Occupied by indigenous groups for thousands of years, Argentina's recorded history starts with the arrival of the Spanish in 1516, who colonized the area. Argentina declared independence from Spain in 1816 and suffered through power struggles throughout much of the 19th and 20th centuries, including the conquest of southern Argentina and an unstable democracy punctuated by military dictatorships.
After arriving in 1516, Spaniards called the Argentine region La Plata. Spain largely ignored Argentina during the early colonial period, due to a lack of mineral wealth. However, as Britain and Portugal exerted more influence over the area, Spain established a new vice royalty in the thriving port of Buenos Aires.
After declaring independence in 1816, Argentina faced years of internal conflict between federalists and unitarists, who wanted a strong central government. In 1835, General Juan Manuel de Rosas became dictator of Argentina, creating a strong central government and a precedent for further military regimes.
Despite political instability, Argentina grew considerably in the late 19th century as immigrant settlers exploited its fertile land and new railroads. By 1920, Argentina was a rich and prosperous country, but it faced further instability through the 20th century, including a 1930 army coup, years of repressive authoritarian government in the 1970s and the Falklands War in 1982.
In 1983, elections returned to Argentina, eventually leading to Argentina's rebound on the world stage. As of 2015, Argentina is one of the richest Latin American countries.