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|c. 3.5 million[a]|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Uruguay 3,286,314 (2011 Census)|
|Diaspora total||c. 230,000|
|Rioplatense Spanish (Uruguayan Spanish), Portuñol|
|Predominately Roman Catholicism|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Other Latin Americans|
a. ^ The total figure is merely an estimation; sum of all the referenced populations.
Uruguayans, Orientals or Uruguayan people (Spanish: uruguayos or orientales) are the citizens of Uruguay. The country is home to people of different ethnic origins. As a result, many Uruguayans do not equate their nationality with ethnicity, but with citizenship and their allegiance to Uruguay.
Uruguay is, along with most of the Americas, a melting pot of different peoples, with the difference that it has traditionally maintained a model that promotes cultural assimilation, hence the different cultures have been absorbed by the mainstream. Uruguay has one of the most homogeneous populations in South America; the most common ethnic backgrounds by far being those from Spain and Italy, i.e. Spanish Uruguayans and Italian Uruguayans.
Uruguayans share a Spanish linguistic and cultural background with its neighbour country Argentina. Also, like Argentinians, most Uruguayans descend from colonial-era settlers and immigrants from Europe with almost 90% of the population being of European descent.
The majority of these are Spaniards and Italians, followed by the French, Portuguese, Romanians, Greeks, Germans, British (English or Scots), Irish, Poles, Swiss, Russians, Bulgarians, Arab (mainly Lebanese and Syrians), Sephardi and Ashkenazi Jews, and Armenians.
There is also smaller numbers of Japanese, as well as Amerindians, mainly Charrúa, Minuán, Chaná, Güenoa, and Guaraní. Montevideo, like Buenos Aires in Argentina and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, was a major seaport to dock ships coming from Europe and elsewhere, and European settlement greatly affected Uruguay to have a more western oriented culture.
Many colonies such as Nueva Helvecia-Colonia Suiza a Swiss colony and Colonia Valdense a Piedmontese waldensian colony, are located in the department of Colonia. Also, there are towns founded by British settlers, like Conchillas and Barker. A Russian colony called San Javier, is found in the department of Río Negro. Also there are Mennonite colonies in the department of Río Negro like Gartental and El Ombú, in Canelones Department called Colonia Nicolich, and in San José Department called Colonia Delta. El Ombú, is famous for its well-known Dulce de Leche "Claldy", and is located near the city of Young.
Many of the European immigrants arrived in Uruguay in the late 19th century and have heavily influenced the architecture and culture of Montevideo and other major cities. For this reason, Montevideo and life within the city are very reminiscent of Europe.
People of European ancestry comprise 87.7% of Uruguay's population according to the 2011 official Census. Early Uruguayans are descendants of colonists from Spain and Portugal during the colonial period prior to 1810. Similar to the demographics of Argentina, more recent immigrants from Europe, largely from Italy and France, arrived in the great migratory wave during the late 19th century and early 20th century. Today, Uruguay's culture is influenced heavily by its European roots which is evident in its language, food, and other aspects of everyday life.
Up to 2.4% of the population are of Mestizo (European-Amerindian) ancestry according to the 2011 census. People with Amerindian ancestry can be found in the north of Uruguay, primarily in Tacuarembó Department, where the Amerindian ancestry accounts for 20% of the population.
A 1996 census identified that 12,600 people in Uruguay were Amerindian descendants. In 2006 a census confirmed that there were 115,118 Uruguayans that descended from one Amerindian ethnic group, the Charrúas, reaching up to 4% of the country's population. In 2005 Sinthia Pagano, M.D conducted a genetic study, detecting the possibility that 38% of Uruguayans may have expressed partial genetic influence from the Amerindian population.
Africans, Blacks, and Mulattos in Uruguay are more or less 209,662 and they are mostly found in Montevideo, Rivera Department, Artigas Department, Salto Department and Cerro Largo Department. A 2011 census marked that there are more than 300,000 African descendants, and that 80% of Afro-Uruguayans are under the working class line.
Although Spanish is dominant, being the national language spoken by virtually all Uruguayans, Italian and French are also relevant. A mix of Portuguese-Spanish is spoken in the Uruguayan-Brazilian frontier called Portuñol/Portunhol, Fronterizo/Fronteiriço is the specific name for Uruguayan Portuñol. The audiovisual standard language is the Uruguayan Spanish, a variety of Rioplatense Spanish. Lunfardo is also spoken in Uruguay.
Uruguay has no official religion and church and state are separate. Religious freedom is guaranteed.. A 2006 survey had Roman Catholicism as the main religion, with 47.1% of the population, 11.1% claim to be Non-Catholic Christian and 0.5% Jewish. Approximately 40.4% of the population professes no religion.
The Jewish community is concentrated in Montevideo (about 1% of the city's population), as well as the Muslim and Orthodox communities. There are several Protestant and Pentecostal denominations, together they represent the 11.1% of the population, these denominations are, the Methodist Church in Uruguay, the New Apostolic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Evangelical Baptist Convention of Uruguay, the Evangelical Church of the Río de la Plata, the Waldensian Evangelical Church, the United Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The Pentecostal denominations are, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, Dios es Amor, Pentecostal Naciente and Assemblies of God. Among the sizeable Armenian community in Montevideo, the dominant religion is Christianity, specifically, Armenian Apostolic Armenian Catholic, and Armenian Evangelical Church. Political observers consider Uruguay to be the most secular country in the Americas.
Contemporary Uruguayan culture is diverse in its nature since the nation's population is one of multicultural origins. The country has an impressive legacy of artistic and literary traditions, especially for its small size. The contribution of its alternating conquerors, Spain and Portugal, and diverse immigrants – Italians, French, Portuguese, Romanians, and Greeks, among others- has resulted in traditions that integrate this diversity with Amerindian and African elements. Uruguay has centuries-old remains and fortresses of the colonial era. Its cities have a rich architectural heritage and an impressive number of writers, artists, and musicians. Candombe is the most important example of African influence by slaves. Charrua and Guaraní traditions can be seen in maté, the national drink. Both Uruguay and Argentina share its traditional gaúcho roots (which originated in Andalusia).
Uruguayan idiosyncrasy is said to be of welcoming and warm people, quick to criticize and "a bit lazy". They place high value on education, family and friends.
Music of Uruguay includes a number of local musical forms. The most distinctive ones are tango, murga, a form of musical theater, and candombe, an Afro-Uruguayan type of music which occur yearly during the Carnival period. There is also milonga, a folk guitar and song form deriving from Spanish traditions and related to similar forms found in many Hispanic-American countries. The famed tango singer Carlos Gardel was born in Toulouse, France, then raised in Buenos Aires, but as an adult he obtained legal papers saying he was born in Tacuarembó, probably to avoid French military authorities.
The popular music of Uruguay, which focuses on rock, jazz, and many other forms, frequently makes reference to the distinctly Uruguayan sounds mentioned above. The group 1960s imitators of The Beatles, deserve a special mention as the band that kickstarted the Uruguayan rock scene.
The rate of Uruguayan emigration to Europe is especially high in Spain, Italy, France, and Portugal. In the Americas, emigration is mostly to the United States, Canada, Argentina, and other nearby Latin American countries such as Brazil and Chile. In Oceania, emigration is mainly to Australia, and to a lesser extent, New Zealand.