South America Living

Country Profile for Uruguay

Sunset at La Barra - Maldonado

Take 68,000 square miles (176,000 square kilometers) of the South American Continent between Brazil and Argentina, add 200 miles of beaches plus sand dunes then envision three-quarters of the total as grasslands with various types of livestock grazing and you have a topical overlay of Uruguay – the second smallest country in South America.

Set foot in the country for a day or more and you get a sneak preview of the bigger picture; a beautiful country with hard-working, down-to-earth people living life as they see fit whether it be in the larger cities (Montevideo, Salto, Paysandú), inland rural areas or coastal havens on the Atlantic ocean and Rio de la Plata (River of Silver in English).       Uruguay Fast Facts & Figures

General Background

The majority of the population (approximately 80%) live in urban areas yet Uruguay also has an active farming community with cattle and sheep ranching a way of life in rural areas. Crops produced on farms in Uruguay include: rice, wheat, barley, corn, sorghum, sunflower seeds, oats, apples, and peaches. These crops account for approximately 40% of the country´s GDP (gross domestic product) with the remaining 60% from animal husbandry and automobile parts.

Cabo Polonio, Rocha Department, Uruguay.

Uruguay borders Argentina to the west, Brazil to the north and northeast and the Atlantic Ocean to the southeast. The Rio de la Plata is an estuary (or river depending on the source) that fronts Montevideo and other cities and towns on the western coast such as Colonia del Sacramento and extends into the Atlantic Ocean.

The climate of Uruguay is mild with no snowfall or distinct rainy season
but winters can be chilly and summers uncomfortably hot, depending on your location in the country. Atlantic coast windstorms during the winter months June and July can blow gusts up to 60 miles per hour – also referred to as ‘Pamperos’ – that originate in the Argentine pampas and blow northward passing through Uruguay.

During the summer months January and February temperatures usually range from 25 to 35 degree C (77 – 95 F) but can be higher with oppressively high humidity, especially inland.

Government & Politics

Uruguay is governed by a presidential representative democratic republic. The president-elect is both the head of state and the head of government and serves a five-year term. The vice president is elected on the same ticket.

Legislative Palace in Montevideo

For the second consecutive time, a member of the Left-wing Frente Amplio (Broad Front in English) coalition won the presidency – Jose Mujica (elected March, 2010). The first was Tabaré Vázquez in 2004. The Broad Front coalition is comprised of socialists, former Tupamaros, communists, social democrats, Christian Democrats and others.

The Uruguayan Constitution allows citizens the right to protest, repeal laws and ammend the constitution. In the last 15 years public referendums have successfully accomplished the following: defend pensioner´s incomes and stop privatization of public utilities companies. Twice, referendums to allow prosecution of members of the military who violated human rights during the military regime (1973–1985) have failed.

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