Artigas Department

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Artigas Department
Flag of Artigas Department
Coat of arms of Artigas Department
Coat of arms
Artigas Department is located in Uruguay
Artigas Department
Location of Artigas Department & its capital
Coordinates (Artigas): 30°28′S 56°28′W / 30.467°S 56.467°W / -30.467; -56.467
Country  Uruguay
Capital of Department Artigas
 • Intendant Patricia Ayala
 • Ruling party Frente Amplio
 • Total 11,928 km2 (4,605 sq mi)
Population (2011 census)
 • Total 73,378
 • Density 6.2/km2 (16/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Artiguense
Time zone UYT (UTC-3)
ISO 3166 code UY-AR

Artigas Department (Spanish: Departamento de Artigas, Spanish pronunciation: [arˈtiɣas]) is the northernmost department of Uruguay, located in its northwestern region. Its capital is the city of Artigas, which borders on the Brazilian city of Quaraí. Artigas Department has an area of 11,928 square kilometres (4,605 sq mi), making it the fifth largest in the country. The population is 73,378 inhabitants, according to the 2011 census.

It is bordered on the north and east by Brazil, from which it is separated by the Cuareim River. To the south, Artigas Department borders on Salto Department, and to the west is Argentina, from which it is separated by the Uruguay River. Artigas is the only Uruguayan department that borders two other countries.

The department and its capital city are named after José Gervasio Artigas (1764–1850), leader of the Orientales (inhabitants of the Banda Oriental, the Eastern bank of the Uruguay River) during Uruguay's wars of independence.


Uruguay's first administrative division, into six departments, happened on 27 January 1816. Two more departments were formed later in that year. At the time, Paysandú Department included all the territory north of the Río Negro, which included present-day departments of Artigas, Rivera, Tacuarembó, Salto, Paysandú and Río Negro. On 17 June 1837, a new division of Uruguay was made and Salto Department was created, including the territory of today's Artigas Department. The current borders were defined on 1 October 1884, when Artigas Department was split from Salto by Law no. 1854.

The Battle of Masoller, a noteworthy event in Uruguayan history, was fought on 1 September 1904. Masoller is located in neighbouring Rivera Department, but next to the border tripoint with Artigas and Salto.

Geography and climate[edit]

Topographic map of Artigas Department showing main populated places and roads

Two portions of the department's border with Brazil are disputed (Isla Brasilera or Brazilian Island near Bella Unión, and an area called Rincón de Artigas near Masoller), but unlike many border disputes between Latin American countries, this issue has not strained Uruguay's relations with Brazil, which remain friendly.

Two main geostructural regions can be found inside Artigas' limits:

  • The central and eastern area, which includes a basaltic cuesta, and some sedimentary plains near the Cuareim River. Also found in the region are some hill ranges, such as Cuchilla de Belén.
  • The western area, which consists of a narrow alluvial plain.

Artigas Department's average temperature is the highest in the whole country (over 19°C or 66°F, and may go as high as 47°C or 116°F during the summer months). So are its precipitation levels (up to an annual average of 1400 mm).


Plantations in Bella Unión, north of Artigas.

The unique climatic conditions of Artigas has made possible the development of an important agro-industrial centre around the city of Bella Unión. Several crops are planted, namely fruits and vegetables, sugar cane, and rice. In the rest of the department, the main economic activity is livestock raising.

Semi-precious gemstones, such as agates and amethysts, are also found in the department, and an entire industry has risen up around their extraction and manufacturing, especially near the capital city of Artigas.

The proximity of the department to Brazil has made it possible for an important flow of trade to be established here, but unfortunately this is generally unfavorable to Uruguayan economic interests. Nevertheless, this partially compensates for the fact that the per capita income is the lowest of the country, and the percentage of households in poverty is the highest in the country (13.19% of the inhabitants).

Population and Demographics[edit]

A polished slice of an amethyst stalactite from Artigas Department

As of the census of 2011, the Artigas Department had a population of 73,378 (36,079 male and 37,299 female) and 26,231 households.[1]

Demographic data for Artigas Department in 2010:

  • Population growth rate: -0,006%
  • Birth Rate: 15.48 births/1,000 people
  • Death Rate: 7.05 deaths/1,000 people
  • Average age: 28.2 (27.2 male, 29.2 female)
  • Life Expectancy at Birth:
    • Total population: 75.43 years
    • Male; 72.03 years
    • Female: 79.35 years
  • Average per household income: 19,273 pesos/month
  • Urban per capita income: 6,994 pesos/month

2010 Data Source:[2]

Main Urban Centres Other towns and villages
Population stated according to the 2011 census.[3]
City / Town Population
Artigas 40,658
Bella Unión 12,200
Las Piedras 2,771
Tomás Gomensoro 2,659
Baltasar Brum 2,531
Pintadito 1,642
Sequeira 1,149
Town / Village Population
Franquia 935
Cerro Ejido 790
Cuareim 710
Mones Quintela 531
Colonia Palma 440
Town / Village Population
Coronado 438
Cerro San Eugenio 425
Bernabé Rivera 380
Cainsa 355
Portones de Hierro
y Campodónico
Rural population

According to the 2011 census, Artigas department has a rural population of 3,524.[1]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b "Censos 2011 Artigas (needs flash plugin)". INE. 2012. Retrieved 25 August 2012. 
  2. ^ "Uruguay en cifras" (PDF) (in Spanish). INE. 2011. Retrieved 25 October 2012. 
  3. ^ "Censos 2011 Cuadros Artigas". INE. 2012. Retrieved 25 August 2012. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 30°36′0″S 56°57′0″W / 30.60000°S 56.95000°W / -30.60000; -56.95000