liberators; you will find streets, statues and parks throughout the continent in dedication to this man.  He was born in Argentina but schooled in Spain where he was ostracized for his Latin roots. When plotting South America's independence San Martin willingly set sail back to the motherland. After liberating Argentina San Martin took his famous "Army of the Andes" across to Santiago where he helped Bernado O'Higgins liberate Chile.  He then headed to the north liberating Peru too.  In honour of this deed San Martin was made Protector of Peru and to this day is fondly remembered throughout all of South America

Head to Antarctica on an expedition cruise and you’ll be given 101 instructions on how to approach – or, perhaps better stated, steer clear of – any animal you come across. Yet penguins aren’t renowned for paying much notice to internationally agreed codes of conduct and will think nothing of ignoring the rules and coming in for a closer look. So, what should you do if one does? Well, the common consensus is to use common sense. Rules are there to protect you and the animal so one doesn’t get injured and the other one stressed yet if you’re standing or sitting still and one waddles over to you, one might argue that abruptly storming off is what will cause the penguin to stress. Granted, you need not go in for a bear hug (as much as you might want to) but it’s acceptable to simply stay still and enjoy the magical meet-up. Other than that, it’s good to keep in mind that a respectable distance of at least 10 meters is advisable, especially when dealing with nursing mothers and bubs.

We hope our Antarctic penguin-watching travel advice will be useful as you plan your unforgettable adventure to the southernmost continent on earth. For more info on anything Antarctic related – including choice of expeditions, duration and inclusions, do visit our Antarctica Tours page

ARG 10 PESO - MANUEL BELGRANO   (1770-1820)


10 pesos argentina travel
Manuel Juan Joaquin del Corazon de Jesus Belgrano was born into a wealthy family in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  He studied Law as well as Latin, Philosophy and Literature in Europe; in fact he was so successful that Pope Pius VI allowed him access to forbidden literature of the time!  When he returned to Argentina he took part in the Congress of Tucuman which declared Argentina’s Independence in 1816.  Belgrano also designed the national flag of Argentina.  When he died his last words reportedly were "¡Ay, Patria mía!" (Oh, my country!).

ARG 20 PESO - JUAN MANUEL DE ROSAS   (1793-1877)

20 pesos argentina travel
Juan Manuel de Rosas is a very controversial man of the past.  Although also born into a wealthy family Rosas actually amassed a huge personal fortune from acquiring large grants of land.  He was an Army Officer who eventually reached the rank of Brigadier General, the highest rank in Argentina.  Rosas was also a politician who ruled as the Governor of Buenos Aires Province, although others might call him a “cordillo” or dictator who ruled by state terrorism.  When he declared war in 1851 with Brazil and Uruguay he was defeated and fled to Britain where he lived and died in exile.  In 1989 his remains were repatriated by the government in an attempt to promote national unity, seeking forgiveness for him.


50 pesos argentina travel
Domingo Faustino Sarmiento was an Argentine activist, writer, statesman and the seventh President of Argentina.  He was a member of a group of intellectuals known as the Generation of 1837 who has great influence on nineteenth century Argentina.  While president Sarmiento championed intelligent thought; including education for children and women and democracy for Latin America, he also took advantage of the opportunity to modernize and develop train systems, a postal system and a comprehensive education system.


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Julio Argentino Roca joined the army before he was 15 years old and rose quickly through the ranks.  His infamous campaign known as the “Conquest of the Desert” answered the problem of indigenous assaults on frontier settlements; however at the expense of thousands of indigenous lives.  This huge tactical land gain also strengthened Argentina’s strategic position against Chile.  Due to his campaign and military success Roca was a key figure in the federalization of the country and in naming Buenos Aires as the capital of Argentina.  He resided twice as President seeing primary education be made free and encouraged an era of rapid economic development fuelled by large scale European immigration, railway construction and agricultural exports.  In recent years some groups have called for Roca to be held accountable of genocide against the indigenous.

ARG 100 PESO - EVITA PERON   (1919-1952)

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In 2012 the Argentine government approved a commemorative 100 Peso note in memory of the 60 year anniversary of the passing of Maria Eva Duarte de Peron, or commonly adored as Evita.  The idea was based on a previous commemorative note designed shortly after her death in 1952; however this note did not go into print due to a political coup.  Evita was the wife of President Juan Peron and is fondly remembered for her strong feminist character and support for the working class.

Next time you’re visiting somewhere new, when you change your money into local currency take a moment to look at it, who knows what interesting things they might have printed on it.

Find out more about our trips in Argentina 

Learn more about Argentina on our blog

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