Italians in Uruguay
It is known that not only in Uruguay but in the vast continent of America, Italian immigration provided cultural elements which shaped not only the physiognomy of many countries and cities also their dialects, music, literature, cuisine and even local customs. Those characteristics have become a part of the cultural identity of America, in the north as well as in the south (in the Hispanic world, especially in the region of Rio de la Plata). Taking into account disciplinary fields such as history and demographics, it is prudent to consider the influences and impact of language as well, which shaped the linguistic identity of the region as well.
The first Italians arrived in the Spanish colony in the sixteenth century. They were mainly people from the Republic of Genoa, who worked in transoceanic merchant ships. The number increased exponentially in the first half of the 19th century, to the point that after the independence of Uruguay, there were thousands of Italians in Uruguayan territory, mainly concentrated in the capital, Montevideo. European immigrants descended on the port of Montevideo and then would navigate to the port of Buenos Aires to perform diverse jobs and tasks. In the second half of the 19th century, the port of Buenos Aires became the most important one in the region. Steamboats were used to cross the Rio de la Plata, linking the cities of Montevideo and Buenos Aires.
By the second half of the 19th century, Italians made up almost a third of the total population of Montevideo. Those who arrived during this period, as well as those who arrived during or after WWII, contributed significantly to shaping the architecture and cuisine of the country.
Italians who migrated to Uruguay in the 19th century worked mainly in construction, trade, and agriculture. Although their offspring managed to get into politics and business.