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Montevideo History, Uruguay


History of Montevideo, UruguayMontivideo’s Origins

Montevideo is situated in the south of Uruguay and is the country’s capital city.  However, it did not always have such seniority but as its population increased so the city gained prestige and the founding of a naval base in Montevideo in 1726 was instrumental in its growth.  It really began to make its mark as a city of importance when the Spanish crown bestowed upon it sole rights to operate in the Viceroyalty of la Plata as a major port in the trade of slaves.  This created huge economic prosperity, but served as an irritant to the capital of the Viceroyalty, Buenos Aires.  Montevideo received even greater accolade in 1776 when the Spanish Crown made it the premier South Atlantic naval base, giving it power over the Falkands, Fernando Po, and the coast of Argentina.  However, it wasn’t until over fifty years later that Montevideo became capital city of Uruguay.

Montevideo in the 20th Century

For a century, from the early 1900’s, in an effort to prevent economic control from Argentina and Brazil, Montevideo was heavily influenced by Britain.  Because of its strategic economic and military importance, the city was constantly besieged by other powers.  In the years from 1838 and 1851 Blanco’s leader, Manuel Oribe, and Juan Manuel, Argentine dictator, made repeated attempts to seize the city but with little success.  A railway, funded by British railway companies, was built to provide transport between Montevideo’s port and the Uruguayan countryside.

Montevideo and World War II

Montevideo continued to play a significant role in world economy and politics throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  In the early stages of World War II Montevideo’s port was considered a neutral territory.  The Battle of the River Plate took place on December 13, 1939, after which The German battleship, Admiral Graf Spee sought refuge in the port.  Four days later Hans Langsdorff, captain of the Graf Spee, deliberately sunk his own ship, and committed suicide on December 17th.  It was over sixty-six years later when the eagle figurehead of the Admiral Graf Spee was salvaged from Montevideo port.  In deference to those who had sensitive to Nazi Germany the swastika on the figurehead was covered during the salvage operation.

Modern Montevideo

 Montevideo Ricardo Ehrlich of the Intendente Municipal party is mayor of the city.  He was elected to the position in 2005, gaining a landslide victory over his rival Pedro Bordaberry of the Partido Colorado party.  

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