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Study in Montevideo, Uruguay

Study in Montevideo, Uruguay

Montevideo is the largest city, the capital and chief port of Uruguay, located in the country’s southernmost tip on the banks of the Rio de la Plata.  As of 2011, Montevideo, which has a total land area of 200 square miles, had a population of 1.8 million people, or roughly half of Uruguay’s total population.  This is a big difference from the population numbers of 1860, when the country had only 60,000 inhabitants, many of whom were of African origin who’d been brought to the region as slaves.  It wasn’t until the end of the 19th century and into the 20th century that Uruguay saw a huge surge in population—a surge that can be directly attributed to the massive waves of European immigration during that period.

In 1908, Montevideo’s population had soared to over 300,000, a number that would continue to grow exponentially during the course of the 20th century with the continued influx of both Western and Eastern Europeans.  Today, people of Spanish and Italian heritages are the most prevalent group in the country, followed by French, German, Dutch, English and Irish from the West, and Polish, Greek, Hungarian, Russian and Armenian from the East.  These Europeans (called “white” in the census) account for nearly 90 percent of the total population, and while the national language in Montevideo is Spanish, there are many ethnic neighborhoods in which other European languages are spoken regularly.

Montevideo was founded by Bruno Mauricio de Zabala in 1726, following a dispute between Spain and Portugal over the “platine region,”—the region along the banks of the Rio de la Plata—and as a counter to the Portuguese colony at Colonia de Sacramento.  After changing hands several times, including being under British rule briefly, Uruguay and the city of Montevideo won independence from the Empire of Brazil in 1825.  Significant historical events in Montevideo include the Battle of the River Plate in World War II; the Montevideo Convention of 1933 that established a treaty between 19 nations of the Americas, and playing host to the first round matches of the 1st FIFA World Cup Soccer Tournament in 1930.

For families or students planning to relocate to this beautiful city, if even for a short time, what you’ll find is the housing situation in Montevideo is much more favorable than it is in most Latin American countries, as construction is dominated by the public sector and financed by a large National Mortgage Bank.  Low-cost quality housing, made from durable materials, is available for workers, pensioners and students—housing that comes complete with indoor plumbing and private toilet facilities.  Because of these types of housing efforts, the percentage of home ownership in Montevideo is much higher than in other major South American cities, with 55 percent of the population owning a home versus 30 percent who rent.
Montevideo is a bustling metropolis, a place where you’ll find everything you need to be content, including hundreds of stores offering food, clothing, shoes, electronics and more.  The city has well over a dozen banks, two spacious libraries, bars, nightclubs, activity centers and hundreds of restaurants where you can either get a quick bite or enjoy a leisurely 4-course meal.  There are parks, movie theaters, fitness centers and soccer clubs to serve as diversions from your busy life, all of which are easy to get to thanks the excellent public transportation system in the city. 
The Dirección Nacional de Transporte (DNT), which is an integral component of the national Ministry of Transport and Public Works, is directly responsible for the organization and development of Montevideo's transport infrastructure. The DNT offers a comprehensive bus service network covering the entire city, and is served by two large terminals and hundreds of convenient stops.  Additionally, the State Railways Administration of Uruguay (AFE) operates three convenient passenger rails, the Empalme Olmos, San Jose and Florida, which shuttle passengers to and from Montevideo’s suburban areas and throughout the city’s downtown district.
Everything about the city of Montevideo makes it a great place to study, work and live, including its mild subtropical climate.  The city’s southern location produces four distinct weather seasons, characterized by cool winters and warm summers, and its annual rainfall of 37 inches leaves plenty of time for enjoying the wonderful sights, sounds and tastes the city has to offer. Some of these attractions include the city’s magnificent architecture, ranging from colonial to Art Deco and influenced by Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French and British immigrants;  the Plaza de Independencia, a plaza that offers shopping, dining, the Solis Theater and the Palacio Salvo; the historically significant Gaucho Museum; and miles upon miles of white sandy beaches.
Montevideo is unique in that it effortlessly combines the activity and commerce of a large metropolis with the character and intimacy of a small community.  Perhaps this is why the consulting group Mercer Human Resource Consulting recently named Montevideo the city with the highest quality of life in Latin America.