Don’t ever pass on a world capitals category; you’ll need to know them if you want to get on the show. You should really know all of them, but South America is a good start.
Jeopardy! category: SOUTH AMERICAN CAPITALS (8-1-2015)
$400 clue: For a brief period in the early 19th century, it was the capital of the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata
The gist: Even briefer than the period in which the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata existed. Buenos Aires, the once and current capital of Argentina and its predecessors, is located on the western shore of the Rio de la Plata, across the river’s Atlantic mouth from Uruguay’s capital, Montevideo. It was founded by Spanish conquistador Pedro de Mendoza in 1536, abandoned in 1542 due to attacks by indigenous tribes, and refounded more permanently in 1580. Through the next couple hundred years, the city became an increasingly important shipping port in both legal and illegal goods. In the late 18th century Charles III declared it an open port, by which time revolutionary sentiments against the Spanish crown had been fomenting for some time. Up until 1810, the land we now know as Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, and Paraguay (or close enough) was governed by Spain as the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata (of which Buenos Aires was also the capital). A combination of factors, including British incursions in South America, the Crown’s habit of overlooking locals (“criollos”) in favour of Spaniards (“peninsulares”) for government offices, and the abdication of Ferdinand VII‘s throne to Napoleon and the ensuing Peninsular War, led to the beginning of the Argentine War of Independence. In 1810, during the May Revolution, Buenos Aires militias ousted the Spanish Viceroy, and a number of provisional governments, both in Buenos Aires and elsewhere, sprang up, some pro-independence and some still pro-Spain, despite Spain not really having a head of state at the time (besides Napoleon, who certainly wasn’t getting much Argentine support), and the Unite Provinces took their first unofficial form, with Buenos Aires as the capital. Six years later, the Provinces officially declared their independence at the Congress of Tucumán, today seen as the moment of the Argentine Declaration of Independence. In 1820, the city was taken by Jose Artigas‘ Federal forces, and the United Provinces were disbanded in favour of a federalized provincial system. Buenos Aires would go back and forth from being capital of some territory or another for another sixty years, when in 1880 the city was federalized and declared the seat of the Argentinian federal government, separate from the surrounding Buenos Aires Province. In 1993 the city was finally granted full autonomy, and the right of the President of Argentina to appoint the city’s mayor was revoked.
The clue: Pretty tough for a $400 clue. For this one, you’re likely going to need to know where the Rio de la Plata is – that is, between Argentina and Uruguay. That leaves two choices for the capital, but given that it’s a $400 clue, it’s much more likely to be the well-known Buenos Aires than the relatively obscure Montevideo. Still, in the end Buenos Aires is probably the best-known South American capital of them all, so it’s still a fitting subject for the opening clue.
In Jeopardy!: A popular topic, Buenos Aires is in about 70 regular and three FJ! clues in the J!Archive. This clue’s main hint, the Rio de la Plata, is in just eight of them, though. Even more surprisingly, Argentina is in just eleven. The tango, which had its origins in the city, is mentioned in eight. Eva Peron, First Lady and wife of President Juan Peron, is in seven, plus a few more if Madonna’s portrayal of her in the film version of the musical Evita is included. If you can’t tell already, there’s really not much in the way of patterns when it comes to Argentina’s capital. You’re on your own – give it a read.