Immigration to Uruguay

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Immigration to Uruguay started with the arrival of Spanish settlers during the Colonial Period to what was then known as Banda Oriental.[1]


Uruguay is a multiethnic nation formed by the combination of different groups over five centuries. Amerindians inhabited Uruguayan territory for several millennia before Spanish Conquest in the 16th century. Spaniards and Africans arrived in significant numbers under colonial rule. Many people of European background mixed with the Amerindians.[1]

Beginning in the second half of the 19th century, there has been a gradual European immigration from several countries, which had its peak between 1870 and 1920; back then, Villa del Cerro neighbourhood in Montevideo was characteristically populated by immigrants.[2]

In April 1831, government troops massacred most of the amerindian population under the command of General Fructuoso Rivera, this is remembered as the Matanza del Salsipuedes

Main immigration groups[edit]

Among the several peoples who settled Uruguay and formed the backbone of its society must be highlighted Spaniards and Italians, together with some descendants of African slaves. There are also significant minorities: Armenians, Austrians, Basque, Britons, Bulgarians, Croats, French, Germans, Greeks, Gypsies, Hungarians, Irish, Jews, Lebanese, Lithuanians, Poles, Russians, Slovaks, Slovenes, Swiss, Ukrainians. There are very small Asian communities, mainly from China, Japan and Korea.[1]

There is a very recent inflow of Latin Americans: Peruvians, Bolivians, Paraguayans. The University of the Republic is free, which means that several Chilean students come to study their whole careers in Uruguay. Plenty of people from neighboring Argentina and Brazil, who frequently travel to Uruguay to spend their holidays, have chosen it as permanent residence. In a very recent trend, North Americans and Europeans also choose Uruguay to spend their last years. There are over 12,000 foreign workers from 81 countries registered in the Uruguayan social security.[3]

Immigrants tend to integrate in mainstream society, as several scholars have shown.[4]

Based on data from the 2011 census, currently there are about 77,000 immigrants in Uruguay and 27,000 returning Uruguayans.[5]

As of October 2014, Uruguay is receiving a new immigration flow of Syrian people as a consequence of the Syrian Civil War.[6]

During the last years Uruguay has been experiencing the drama of stateless people.[7]

See also[edit]


  • Goebel, Michael. "Gauchos, Gringos and Gallegos: The Assimilation of Italian and Spanish Immigrants in the Making of Modern Uruguay 1880–1930," Past and Present (August 2010) 208(1): 191-229 doi:10.1093/pastj/gtp037
  • Bresciano, Juan Andrés. "L'Immigrazione Italiana in Uruguay Nella Piu Recente Storiografia (1990-2005)." ["Italian immigration to Uruguay in the most recent historiography, 1990-2005"] Studi Emigrazione, June 2008, Vol. 45 Issue 170, pp 287-299


  1. ^ a b c Felipe Arocena. "The contribution of immigrants to Uruguay" (PDF). Retrieved 21 October 2013.  (Spanish)
  2. ^ Manuel Esmoris. "Villa del Cerro, identity and fracture" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 29, 2013. Retrieved 24 October 2013.  (Spanish)
  3. ^ "Foreign workers in Uruguay". EL PAIS. Retrieved 4 November 2013.  (Spanish)
  4. ^ Renzo Pi Hugarte. "La asimilación cultural de los siriolibaneses y sus descendientes en Uruguay" (PDF). Retrieved 2 February 2015.  (Spanish)
  5. ^ "Uruguay has 77,000 immigrants". Montevideo.comm. 17 June 2013.  (Spanish)
  6. ^ "Uruguayan resettlement scheme offers Syrian refugees a lifeline". The Guardian. 27 August 2014. 
  7. ^ "Stateless phantoms in Uruguay". EL PAIS. 6 June 2015.  (Spanish)