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This article is about the capital of Uruguay. There is also Montevideo, Minnesota, in the United States of America.

Montevideo (1.3 million inhabitants, approximately 50% of the national population) is the capital, chief port and largest city of Uruguay.


Independence Plaza, Montevideo, c. 1900

From the Plaza de Independencia which is the juncture between the old city and the ciudad nova extends the Calle 18 de Julio to Cordon, one of the finest boulevards of South America.

Montevideo is situated in the south of the country, at the northern mouth of the very wide Plata River (Río de la Plata) estuary, 120 miles across from Buenos Aires at the southern side.

The city was founded in 1725 by the Spanish to prevent futher incursions by the Portuguese, who had founded Colonia del Sacramento in the previous century, into what was considered Spanish lands, granted to them by the Treaty of Tordesillas. In 1828, the town became the capital of Uruguay. Montevideo comes from the Portuguese "Monte vide eu" which means "I see a mountain". 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 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.

Last updated: 11-10-2004 13:03:49