Evolution of the Economy and Society
After the Great War, immigration increased, primarily
Spain and Italy. Brazilians and Britons also flocked to
to snap up hundreds of estancias (ranches). The
of the immigrant population in Uruguay rose from 48
1860 to 68 percent in 1868. Many were Basques of Spanish
French nationality. In the 1870s, another 100,000
settled in Uruguay. By 1879 the total population of the
was over 438,000. Montevideo, where approximately
the population lived, expanded and improved its services.
services were initiated in 1853, the first bank in 1857,
works in 1860, a telegraph in 1866, railroads to the
1869, and running water in 1871. The creation in 1870 of
typographers' union, the first permanent workers'
was soon followed by the establishment of other unions.
Montevideo remained mainly a commercial center. Thanks to
natural harbor, it was able to serve as a trade center for
moving to and from Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. The
Paysandú and Salto, on the Río Uruguay, complemented this
After the Great War, livestock raising recovered and
prospered. Improvements in breeding techniques and fencing
introduced, and between 1860 and 1868 sheep breeding,
by European demand, expanded from 3 million head to 17
head. A group of modernizing hacendados (landowners), a
number of whom were foreigners, was responsible for this
In 1871 they established the Rural Association (Asociación
to improve livestock-raising techniques. The association
developed a reputation for defending rural traditions and
exerting considerable influence on policy makers.
Meat-salting enterprises were the main stimulus for the
industrialization of livestock products. In 1865 the
Extract Company of London opened a meat-extract factory at
Bentos on the Río Uruguay to supply the European armies,
initiating diversification in the sector. This type of
processing, however, was dependent on cheap cattle. As the
of cattle increased, the meat-extract industry declined,
with the saladeros, which prepared salted and
meat. Cuba and Brazil were the main purchasers of salted
Europe, of meat extract; and the United States and Europe,
leather and wool.
Data as of December 1990