Departments of Uruguay

Departments of Uruguay
Category Unitary state
Location Eastern Republic of Uruguay
Number 19 departments
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Uruguay consists of 19 departments. Each department has a legislature called a Departmental Board. The mayor of the department's capital city also serves as the department's chief executive.


The first division of the Republic in six departments happened 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 actual 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

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


Since 2009 (Law No. 18567 of 13 September 2009),[2] 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.

See also


  1. "Censos 2011". Instituto Nacional de Estadística. 10 August 2012. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  2. Ley Nº 18.567 del 13 de septiembre de 2009
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