Country Information Database


Uruguay Country Information

Flag of Uruguay
Map of Uruguay
Introduction Uruguay
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
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: 176,220 sq km
land: 173,620 sq km
water: 2,600 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, fisheries
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, Tropical Timber 94, 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
3,477,778 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 22.7% (male 401,209/female 388,315)
15-64 years: 64% (male 1,105,891/female 1,120,858)
65 years and over: 13.3% (male 185,704/female 275,801) (2008 est.)
Median age:
total: 33.2 years
male: 31.8 years
female: 34.6 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.486% (2008 est.)
Birth rate:
14.17 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate:
9.12 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate:
-0.18 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.04 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 (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 11.66 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 13.1 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 10.17 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 76.14 years
male: 72.89 years
female: 79.51 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.94 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.3% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
6,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
fewer than 500 (2003 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
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 second 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, new constitution rejected by referendum 30 November 1980; two constitutional reforms approved by plebiscite 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 Tabare VAZQUEZ Rosas (since 1 March 2005); Vice President Rodolfo NIN NOVOA (since 1 March 2005); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Tabare VAZQUEZ Rosas (since 1 March 2005); Vice President Rodolfo NIN NOVOA (since 1 March 2005)
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 31 October 2004 (next to be held in October 2009)
election results: Tabare VAZQUEZ elected president; percent of vote - Tabare VAZQUEZ 50.5%, Jorge LARRANAGA 35.1%, Guillermo STIRLING 10.3%; other 4.1%
Legislative branch:
bicameral General Assembly or Asamblea General consists of Chamber of Senators or Camara de Senadores (30 seats; members are 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 are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: Chamber of Senators - last held 31 October 2004 (next to be held October 2009); Chamber of Representatives - last held 31 October 2004 (next to be held October 2009)
election results: Chamber of Senators - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - EP-FA 16, Blanco 11, Colorado Party 3; Chamber of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - EP-FA 52, Blanco 36, Colorado Party 10, Independent Party 1
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 [Jose MUJICA], New Space Party (Nuevo Espacio) [Rafael MICHELINI], Progressive Alliance (Alianza Progresista) [Rodolfo NIN NOVOA], Socialist Party [Eduardo FERNANDEZ], the 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, Washington, DC
consulate(s): San Juan (Puerto Rico)
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Frank E. BAXTER
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
Economy Uruguay
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. For instance, in 2001-02 Argentina made massive withdrawals of dollars deposited in Uruguayan banks, which led to a plunge in the Uruguayan peso and a massive rise in unemployment. Total GDP in these four years dropped by nearly 20%, with 2002 the worst year due to the banking crisis. The unemployment rate rose to nearly 20% in 2002, inflation surged, and the burden of external debt doubled. Cooperation with the IMF helped stem the damage. Uruguay in 2007 improved its debt profile by paying off $1.1 billion in IMF debt, and continues to follow the orthodox economic plan set by the Fund in 2005. The construction of a pulp mill in Fray Bentos, which represents the largest foreign direct investment in Uruguay's history at $1.2 billion, came online in November 2007 and is expected to add 1.6% to GDP and boost already rising exports. The economy has grown strongly since 2004 as a result of high commodity prices for Uruguayan exports, a strong peso, growth in the region, and low international interest rates.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$37.5 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
$22.95 billion (2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
7.4% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$10,800 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 10.1%
industry: 32%
services: 57.9% (2007 est.)
Labor force:
1.631 million (2007 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 9%
industry: 15%
services: 76% (2007 est.)
Unemployment rate:
9.2% (2007 est.)
Population below poverty line:
27.4% of households (2006)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 1.9%
highest 10%: 34% (2003)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
45.2 (2006)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
8.1% (2007 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
13.9% of GDP (2007 est.)
revenues: $6.701 billion
expenditures: $6.807 billion (2007 est.)
Public debt:
64.8% of GDP (2007 est.)
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:
7.9% (2007 est.)
Electricity - production:
9.2 billion kWh (2007)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 0.7%
hydro: 99.1%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0.3% (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
7.03 billion kWh (2007)
Electricity - exports:
1 billion kWh (2007)
Electricity - imports:
780 million kWh (2007)
Oil - production:
27,830 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - consumption:
33,400 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - exports:
4,410 bbl/day (2007)
Oil - imports:
43,670 bbl/day (2007)
Oil - proved reserves:
Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2007)
Natural gas - consumption:
102.8 million cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
116.9 million cu m (2007)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance:
-$185.6 million (2007 est.)
$5.063 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports - commodities:
meat, rice, leather products, wool, fish, dairy products
Exports - partners:
Brazil 15.1%, US 9.3%, Argentina 6.8%, Mexico 6.4%, China 6.1%, Russia 5.2%, Germany 4.8% (2007)
$5.554 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports - commodities:
crude petroleum and petroleum products, machinery, chemicals, road vehicles, paper, plastics
Imports - partners:
Argentina 21.5%, Brazil 18%, US 9.3%, China 8.9%, Paraguay 7.5%, Nigeria 4.5% (2007)
Economic aid - recipient:
$14.62 million (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$4.121 billion (December 2007 est.)
Debt - external:
$11.42 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
$4.19 billion (2007)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
$156 million (2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares:
$224 million (2007)
Currency (code):
Uruguayan peso (UYU)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Uruguayan pesos per US dollar - 23.947 (2007), 24.048 (2006), 24.479 (2005), 28.704 (2004), 28.209 (2003)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Uruguay
Telephones - main lines in use:
965,200 (2007)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
3.004 million (2007)
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 approaching 100 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)
1.97 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
62 (2005)
782,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
279,114 (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
14 (2001)
Internet users:
968,000 (2007)
Transportation Uruguay
60 (2007)
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 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 51
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 19
under 914 m: 29 (2007)
gas 257 km; oil 160 km (2007)
total: 2,073 km
standard gauge: 2,073 km 1.435-m gauge
note: 461 km have been taken out of service and 460 km are in partial use (2006)
total: 77,732 km
paved: 7,743 km
unpaved: 69,989 km (2004)
1,600 km (2005)
Merchant marine:
total: 16 ships (1000 GRT or over) 46,279 GRT/25,981 DWT
by type: cargo 3, chemical tanker 2, passenger/cargo 8, petroleum tanker 2, roll on/roll off 1
foreign-owned: 9 (Argentina 3, Greece 1, Spain 5)
registered in other countries: 3 (Liberia 3) (2008)
Ports and terminals:
Military Uruguay
Military branches:
Uruguayan Armed Forces: Army (Ejercito), Navy (Armada Nacional; includes naval air arm, Marines, Maritime Prefecture in wartime), Air Force (Fuerza Aerea Uruguaya, FAU) (2008)
Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age for voluntary and compulsory military service; enlistment is voluntary in peacetime, but the government has the authority to conscript in emergencies (2007)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 837,252
females age 16-49: 824,096 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 703,955
females age 16-49: 690,296 (2008 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 27,082
female: 26,075 (2008 est.)
Military expenditures:
1.6% of GDP (2006)
Transnational Issues Uruguay
Disputes - international:
in Jan 2007, ICJ provisionally ruled Uruguay may begin construction of two paper mills on the Uruguay River, which forms the border with Argentina, while the court examines further whether Argentina has the legal right to stop such construction with potential environmental implications to both countries; uncontested dispute with Brazil over certain islands in the Quarai/Cuareim and Invernada streams and the resulting tripoint with Argentina
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 2 October, 2008 Access Time: Tue, 26 Sep 2023 03:45:19 +0000