Languages Of Uruguay

Street signs in Spanish in Salto, a city in Uruguay.
Street signs in Spanish in Salto, a city in Uruguay.

Where Is Uruguay?

Uruguay, a nation in southeastern South America covers an area of 176,000 square km and is the continent’s second smallest nation. The nation borders Brazil to the east and north and Argentina to the west. The Rio de la Plata is in the south of the country and the Atlantic Ocean in the southeast. 3.42 million people inhabit this country, and the majority (1.8 million) live in the urban areas.

The History Of Uruguay

Uruguay was initially inhabited by the indigenous CharrĂºa people for a period of about 400 years. In 1680, the Portuguese set up one of the oldest European settlements in the region. The Spanish had arrived by the early 18th century and founded Montevideo as a military stronghold. Uruguay gained independence after a long struggle for power between the four competing powers of Portugal, Spain, Brazil, and Argentina between 1811 and 1828. Till the late 20th century, Uruguay was constantly subjected to foreign influences. Modern Uruguay is, however, is considered to be the best democracy and the least corrupted among the South American nations.

The Ethnicity Of Uruguay's Population: Influence On Languages Of Uruguay

The European occupation of Uruguay for centuries has influenced the languages of the country. From the linguistic standpoint, Uruguay is a very homogeneous country.

The majority of the Uruguayan residents are of European descent as the native inhabitants of the country have been largely displaced by the invading Europeans. Over 87.7% of the population of Uruguay claim to have a European ancestry, primarily of Spanish or Italian descent. Descendants of England, Germany, France, and neighboring Argentina are a small section of the population. Africans who were mostly brought as European slaves make up an even smaller proportion of the population of Uruguay. The ethnic composition of the Uruguayans is reflected in the languages of Uruguay.

The Official Language Of Uruguay

Uruguayan Spanish

Spanish is the official language of Uruguay. It is also spoken by almost 99% of the population of Uruguay. Uruguayan Spanish has been influenced over the years by other languages of migrants to the country, especially the Italians. The Spanish language in Uruguay is thus softer than the Castilian Spanish of Spain, and some words are different between the two variants of the language. The Gauchos of Uruguay have also influenced the Uruguayan Spanish and many words used in daily lives have been modified. Near the Uruguayan border with Brazil, Brazilero, people speak a local dialect that is a mix of Portuguese and Spanish.

Regional Language Of Uruguay

Uruguayan Portuguese

Uruguayan Portuguese or Fronteirico is a Portuguese variety that is influenced by the Spanish language. It is one of the languages of Uruguay and residents of the northern parts of the country near the Brazilian border speak this language. The majority of speakers of this Uruguay language are found in Uruguayan city of Rivera.

Minority Languages Of Uruguay

Italian, German, Catalan, Yiddish, and Plautdietsch are some of the other languages spoken by small sections of the population of Uruguay.


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