Artigas Department is the northernmost department of Uruguay, belonging to its northwestern region. Its capital is the city of Artigas, who lives in the Brazilian city of Quarai. It has an area of 11928 km2, making it the fifth largest in the country. It has a population of 73,378 inhabitants according to the 2011 census.
Bordered on the north and east by Brazil, which is separated by the river Cuareim the south by the department of Salto and west by Argentina, which is separated by the Río Uruguay.
In the northwest corner is Bella Unión, a city that is so named because it is located at the junction of river Cuareim the Uruguay River, on the border with Brazil and Argentina Uruguay, this gives a special feature of Triple Frontier, ( only department Uruguayan border 2 countries).
It is named after José Artigas (1764–1850), leader of the orientales (inhabitants of the Banda Oriental, the Eastern Bank of the Uruguay River) during the wars of Independence.
The first division of the Republic in six departments happened on 27 January 1816. Two more departments were formed later in that year. At the time, Paysandú Department included all the territory north of the Río Negro, which included the actual departments of Artigas, Rivera, Tacuarembó, Salto, Paysandú and Río Negro. On 17 June 1837 a new division of Uruguay was made and the department of Salto was created including the actual Artigas Department. The actual borders were defined on 1 October 1884, when the Artigas Department was separated from Salto by the Act of Ley Nº 1854.
The Battle of Masoller, a noteworthy event in Uruguayan history, was fought on September 1, 1904. Masoller is situated on the boundary between the departments of Artigas and Salto, close to the Brazilian border.