Montevideo (Spanish pronunciation: [monteβiˈðeo]) is the capital and largest city of Uruguay. According to the 2011 census, the city proper has a population of 1,319,108 (about one-third of the country's total population) in an area of 201 square kilometres (78 sq mi). The southernmost capital city in the Americas, Montevideo is situated on the southern coast of the country, on the northeastern bank of the Río de la Plata.
The city was established in 1724 by a Spanish soldier, Bruno Mauricio de Zabala, as a strategic move amidst the Spanish-Portuguese dispute over the platine region. It was also under brief British rule in 1807. Montevideo is the seat of the administrative headquarters of Mercosur and ALADI, Latin America's leading trade blocs, a position that entailed comparisons to the role of Brussels in Europe.
The 2017 Mercer's report on quality of life, rated Montevideo first in Latin America, a rank the city has consistently held since 2005. As of 2010 , Montevideo was the 19th largest city economy in the continent and 9th highest income earner among major cities. In 2019, it has a projected GDP of $47.7 billion, with a per capita of $27,542.
In 2018, it was classified as a beta global city ranking eighth in Latin America and 84th in the world. Montevideo hosted every match during the first FIFA World Cup, in 1930. Described as a "vibrant, eclectic place with a rich cultural life", and "a thriving tech center and entrepreneurial culture", Montevideo ranked eighth in Latin America on the 2013 MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index.
In 2014, it was also regarded as the fifth most gay-friendly metropolis in the world and the first in Latin America. It is the hub of commerce and higher education in Uruguay as well as its chief port. The city is also the financial hub of Uruguay and the cultural anchor of a metropolitan area with a population of around 2 million.
There are several explanations about the word Montevideo. All agree that "Monte" refers to the Cerro de Montevideo, the hill situated across the Bay of Montevideo, but there is disagreement about the etymological origin of the "video" part.
Cerro de Montevideo as seen from the city, in 1865.
- Monte vide eu ("I saw a mount") is the most widespread belief but is rejected by the majority of experts, who consider it unlikely because it involves a mix of dialects. The name would come from a Portuguese expression which means "I saw a mount", wrongly pronounced by an anonymous sailor belonging to the expedition of Fernando de Magallanes on catching sight of the Cerro de Montevideo.
- Monte Vidi: This hypothesis comes from the "Diario de Navegación" (Navigational Calendar) of boatswain Francisco de Albo, member of the expedition of Fernando de Magallanes, who wrote, "Tuesday of the said [month of January 1520] we were on the straits of Cape Santa María [now Punta del Este], from where the coast runs east to west, and the terrain is sandy, and at the right of the cape there is a mountain like a hat to which we gave the name "Montevidi"." This is the oldest Spanish document that mentions the promontory with a name similar to the one that designates the city, but it does not contain any mention of the alleged cry "Monte vide eu."
- Monte-VI-D-E-O (Monte VI De Este a Oeste): According to Rolando Laguarda Trías, professor of history, the Spaniards annotated the geographic location on a map or Portolan chart, so that the mount/hill is the VI (6th) mount observable on the coast, navigating Río de la Plata from east to west. With the passing of time, these words were unified to "Montevideo". No conclusive evidence has been found to confirm this academic hypothesis nor can it be asserted with certainty which were the other five mounts observable before the Cerro.
- Monte Ovidio (Monte Santo Ovidio), a less widespread hypothesis of a religious origin, stems from an interpolation in the aforementioned Diario de Navegación of Fernando de Albo, where it is asserted "corruptly now called Santo Vidio" when they refer to the hat-like mount which they named Monte Vidi (that is, the Cerro de Montevideo). Ovidio (Saint Ovidius) was the third bishop of the Portuguese city of Braga, where he was always revered; a monument to him was erected there in 1505. Given the relationship that the Portuguese had with the discovery and foundation of Montevideo, and despite the fact that this hypothesis, like the previous ones, lacks conclusive documentation, there have been those who linked the name of Santo Ovidio or Vidio (appearing on some maps of the time) with the subsequent derivation of the name "Montevideo" given to the region since the early years of the 16th century.