Departments of Uruguay

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Departamento (Spanish)
Map of the departments of Uruguay.
CategoryUnitary state
LocationOriental Republic of Uruguay
Number19 departments

Uruguay consists of 19 departments (departamentos). Each department has a legislature called a Departmental Board. The Intendente is the department's chief executive.


The first division of the Republic into six departments occurred on 27 January 1816. In February of the same year, two more departments were formed, and in 1828 one more was added. When the First Constitution was signed in 1830, there were nine departments. These were the departments of Montevideo, Maldonado, Canelones, San José, Colonia, Soriano, Paysandú, Durazno and Cerro Largo. At that time, the department of Paysandú occupied all the territory north of the Río Negro, which included the current departments of Artigas, Rivera, Tacuarembó, Salto, Paysandú and Río Negro.

On 17 June 1837 a new division of Uruguay was made and this northern territory was divided in three parts by the creation of the departments of Salto and Tacuarembó. At the same time the department of Minas (which was eventually renamed to Lavalleja) was created out of parts of Cerro Largo and Maldonado. Then in 1856 the department of Florida was created and on 7 July 1880 the department of Río Negro was split from Paysandú and the department of Rocha was split from Maldonado. In 1884 the department of Treinta y Tres was formed from parts of Cerro Largo and Minas, while also the department of Artigas was split from Salto, and in the same year the department of Rivera was split from Tacuarembó. Finally in the end of 1885 the department of Flores was split from San José.

Series of maps showing the gradual formation of the actual 19 departments of Uruguay.

List of departments[edit]

Flag or
Department ISO 3166-2
Formation Area
Capital Capital population
Artigas UY-AR 1884
(from Salto)
11,928 73,378 6.15 Artigas 40,658
Canelones UY-CA 1816
(as Villa de Guadalupe)
4,536 520,187 114.68 Canelones 19,865
Cerro Largo UY-CL 1821 13,648 84,698 6.21 Melo 53,245
Colonia UY-CO 1816 6,106 123,203 20.18 Colonia del Sacramento   26,231
Durazno UY-DU 1822
(as Entre Ríos Yí y Negro)
11,643 57,088 4.90 Durazno 34,372
Flores UY-FS 1885
(from San José)
5,144 25,050 4.87 Trinidad 21,429
Florida UY-FD 1856
(from San José)
10,417 67,048 6.44 Florida 33,640
Lavalleja UY-LA 1837
(as Minas)
10,016 58,815 5.87 Minas 45,638
Maldonado UY-MA 1816
(as San Fernando de Maldonado)
4,793 164,300 34.28 Maldonado 62,592
Montevideo UY-MO 1816 530 1,319,108 2,489 Montevideo 1,319,108
Paysandú UY-PA 1820 13,922 113,124 8.13 Paysandú 76,429
Río Negro UY-RN 1868
(from Paysandú)
9,282 54,765 5.90 Fray Bentos 24,406
Rivera UY-RV 1884
(as Tacuarembó)
9,370 103,493 11.04 Rivera 64,465
Rocha UY-RO 1880
(from Maldonado)
10,551 68,088 6.45 Rocha 25,422
Salto UY-SA 1837
(from Paysandú)
14,163 124,878 8.82 Salto 104,028
San José UY-SJ 1816 4,992 108,309 21.70 San José de Mayo 36,747
Soriano UY-SO 1816
(as Santo Domingo Soriano)
9,008 82,595 9.17 Mercedes 41,975
Tacuarembó UY-TA 1837
(from Paysandú)
15,438 90,053 5.83 Tacuarembó 54,757
Treinta y Tres   UY-TT 1884
(from Cerro Largo and Lavalleja)
9,676 48,134 4.97 Treinta y Tres 25,477

Statutory framework[edit]

Establishment of departments[edit]

The General Assembly has the powers to create new departments, requiring a special majority vote of two thirds of the number of members of both chambers, as provided by the Constitution in article 85. The General Assembly can also define their borders, requiring the same majority.[2]

Politics and governance[edit]

The basic statutory framework of departments is defined by Section XVI of the Constitution. Each department has Executive and Legislative branches, the former consisting of the Intendant and the latter by the Departmental Board. The Municipal Organic Law No. 9515 regulates more specific details of these rules.[3]


The sources of financial resources of the departmental governments are detailed in article 297 of the Constitution, being the departmental taxes, national taxes whose administration was granted to departments, earnings from services or incomes, money obtained from sanctions, donations, inheritances and bequests received and accepted, and their own part of the National Budged that they were granted by Budget Laws.[4]


Since 2009 (Law No. 18567 of 13 September 2009),[5] the Uruguayan departments have been subdivided into municipalities. As Uruguay is a very small country (3 million inhabitants, of which roughly half live 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 125 municipalities scattered all over the country.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Censos 2011". Instituto Nacional de Estadística. 10 August 2012. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  2. ^ "Constitution of Uruguay - Article 85" (in Spanish). IMPO. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  3. ^ "Constitution of Uruguay - Article 262" (in Spanish). IMPO. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  4. ^ "Constitution of Uruguay - Article 297" (in Spanish). IMPO. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  5. ^ "Ley Nº 18.567 del 13 de septiembre de 2009" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-12-22. Retrieved 2013-08-05.

External links[edit]