In 1898 the list comprised only 1416 sailing vessels of all classes, from Io tons up, with a total tonnage of 118,894 tons, and 222 steamships, of 36,323 tons.
The steamships under the national flag are almost wholly engaged in the traffic between Buenos Aires and Montevideo, the river traffic, and port services.
The substitution of steamships for sailing vessels has brought about a diminution in the number of vessels belonging to the Italian mercantile marine, whether employed in the coasting trade, the fisheries or in traffic on the high seas.
Meantime the attempts of the Liberian government to control the Kru coast led to various troubles, such as the fining or firing upon foreign steamships for alleged contraventions of regulations.
It is estimated that for domestic purposes nearly 150,000,000 tons of wood are consumed every year, while the steamships, railways and factories consume another 20 or 25 million tons.