Make your own free website on

European Immigration. 1880 - 1914

Immigration was one of the main factors that gave place to the transition from traditional Argentina to modern Argentina. And without it, it is not possible to understand contemporary Argentina. There has not been any other period where the adult foreigners proportion has been so significant; for more than seventy years, the seventy percent of the population of the Capital city and almost thirty percent of the population of the provinces of Buenos Aires, Córdoba, and Santa Fe were immigrants. The “Europisation” of Argentina and the modification of the national character, so yearned for by the political elite of that moment, the 80’s generation, were translated into an open immigration policy.

Immigration stages

Until 1880 agriculture, cattle raising and transportation were fostered through population policies for the later country industrialisation. Among an heterogeneous immigration current, almost half of the immigrants were coming from Italy, mainly the south, and a third part from Spain.

Until 1880 agriculture, cattle raising and transportation were fostered through population policies for the later country industrialisation. Among an heterogeneous immigration current, almost half of the immigrants were coming from Italy, mainly the south, and a third part from Spain.

The second stage started after 1880. At this time skilled labour was demanded for a massive agricultural production, but only a few immigrants could be landlords. In view of the unsuccessful plan to allocate land under ownership, immigrants chose to be renters or agricultural labourers, and looked for urban centres to live in.For this reason the population policies failed. Besides, as immigrants were mostly males, they sought for rural jobs, what favoured the development of agricultural economy that allowed the country to turn into the main wheat exporter in the world, while until the end of 1870 Argentina had to import it.

Social structure

As a consequence of the immigration process, Argentina social structure turned to be more complex and at the same time changed the political culture due to the increase in popular strata and middle class sectors. Though the number of industrialists and traders increased, the high class did not give place to immigrants and kept their wealth and prestige for themselves (based on “seniority and ancestors”) as well as the political and economic power associated with land ownership.

Class structure can be divided into four segments. The first one was the high or aristocratic class which, until 1914, represented one per cent of the population. Second was the upper middle class that, though prosperous, had little social prestige. The lower middle class had neither economic strength nor social power but had some possibility to improve. At the end, the low class that represented two thirds of the total population, was at the pyramid’s base.

The Argentinean style suffered many changes. The dominant class composed by cattle breeders, agriculturists, traders and politicians, shows the contradictions of one generation which values and defects mingle: wealth, wisdom, arrogance, superficiality, prudence and optimism. The middle classes turned to got mixed with immigrants through participation in the economic field and in the modernising culturing process. The lower classes, spread all across Argentina, kept the country duality. To govern modern Argentina it was necessary to integrate immigrants without putting at risk the national integrity.

Between 1902 and 1910, big changes took place in the social structure what brought about strong cracks in the system, both, political and social. Util the war in Europe there was a pronounced arrival of immigrants that sought for new places for well-being. The 1914 war not only interrupted the immigration flow but also called their compatriots back what resulted in a negative immigration balance in the 1914-1918 period. But Argentina was able to keep the offspring of the first immigrants, inclined to social promotion as well as political participation. Most of them had obtained college degrees, who added to the activity of anarchist unionists, generated the tension that characterised the country at the beginning of the 20th. Century.

Urban population duplicated. And it was the middle class the most developed strata thanks to the contribution of foreigners; in it, the independent sectors grew (employees, officials, technicians). At the same time, in the urban centres social rise from the popular strata was more pronounced. This favoured the integration of the different strata in the social order of that time.

Chart of immigration projection in the 1895-1946 period


Domestic migrations in the 40’s

The Argentine society by 1945 showed a novel reality. Foreign immigration had ceased to occupy a central role in Argentine configuration and its placed was occupied by domestic migration. The same as with foreign immigration, domestic migration started to settle in cities, but it got inserted in the popular strata rather than the middle class. Social mobilisation steadily increased, particularly in Buenos Aires.

The urbanisation process grew. One fourth of the population of the metropolitan area was foreign and one third came from the interior of the country, but the latter increased more than any other social sector. Due to this process, industry took the place agriculture had had, and half the population was working in industrial facilities while only twenty percent was employed in agricultural activities by 1948.

National Immigration Museum

Av. Antártida Argentina 1355
CP 1104ACA
(011) 4317-0285

CEMLA -(Latin-American Centre for Migratory Studies)

The Immigrants data base by surname of immigrants that arrived in Buenos Aires between 1882 and 1929 can be checked.

Avda. Independencia 20 – Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires . Tel. (011) 4342-6749 / 4334-7717- Horario: Martes y jueves de 10 a 14 hs.

Evolution of total population, as per national census
Country Totals. 1869-2001 Census


Total Population in Millions


















Source: INDEC, National Population Census


Links to communities in Argentina
Volga Germans in Argentina
Marash Compatriots Armenian Union – Portal for the Armenian Community, Armenians seeking Armenians, agenda, graduation trips to Armenia, genocide testimony, activities, professional and commercial pages.
Armenians on line -
Portal with interviews, discussion forum of the Armenian community, on line language course, biographies, names guide, cooking, patriotic dates, Armenian genocide and updated news
Armenian -
Information on Armenians and their descendants in Argentina, arts, literature, culture and patriotic symbols.
Armenian Beneficial General Union -
International organisation dedicated to foster Armenian culture through their education centres and for humanitarian help of the Armenian people.
Bolivian community -
News about the daily life of Bolivians settled in Argentina
Casal of Catalunya in Buenos Aires
Pobjeda Dances -
Croatian Traditional Dances
Dalmacija Orchestra-
Armenian community orchestra, members, information, songs, also in native and English language
Slovene Home in San Martín
Scots in Argentina (In English)
Galicians Centre
Sócrates Hellenic Community
Site of the Greek community in Argentina with information on social events and activities
British in Argentina
List of British people in 1863 organised by Buenos Aires streets and by provinces
The South Cross -
On Line newspaper of the Irish-Argentinean community in Argentina with the purpose of keeping Irish descendants and friends together and communicated.

Irish People

Italian Immigrants in Argentina -
Brief history of Italian immigration, with graphical material, data base on articles and links.
Italian Institute of Culture
Italian Club
Dante Alighieri Association of Buenos Aires
Search of Italian surnames – Courses - Contests
Jewish People
Jewish Genealogy Association of Argentina
Argentine Hebraic Association
Peruvian community
El Águila Blanca -
Site dedicated to Polish immigration in Argentina
Argentine Valais Institutions
Swiss genealogy in Argentina
Juan de Garay Basque-Argentine Foundation
Cultural institution of the Basque-Argentine community with the aim at extending Basque traditions and customs.
Laurak Bat Basque Centre
City of Buenos Aires. The most ancient Basque centre in the world.