Since 2009 (Law No. 18567 of 13 September 2009), the Uruguayan departments have been subdivided into municipalities. As Uruguay is a very small country (3 million inhabitants, of which roughly one-half lives in the national capital), this system has been widely criticized as a waste of resources. Nevertheless, in the municipal elections of 2010 the local authorities were elected and they assumed office months later. Currently there are 89 municipalities scattered all over the country.
Each municipality is governed by a local council, made up of 5 members. Popularly the chairperson of the local council is known as alcalde (mayor).