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What does Buenos Aires mean?

Buenos Aires, the name of the capital of Argentina, is a Spanish phrase literally meaning "good air." Two unsuccessful attempts were made to found settlements on the site of the present city of Buenos Aires before a permanent settlement was made. In 1536 Don Pedro de Mendoza, with a large and well-equipped expedition from Spain, established a settlement there, but because of mismanagement and the hostility of the natives the place was completely abandoned in 1541 by decree of the governor of Paraguay. All the settlers burned their homes and carried their property to Asuncion. The next year part of of the expedition of Cabeza de Vaca made another unsuccessful attempt to establish a Spanish settlement on the site. It was not until 1580 that Don Juan de Garay, governor of Paraguay, succeeded in effecting a. settlement that became permanent. Mendoza had called his settlement Santa Maria de Buenos Aires, "St. Mary of the Good Breezes," because of the pleasant breezes and invigorating atmosphere of the place. Garay, who envisioned a great city at this point on the Rio de la Plata, named his settlement Ciudad de la Santissima Trinidad, but retained Mendoza's descriptive name of the port. Thus the full name of the city and port is Ciudad de la Santissima Trinidad y Puerto de Santa Maria de Buenos Aires, "City of the Most Holy [page 19] Trinity and the Port of Holy Mary of Good Atmosphere." Buenos Aires is the largest city south of the equator and the largest Spanish-speaking city in the world. About a quarter of the population of Argentina lives in the capital and its suburbs. There is an Argentine saying that, "When Buenos Aires has a cold, the whole republic sneezes." An approximation of the Spanish pronunciation of Buenos Aires is BWAYN-nohs EYE-race. In English it is widely pronounced BONE-os AIR-ez. The final s in each element of the name has the sibilant and not the z sound in Spanish. The city is sometimes familiarly referred to simply as B.A.