French Uruguayans (
Spanish: franco-uruguayo) are
Uruguayan citizens of full or partial
French ancestry. French Uruguayans form the third largest ancestry group after
Spanish Uruguayans and
Italian Uruguayans. Until 1853, France constituted the main source of immigrants to Uruguay. The country received the largest number of French immigrants to South America after
Argentina (239,000) and
Brazil (100,000), with almost 25,000 persons registered between 1833 and 1843.
During the first half of the 19th century,
Uruguay received most of French immigrants to
South America. It constituted back then, the second receptor of French immigrants in the
New World after the
United States. Thus, while the
United States received 195,971 French immigrants between 1820 and 1855, 13,922 Frenchmen, most of them from the
Basque Country and
Béarn, left for Uruguay between 1833 and 1842. Then, after the fall of
Rosas in 1852,
Argentina overtook Uruguay and became the main pole of attraction for French immigrants in
Most of French immigrants who settled in Uruguay immigrated between 1838 and 1852, with a peak of 10,300 immigrants in 1843. Frenchmen made up 41.5% of immigrants to Uruguay between 1835 and 1842, representing the main source of immigration to the country. Until 1853, French Basques constituted the most numerous group among all immigrants in Uruguay, then they were surpassed in numbers by Spaniards and Italians. Another great wave of French immigration to Uruguay occurred during the
Paraguayan War until the 1870s. 2,718 French immigrants settled in the country between 1866 and 1867, 10.1% of the immigration at the time.
The newspaper Le Patriote Français estimated the French colony in
Montevideo in 1841 was around 18,000 persons. Another source claims the French colony in Uruguay reached 14,000 in 1842, 10,000 of them living in Montevideo and 4,000 in the countryside.
15,000 Frenchmen were registered in the country in 1843, most of them living in Montevideo where they made up a third of the population. The figure decreased to 8,891 in 1860 (making up 11.5% of foreigners) as many of them relocated to
Buenos Aires but was as high as 17,900 in 1872. In 1866, French immigrants represented 16.5% of immigrants in the country (Spaniards 33.5% and Italians 33%). According to the census of 1884, there were 7,383 Frenchmen living in Montevideo, out of 164,028 inhabitants (i.e. 4.5% of the city population). In 1908, as previously established French immigrants had merged within the population and the country had received a large wave of immigration from Spain and
Italy, Frenchmen only made up 1% of the population (8,341 persons) and 4.6% of foreigners. It was estimated that 9,500 Frenchmen were living in Uruguay in 1912, 6% of the 149,400 Frenchmen living in Latin America.