Río Negro Department

Río Negro Department (Spanish: Departamento de Río Negro, Spanish pronunciation: [ˈri.o ˈneɣɾo]) is a department of the northwestern region of Uruguay. It has an area of 9,282 km2 (3,584 sq mi) and a population of 54,765. Its capital is Fray Bentos. It borders Paysandú Department to the north, Tacuarembó Department to the east, Durazno Department to the southeast, Soriano Department to the south and has the Río Uruguay flowing at its west, separating it from Argentina.

Río Negro Department
Flag of Río Negro Department
Coat of arms of Río Negro Department
Río Negro Department is located in Uruguay
Río Negro Department
Location of Río Negro Department and its capital
Coordinates (Fray Bentos): 33°8′S 58°18′W / 33.133°S 58.300°W / -33.133; -58.300
Country Uruguay
Capital of DepartmentFray Bentos
 • IntendantOmar Lafluf
 • Ruling partyPartido Nacional
 • Total9,282 km2 (3,584 sq mi)
 (2011 census)
 • Total54,765
 • Density5.9/km2 (15/sq mi)
Demonym(s)Rio negrense
Time zoneUTC-3 (UYT)
ISO 3166 codeUY-RN


The first division of the Republic in six departments happened on 27 January 1816. Later in that year two more departments were formed. At the time, Paysandú Department included all the territory north of the Río Negro, which included the current departments of Artigas, Rivera, Tacuarembó, Salto, Paysandú and Río Negro. On 17 June 1837 a new division of Uruguay was made and this territory was divided in three parts. In the new division, Paysandú Department also included the current department of Río Negro, until it was split from it in 1868.


Topographic map of Río Negro Department showing main populated places and roads

The Río Negro flows along the southern border of the department, forming the natural border with the departments of Durazno to the southeast and Soriano to the south. Tributary streams (arroyos) to the Río Negro, flow through most of the department. From east to west, these are: Arroyo Salsipuedes Grande, which forms part of the border with Tacuarembó Department to the east, while its tributary Arroyo Juan Tomas forms a little part of the northeast border with Paysandú Department, Arroyo Tres Árboles with its tributary Arroyo Islas de Argüelles, Arroyo Rolón, Arroyo Grande, with its tributaries Arroyo de las Flores and Arroyo Averías Grande, Arroyo Don Esteban Grande, Arroyo Sanchez Grande, with its tributaries Arroyo Sanchez Chico and Arroyo Coladeras.

The Río Negro discharges into Río Uruguay about 32 kilometres (20 mi) southwest of Fray Bentos. Notable along its course in respect to this department are two hydroelectric dams: the Rincón de Baygorria Dam, forming the Baygorria Reservoir and the Constitución Dam (also known as Palmar Dam), forming the Paso de Palmar Reservoir. In both cases, the power installations are situated on the neighbouring departments of Durazno and Soriano respectively.

A big part of the north border with Paysandú Department is formed by Arroyo Negro with two of its tributary streams flowing through the northwest of the department. These are: Arroyo Gutiérez Grande and Arroyo Bellaco. It discharges into Río Uruguay about 21 kilometres (13 mi) north of San Javier and opposite the city of Argentina Concepción del Uruguay, forming at its mouth a sandy beach named Playa Arroyo Negro. There is also Arroyo Romàn Grande, which discharges directly into Río Uruguay. Several sandy islands are formed in the curve of Río Uruguay upstream of Fray Bentos between Uruguay and Argentina.

On the northeast part of the department starts the big hill range Cuchilla de Haedo, which extends to the northeast forming its highest levels between the departments of Salto and Rivera. The hill Cerro del Quebracho is part of this range. The second and smaller hill range, in the west part of the department, is the Cuchilla de Navarro. Independent of these ranges, the hill Cerro Pelado is in the middle south, and the hills Cerro Colorado and Cerro Malvenir are southeast of Fray Bentos.

Population and demographicsEdit

Ethnic groups in Río Negro (2011 est.)[1]
Ethnic groups Percent

As of the census of 2011, Río Negro Department had a population of 54,765 (27,576 male and 27,189 female) and 20,975 households.[2]

Demographic data for Río Negro Department in 2010:

  • Population growth rate: 0.529%
  • Birth Rate: 15.82 births/1,000 people
  • Death Rate: 7.38 deaths/1,000 people
  • Average age: 31.5 (31.3 Males, 31.6 Females)
  • Life Expectancy at Birth:
    • Total population: 78.04 years
    • Male: 74.78 years
    • Female: 81.05 years
  • Average per household income: 25,585 pesos/month
  • Urban per capita income: 9,137 pesos/month

2010 Data Source:[3]

Main Urban Centres Other towns and villages
Population stated according to the 2011 census.[4]
City / Town Population
Fray Bentos 22,406
Young 16,756
Nuevo Berlín 2,450
San Javier 1,781
Town / Village Population
Barrio Anglo 785
Algorta 779
Grecco 598
Colonia Ofir S/D
Rural population

According to the 2011 census, Río Negro department has an additional rural population of 5,212.[2]


Statue to a Fray Bentos meat company of the past

Agriculture is the main source of industry in the western part of the department. The main agricultural products are flax, sunflower, wheat, maize, grains, grapes, amongst others. The eastern half of the department has many pastures for the grazing of sheep and cattle which are an important contributor to the economy of the department. The main industries are again based around agro-industry the most prominent being wineries and dairies. The department also has a fluvial port located in Fray Bentos.

Tourism is becoming popular in the department especially in the thermal spas around the area of Las Cañas.


Botnia S.A., a subsidiary of Finnish corporation Botnia, is currently building a large cellulose factory in Fray Bentos to produce bleached eucalyptus pulp. The investment in the project is about 1 billion USD and the factory will directly or indirectly employ more than 8,000 people. The project, however, is not without opponents. On 30 April 2005 about 40,000[citation needed] Argentinians from Entre Ríos, along with environmental groups from both countries, blocked an international bridge and demanded the Argentine government to intercede before the Uruguayan one to stop the building of the factory, claiming it will gravely pollute the Uruguay River. On 20 December 2005 a World Bank study concluded that the factory would not have a negative impact on the environment or tourism in either country, however, this was not accepted by the environmental groups, who blocked again the bridge (partially blocking the bridge near Paysandu, as well) several times near the end of 2005.

Notable peopleEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Población por sexo y ascendencia étnico racial, según departamento" (in Spanish). National Institute of Statistics. Archived from the original on 30 November 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Censos 2011 Río Negro (needs flash plugin)". INE. 2012. Archived from the original on 2 October 2013. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  3. ^ "Uruguay en cifras" (PDF) (in Spanish). INE. 2011. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
  4. ^ "Censos 2011 Cuadros Río Negro". INE. 2012. Retrieved 25 August 2012.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 32°44′0″S 57°22′0″W / 32.73333°S 57.36667°W / -32.73333; -57.36667