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What You Need To Know

Montevideo  is the capital and largest city of Uruguay. According to the 2011 census, the city proper has a population of 1,319,108 (about one-third of the country’s total population) in an area of 194.0 square kilometres (74.9 sq mi). The southernmost capital city in the Americas, Montevideo is situated in the southern coast of the country, on the northeastern bank of the Río de la Plata. The city was established in 1724 by a Spanish soldier, Bruno Mauricio de Zabala, as a strategic move amidst the Spanish-Portuguese dispute over the platine region. It was also under brief British rule in 1807. Montevideo hosted all the matches during the first FIFA World Cup. Montevideo is the seat of the administrative headquarters of Mercosur and ALADI, Latin America’s leading trade blocs, position that entailed comparisons to the role of Brussels in Europe. Montevideo has consistently been rated as having the highest quality of life of any city in Latin America: by 2015 has held this rank every year during the last decade.  As of 2010, Montevideo was the 19th largest city economy in the continent and 9th highest income earner among major cities. In 2015, it has a GDP of $ 40.5 billion, and a per capital of $24,400. It is classified as a Beta World City, ranking seventh in Latin America and 73rd in the world. Described as a “vibrant, eclectic place with a rich cultural life”, and “a thriving tech center and entrepreneurial culture”, Montevideo ranks 8th in Latin America on the 2013 MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index. By 2014, is also regarded as the tenth most gay-friendly city in the world, first in Latin America. It is the hub of commerce and higher education in Uruguay as well as its chief port. The city is also the financial and cultural hub of a larger metropolitan area, with a population of around 2 million.

Area194 km²

Population: About 1,270,737

 

Currency

The currency used in Montevideo is the Uruguayan Peso.

Culture

Montevideo has a very rich architectural heritage and an impressive number of writers, artists, and musicians. Uruguayan tango is a unique form of dance that originated in the neighbourhoods of Montevideo towards the end of the 1800s. Tango, candombe and murga are the three main styles of music in this city. The city is also the centre of the  cinema of Uruguay, which includes commercial, documentary and experimental films. There are two movie theatre companies running seven cinemas, around ten independent ones and four art film cinemas in the city. The theatre of Uruguay is admired inside and outside Uruguayan borders. The Solís Theatre is the most prominent theatre in Uruguay and the oldest in South America.  There are several notable theatrical companies and thousands of professional actors and amateurs. Montevideo playwrights produce dozens of works each year; of major note are Mauricio Rosencof, Ana Magnabosco and Ricardo Prieto. Montevideo skyline at night. In recent years Montevideo nightlife has moved to Ciudad Vieja, where a large concentration of buildings cater for the recreational interests of young people during the night time. Under a presidential decree of 1 March 2006 smoking is prohibited in any public place with roofing, and there is a prohibition on the sale of alcohol in certain businesses from 21.00 to 9.00. A Cultural Centre of Spain, as well as Asturian and cultural centres, testify to Montevideo’s considerable Spanish heritage. Montevideo also has important museums including Museo Torres García, Museo José Gurvich, Museo Nacional de Artes Visuales and Museo Juan Manuel Blanes etc., as mentioned above.

Economy

As the capital of Uruguay, Montevideo is the economic and political centre of the country. Most of the largest and wealthiest businesses in Uruguay have their headquarters in the city. Since the 1990s the city has undergone rapid economic development and modernization, including two of Uruguay’s most important buildings—the World Trade Center Montevideo (1998), and Telecommunications Tower (2000), the headquarters of Uruguay’s government-owned telecommunications company ANTEL, increasing the city’s integration into the global marketplace. The Port of Montevideo, in the northern part of Ciudad Vieja, is one of the major ports of South America and plays a very important role in the city’s economy. The port has been growing rapidly and consistently at an average annual rate of 14 percent due to an increase in foreign trade. The city has received a US$20 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank to modernize the port, increase its size and efficiency, and enable lower maritime and river transportation costs. The most important state-owned companies headquartered in Montevideo are: AFE (railways),ANCAP (Energy), Administracion Nacional de Puertos (Ports), ANTEL(telecommunications),BHU (savings and loan),BROU (bank), BSE (insurance), OSE (water & sewage),UTE (electricity). These companies operate under public law, using a legal entity defined in the Uruguayan Constitution called Ente Autonomo (“autonomous entity”). The government also owns part of other companies operating under private law, such as those owned wholly or partially by the CND (National Development Corporation). Banking has traditionally been one of the strongest service export sectors in Uruguay: the country was once dubbed “the Switzerland of America”, mainly for its banking sector and stability, although that stability has been threatened in the 21st century by the recent global economic climate. The largest bank in Uruguay is Banco Republica (BROU), based in Montevideo. Almost 20 private banks, most of them branches of international banks, operate in the country (Banco Santander, ABN AMRO, Citibank, Lloyds TSB, among others). There are also a myriad of brokers and financial-services bureaus, among them Ficus Capital, Galfin Sociedad de Bolsa, Europa Sociedad de Bolsa, Darío Cukier, GBU, Hordeñana & Asociados Sociedad de Bolsa, etc.

 

Festivals

Montevideo Carnival: drummers

“Zonal queens”

As the capital of Uruguay, Montevideo is home to a number of festivals and carnivals including a Gaucho festival when people ride through the streets on horseback in traditional gaucho gear. The major annual festival is the annual Montevideo Carnaval which is part of the national festival of Carnival Week, celebrated throughout Uruguay, with central activities in the capital, Montevideo. Officially, the public holiday lasts for two days on Carnival Monday and Shrove Tuesday preceding Ash Wednesday, but due to the prominence of the festival, most shops and businesses close for the entire week. During carnival there are many open-air stage performances and competitions and the streets and houses are vibrantly decorated. “Tablados” or popular scenes, both fixed and movable, are erected in the whole city. Notable displays include “Desfile de las Llamadas” (“Parade of the Calls”), which is a grand united parade held on the south part of downtown, where it used to be a common ritual back in the early 20th century. Due to the scale of the festival, preparation begins as early as December with an election of the “zonal beauty queens” to appear in the carnival.

 

Language

Montevideo official language is Spanish

 

Health and security

In Montevideo, as elsewhere in the country, there are both public and private health services. In both sectors, medical services are provided by polyclinics and hospitals or sanatoria. The term hospital is used here for both outpatient and inpatient facilities, while sanatorio is used for private short- and long-term facilities for the treatment of illnesses. Private healthcare is offered by many private health insurance companies, each of which has one or more polyclinics and owns or is associated with one or more hospitals. Private medical facilities of note include the Hospital Británico, the Italian Hospital of Montevideo, Mutualista CASMU’s Sanatoria I, II, III and IV, the Evangelical Hospital, Médica Uruguaya, Sanatorio de la Asociación Española, Sanatorios del Círculo Católico, Sanatorio Casa de Galicia and Sanatorio GREMCA.

 

Retail

Montevideo is the heartland of retailing in Uruguay. The city has become the principal centre of business and real estate, including many expensive buildings and modern towers for residences and offices, surrounded by extensive green spaces. In 1985, the first shopping centre in Rio de la Plata, Montevideo Shopping was built. In 1994, with building of three more shopping complexes such as the Shopping Tres Cruces, Portones Shopping, and Punta Carretas Shopping, the business map of the city changed dramatically. The creation of shopping complexes brought a major change in the habits of the people of Montevideo. Global firms such as McDonald’s and Burger King etc. are firmly established in Montevideo. Apart from the big shopping complexes, the main retailing venues of the city are: most of 18 de Julio Avenue in the Centro and Cordón barrios, a length of Agraciada Avenue in the Paso de Molino area of Belvedere, a length of Arenal Grande St. and the surrounding streets in Villa Muñoz and a length of 8 de Octubre Avenue in Unión.

 

Tourism

Tourism accounts for much of Uruguay’s economy. Tourism in Montevideo is centered in the Ciudad Vieja area, which includes the city’s oldest buildings, several museums, art galleries, and nightclubs, with Sarandí Street and the Mercado del Puerto being the most frequented venues of the old city. On the edge of Ciudad Vieja, Plaza Independencia is surrounded by many sights, including the Solís Theatre and the Palacio Salvo; the plaza also constitutes one end of 18 de Julio Avenue, the city’s most important tourist destination outside of Ciudad Vieja. Apart from being a shopping street, the avenue is noted for its Art Deco buildings, three important public squares, the Gaucho Museum, the Palacio Municipal and many other sights. The avenue leads to the Obelisk of Montevideo; beyond that is Parque Batlle, which along with the Parque Prado is another important tourist destination. Along the coast, the Fortaleza del Cerro, the Rambla (the coastal avenue), 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) of sandy beaches, and Punta Gorda attract many tourists, as do the Barrio Surand Palermo barrios.  The Ministry of Tourism offers a two-and-a-half-hour city tour and the Montevideo Tourist Guide Association offers guided tours in English, Italian, Portuguese and German. Apart from these, many private companies offer organized city tours. Most tourists to the city come from Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Europe, with the number of visitors from elsewhere in Latin America and from the United States growing every year, thanks to an increasing number of international airline arrivals at Carrasco International Airport as well as luxury cruises that arrive into the port of Montevideo that often participate on The Wine Experience.

 

Transport

The Dirección Nacional de Transporte (DNT), part of the national Ministry of Transport and Public Works, is responsible for the organization and development of Montevideo’s transport infrastructure. A bus service network covers the entire city. An international bus station, the Tres Cruces Bus Terminal, is located on the lower level of the Tres Cruces Shopping Center, on the side of Artigas Boulevard. This terminal, along with the Baltazar Brum Bus Terminal (or Rio Branco Terminal) by the Port of Montevideo, handles the long distance and intercity bus routes connecting to destinations within Uruguay. Estación Central General Artigas. The State Railways Administration of Uruguay (AFE) operates three commuter rail lines, namely the Empalme Olmos, San Jose and Florida. These lines operate to major suburban areas of Canelones, San José and Florida. Within the Montevideo city limits, local trains stop at Lorenzo Carnelli, Yatai (Step Mill), Sayago, Columbus (line to San Jose and Florida), Peñarol and Manga(line Empalme Olmos) stations. The historic 19th century General Artigas Central Station located in the neighbourhood of Aguada, six blocks from the central business district, was abandoned 1 March 2003 and remains closed. A new station, 500 metres (1,600 ft) north of the old one and part of the Tower of Communications modern complex, has taken over the rail traffic. Carrasco International Airport (IATA: MVD, ICAO: SUMU), which serves Montevideo, is located 12 miles (19 km) from the city centre. Several international airlines operate there. The airport serves over 1,500,000 passengers annually. Ángel S. Adami Airport is a private airport operated by minor charter companies.

 

Weather

Montevideo enjoys a mild humid subtropical climate (Cfa, according to the Köppen climate classification). The city has cool winters (June to September), hot summers (December to March) and volatile springs (October and November); there are numerous thunderstorms but no tropical cyclones. Rainfall is regular and evenly spread throughout the year, reaching around 950 millimetres (37 in). Winters are generally wet, windy and overcast, while summers are hot and humid with relatively little wind. In winter there are bursts of icy and relatively dry winds and continental polar air masses, giving an unpleasant chilly feeling to the everyday life of the city. In the summer, a moderate wind often blows from the sea in the evenings which has a pleasant cooling effect on the city, in contrast to the unbearable summer heat of Buenos Aires. Montevideo has an annual average temperature of 16.7 °C (62.1 °F). The lowest recorded temperature is −5.6 °C (21.9 °F) while the highest is 42.8 °C (109.0 °F). Sleet is a frequent winter occurrence. Snowfall is extremely rare: flurries have been recorded only four times but with no accumulation, the last one on 13 July 1930 during the inaugural match of the World Cup, (the other three snowfalls were in 1850, 1853 & 1917); the alleged 1980 Carrasco snowfall was actually a hailstorm.