|Native Name:||República Oriental del Uruguay|
|Conventional Long Name:||Eastern Republic of Uruguay|
|National Motto:||Libertad o muerte|
"Freedom Or Death"
|National Anthem:||Himno Nacional Uruguayo|
|Ethnic Groups:||88% European, (Spanish, Italian, others), 8% Mestizo, 4% West African|
|Government Type:||Presidential republic|
|Leader Name1:||Tabaré Vázquez Rosas|
|Leader Title2:||Vice President|
|Leader Name2:||Rodolfo Nin Novoa|
|Sovereignty Note:||from Brazil|
|Established Date1:||August 25, 1825|
|Established Event2:||Constitution Jury|
|Established Date2:||18 July 1830|
|Area Sq Mi:||68,037|
|Population Estimate Year:||July 2008|
|Population Estimate Rank:||132|
|Population Census Year:||2002|
|Population Density Km2:||19|
|Population Density Sq Mi:||50|
|Population Density Rank:||196|
|Gdp Ppp Year:||2007|
|Gdp Ppp:||$37.357 billion|
|Gdp Ppp Per Capita:||$11,674|
|Gdp Nominal:||$23.256 billion|
|Gdp Nominal Year:||2008|
|Gdp Nominal Per Capita:||$7,267|
|Currency:||Uruguayan peso ($, |
|Time Zone Dst:||UYST|
|Utc Offset Dst:||-2|
Uruguay (official full name in Spanish; Castilian: '''República Oriental del Uruguay''';, Eastern Republic of Uruguay)  is a country located in the southeastern part of South America. It is home to 3.46 million people, of whom 1.7 million live in the capital Montevideo and its metropolitan area.
Uruguay's only land border is with Brazil to the north. To the west lies the Uruguay River, to the southwest lies the estuary of Río de la Plata, with Argentina only a short commute across the banks of either of these bodies of water, while to the southeast lies the South Atlantic Ocean. Uruguay is the second smallest country in South America, larger only than Suriname.
Montevideo was founded by the Spanish in the early 18th century as a military stronghold. Uruguay won its independence in 1825-1828 following a three-way struggle between Spain, Argentina and Brazil. It is a constitutional democracy, where the president fulfills the roles of both head of state and head of government.
The economy is largely based on agriculture (making up 10% of GDP and the most substantial export) and the state sector. According to Transparency International, Uruguay is the least corrupt country in Latin America (along with Chile), with its political and labor conditions being among the freest on the continent.
See main article: Geography of Uruguay. At 176,214 square kilometres (68,036 square miles) of continental land and 142,199 square kilometres (54,903 sq mi) of jurisdictional water and small river islands, Uruguay is the second smallest sovereign nation in South America (after Suriname) and the third smallest territory (French Guiana is the smallest). The landscape features mostly rolling plains and low hill ranges (cuchillas) with a fertile coastal lowland. A dense fluvial network covers the country, consisting of four river basins or deltas; the Río de la Plata, the Uruguay River, the Laguna Merín and the Río Negro. The major internal river is the Río Negro ('black river'). Several lagoons are found along the Atlantic coast.
The highest point in the country is the Cerro Catedral at 514 meters (1,685 ft) in the Sierra Carapé hill range. To the southwest is the Río de la Plata, the estuary of the Uruguay River, which forms the western border, and the Paraná River.
A longstanding border dispute with Brazil involving territory in the north of Uruguay has not harmed close diplomatic relations with Brazil in recent years.
The climate in Uruguay is temperate: it has warm summers and cool winters. The predominantly gently undulating landscape is somewhat vulnerable to rapid changes from weather fronts. It receives the periodic influence of the polar air in winter, and tropical air from Brazil in summer. Without mountains to act as a barrier, the air masses freely move by the territory, causing abrupt weather changes.
The coolest month is June, while the warmest is January. The rainfall is equally distributed throughout the year but tends to be more frequent in the autumn months. There can be frequent thunderstorms in the summer.Snow is not very common. One of the coldest winters (since 1951) was 2007: July averaged 6-7°C (42-45F) in Montevideo, and 6-8°C (42-46F) in Florida city.
National extreme temperatures sea level are, Paysandú city 44.0°C (01-20-1943) and Melo city -11.0°C (06-14-1967).
See main article: Departments of Uruguay. Uruguay consists of nineteen departments (Spanish; Castilian: ''departamentos'', singular Spanish; Castilian: "''departamento''"). The first departments were formed in 1816 and the newest, Flores, dates from 1885. The departments are governed by an intendente municipal who is elected for five years. The members of the Departmental Assembly (Spanish; Castilian: ''Junta Departamental'') form the legislative level of the department.
|Department||Area (square kilometres)||Population*||Capital|
|Colonia||6,106||119,266||Colonia del Sacramento|
|Río Negro||9,282||53,989||Fray Bentos|
|San José||4,992||103,104||San José de Mayo|
|Treinta y Tres||9,676||49,318||Treinta y Tres|
See main article: History of Uruguay.
The inhabitants of Uruguay before European colonization of the area were various tribes of hunter gatherer native Americans, the best known being the Charrúa Indians, a small tribe driven south by the Guaraní of Paraguay. The population is estimated at no more than 5,000 to 10,000.
Europeans arrived in the territory of present-day Uruguay in 1536, but the absence of gold and silver limited settlement in the region during the 16th and 17th centuries. Uruguay became a zone of contention between the Spanish and the Portuguese empires. In 1603, the Spanish began to introduce cattle, which became a source of wealth in the region. The first permanent settlement was founded by the Spanish in 1624 at Villa Soriano on the southwestern coast of the Río Negro. In 1680 the Portuguese built a fort at Colonia del Sacramento. Spanish colonization increased as Spain sought to limit Portugal's expansion of Brazil's frontiers.
Another segment of colonial Uruguay's population consisted of people of African descent. Colonial Uruguay's African community grew in number as its members escaped harsh treatment in Buenos Aires. Many relocated to Montevideo, which had a larger black community, seemed less hostile politically than Buenos Aires, and had a more favorable climate with lower humidity. Afro-Uruguayan is the term most often used to refer to Uruguayans of African ancestry.
As a province of the Viceroyalty of La Plata, colonial Uruguay was known as the Banda Oriental, or "Eastern Strip", referring to its location east of the Rio Uruguay. The inhabitants called themselves Orientales ("Easterners"), a term they still commonly use.
Uruguay's capital, Montevideo, was founded by the Spanish in the early 18th century as a military stronghold; its natural harbor soon developed into a commercial center competing with Argentina's capital, Buenos Aires. Uruguay's early 19th century history was shaped by ongoing conflicts between the British, Spanish, Portuguese, and colonial forces for dominance in the Argentina-Brazil-Uruguay region. In 1806 and 1807, the British army attempted to seize Buenos Aires as part of their war with Spain. As a result, at the beginning of 1807, Montevideo was occupied by a 10,000-strong British force who held it until the middle of the year when they left to attack Buenos Aires.
The Uruguayans' road to independence was much longer than those of other countries in the Americas. Early efforts at attaining independence focused on the overthrow of Spanish rule, a process begun by Jose Gervasio Artigas in 1811 when he led his forces to victory against the Spanish in the Battle of Las Piedras on May 18, 1811. In 1816, Portuguese troops invaded present-day Uruguay, which led to its eventual annexation by Brazil in 1821 under the provincial name Provincia Cisplatina. On April 19, 1825, thirty-three Uruguayan exiles led by Juan Antonio Lavalleja returned from Buenos Aires to lead an insurrection in Uruguay. They were known as the Treinta y Tres Orientales. Their actions inspired representatives from Uruguay to meet in Florida, a town in the recently liberated area, where they declared independence from Brazil on August 25, 1825. Uruguayan independence was not recognized by its neighbors until 1828, after the Argentina-Brazil War, when Britain, in search of new commercial markets, brokered peace between Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. On August 27, 1828, Uruguay was formally proclaimed independent at the preliminary peace talks between Brazil and Argentina.
See main article: Demographics of Uruguay.
The overwhelming majority of Uruguay's population is of predominantly European descent. People of Spanish and Italian ancestry are the most numerous. According to the 2006 National Survey of Homes by the Uruguayan National Institute of Statistics: 94.5% chose European ancestry, 9.1% chose Black/Afro-Uruguayan, 4.5% chose Native American, and 0.5% chose Asian ancestry (May not equal 100 because people were allowed to choose more than one background).
Many of the European immigrants arrived in Uruguay in the late 19th century and heavily influenced the architecture and culture of Montevideo and other major cities. For this reason, Montevideo and life within the city are reminiscent of parts of Europe.
Some colonies such as Colonia Valdense (a Waldensian colony) and Colonia Suiza (also named Nueva Helvecia, a mainly Swiss colony with some German and Austrian settlers) were founded in the department of Colonia. There are also towns founded by early British settlers such as Conchillas and Barker. A Russian colony called San Javier was founded in the department of Río Negro. Mennonite colonies can also be found in the department of Río Negro and in the department of Canelones. One of them, called El Ombú, is located near the city of Young.There are also some German colonies like Nuevo Berlin.
Uruguay has a large urban middle class and a literacy rate of 96.8% (1996 est). During the 1970s and 1980s, an estimated 600,000 Uruguayans emigrated, mainly to Spain, Italy, Argentina and Brazil. Other Uruguayans have settled in various countries in Europe, as well as in the United States, Canada, and Australia.
See main article: Religion in Uruguay. Church and state have been officially separated since 1919. According to the 2006 National Survey of Homes by the Uruguayan National Institute of Statistics: 47.1% of Uruguayans define themselves as Roman Catholic, 23.2% as "believing in God but without religion", 17.2% as Atheist or Agnostic, 11.1% "Non-Catholic Christian" (Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran), 0.6% as followers of Umbanda or other "afro" religions, 0.3% as Jewish, and 0.4% chose "Other".
Data published by the United Nations showed the Gini index for Uruguay to be 0.449 in 2003. A score of 1.000 on this scale would constitute maximum inequality between social classes, and a score of 0.000 would constitute an even distribution of wealth. This is the lowest in South America, which means that Uruguay is more income-equal than other surrounding countries.
A recent report used two indicators to estimate the number of people living in poverty in the country. These are
The numbers obtained depends according with the methodology used, the information uses three different methods. According to the one proposed by the Regional Workshop about poverty measurement in 1996, which produces the highest values of all, the results for the first quarter of 2006 are:
The reports shows the indicators are improving as the country is recovering from the last crisis of 2002; in 2004, poverty indicators reached an all-time high.
A new ministry of Social Development was created by the Broad Front (Uruguay) (Frente Amplio) government led by Tabare Vazquez, and an Emergency plan which targets the less favoured 200,000 Uruguayans.
Although rents in neighborhoods not in high demand are not very expensive in Uruguay, another property is usually required as a warranty for the contract, or a deposit which many cannot afford. This first condition makes renting a property especially difficult for the least favored sectors of the population. According to the INE, 23.3% of the population lives in a place neither owned nor rented. Some of them are properly built houses, but others are precarious constructions built illegally in public or private empty land just outside the cities. Thus, whole new poor neighborhoods have emerged in the last few decades. They are called Asentamientos or more colloquially Cantegriles in ironic allusion to the fashionable neighborhood of Cantegril in Punta del Este.
See main article: Economy of Uruguay. Uruguay has a middle-income economy, mainly dominated by the State services sector, an export-oriented agricultural sector and an industrial sector. Uruguay relies heavily on trade, particularly in agricultural exports, leaving the country particularly vulnerable to slumps in commodity prices and global economic slowdowns. After averaging growth of 5% annually in 1996-1998, in 1999-2001 the economy suffered from lower demand in Argentina and Brazil, which together account for nearly half of Uruguay's exports. Despite the severity of the trade shocks, Uruguay's financial indicators remained more stable than those of its neighbours, a reflection of its solid reputation among investors and its investment-grade sovereign bond rating—one of only two in South America. In recent years Uruguay has shifted some of its energy into developing the commercial use of technologies and has become the first exporter of software in Latin America.
While some parts of the economy appeared to be resilient, the downturn had severe impact on the local population. Unemployment levels rose to more than 20%, real wages fell, the peso devalued. These worsening economic conditions played a part in turning public opinion against the mildly free market economic policies adopted by the previous administrations in the 1990s, leading to the popular rejection of proposals for privatization of the state petroleum company in 2003 and of the state water company in 2004. The newly elected Frente Amplio government, while pledging to continue payments on Uruguay's external debt, has also promised to undertake a emergency plan to attack the widespread problems of poverty and unemployment. In May 2008, the unemployment rate was below 7.2%.
See main article: Agriculture of Uruguay. Agriculture played such an important part in Uruguayan history and national identity until the middle of the twentieth century that the entire country was sometimes likened to a single huge estancia (agricultural estate) centered around Montevideo, where the wealth generated in the hinterland was spent, at its casco or administrative head.
Today, agriculture contributes roughly 11% to the country’s GDP and is still the main foreign exchange earner, putting Uruguay in line with other agricultural exporters like Brazil, Canada, and New Zealand. Uruguay is a member of the Cairns Group of exporters of agricultural products. Uruguay’s agriculture has relatively low inputs of labor, technology, and capital compared to other such countries, which results in comparatively lower yields per hectare but also opens the door for Uruguay to market its products as "natural" or "ecological."
Industry has developed recently around estancia tourism which capitalizes on the traditional or folkloric connotations associated with gaucho culture and the remaining resources of Uruguay's historic estancias.
See main article: Politics of Uruguay. Uruguay's politics take place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Uruguay is both head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive branch is exercised by the government. Legislative branch is vested in both the government and the two chambers of the General Assembly of Uruguay. The Judiciary branch is independent of the executive and the legislature.
For most of Uruguay's history, the Partido Colorado has been the government. The other "traditional" party of Uruguay, Partido Blanco has ruled only twice. The Partido Blanco has its roots in the countryside and the original settlers of Spanish origin and the cattle ranchers. The Partido Colorado has its roots in the port city of Montevideo, the new immigrants of Italian origin and the backing of foreign interests. The Partido Colorado built a welfare state financed by taxing the cattle revenue and giving state pickles and free services to the new urban immigrants which became dependent on the state. The elections of 2004, however, brought the Frente Amplio, a coalition of socialists, communists, former Tupamaros, former communists and social democrats among others to govern with majorities in both houses of parliament and the election of President Tabaré Vázquez by an absolute majority.
The Reporters Without Borders worldwide press freedom index has ranked Uruguay as 43rd of 173 reported countries in 2008. According to Freedom House, an American organization that tracks global trends in political freedom, Uruguay ranked twenty-seventh in its "Freedom in the World" index. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Uruguay scores a 8.08 on the Democracy Index, located in the 23rd position among the 30 countries considered to be Full Democracies in the world. The report looks at 60 indicators across five categories: Free elections, civil liberties, functioning government, political participation and political culture.
The Uruguayan Constitution allows citizens to repeal laws or to change the constitution by referendum. During the last 15 years the method has been used several times; to confirm a law renouncing prosecution of members of the military who violated human rights during the military regime (1973-1985), to stop privatization of public utilities companies, to defend pensioners' incomes, and to protect water resources.
See main article: Culture of Uruguay. Uruguay has an impressive legacy of artistic and literary traditions, especially for its small size. The contribution of its alternating conquerors and diverse immigrants has resulted in native traditions that integrate this diversity. Uruguay has centuries old remains, fortresses of the colonial era. Its cities have a rich architectural heritage and an impressive number of writers, artists, and musicians. Uruguayan tango is the form of dance that originated in the neighborhoods of Montevideo, Uruguay towards the end of the 19th century. Tango, candombe, and murga are the three main styles of music.
The main sport in Uruguay is football. The Uruguay national football team is one of only five nations to win the FIFA World Cup on two or more occasions. In 1930, Uruguay hosted the first ever World Cup and went on to win the competition, defeating Argentina 4-2 in the final. Uruguay won the 1950 FIFA World Cup as well, famously defeating the favored hosts, Brazil, 2-1 in the last game of the final series. Uruguay is by far the smallest country, population wise, to win a World Cup. Out of the World Cup winners, the nation with the second smallest population is Argentina (winners of the 1978 and 1986 editions), which has over 40 million people according to the latest estimate; the 2002 census has Uruguay's current population slightly under 3.4 million. In fact, only six nations with population smaller than Uruguay have ever participated in any World Cup.Uruguay is also the smallest member nation of CONMEBOL, South American Football Association. Nevertheless, Uruguayan national team has won the Copa América 14 times, a record it shares with Argentina.
The most popular football teams in Uruguay are Club Nacional de Football (Three times World champions, three times Copa Libertadores de América champions, two times Copa Interamericana champions, one time Recopa Sudamericana champions) and Club Atlético Peñarol (Three times World champions, five times Copa Libertadores de América champions), followed by Defensor Sporting Club (last Uruguayan champion), Danubio. Uruguay has had many great known players such as Juan Schiaffino, Enzo Francescoli, Alvaro Recoba and Diego Forlan (2005 European Golden Shoe winner).
|Index (Year)||Author / Editor / Source||Year of|
|Human Poverty, HPI-1 (2005)(3)||United Nations (UNDP)||108||2º|
|Poverty below $2 a day (1990-2005)(4)||United Nations (UNDP)||71||3º|
|Global Peace (2008)||The Economist||140||21º|
|Corruption Perception (2008)(6)||Transparency International||180||23º|
|Democracy (2006)||The Economist||167||27º|
|Prosperity Index (2008)||Legatum Institute||104||36º|
|Press Freedom (2007)||Reporters Without Borders||169||37º|
|Human Development (2005)||United Nations (UNDP)||177||46º|
|Economic Freedom (2008)||The Wall Street Journal||157||46º|
|Quality-of-life (2005)||The Economist||111||46º|
|Travel and Tourism Competitiveness (2008)||World Economic Forum||130||61º|
|Global Competitiviness (2007)||World Economic Forum||131||75º|
|Income inequality (1989-2007)(5)||United Nations (UNDP)||126||88º|
(1) Worldwide ranking among countries evaluated.
(3) Ranking among 108 developing countries with available data only.
(4) Ranking among 71 developing countries with available data only. Countries in the sample surveyed between 1990-2005. Refers to population below income poverty line as define by the World Bank's $2 per day indicator
(5) Because the Gini coefficient used for the ranking corresponds to different years depending of the country, and the underlying household surveys differ in method and in the type of data collected, the distribution data are not strictly comparable across countries. The ranking therefore is only a proxy for reference purposes, and though the source is the same, the sample is smaller than for the HDI
The Oriental Republic of Uruguay is named after its geographic location to the east of the Uruguay River. This geographical reason as well as historical reasons caused the Uruguayans to be called "Orientals", even though Uruguay is situated in the Western Hemisphere. As for the word Uruguay, it comes from the Guarani language, meaning "river where the painted birds live".
See main article: List of Uruguay-related topics.