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French Uruguayan: Wikis


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France French Uruguayan Uruguay
Total population
300,000 [1]
10% of Uruguay's Population
Regions with significant populations
Throughout Uruguay

Rioplatense Spanish. Minorities speak French and Basque.


Predominantly Roman Catholicism

Related ethnic groups

French people, French Argentine

A French Uruguayan (French: Franco-Uruguayen, Spanish: franco-uruguayo) is an Uruguayan citizen of full or partial French ancestry. French Uruguayan form the third largest ancestry group after Spanish Uruguayans and Italian Uruguayans. Until 1853, France constituted the main source of immigrants to Uruguay. The country received the largest amount of French immigrants to South America after Argentina (239,000) and Brazil (40,000), with almost 25,000 persons registered between 1833 and 1843.


French immigration to Uruguay

During the first half of the XIXth century, Uruguay received most of French immigrants to South America. It constituted back then, the second receptor of French immigrants in the New World after the United States. Thus, while the United States received 195,971 French immigrants between 1820 and 1855, 13,922 Frenchmen, most of them from the Basque Country and Béarn, left for Uruguay between 1833 and 1842[2]. Then, after the fall of Rosas in 1852, Argentina overtook Uruguay and became the main pole of attraction for French immigrants in Latin America.

Most of French immigrants who settled in Uruguay immigrated between 1838 and 1852, with a peak of 10,300 immigrants in 1843. Frenchmen made up 41.5% of immigrants to Uruguay between 1835 and 1842, representing the main source of immigration to the country. Until 1853, French Basques constituted the most numerous group among all immigrants in Uruguay[3], then they were surpassed in numbers by Spaniards and Italians. Another great wave of French immigration to Uruguay occurred during the War of the Triple Alliance until the 1870s. 2,718 French immigrants settled in the country between 1866 and 1867, 10.1% of the immigration at the time.[4]

The majority of immigrants were coming from the Basque Country, Béarn and Bigorre.

The newspaper Le Patriote Français estimated the French colony in Montevideo in 1841 was around 18,000 persons[5]. Another source claims the French colony in Uruguay reached 14,000 in 1842, 10,000 of them living in Montevideo and 4,000 in the countryside[6]. 15,000 Frenchmen[7] were registered in the country in 1843, most of them living in Montevideo where they made up a third of the population. The figure decreased to 8,891 in 1860 (making up 11.5% of foreigners) as many of them relocated to Buenos Aires but was as high as 17,900 in 1872. In 1866, French immigrants represented 16.5% of immigrants in the country (Spaniards 33.5% and Italians 33%).[8] According to the census of 1884, there were 7,383 Frenchmen living in Montevideo, out of 164,028 inhabitants (i.e. 4.5% of the city population).[9] In 1908, as previously established French immigrants had merged within the population and the country had received a large wave of immigration from Spain and Italy, Frenchmen only made up 1% of the population (8,341 persons) and 4.6% of foreigners. It was estimated that 9,500 Frenchmen were living in Uruguay in 1912, 6% of the 149,400 Frenchmen living in Latin America.[10]

During the siege of Montevideo, out of 5,800 men defending the city, 2,500 were French. Three French poets were born in Uruguay: Isidore Ducasse, Comte de Lautréamont, Jules Laforgue and Jules Supervielle.


Yearly French immigration to Uruguay from 1835 to 1842
Year French immigrants Total immigrants  % French immigrants
1835 43 613 7%
1836 998 3,146 31.7%
1837 442 2,583 17.1%
1838 2,071 5,424 38.2%
1839 342 1,163 29.4%
1840 835 2,475 33.7%
1841 3,816 7,860 48.5%
1842 5,218 9,874 52.8%
Total 13,765 33,138 41.5%

Prominent French Uruguayans


  1. ^
  2. ^ L'immigration française en Argentine, 1850-1930. "L’Uruguay capta seulement 13.922 [immigrants français] entre 1833 et 1842, la plupart d’entre eux originaires du Pays Basque et du Béarn." 
  3. ^ Possible paradises: Basque emigration to Latin America. "(p. 252) Between 1843 and 1853, the Basques from Iparralde constituted the most numerous group among all immigrants in Uruguay." 
  4. ^ Manual de la navegación del Rio de la Plata y de sus principales afluentes. "(p. 23) Inmigración europea y pasajeros entrados en 1866 y 1867. Francia, en 1866: 1.053; en 1867: 1.665." 
  5. ^ Possible paradises: Basque emigration to Latin America. "The newspaper Le Patriote Français placed the French population of the Uruguay capital at 18,000 in 1841 (page 232)." 
  6. ^ Compte rendu des séances de l'Assemblée nationale. "(page 441) 10,000 âmes dans Montevideo (...) enfin, 4 000 âmes répandues dans la campagne de Montevideo." 
  7. ^ Histoire de la diffusion de la langue française en Uruguay depuis le XIXe siècle
  8. ^ Possible paradises: Basque emigration to Latin America. "In 1866, the French Uruguayan diaspora constituted only 16.48 percent of immigrants in the country. The Spanish was 33.54 percent and the Italian 33.13 percent. (page 238)." 
  9. ^ Europa, Asia y África en América Latina y el Caribe. "(p. 106) Para el censo de 1884, en la ciudad de Montevideo vivían 164 028 habitantes, de los cuales 7 383 eran franceses." 
  10. ^ L'Amérique latine et l'Europe à l'heure de la mondialisation. "p. 194. Uruguay : 9 500 (6%)." 


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