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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,... See More



 Southern South America, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean, between Argentina and Brazil

Geographic Coordinates:

 33 00 S, 56 00 W


 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 (Rank: 96)

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:

 2,180 sq km (2008)

Total Renewable Water Resources:

 139 cu km (2000)

Freshwater Withdrawal:

 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

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 Noun: Uruguayan(s)
Adjective: Uruguayan

Ethnic Groups:

 White 88%, mestizo 8%, black 4%, Amerindian (practically nonexistent)


 Spanish (official), Portunol, Brazilero (Portuguese-Spanish mix on the Brazilian frontier)


 Roman Catholic 47.1%, non-Catholic Christians 11.1%, nondenominational 23.2%, Jewish 0.3%, atheist or agnostic 17.2%, other 1.1% (2006)


 3,308,535 (July 2011 est.)

Age Structure:

 0-14 years: 22.2% (male 373,613/female 361,160)
15-64 years: 64.1% (male 1,042,163/female 1,078,357)
65 years and over: 13.7% (male 180,729/female 272,513) (2011 est.)

Median Age:

 Total: 33.6 years
Male: 32 years
Female: 35.2 years (2011 est.)

Population Growth Rate:

 0.231% (2011 est.)

Birth Rate:

 13.52 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)

Death Rate:

 9.58 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)

Net Migration Rate:

 -1.63 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)


 Urban population: 92% of total population (2010)
Rate of urbanization: 0.4% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major Cities - Population:

 MONTEVIDEO (capital) 1.633 million (2009)

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 (2011 est.)

Maternal Mortality Rate:

 27 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)

Infant Mortality Rate:

 Total: 9.69 deaths/1,000 live births
Male: 10.73 deaths/1,000 live births
Female: 8.61 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)

Life Expectancy At Birth:

 Total population: 76.21 years
Male: 73.07 years
Female: 79.46 years (2011 est.)

Total Fertility Rate:

 1.89 children born/woman (2011 est.)

Health Expenditures:

 7.4% of GDP (2009)

Physicians Density:

 3.736 physicians/1,000 population (2008)

Hospital Bed Density:

 2.9 beds/1,000 population (2007)

Drinking Water Source:

 Urban: 100% of population
Rural: 100% of population
Total: 100% of population (2008)

Sanitation Facility Access:

 Urban: 100% of population
Rural: 99% of population
Total: 100% of population
Urban: 0% of population
Rural: 1% of population
Total: 0% of population (2008)

HIV/AIDS - Adult Prevalence Rate:

 0.5% (2009 est.)

HIV/AIDS - People Living With HIV/AIDS:

 9,900 (2009 est.)

Children Under 5 - Underweight:

 6% (2004)

Education Expenditures:

 2.9% of GDP (2006)


 Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 98%
Male: 97.6%
Female: 98.4% (2003 est.)

Average Years of Schooling:

 Total: 16 years
Male: 14 years
Female: 17 years (2008)

Unemployment, Youth Ages 15-24:

 Total: 20%
Male: 16.1%
Female: 25.4% (2009)

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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:

 Civil law system based on the Spanish civil code

International Law Organization Participation:

 Accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction; accepts ICCt 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

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 and Reinaldo GARGANO], Communist Party [Eduardo LORIER], Uruguayan Assembly (Asamblea Uruguay) [Danilo ASTORI], and Vertiente Artiguista [Mariano ARANA]); Colorado Party (Foro Batllista) [Pedro BORDABERRY and 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 Symbols:

 Sun of May (a sun-with-face symbol)

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

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Economy - Overview:

 Uruguay's economy is characterized by an export-oriented agricultural sector, a well-educated work force, and high levels of social spending. Following financial difficulties in the late 1990s and early 2000s, economic growth for Uruguay 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 2.9% in 2009. Nevertheless, the country managed to avoid a recession and keep positive growth rates, mainly through higher public expenditure and investment, and GDP growth exceeded 8% in 2010.

GDP (Purchasing Power Parity):

 $47.99 billion (2010 est.)
$44.24 billion (2009 est.)
$43.13 billion (2008 est.)

Note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (Official Exchange Rate):

 $40.27 billion (2010 est.)

GDP - Real Growth Rate:

 8.5% (2010 est.)
2.6% (2009 est.)
8.6% (2008 est.)

GDP - Per Capita (PPP):

 $13,700 (2010 est.)
$12,700 (2009 est.)
$12,400 (2008 est.)

Note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - Composition By Sector:

 Agriculture: 9.2%
Industry: 21.4%
Services: 69.4% (2010 est.)

Labor Force:

 1.637 million (2010 est.)

Labor Force - By Occupation:

 Agriculture: 13%
Industry: 14%
Services: 73% (2010 est.)

Unemployment Rate:

 6.7% (2010 est.)
7.3% (2009 est.)

Population Below Poverty Line:

 20.9% of households (2009)

Household Income / Consumption By Share:

 Lowest 10%: 2.3%
Highest 10%: 32.9% (2009)

Distribution of Family Income - Gini Index:

 42.4 (2009)
44.8 (1999)

Investment (Gross Fixed):

 20% of GDP (2010 est.)


 Revenues: $11.8 billion
Expenditures: $12.29 billion (2010 est.)

Taxes and Other Revenues:

 29.3% of GDP (2010 est.)

Budget Surplus / Deficit:

 -1.2% of GDP (2010 est.)

Public Debt:

 56.3% of GDP (2010 est.)
60.4% of GDP (2009 est.)

Inflation Rate (Consumer Prices):

 6.7% (2010 est.)
7.1% (2009 est.)

Central Bank Discount Rate:

 20% (31 December 2010)
20% (31 December 2009 est.)

Commercial Bank Prime Lending Rate:

 10.33% (31 December 2010 est.)
15.28% (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Money:

 $2.247 billion (31 December 2008)
$2.145 billion (31 December 2007)

Stock of Quasi Money:

 $9.409 billion (31 December 2008)
$7.919 billion (31 December 2007)

Stock of Narrow Money:

 $3.944 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$3.151 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Broad Money:

 $16.97 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$14.22 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Domestic Credit:

 $12.74 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$10.22 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Market Value of Publicly Traded Shares:

 $238 million (31 December 2010)
$219 million (31 December 2009)
$NA (31 December 2008)

Agriculture - Products:

 Beef, soybeans, cellulose, rice, wheat, lumber, dairy products; fish


 Food processing, electrical machinery, transportation equipment, petroleum products, textiles, chemicals, beverages

Industrial Production Growth Rate:

 9.5% (2010 est.)

Electricity - Production:

 9.89 billion kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - Production By Source:

 Fossil fuel: 0.7%
Hydro: 99.1%
Nuclear: 0%
Other: 0.3% (2001)

Electricity - Consumption:

 7.57 billion kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - Exports:

 711.4 million kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - Imports:

 386.8 million kWh (2010 est.)

Oil - Production:

 903 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Consumption:

 52,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Exports:

 4,353 bbl/day (November 2010 est.)

Oil - Imports:

 53,110 bbl/day (November 2010 est.)

Oil - Proven Reserves:

 0 bbl (1 January 2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Production:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Consumption:

 40 million cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Exports:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Imports:

 76.6 million cu m (2010 est.)

Natural Gas - Proven Reserves:

 0 cu m (1 January 2011 est.)

Current Account Balance:

 -$160.4 million (2010 est.)
-$104.7 million (2009 est.)


 $8.069 billion (2010 est.)
$6.408 billion (2009 est.)

Exports - Commodities:

 Beef, soybeans, cellulose, rice, wheat, wood, dairy products; wool

Exports - Partners:

 Brazil 21%, Nueva Palmira Free Zone 10.2%, Argentina 7.5%, Chile 5.5%, Russia 5.3% (2010 est.)


 $8.32 billion (2010 est.)
$6.677 billion (2009 est.)

Imports - Commodities:

 Crude oil (13.4%), refined oil (4.9%), passenger vehicles (3.5%), transportation vehicles (2.7%), vehicles parts (2.2%), cellular phones (2.1%), insecticides (1.7%)

Imports - Partners:

 Brazil 18.6%, Argentina 16.7%, China 13.5%, Venezuela 9.1%, US 8.3%, Russia 4.2% (2010 est.)

Reserves of Foreign Exchange and Gold:

 $7.657 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$8.038 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Debt - External:

 $13.95 billion (30 June 2011 est.)
$12.25 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Stock of Direct Foreign Investment - Abroad:

 $300 million (2009 est.)
$156 million (2007 est.)

Stock of Direct Foreign Investment - At Home:

 $9.1 billion (30 September 2010)
$7.7 billion (31 December 2009)

Exchange Rates:

 Convert Uruguayan New Peso to Any Currency

Uruguayan pesos (UYU) per US dollar -
20.051 (2010)
22.568 (2009)
20.936 (2008)
23.947 (2007)
24.048 (2006)

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Telephones - Main Lines In Use:

 962,200 (2010)

Telephones - Cellular:

 4.437 million (2010)

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 approaching 150 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) (2009)

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; adopted the hybrid Japanese/Brazilian HDTV standard (ISDB-T) in December 2010 (2010)

Radio Broadcast Stations:

 AM 93, FM 191, shortwave 7 (2005)

Television Broadcast Stations:

 62 (2005)

Internet Country Code:


Internet Hosts:

 765,525 (2010)

Internet Users:

 1.405 million (2009)

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 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 (2010)


 Total: 1,641 km
Standard gauge: 1,641 km 1.435-m gauge (1,200 km operational) (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:


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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)

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Disputes - International:

 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

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Last Updated: December 2011

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