Introduction    Uruguay Top of Page
Montevideo, founded by the Spanish in 1726 as a military stronghold, soon took advantage of its natural harbor to become an important commercial center. Claimed by Argentina but annexed by Brazil in 1821, Uruguay declared its independence four years later and secured its freedom in 1828 after a three-year struggle. The administrations of President Jose BATLLE in the early 20th century established widespread political, social, and economic reforms that established a statist tradition. A violent Marxist urban guerrilla movement named the Tupamaros, launched in the late 1960s, led Uruguay's president to cede control of the government to the military in 1973. By yearend, the rebels had been crushed, but the military continued to expand its hold over the government. Civilian rule was not restored until 1985. In 2004, the left-of-center Frente Amplio Coalition won national elections that effectively ended 170 years of political control previously held by the Colorado and Blanco parties. Uruguay's political and labor conditions are among the freest on the continent.
   Geography    Uruguay Top of Page
Southern South America, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean, between Argentina and Brazil
Geographic coordinates:
33 00 S, 56 00 W
Map references:
South America
total: 176,215 sq km
land: 175,015 sq km
water: 1,200 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than the state of Washington
Land boundaries:
total: 1,648 km
border countries: Argentina 580 km, Brazil 1,068 km
660 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or edge of continental margin
warm temperate; freezing temperatures almost unknown
mostly rolling plains and low hills; fertile coastal lowland
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Cerro Catedral 514 m
Natural resources:
arable land, hydropower, minor minerals, fish
Land use:
arable land: 7.77%
permanent crops: 0.24%
other: 91.99% (2005)
Irrigated land:
2,100 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources:
139 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 3.15 cu km/yr (2%/1%/96%)
per capita: 910 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards:
seasonally high winds (the pampero is a chilly and occasional violent wind that blows north from the Argentine pampas), droughts, floods; because of the absence of mountains, which act as weather barriers, all locations are particularly vulnerable to rapid changes from weather fronts
Environment - current issues:
water pollution from meat packing/tannery industry; inadequate solid/hazardous waste disposal
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation
Geography - note:
second-smallest South American country (after Suriname); most of the low-lying landscape (three-quarters of the country) is grassland, ideal for cattle and sheep raising
   People    Uruguay Top of Page
3,494,382 (July 2010 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 22.4% (male 397,942/female 385,253)
15-64 years: 64.3% (male 1,115,963/female 1,129,478)
65 years and over: 13.3% (male 187,176/female 278,570) (2010 est.)
Median age:
total: 33.7 years
male: 32.3 years
female: 35.1 years (2010 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.466% (2010 est.)
Birth rate:
13.91 births/1,000 population (2010 est.)
Death rate:
9.09 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.)
Net migration rate:
-0.16 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.)
urban population: 92% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 0.4% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.037 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.67 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2010 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 11.32 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 73.1 years
female: 9.87 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 76.35 years
male: 73.1 years
female: 79.72 years (2010 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.89 children born/woman (2010 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.6% (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
10,000 (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
fewer than 500 (2007 est.)
noun: Uruguayan(s)
adjective: Uruguayan
Ethnic groups:
white 88%, mestizo 8%, black 4%, Amerindian (practically nonexistent)
Roman Catholic 47.1%, non-Catholic Christians 11.1%, nondenominational 23.2%, Jewish 0.3%, atheist or agnostic 17.2%, other 1.1% (2006)
Spanish, Portunol, or Brazilero (Portuguese-Spanish mix on the Brazilian frontier)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98%
male: 97.6%
female: 98.4% (2003 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 15 years
male: 14 years
female: 16 years (2006)
Education expenditures:
2.9% of GDP (2006)
   Government    Uruguay Top of Page
Country name:
conventional long form: Oriental Republic of Uruguay
conventional short form: Uruguay
local long form: Republica Oriental del Uruguay
local short form: Uruguay
former: Banda Oriental, Cisplatine Province
Government type:
constitutional republic
name: Montevideo
geographic coordinates: 34 53 S, 56 11 W
time difference: UTC-3 (2 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins first Sunday in October; ends second Sunday in March
Administrative divisions:
19 departments (departamentos, singular - departamento); Artigas, Canelones, Cerro Largo, Colonia, Durazno, Flores, Florida, Lavalleja, Maldonado, Montevideo, Paysandu, Rio Negro, Rivera, Rocha, Salto, San Jose, Soriano, Tacuarembo, Treinta y Tres
25 August 1825 (from Brazil)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 25 August (1825)
27 November 1966; effective 15 February 1967; suspended 27 June 1973; revised 26 November 1989 and 7 January 1997
Legal system:
based on Spanish civil law system; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal and compulsory
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Jose "Pepe" MUJICA Cordano (since 1 March 2010); Vice President Danilo ASTORI Saragoza (since 1 March 2010); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Jose "Pepe" MUJICA Cordano (since 1 March 2010); Vice President Danilo ASTORI Saragoza (since 1 March 2010)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president with parliamentary approval
(For more information visit the World Leaders website )
elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for five-year terms (may not serve consecutive terms); election last held on 29 November 2009 (next to be held in October 2014)
election results: Jose "Pepe" MUJICA elected president; percent of vote - Jose "Pepe" MUJICA 54.8%, Luis Alberto LACALLE 45.2%
Legislative branch:
bicameral General Assembly or Asamblea General consists of Chamber of Senators or Camara de Senadores (30 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms; vice president has one vote in the Senate) and Chamber of Representatives or Camara de Representantes (99 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: Chamber of Senators - last held on 25 October 2009 (next to be held in October 2014); Chamber of Representatives - last held on 25 October 2009 (next to be held in October 2014)
election results: Chamber of Senators - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Frente Amplio 16, Blanco 9, Colorado Party 5; Chamber of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Frente Amplio 50, Blanco 30, Colorado Party 17, Independent Party 2
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (judges are nominated by the president and elected for 10-year terms by the General Assembly)
Political parties and leaders:
Broad Front (Frente Amplio) - formerly known as the Progressive Encounter/Broad Front Coalition or EP-FA [Jorge BROVETTO] (a broad governing coalition that includes Movement of the Popular Participation or MPP, New Space Party (Nuevo Espacio) [Rafael MICHELINI], Progressive Alliance (Alianza Progresista) [Rodolfo NIN NOVOA], Socialist Party [Eduardo FERNANDEZ], Communist Party [Marina ARISMENDI], Uruguayan Assembly (Asamblea Uruguay) [Danilo ASTORI], and Vertiente Artiguista [Mariano ARANA]); Colorado Party (Foro Batllista) [Julio Maria SANGUINETTI]; National Party or Blanco [Luis Alberto LACALLE and Jorge LARRANAGA]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Architect's Society of Uruguay (professional organization); Chamber of Uruguayan Industries (manufacturer's association); Chemist and Pharmaceutical Association (professional organization); PIT/CNT (powerful federation of Uruguayan Unions - umbrella labor organization); Rural Association of Uruguay (rancher's association); Uruguayan Construction League; Uruguayan Network of Political Women
other: Catholic Church; students
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Carlos Alberto GIANELLI Derois
chancery: 1913 I Street NW, Washington, DC 20006
telephone: [1] (202) 331-1313 through 1316
FAX: [1] (202) 331-8142
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York
consulate(s): San Juan (Puerto Rico)
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador David NELSON
embassy: Lauro Muller 1776, Montevideo 11200
mailing address: APO AA 34035
telephone: [598] (2) 418-7777
FAX: [598] (2) 418-8611
Flag description:
nine equal horizontal stripes of white (top and bottom) alternating with blue; a white square in the upper hoist-side corner with a yellow sun bearing a human face known as the Sun of May with 16 rays that alternate between triangular and wavy; the stripes represent the nine original departments of Uruguay; the sun symbol evokes the legend of the sun breaking through the clouds on 25 May 1810 as independence was first declared from Spain (Uruguay subsequently won its independence from Brazil)
note: the banner was inspired by the national colors of Argentina and by the design of the US flag
National anthem:

name: "Himno Nacional" (National Anthem of Uruguay)
lyrics/music: Francisco Esteban ACUNA de Figueroa/Francisco Jose DEBALI
note: adopted 1848; the anthem is also known as "Orientales, la Patria o la tumba!" ("Uruguayans, the Fatherland or Death!"); it is the world's longest national anthem in terms of music (105 bars; almost five minutes); generally only the first verse and chorus are sung
   Economy    Uruguay Top of Page
Economy - overview:
Uruguay's economy is characterized by an export-oriented agricultural sector, a well-educated work force, and high levels of social spending. After averaging growth of 5% annually during 1996-98, in 1999-2002 the economy suffered a major downturn, stemming largely from the spillover effects of the economic problems of its large neighbors, Argentina and Brazil. In 2001-02, Argentine citizens made massive withdrawals of dollars deposited in Uruguayan banks after bank deposits in Argentina were frozen, which led to a plunge in the Uruguayan peso, a banking crisis, and a sharp economic contraction. Real GDP fell in four years by nearly 20%, with 2002 the worst year. The unemployment rate rose, inflation surged, and the burden of external debt doubled. Financial assistance from the IMF helped stem the damage. Uruguay restructured its external debt in 2003 without asking creditors to accept a reduction on the principal. Economic growth for Uruguay resumed, and averaged 8% annually during the period 2004-08. The 2008-09 global financial crisis put a brake on Uruguay's vigorous growth, which decelerated to 1.7% in 2009. Nevertheless, the country managed to avoid a recession and keep positive growth rates, mainly through higher public expenditure and investment.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$43.94 billion (2009 est.)
$43.12 billion (2008 est.)
$39.59 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate):
$31.53 billion (2009 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
1.9% (2009 est.)
8.9% (2008 est.)
7.6% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$12,600 (2009 est.)
$12,400 (2008 est.)
$11,400 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 9.3%
industry: 22.7%
services: 68% (2009 est.)
Labor force:
1.636 million (2009 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 9%
industry: 15%
services: 76% (2007 est.)
Unemployment rate:
7.6% (2009 est.) 7.6% (2008 est.)
Population below poverty line:
27.4% of households (2006)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 1.7%
highest 10%: 34.8% (2006)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
45.2 (2006) 44.8 (1999)
Investment (gross fixed):
17.2% of GDP (2009 est.)
revenues: $8.74 billion
expenditures: $9.376 billion (2009 est.)
Public debt:
56.6% of GDP (2009 est.) 59.8% of GDP (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
7.1% (2009 est.) 7.9% (2008 est.)
Central bank discount rate:
20% (31 December 2009) 20% (31 December 2008)
Commercial bank prime lending rate:
15.28% (31 December 2009 ) 12.45% (31 December 2008 )
Stock of narrow money:
$2.247 billion (31 December 2008) $2.145 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of broad money:
$9.409 billion (31 December 2008) $7.919 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit:
$9.096 billion (31 December 2008) $6.396 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares:
$NA (31 December 2008) $159 million (31 December 2007) $125.1 million (31 December 2006)
Agriculture - products:
rice, wheat, soybeans, barley; livestock, beef; fish; forestry
food processing, electrical machinery, transportation equipment, petroleum products, textiles, chemicals, beverages
Industrial production growth rate:
1.8% (2009 est.)
Electricity - production:
9.265 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - consumption:
7.14 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - exports:
996 million kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - imports:
789 million kWh (2007 est.)
Oil - production:
997.4 bbl/day (2009 est.)
Oil - consumption:
40,000 bbl/day (2009 est.)
Oil - exports:
7,100 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - imports:
52,730 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl
Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
70 million cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
70 million cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
Current account balance:
$184 million (2009 est.) -$1.51 billion (2008 est.)
$6.395 billion (2009 est.) $7.084 billion (2008 est.)
Exports - commodities:
meat, rice, leather products, wool, fish, dairy products
Exports - partners:
Brazil 21.05%, China 9.45%, Argentina 7.36%, Germany 5.16%, Mexico 4.88%, Netherlands 4.13%, US 3.96% (2009)
$6.606 billion (2009 est.) $8.811 billion (2008 est.)
Imports - commodities:
crude petroleum and petroleum products, machinery, chemicals, road vehicles, paper, plastics
Imports - partners:
Argentina 20.77%, Brazil 17.53%, China 10.23%, US 9.82%, Paraguay 6.87% (2009)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$8.038 billion (31 December 2009 est.) $6.36 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Debt - external:
$12.61 billion (31 December 2009 est.) $10.73 billion (31 December 2008)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
$NA (31 December 2009) $4.19 billion (2007)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
$156 million (2007)
Exchange rates:
Uruguayan pesos (UYU) per US dollar - 23.017 (2009), 20.936 (2008), 23.947 (2007), 24.048 (2006), 24.479 (2005)
   Communications    Uruguay Top of Page
Telephones - main lines in use:
959,300 (2008)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
3.508 million (2008)
Telephone system:
general assessment: fully digitalized
domestic: most modern facilities concentrated in Montevideo; new nationwide microwave radio relay network; overall fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity is 130 telephones per 100 persons
international: country code - 598; the UNISOR submarine cable system provides direct connectivity to Brazil and Argentina; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2002)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 93, FM 191, shortwave 7 (2005)
Television broadcast stations:
62 (2005)
Broadcast media:
mixture of privately-owned and state-run broadcast media; more than 100 commercial radio stations and about 20 television channels broadcasting; cable TV is available; large number of community radio and TV stations (2007)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
498,232 (2009)
Internet users:
1.34 million (2008)
   Transportation    Uruguay Top of Page
58 (2010)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 9
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 2 (2010)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 49
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 20
under 914 m: 26 (2010)
gas 226 km; oil 155 km (2009)
total: 1,641 km (1,200 km operational)
standard gauge: 1,641 km 1.435-m gauge (2010)
total: 77,732 km
paved: 7,743 km
unpaved: 69,989 km (2010)
1,600 km (2010)
Merchant marine:
total: 18
by type: bulk carrier 1, cargo 2, chemical tanker 4, passenger/cargo 7, petroleum tanker 3, roll on/roll off 1
foreign-owned: 9 (Argentina 2, Denmark 1, Greece 1, Spain 5)
registered in other countries: 1 (Liberia 1) (2010)
Ports and terminals:
   Military    Uruguay Top of Page
Military branches:
Uruguayan Armed Forces: Uruguayan National Army (Ejercito Nacional Uruguaya, ENU), Uruguayan National Navy (Armada Nacional del Uruguay; includes naval air arm, Naval Rifle Corps (Cuerpo de Fusileros Navales, Fusna), Maritime Prefecture in wartime), Uruguayan Air Force (Fuerza Aerea Uruguaya, FAU) (2010)
Military service age and obligation:
18-30 years of age for voluntary military service; up to 40 years of age for specialists; enlistment is voluntary in peacetime, but the government has the authority to conscript in emergencies; minimum 6-year education (2009)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 771,159
females age 16-49: 780,932 (2010 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 649,025
females age 16-49: 654,903 (2010 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 27,564
female: 26,811 (2010 est.)
Military expenditures:
1.6% of GDP (2006)
   Transnational Issues    Uruguay Top of Page
in 2010, the ICJ ruled in favor of Uruguay's operation of two paper mills on the Uruguay River, which forms the border with Argentina; the two countries formed a joint pollution monitoring regime; uncontested boundary dispute between Brazil and Uruguay over Braziliera/Brasiliera Island in the Quarai/Cuareim River leaves the tripoint with Argentina in question; smuggling of firearms and narcotics continues to be an issue along the Uruguay-Brazil border
Illicit drugs:
small-scale transit country for drugs mainly bound for Europe, often through sea-borne containers; law enforcement corruption; money laundering because of strict banking secrecy laws; weak border control along Brazilian frontier; increasing consumption of cocaine base and synthetic drugs

This page was last updated on 14 May 2009


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