Artigas, José Gervasio, 1764-1850, national hero of Uruguay, first leader in the movement toward independence. He came from the cattle-raising region Banda Oriental. He joined the revolution against Spain in 1811 and became the leader of the Orientales. In 1813 he instructed the delegates from the Banda Oriental to the Buenos Aires constituent assembly to work for a federation of autonomous La Plata provinces, but they were denied admission to the assembly by the centralist military junta. Artigas then championed Uruguayan independence. After an initial setback in 1813 by Buenos Aires and subsequently the restoration of Spanish power (1816), he still managed to rule much of the territory as protector against Spain, Brazil, and Buenos Aires. Finally in 1820, when Artigas had once again renounced the United Provinces of La Plata (Argentina), the Portuguese captured the territory and annexed it to Brazil. Artigas spent his remaining years in exile in Paraguay.

Artigas is the capital of the department of Artigas in Uruguay. The name Artigas comes from that of the national hero, Jose Gervasio Artigas (who fought for the emancipation of the River Plate, and sought to create a federative nation from these colonies).

It was established on 12 September 1852 by Don Carlos Catala. Artigas is the furthest city from Uruguay's capital Montevideo, being away. It has a population of 41,687 (2004 census).

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