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Ministerio de Turismo del Uruguay (Ministry of Tourism)
Rambla 25 de Agosto de 1825 esq, Yacaré, S/N (plano), Montevideo, Uruguay
Tel: (2) 188 5100. Fax: (2) 916 2487.

The Uruguay Carnaval has a strong oral tradition of generation to generation, of remembering –toasting familiar celebrations, great amigos– old music and stories.

carnavaldelfuturo es no mas
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Montevideo CARNAVAL

The Teatro Solís, the main theater of Montevideo  is a frequent Carnaval venue for many groups

Rambla 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.
murgas: 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
Flag of Uruguay

Coat of Arms of Uruguay

Uruguay Public Holidays

Jan 1:    New Year’s Day.
Jan 6:    Epiphany.
Feb/Mar     Carnival. pre-Lenten
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.
Fast Facts
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 industry, which
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%, mestizo 1%.
Religions: Roman Catholic 52%, Protestant and other Christian 16%, Jewish 2%, non-professing or other 30%.
Language: Spanish.
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 (2003).
Work force (1.3 million, 2004): Manufacturing--13.5%; agriculture--4.0%; services--75%.

Profile by US State Dept

Araca la cana en  18 DE JULIO (DESFILE INAUGURAL 2003)

Carnival Week 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 Antologia del Carnaval  Carnival of the Promises or the children's parade occurs at the beginning of the month of January
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.   

A great 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 culturesDiablos Verdes - La caldera de los diablos

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 Africa
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, marks the 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 Paraguay.

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 frontiers.

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 Brazil. 



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