Montevideo is the largest city, the capital, and the chief port of Uruguay.
Montevideo is the only city in the country with a population over 1,000,000.
According to Mercer Human Resource Consulting, in 2007 Montevideo provided
the highest quality of life in Latin America.
Montevideo is situated in the south of the country, The geographic
coordinates are 34.5° S, 56°W.
18 de Julio is the city's main avenue and extends from the Plaza
Independencia, which is the junction between the Ciudad Vieja (the
historical quarter) and the rest of the city, to the boundary between the
neighborhoods of Cordón and Parque Batlle.
In spite of its excellent location, the city of Montevideo was established
only in 1726, mainly as a base to defend the eastern province of Virreinato
del Río de la Plata from Portuguese incursions. A few years after its
foundation, Montevideo became the main city of the region north of the Río
de la Plata and east of the Uruguay River, competing with Buenos Aires for
dominance in maritime commerce.
In 1776, Spain made Montevideo its main naval base (Real Apostadero de
Marina) for the South Atlantic, with authority over the Argentine coast,
Fernando Po, and the Falklands.
At different periods of their history, Montevideo and Buenos Ayres had
resisted successfully the attacks of the fleets and armies of more than half
the nations of Europe. 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.
In the year 1811, the forces deployed by the Junta Grande of Buenos Aires
and the gaucho forces led by José Artigas had started a siege to the city of
Montevideo, which had refused to obey the directives of the new authorities
after the May Revolution. The siege had been lifted at the end of that year,
when the military situation started to deteriorate in the Upper Peru. It was
briefly occupied by Britain in 1807, and it was repeatedly besieged by
Blanco leader Manuel Oribe and Argentine dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas
between 1838 and 1851. Between 1878 and 1911, British-owned railway
companies built an extensive railway network linking the city and its port
to the countryside.
During World War II, a famous incident involving the German pocket
battleship Admiral Graf Spee took place in Punta del Este, 200 kilometres
(120 mi) from Montevideo. After the Battle of the River Plate with the Royal
Navy and Royal New Zealand Navy on December 13, 1939, the Graf Spee
retreated to Montevideo's port, which was considered neutral at the time. To
avoid risking the crew in what he thought would be a losing battle, Captain
Hans Langsdorff scuttled the ship on December 17. Langsdorff committed
suicide two days later.
On 10 February 2006, the eagle figurehead of the Admiral Graf Spee was
salvaged. To protect the feelings of those still sensitive to Nazi Germany,
the swastika on the figurehead was covered as it was pulled from the water.
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 neighborhoods of Montevideo towards the end of the 1800s. Tango, candombe and murga are the three main styles of music in this city.