President: Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner
Cristina Fernandez swept to victory in the first round of Argentina's presidential election in October 2007 - a victory that many attributed to the popularity of her husband, the then President Nestor Kirchner.
Cristina Fernandez, Argentina's first female president
She fought the election campaign largely on Mr Kirchner's record of reducing poverty and unemployment in the wake of the 2001-2002 economic crisis - one of the worst the country had ever experienced.
But she faced a difficult start to her first term. Soon after being elected, her popularity dropped to 20% as a result of disputes with farmers and media groups.
It also was widely believed that before his death in 2010, her husband, who was expected to stand again for the presidency, still ran the country behind the scenes.
They suffered a setback in legislative elections in 2009, when their Peronist party lost control of both houses of Congress and Mr Kirchner was beaten in his high-profile bid for a seat in Buenos Aires province, a Peronist stronghold.
However, bouyed by a booming economy, Ms Fernandez was re-elected to a second term with a landslide 54% of the vote in October 2011. Her closest challenger won only 17%.
In January 2012, Ms Fernandez underwent surgery to remove her thyroid gland because of suspected cancer that proved to be benign.
Ms Fernandez was active in a leftist Peronist movement as a law student in the 1970s, later becoming first a provincial and then a national deputy.
She supported her husband - whom she met at university in 1975 - as he rose through the Peronist ranks, and in 1995 became a senator herself.
After Mr Kirchner was elected president in 2003, she was his chief adviser, and he also played an important role in her leadership. One of his first jobs was to help with negotiations to release hostages held by the guerrillas in the Colombian jungle.
The couple were dubbed "the Clintons of the South", and Ms Fernandez encouraged the comparison by alluding to the similarities between herself and Hillary Clinton during her election campaign.