FAMILY LIFE - There is no typical Argentinian family. Family life differs according to many factors, such as region, ethnic background and income. Traditionally, fathers were considered the head of the family, mothers were in charge of the household, and young married couples lived with their parents in quarters built onto the house.
Now, most Argentinians believe that women have the right to a career as well as marriage and family. Some families have hired help to do domestic chores. Young married couples usually find a place of their own rather than living with parents.
Most Argentinians live and work in urban areas. About a third of the population lives in and around Buenos Aires. In small cities and the suburbs, people live in single-family homes, but in Buenos Aires, most people live in apartment buildings. The apartments have modern facilities, but rent and electricity are very expensive. Rent can take a large portion of monthly earnings for some families.
Housing construction has not kept pace with the number of job seekers heading into the cities. The housing shortage has resulted in the growth of villas miserias, shacks made of pieces of wood, tin and other materials found by residents. There is no running water, sewage system or electricity in these areas, and the residents often suffer health problems because of contaminated water.
In Buenos Aires, a cosmopolitan city of over 11 million residents, there is a saying that a Porte�o "speaks Spanish, eats Italian, dresses like a Frenchman and thinks he is an Englishman."
There are still large farms or estancias in many areas of Argentina. Near Buenos Aires, they are usually cattle ranches. Gauchos, who wear the traditional baggy pants and flat-topped hat, still work on some cattle ranches. In Patagonia the estancias may be sheep ranches. In other areas, the estancias may have vineyards, orchards or fields of grain. Some very large estancias are like little villages, with their own chapels and schools. Sometimes the wife and children of the owner live in the city while the children are at school.
The 300,000 indigenous people in Argentina live in small rural communities or in the cities. One important group is the Wich�, who live in the marshy area near the river Pilcomayo in the north of the country. Although many indigenous Argentinians have preserved their traditional way of life, others have adopted a more European lifestyle.