views updated Jun 27 2018


Montevideo, department and capital city of Uruguay. With 1,345,010 inhabitants (2006), the department has 41 percent of Uruguay's total population, and the expansion of Greater Montevideo has encroached upon the neighboring department of Canelones. With a concentration of 1,485 inhabitants per square mile, Montevideo is one of the most densely populated capitals in South America. The funnel-shaped bay on which the city is located was first sighted in 1514 by the Portuguese navigators Nuño Manuel and Juan de Haro, who named the place Monte de Santo Ovidio. The bay was visited in 1516 by Juan Díaz de Solís and in 1520 by Ferdinand Magellan, who is said to be responsible for the name of the city, having commented: "Mountain I saw" ("Monte vide eu"). In 1580 Juan de Garay established the settlement of Santa María del Buen Ayre (present-day Buenos Aires) on the southern shore of the Río De La Plata estuary, which became the focus of colonization. The northern shore was neglected, no doubt owing to the presence of the belligerent Charrúa Indians.

When the Portuguese established themselves in Colônia do Sacramento in 1680, and when their possession was confirmed by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 and new attempts were made at founding a second settlement on the estuary, authorities in Buenos Aires awoke to the threat, and Governor Mauricio de Zabala ordered the establishment of the City of San Felipe del Puerto de Montevideo on 9 November 1724. In 1726 families from Teneriffa and from Santa Fé and Buenos Aires were among the first settlers. Remnants of the old city's fortification still stand. Soon the emplacement became the major center of hide exports from the interior and a military outpost charged with intercepting the smuggling activities of the Portuguese, French, and English in Colônia do Sacramento. During the turbulent years spent in gaining independence—first from Spain, then from the United Provinces of the Río De La Plata, and finally from Brazil—Uruguayans displayed admirable military fortitude.

After 1828, when Uruguay gained relative stability as an independent republic, Montevideo was sought out by European merchants to establish lucrative enterprises: the Falkland Islands, for example, were exploited and administered from Montevideo and not from Buenos Aires. The ensuing immigration of Europeans and the growing importance of agrarian activities in the interior of the country reinforced the city's relevance as a centralized capital. A good share of the national income went into constructing modern port installations and social services for Montevideo, to the detriment of the development of the rest of the country. Promenades, wide avenues, and magnificent buildings in the tradition of southern European architecture were built during the halcyon years of agrarian export. Residential development occurred along avenues General Flores and 8th of October, as well as along the picturesque Rambla Costanera running east along the Río de la Plata in the direction of Carrasco, where the international airport is located (some 13 miles from downtown), and along the famous beaches of Pocitos, Buceo, Los Ingleses, Malvin, and Carrasco. Asmall Afro-Uruguayan community famous for its candombé, a drum-based musical rhythm, is centered in the capital, as well as a sizeable Jewish population. The low-income sectors extend east of the Cerro, to the north of the city in the direction of Canelones, and into the industrial area to the west.

City services employ more than half of the labor force, compared with 34.5 percent in manufacturing and processing activities. A majority of the country's industrial establishments are located in Montevideo and its suburbs, though in the twenty-first century there has been some diversification. Besides the federal and local government, the city is the headquarters for Mercosur. Primary activities such as agriculture, mining, and fishing are scarcely represented, and nearly 7 percent of the economically active population of Montevideo reports no specific occupation. Well-maintained roads connect Montevideo with Punta Del Este, with Río Branco, Rivera, and Artigas on the Brazilian border, and with cities on the Uruguay River. The railroad system has only two major lines, one traveling to Rivera and Porto Alegre, Brazil, and the other to Río Branco. Communications with Buenos Aires are extremely busy, with hourly services of ferries and hydrofoils from Montevideo and Colonia and numerous commuter flights from the Carrasco airport. Citizens of Montevideo enjoy a high quality of life, though an economic crisis in 2001 created some decline, which is evident in the increase in informal employment.

See alsoCandomblé; Magellan, Ferdinand; Uruguay, Geography.


Marta Canessa, La ciudad vieja de Montevideo (Montevideo, 1976).

Grupo De Estudios Urbanos, La ciudad vieja de Montevideo: Posibilidades de rehabilitación (Montevideo, 1983).

Ricardo Alvarez, El Montevideo de la expansión, 1868–1915 (Montevideo, 1986).

Intendencia Municipal, Montevideo: Capital del Uruguay (Paris, 1990).

Additional Bibliography

Alfaro, Milita. Carnaval: Una historia social de Montevideo desde la perspectiva de la fiesta. 2 vols. Montevideo: Ediciones Trilce, 1991.

Barrán, José Pedro. Amor y transgresión en Montevideo, 1919–1931. Montevideo: Ediciones de la Banda Oriental, 2001.

Betancur, Arturo Ariel. El puerto colonial de Montevideo. Montevideo: Universidad de la República Departamento de Publicaciones, 1997–1999.

Giménez Rodríguez, Alejandro. Breve historia de Montevideo. Montevideo, Uruguay: Ediciones El Galeón, 2003.

Goldaracena, Ricardo. Montevideo es así: Historia de sus calles. Montevideo: Ediciones El Galeón, 2006.

Pineo, Ronn F., and James A. Baer. Cities of Hope: People, Protests, and Progress in Urbanizing Latin America, 1870–1930. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1998.

Salgado, Susana. The Teatro Solís: 150 Years of Opera, Concert, and Ballet in Montevideo. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2003.

                                                 CÉsar N. Caviedes


views updated May 18 2018


MONTEVIDEO , capital of Uruguay with a population of 1,200,000, and a Jewish population of 23,500 in 2005 (90.78% of the Jewish population of the country). Some 13,000 former Uruguayan Jews live in Israel. The community was established before World War i by immigrants from Eastern Europe and the Middle East. The main representative body is the Comite Central Israelita (Jewish Central Committee), constituted of four kehillot: Jewish community of Montevideo (Ashkenazi), the Sephardi community, the New Jewish Congregation (German-speaking) and the Hungarian Jewish society. All of them together embrace the majority of the Jews except those of Communist ideology and affiliations. Another main body is the Zionist Organization of Uruguay (osu), the roof organization and central authority of the local Zionist movement, its political factions, women organizations, and youth movements as well as both national funds – Keren Kayemet and Keren Hayesod–Hamagbit. For more details see *Uruguay.

[Nahum Schutz (2nd ed.)]


views updated May 18 2018

Montevideo Capital of Uruguay, in the s part of the country, on the River Plate. Originally a Portuguese fort (1717), the Spanish captured Montevideo in 1726, and it became the capital of Uruguay in 1828. One of South America's major ports, it is the base of a large fishing fleet and handles most of the country's exports. Products include textiles, dairy goods, wine, and packaged meat. Pop. (2000) 1,380,962.

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