Europeans first discovered Argentina in 1502 during the voyage of Amerigo Vespucci. In 1580 the Spanish founded a colony in Buenos Aires. By 1800 Buenos Aires had a population of 50,000. In 1816 Argentina declared it independence from Spain. In 1824 a constitutional assembly passed a constitution. Conservative political forces for the rest of the 19th century dominated Argentina. During this period the country grew rapidly.
In 1916 Radical forces took control of the government. They were ousted in 1935. In 1946 Juan Peron took control of the government. Peron was ousted in 1955 by the military. The military maintained power until 1973, when violence forced the military to allow the return of Peron. He died the next year and his third wife Isabella Peron took over. She was able to maintain power for only two years. The military regained power and instituted a very repressive regime in which 20,000 leftist disappeared.
When Argentina occupied the Falkland Islands in 1982 the British defeated the Argentineans and reoccupied the Falklands. The defeat resulted in the fall of military government. In 1989 Carlos Memen became the President of the country and began serious economic and political reform.