The Teatro Solís, the main
theater of Montevideo is a frequent Carnaval venue for
of Montevideo is the coastal/beach boulevard of the city,
nearly 20 km length, bordering a chain of white sand beaches
called the Rio de Plata.
Tabladas, both stationary and mobile are erected
throughout the city by the district councils. Often a small
admission is charged.
the voice of the
city A carnaval
tradition of Spanish origin, whose role is to pass judgment with
high content of humor and satire on the social and political
events of the day
Jan 1: New Year’s Day.
Jan 6: Epiphany.
Mar/Apr: Maundy Thursday.
Mar/Apr Good Friday.
Apr 19: Landing of 33 Patriots
May 1: Labor Day.
May 18: Battle of Las Piedras.
Jun 19: Birth of General Artigas.
Jul 18: Constitution Day.
Aug 25: National Independence Day.
Oct 12: Discovery of America.
Nov 2: All Souls’ Day.
Dec 25: Christmas Day.
|Uruguay has a population of 3.4 million and
2004 GDP of US$ 49 billion.
One of the largest sectors of its economy is the agricultural
exports a majority of its crops. The Uruguayan capital,
Montevideo, is home to
approximately 40% of the country's population.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Uruguayan(s).
Population (2004): 3.2 million.
Annual growth rate: 0.6%.
Ethnic groups (est.): European descent 93%, African descent 5%,
Religions: Roman Catholic 52%, Protestant and other Christian
16%, Jewish 2%, non-professing or other 30%.
Education: Literacy (2004)--97%.
Health: Life expectancy (2004)--75.4 yrs. (79.2 yrs
females; 71.3 yrs. males). Infant mortality rate--15/1,000
Work force (1.3 million, 2004): Manufacturing--13.5%;
US State Dept
is considered the annual national festival of the nation.
While the Carnaval extends to all the
country with important events in several cities of the interior, the
main activities are made in the capital of Montevideo.
Although this ‘fiesta’ is
officially only given two days of public holiday for the Carnaval Monday
and Shrove Tuesday preceding Ash Wednesday, most shops and businesses
close for the entire week. Homes and streets are grandly decorated,
humorous shows are staged at open-air theaters, "tablados" or
popular scenes (fixed and movable) are erected in the commercial
districts. There are many competitions for murgas, black societies and
lubolos, humorists, parodistas and magazines
The preparation of the Carnival begins
months earlier with the election of the zonal queens; often
in December of the previous year. The
Carnival of the Promises
or the children's parade occurs at the beginning of the month of
The official launching of the
Montevideo Carnival done with significant pomp and ceremony calling
upon representatives of the national government, carnaval
groups, and various local officials including members of the
commissions responsible for the preparation of the celebration in
each Zone of Montevideo. The Department of Culture is the main
organizer of this annual national festival.
highlight of the Montevideo Carnaval is the
Parade of the Calls in the old
districts Sur and Palermo. The Calls evoke the encounter of the
"enslaved black" of the colonial days and in the freedom of the
Candombe, which has made a fundamental contribution to
Uruguayan culture. A featured event of
Montevideo Carnaval, the attracts the most visitors "Desfile
de las Llamadas" is
a big united parade on Montevideo's Avenida 18 de Julio.The
'black' carnaval is called "Las Llamadas" ("The Calls", because in
former times the different carnaval groups "called" each other with
their tambors). Many seats are sold in advance for this parade.
There is also usually a major
parade on January 6th, as the observed holiday of the epiphany marks
the beginning of the Carnaval season in many cultures
The local commissions
are very important in making the Carnaval great each year. Besides
establishing a citizen partnership for the administration of the
Carnaval with local government, they hold the Queen contest and
raise funds for prizes and other expenses of the Carnaval. The
decentralized quality to the Carnaval is part of the long heritage
of these citizens committees dedicated to improving the quality of
life of the neighbors and, fundamentally, deepening the democracy.
Candombe is the
afro-black influence that is the star of Montevideo Carnaval
as it salutes the African origins, the trials of the
enslaved black during the colonial time and the great
capacity for renewal through the Carnaval arts. Candombé is
a drum-based musical form of Uruguay. Candombé originated
among the Afro-Uruguayan population of Montevideo and is
based on Bantu African drumming with some European influence
and touches of Tango.
to learn more about this excellent story of the Americas and
|Today there are 80 or 90 comparsas
in existence. Candombé is still performed regularly in the
streets of Montevideo's central neighborhoods on Sunday
evenings as well as on many other occasions, and massively
on January 6, December 25 and January 1. During Uruguay's
Carnival period, all the comparsas participate in a
massive Carnival parade called llamadas
("calls") and vie against each other in official
competitions in the Teatro de Verano theatre. In
llamadas, comparsas often have costumes which reflect the
music´s historical roots in the slave trade, such as sun
hats and black face-paint. The monetary prizes are modest;
more important aspects include enjoyment, the fostering of a
sense of pride and the winning of respect from peers.
|The barrel-shaped drums,
or tambores, have specific names according to
their size and function: chico (small, high timbre,
tempo), repique (medium, improvisation) and piano
(large, low timbre, melody). An even larger drum, called
bajo or bombo (very large, very low timbre,
accent on the fourth beat), was once common but is now
declining in use. Tambores are made of wood with animal
skins that are rope-tuned or fire-tuned minutes before the
performance. They are worn at the waist with the aid of a
shoulder strap called tali and played with one stick
and one hand.
|History of Uruguay
|The only inhabitants of Uruguay before
European colonization of the area were the Charrua Indians,
a small tribe driven south by the Guaraní Indians of
The Spanish arrived in the territory of present-day Uruguay
in 1516, but the Indians' fierce resistance to conquest,
combined with the absence of gold and silver, limited
settlement in the region during the 16th and 17th centuries.
The Spanish introduced cattle, which became a source of
wealth in the region. Spanish colonization increased as
Spain sought to limit Portugal's expansion of Brazil's
Montevideo was founded by the Spanish in the early 18th
century as a military stronghold; its natural harbor soon
developed into a commercial center competing with
Argentina's capital, Buenos Aires. Uruguay's early 19th
century history was shaped by ongoing fights between the
British, Spanish, Portuguese, and colonial forces for
dominance in the Argentina-Brazil-Uruguay region
Montevideo was founded by the Spanish governor of Buenos
Aires in 1726 to secure the area against Portuguese
infiltration from Brazil. It changed hands frequently during
the Spanish-Portuguese rivalry of the early 19th century,
until, partly through British intervention, it became the
capital of independent Uruguay, established in 1828 as a
buffer state between Spanish Argentina and Portuguese