This article is about the capital of Uruguay. There is also Montevideo, Minnesota, in the United States of America.
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Independence Plaza
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Montevideo from space, March 1997
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Independence Plaza, c. 1900
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1888 German map of Montevideo

Montevideo is the capital, chief port and largest city in Uruguay.



Montevideo is situated in the South of the country, at the northern mouth of the very wide Plata River (Río de la Plata) estuary, 193 km (120 miles) across from Buenos Aires at the southern side. The geographic coordinates are 34.5 S, 56W.

The climate is mild, with average temperatures of approximately 13 C.

18 de Julio, the city's main avenue and one of the finest of South America, extends from the Plaza Independencia, which is the junction between the Ciudad Vieja (the historical quarter) and the rest of the city, to the neighbourhood of Cordn.


The Portuguese founded Colonia del Sacramento in the 17th century despite Spanish claims to the area due to the Treaty of Tordesillas. The Spanish chased the Portuguese out of a fort in the area in 1724. Then, Bruno Mauricio de Zabala - governor of Buenos Aires - founded the city on December 24, 1726 to prevent further incursions.

In 1828, the town became the capital of Uruguay. There are at least two explanations for the name Montevideo: The first states that it comes from the Portuguese "Monte vide eu" which means "I see a mountain". The second is that the Spaniards recorded the location of a fountain in a map as "Monte VI De Este a Oeste" meaning "The sixth mountain from east to west". The city's full original name is San Felipe y Santiago de Montevideo.

The city fell under heavy British influence from the early 19th century until the early 20th century as a way to circumvent Argentine and Brazilian commercial control. It was repeatedly besieged by Argentinian dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas between 1838 and 1851. Between 1860 and 1911, the British built an extensive railroad network linking the city to the surrounding countryside.

During World War II, a famous incident involving the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee took place in Montevideo, which was a neutral port during the war. After the Battle of the River Plate with the British navy on December 13, 1939, the Graf Spee retreated to the port. To avoid risking the crew in what he thought would be a losing battle, Captain Hans Langsdorff scuttled the ship on December 17th.


Montevideo began as a minor settlement. In 1860, Montevideo had a population of 37,787. By 1884, the population had grown to 104,472, including many immigrants. By this time, trade had become the main source of revenue for the city and it became a rival to Buenos Aires. During the early 20th century, many Europeans immigrated to the city, and by 1908, 30% of the population was foreign born.

During the mid-20th century, military dictatorship and economic stagnation caused a decline whose residual effects are still seen today. Many rural poor flooded the city, with a large concentration in Ciudad Vieja.

Recently, economic recovery and stronger trade ties with Uruguay's neighbors have led to renewed agricultural development and hopes for greater future prosperity.

As of 2004, the city has a population of 1.35 million out of a total 3.43 million in Uruguay [1] ( The greater metropolitan area has 1.8 million people.

External links

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