|Rep®≤blica Oriental del
|Form of government
|Telephone area code
The "Republic East of Uruguay" (Rep®≤blica Oriental
del Uruguay) is located on the east side of South
America and with an area of 176 215 km² is the second
smallest country in the subcontinent (after Suriname)
and about half the size of Germany. In the north and
northeast the country borders on Brazil, in the
southeast on the Atlantic, in the south on the R®™o de la
Plata reaching about 300 km inland and in the west on
Argentina. The Uruguay River gave the country its name.
Uruguay is defined by two large landscapes: In the
south of the country, along the R®™o de la Plata, which
is the common mouth of the Uruguay and Paran®Ę rivers,
there is an approx. 120 km wide lowland with fertile
loess soils. Otherwise, the landscape is dominated by a
flat-wave hilly country, which is the continuation of
the Brazilian highlands. Only about 10% of the country's
surface lies above 200 m above sea level. In the east,
the highest range of hills in Uruguay is the Cuchilla
Grande with the Cerro de las Ánimas (501 m).
The longest river in the country is the R®™o Negro
with around 800 km, which originates in Brazil and flows
into the R®™o Uruguay. Over a length of around 600 km,
this forms the border with neighboring Argentina (total
length approx. 1,650 km).
The capital Montevideo is located in the south of the
country on the north bank of the R®™o de la Plata.
The climate in Uruguay is subtropical. In the winter
months (June to September) the average temperature is
around 10 °„C, in January an average of 23 °„C. Cold air
can break in due to the cold south wind (Pampero), in
which case the temperature drops by 20 °„C within a few
hours. The average rainfall is around 1,000 mm annually,
with the rainfall in the south being significantly
higher than in the north of the country. The rains are
distributed throughout the year, the largest amounts
fall in March and April.
Flora and fauna
The wide grassy areas of the Campos are mainly used
as pastureland today. Natural forests can be found along
the rivers (gallery forests), in total only about 6% of
the country's area is forested. The original vegetation,
which consisted mainly of low trees and hard grass, is
The population of wild animals is declining. Larger
mammals such as jaguar and puma occur only occasionally.
Foxes, deer, armadillos, capybaras, river otters and
caimans live among other things in the area of the
river courses. The bird life is more diverse, including
nandus, cranes, herons and owls.
According to COUNTRYAAH, 3.42 million people live in Uruguay, a third
of them in the metropolitan area of the capital
Montevideo (approx. 1.33 million). Overall, almost 92%
of the population live in cities. The average population
density is 19 people per square kilometer, but is much
lower in rural areas. The majority of Uruguayans are
whites (almost 90%) mostly of Spanish descent or are
descendants of Italian, French, British and German
immigrants. The indigenous people (Charrua) are
considered extinct. Mestizos (8%), blacks and mulattoes
are only minorities. The official language is Spanish,
Indian dialects no longer occur. The colloquial
language, which is a mixture of Spanish and Portuguese,
is called "Portunol" or "Brazilero".
Uruguay is one of the "welfare states" in South
America. Education and social services in the country
are well developed so that 98% of the population over
the age of 15 can read and write. School attendance is
compulsory for children aged six to 15 years. Life
expectancy averages 76 years, population growth is 0.3%.
Health care for the population is also well developed,
especially in the cities, sometimes inadequate in rural
Uruguay is a presidential republic under the 1967
constitution. The head of state and government is the
President (Jos®¶ Mujica Cordano since March 2010), who is
directly elected by the people for a five-year term (no
direct re-election possible). He needs Parliament's
approval to appoint his cabinet.
The legislature lies with the Parliament (Asamblea
General), which consists of two chambers: the Senate
(Camara de Senadores) has 30 seats, the members are
elected by the people for five years, the Chamber of
Deputies (Camara de Diputados) has 99 seats; Here, too,
the members are elected by the people for a term of five
years. The most important political parties are the
center-left alliance Frente Amplio (FA), which currently
represents the head of state, the middle to center-right
Partido Nacional (Blancos) and the center-right Colorado
The Uruguayan legal system is based on Spanish civil
Uruguay is divided into 19 provinces (departments).
The emerging market's market economy system has a
large state sector. Economic growth in 2012 was 3.8%.
The high inflation rate is around 8%. The unemployment
rate in 2012 was a low 6.1%.
Agriculture generates around a tenth of the gross
domestic product (GDP). By far the most important
agricultural sector is livestock farming, whose products
generated more than half of the total export earnings.
More than three quarters of the country is used as
pasture all year round, especially for cattle, sheep and
horses. Large companies (Estanzias) with more than 1,000
hectares of land dominate. Around 7% of the country's
area is used for agriculture, the main crops are
cereals, sugar cane, corn, potatoes, cotton, peanuts,
rice, vegetables and fruit. Fishing is important for
export, and forestry plays no role in the economy due to
the small number of forests.
A quarter of GDP is generated in the industrial
sector. The leading industries are food processing,
sugar manufacturing and leather and textile
manufacturing. Hardly any mineral resources are mined in
Most people are employed in the service sector (67%),
especially in the public service and banking. In the
third economic sector, there has been strong growth in
recent years, also due to the positive development of
the tourism industry. The majority of tourists come from
neighboring Argentina. Near Montevideo are some of the
most exclusive beach resorts in South America.
In 1991, Uruguay, together with Argentina, Paraguay
and Brazil, founded the "Common Market of the Southern
Part of South America" (MERCOSUR / Mercado Com®≤n del
Cono Sur), which is intended to improve economic
cooperation between the countries, for example by
gradually reducing tariffs. The MERCOSUR countries play
an important role in both exports (meat, grain, wood and
cork) and imports (machines, vehicles, petroleum),
followed by China and the USA.
The infrastructure in Uruguay is well developed. The
largest seaport is Montevideo, there are international
airports here and at Punta del Este.
The currency is the Urugay peso (= 100 cent®¶simos).