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Punta del Este

Punta del Este

Punta del Este is a peninsular beach resort city in Uruguay's Department of Maldonado with a year-round population of approximately 9,000 (2007 est.). Francisco Aguilar, a shipowner, landowner, and merchant, founded what was first called Villa Ituzaingó in 1829. More than 300 years earlier, the Spanish explorer Juan Díaz de Solís had named the area Cabo Santa María. Aguilar was the small settlement's economic and political boss and went on to serve as senator in the national government before his death in 1840. Situated on the country's southeastern coast, where the Río de la Plata meets the Atlantic Ocean, Punta del Este was a valuable whaling settlement and a base for sea lion hunters, among other things, during the nineteenth century. It was an appendage of the city of Maldonado, of which Aguilar was mayor in 1829–1830, until residents and local leaders officially founded the municipality of Punta del Este in 1907. The littoral city remained small and relatively underdeveloped until it emerged as one of South America's most popular vacation destinations during the 1940s.

In the 1960s Punta del Este hosted two significant international meetings. The first, in 1961, was a meeting of the Inter-American Economic and Social Council, which brought together representatives from the United States and 22 Latin American countries and established the Charter of Punta del Este, the founding document of the U.S.-led Alliance for Progress. The following year, in a meeting of the Organization of American States, a majority of governments voted with the United States to exclude Cuba from the organization and condemn communism. Today Punta del Este boasts five-star hotels, casinos, and fine dining, and its striking port is a favorite of boaters and sailors.

See alsoMaldonado; Uruguay, Geography.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Barreda, Felipe. Punta del Este: Historia, vida, destino. Buenos Aires: Cristol, 1965.

Fischer, Diego, and Silvia Pisani. 100 años de Punta del Este. Montevideo: Aguilar, 2007.

                                            Patrick Barr-Melej

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