Argentina is the second-largest country in South America, surrounded by Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The lightly populated country's human history goes back some 13,000 years. Indigenous peoples thrived until the early 16th century, when the Spanish arrived via Rio de la Plata to explore and conquer. It would take numerous military campaigns, but in 1825, Argentina became an independent nation. Throughout its turbulent history, the country has managed to build a collective identity that incorporated its mixed heritage and gave way to a fierce national pride. Today, Argentina is known for a variety of industries and for the varied communities that had a hand in its growth and development. Apart from being known for its world-class beef, football, and dancing, the country chooses to preserve its natural beauty as a matter of safeguarding its future.
San Ignacio Miní began as a Jesuit mission in 1610 but moved to its current location in 1696. By the next century, it had become a commercial trade hub specializing in crafts made by the indigenous population. Luso-Brazilian forces destroyed the mission after the Jesuit priests were driven out. This monument is a well-preserved example of what some call Guaraní baroque architecture.