At least according to Google Trends, which is a new tool from the folks at Google that allows you to waste more time online, uh, “compare the world’s interest in your favorite topics.”
This graph shows that in the U.S. more people are searching for the word tango than Buenos Aires. It also gives a sample of news articles that may be associated with spikes in traffic; for instance, who knew that tango had a fierce following in Utah?
The pattern of tango being more popular than Buenos Aires as a search term holds true for most non-Spanish speaking countries but when you limit the search to individual countries such as Argentina or Spain then you see that Buenos Aires is the much more popular term. But, hold on, the Mexicans seem to have a rising interest in tango.
Overall, across all regions of the world, Buenos Aires is a more popular search term than tango, as one would expect.
Google Trends is rather fun to play around with for a while but the comparison data is not very useful unless you choose terms that are very much related. For example, Buenos Aires and tourism are useless terms to compare since the latter returns all results based on tourism searches anywhere in the world.
You can have fun with certain terms, limited to a specific country. I can see pop culture researchers eventually using this tool to investigate topics such as Susana or Tinelli; you will need to have spent some time watching Argentine TV to understand that.
Or, in honor of the upcoming World Cup, compare searches for Maradona and Pele or both to Bechkam and Ronaldinho. Interestingly, in the UK, searches for Ronaldinho are rising quickly, whereas in Brazil hardly anyone is searching on Beckham.
Another problem with Google Trends is that there are no raw numbers associated with the searches, only trend lines. But if Google finetunes the capabilities, then Google Trends could be a very interesting tool.