|— Capital city —|
|Department||Río Negro Department|
|Time zone||UTC -3|
|Dial plan||+598 456 (+5 digits)|
The town was originally founded as 'Villa Independencia' by Decree of 16 April 1859. It became capital of the Department of Río Negro on 7 July 1860 by the Act of Ley Nº 1.475 and its status was elevated to "Ciudad" (city) on 16 July 1900 by the Act of Ley Nº 2.656. Its current name, meaning "Friar Benedict", is derived from a reclusive priest.
Historically, Fray Bentos' main industry has been meat processing. An industrial plant owned by the Societe de Fray Bentos Giebert & Cie., the Liebig Extract of Meat Company, was founded here in 1863. It was closed in 1979, after 117 years in operation. A local history museum opened on the site in March 2005.
Fray Bentos was the location of the tragic accident of Austral Flight 2553, where 74 people were killed (69 passengers and 5 crew) on October 10, 1997.
Source: Instituto Nacional de Estadística de Uruguay
Botnia S.A., a subsidiary of Finnish corporation Metsä-Botnia, has built a large cellulose factory in Fray Bentos to produce bleached eucalyptus pulp; production started in November 2007, first shipments in December 2007 from oversea port of Nueva Palmira. The investment in the project was about 1 billion USD and the factory directly or indirectly employs about 8,000 people. The project, however, is not without opponents. On 30 April 2005 about 40,000 Argentines from Entre Ríos, along with environmental groups from both countries, demonstrated in the bridge linking both countries; and since then, around ten to fifteen argentinians are blocking the international bridge to put pressure on the Uruguayan government to stop the factory claiming it will gravely pollute the Uruguay River. On 20 December 2005 a World Bank study concluded that the factory would not have a negative impact on the environment or tourism in either country. The paper mill started operating in November 2007 (see Pulp mill conflict between Argentina and Uruguay).
In 1899 a company called "Anglo" began making corned beef there, which was sold as "Fray Bentos Corned Beef" in the UK. Fifty years later the Fray Bentos company diversified into soups, meatballs and tinned fruit. During the 1990s the focus shifted to pies and puddings and Fray Bentos were taken over by the Campbell Soup Company, however, in 2006, 'Campbells UK' was acquired by Premier Foods. In 2008, Brazilian-owned Marfrig Group announced the reopening of the Liebig factory and the export of meat products, though at a lower capacity than the original factory.
Fray Bentos has an Industrial Revolution Museum in the former meat processing factory of the Liebig Extract of Meat Company where thousands of people worked. When it was shut down the opportunity for the creation of a unique museum was taken, where the original machinery and social and cultural artefacts of the technological revolution in Fray Bentos can be shown to the world. The museum shows, for tourism and educational purposes, the machinery used in the meat and extract of meat process, the buildings, an 1893 Merryweather water pumping machine, a complete canning plant, a plant where the meat was cooked, a laboratory etc.
It also has a museum for the artist Luis Alberto Solari who was born in the city.
Fray Bentos has its own soccer league, the Liga Departamental de Fútbol de Río Negro, established in 1912, made up of 14 teams. Among the most notable are Fray Bentos Fútbol Club, Club Atlético Anglo and Laureles Fútbol Club.
In fiction 
See also 
- Aberdeen typhoid outbreak 1964
- Uruguay River
- Funes the Memorious
- List of diplomatic missions in Uruguay#Consulate in Fray Bentos
- "Statistics of urban localities (1908–2004) (see also "Independencia")" (PDF). INE. 2012. Retrieved 4 September 2012.
- "Fray Bentos", Concise Dictionary of World Place-Names. John Everett-Heath. Oxford University Press 2005. Oxford Reference Online, retrieved 21 June 2008
- "Censos 2011 Cuadros Río Negro". INE. 2012. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
- "Multitudinaria protesta en Entre Ríos contra la instalación de papeleras (in Spanish)". Clarín. 2005. Retrieved April 20, 2005.
- Bloomberg. November 9, 2007 "Metsae-Botnia Gets Permit From Uruguay to Start Pulp Production"
- Anon. "Fray Bentos". Premier Foods our range. Premier Foods. Retrieved 2009-09-28.
- Attwood, Karen (2007-01-20). "Premier Foods to close two factories with loss of 450 jobs". London: The Independent. Retrieved January 20, 2007.
- BBC. October 28, 2008 "Uruguay serves up slice of history "