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Uruguay: The Interior
Country Study > Chapter 2 > The Society and Its Environment > Geography > Land Use and Settlement Patterns > The Interior

THE INTERIOR


This largest region includes the departments of Artigas,Cerro Largo, Durazno, Flores, Florida, Lavalleja, Rivera, Salto, Tacuarembó, and Treinta y Tres and the eastern halves of Paysandú, Río Negro, and Soriano. The topsoil is thin and unsuited to intensive agriculture, but it nourishes abundant natural pasture.

Only 2 to 3 percent of Uruguay's land is forested. An estimated 3 to 4 million hectares (17 to 23 percent of the total land) are arable, but only one-third of this (about 7 percent of the total productive land) was cultivated in 1990. Almost all of the interior consisted of cattle and sheep ranches; pasture accounted for 89 percent of the country's productive land.

Sheep rearing was typically undertaken on medium-sized farms concentrated in the west and south. It began to boom as an export industry in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, particularly following the invention of barbed wire, which allowed the easy enclosure of properties. Uruguayan wool is of moderate quality, not quite up to Australian standards

Cattle ranches, or estancias, for beef and hides weretypically quite large (over 1,000 hectares) and were concentrated in the north and east. (Dairying was concentrated in the department of Colonia.) Because ranching required little labor, merely a few gauchos, the interior lacked a peasantry and large towns. Despite being sparsely populated, however, the interior was relatively urbanized in that the capital of each department usually contained about half the inhabitants. Social and economic development indicators were lowest for the departments along the Brazilian border to the northeast. Government attempts to encourage agricultural colonization by means of land reform in the interior had largely failed in economic terms, as had the promotion of wheat production. One exception, rice, most of which was produced in the east, had become a major nontraditional export in recent years.

Data as of December 1990




Last Updated: December 1990


Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Uruguay was first published in 1990. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on Factba.se.

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