Uruguayan /yoor'euh gway"euhn, -gwuy"euhn/, adj., n.
/yoor"euh gway', -gwuy'/; Sp. /ooh'rddooh gwuy"/, n.
1. a republic in SE South America. 3,261,707; 72,172 sq. mi. (186,925 sq. km). Cap.: Montevideo.
2. a river in SE South America, flowing from S Brazil along the boundary of E Argentina into the Río de la Plata. 981 mi. (1580 km) long.

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Introduction Uruguay
Background: A violent Marxist urban guerrilla movement, the Tupamaros, launched in the late 1960s, led Uruguay's president to agree to military control of his administration in 1973. By the end of the year the rebels had been crushed, but the military continued to expand its hold throughout the government. Civilian rule was not restored until 1985. Uruguay's political and labor conditions are among the freest on the continent. Geography Uruguay -
Location: Southern South America, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean, between Argentina and Brazil
Geographic coordinates: 33 00 S, 56 00 W
Map references: South America
Area: 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: 1,564 km border countries: Argentina 579 km, Brazil 985 km
Coastline: 660 km
Maritime claims: contiguous zone: 24 NM territorial sea: 12 NM continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
Climate: warm temperate; freezing temperatures almost unknown
Terrain: 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: 7.21% permanent crops: 0.27% other: 92.52% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 1,800 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: seasonally high winds (the pampero is a chilly and occasional violent wind which 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 party to: Antarctic-Environmental
agreements: 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, Nuclear Test Ban
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
Population: 3,386,575 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 24.4% (male 422,826; female 402,324) 15-64 years: 62.6% (male 1,047,740; female 1,072,032) 65 years and over: 13% (male 181,522; female 260,131) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.79% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 17.28 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 9 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.41 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.7 male(s)/ female total population: 0.95 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 14.25 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 75.66 years female: 79.17 years (2002 est.) male: 72.32 years
Total fertility rate: 2.35 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.33% (1999 est.) HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ 6,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 150 (1999 est.)
Nationality: noun: Uruguayan(s) adjective: Uruguayan
Ethnic groups: white 88%, mestizo 8%, black 4%, Amerindian, practically nonexistent
Religions: Roman Catholic 66% (less than half of the adult population attends church regularly), Protestant 2%, Jewish 1%, nonprofessing or other 31%
Languages: Spanish, Portunol, or Brazilero (Portuguese-Spanish mix on the Brazilian frontier)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 97.3% male: 96.9% female: 97.7% (1995 est.) Government Uruguay
Country name: conventional long form: Oriental Republic of Uruguay conventional short form: Uruguay local short form: Uruguay former: Banda Oriental, Cisplatine Province local long form: Republica Oriental del Uruguay
Government type: constitutional republic
Capital: Montevideo 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
Independence: 25 August 1825 (from Brazil)
National holiday: Independence Day, 25 August (1825)
Constitution: 27 November 1966, effective 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
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal and compulsory
Executive branch: chief of state: President Jorge BATLLE Ibanez (since 1 March 2000) and Vice President Luis HIERRO (since 1 March 2000); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government head of government: President Jorge BATLLE Ibanez (since 1 March 2000) and Vice President Luis HIERRO (since 1 March 2000); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government 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; election last held 31 October 1999, with runoff election on 28 November 1999 (next to be held NA 2004) election results: Jorge BATLLE Ibanez elected president; percent of vote - Jorge BATLLE Ibanez 52% in a runoff against Tabare VAZQUEZ 44%
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) 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 1999 (next to be held NA 2004); Chamber of Representatives - last held 31 October 1999 (next to be held NA 2004) election results: Chamber of Senators - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - Encuentro Progresista 12, Colorado Party 10, Blanco 7, New Sector/Space Coalition 1; Chamber of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - Encuentro Progresista 40, Colorado Party 33, Blanco 22, New Sector/Space Coalition 4
Judicial branch: Supreme Court (judges are nominated by the president and elected for 10- year terms by the General Assembly) Political parties and leaders: Colorado Party [Jorge BATLLE Ibanez]; National Party or Blanco [Luis Alberto LACALLE Herrera]; New Sector/Space Coalition or Nuevo Espacio [Rafael MICHELINI]; Progressive Encounter/Broad Front Coalition or Encuentro Progresista/ Frente Amplio [Tabare VAZQUEZ] Political pressure groups and NA
leaders: International organization CCC, ECLAC, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA,
participation: IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, LAES, LAIA, Mercosur, MINURSO, MONUC, NAM (observer), OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, RG, UN, UNAMSIL, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNIKOM, UNMEE, UNMOGIP, UNMOT, UNOMIG, UNTAET, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Hugo FERNANDEZ-FAINGOLD consulate(s) general: Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York FAX: [1] (202) 331-8142 telephone: [1] (202) 331-1313 through 1316 chancery: 1913 I Street NW, Washington, DC 20006 Diplomatic representation from the chief of mission: Ambassador Martin
US: J. SILVERSTEIN embassy: Lauro Muller 1776, Montevideo 11200 mailing address: APO AA 34035 telephone: [598] (2) 418-7777 FAX: [598] (2) 410-0022
Flag description: nine equal horizontal stripes of white (top and bottom) alternating with blue; there is a white square in the upper hoist-side corner with a yellow sun bearing a human face known as the Sun of May and 16 rays alternately triangular and wavy Economy Uruguay -
Economy - overview: Uruguay's economy is characterized by an export-oriented agricultural sector, a well-educated workforce, and high levels of social spending. After averaging growth of 5% annually in 1996-98, in 1999-2001 the economy suffered from lower demand in Argentina and Brazil, which together account for nearly half of Uruguay's exports. Despite the severity of the trade shocks, Uruguay's financial indicators remained more stable than those of its neighbors, a reflection of its solid reputation among investors and its investment-grade sovereign bond rating - one of only two in South America. Challenges for the government of President Jorge BATLLE include reducing the budget deficit, expanding Uruguay's trade ties beyond its Mercosur trade partners, and reducing the costs of public services. GDP fell by 1.3% in 2000 and by 1.5% in 2001.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $31 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: -1.5% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $9,200 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 6% industry: 29% services: 65% (2001) Population below poverty line: 6% (1997) Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: 3.7%
percentage share: highest 10%: 25.8% (1997) Distribution of family income - Gini 42.3 (1989)
index: Inflation rate (consumer prices): 3.6% (2001)
Labor force: 1.2 million (2001) Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 14%, industry 16%, services 70%
Unemployment rate: 15.2% (2001)
Budget: revenues: $3.7 billion expenditures: $4.6 billion, including capital expenditures of $500 million (2000)
Industries: food processing, electrical machinery, transportation equipment, petroleum products, textiles, chemicals, beverages Industrial production growth rate: -2.4% (2001 est.) Electricity - production: 7.527 billion kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 6.64% hydro: 92.83% other: 0.53% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 7.35 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 950 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 1.3 billion kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: rice, wheat, corn, barley; livestock; fish
Exports: $2.24 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
Exports - commodities: meat, rice, leather products, wool, vehicles, dairy products
Exports - partners: Mercosur partners 40%, EU 20%, US 8% (2001 est.)
Imports: $2.9 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery, chemicals, road vehicles, crude petroleum
Imports - partners: Mercosur partners 44%, EU 18%, US 9% (2001 est.)
Debt - external: $7.7 billion (2001 est.) Economic aid - recipient: $NA
Currency: Uruguayan peso (UYU)
Currency code: UYU
Exchange rates: Uruguayan pesos per US dollar - 14.3325 (January 2002), 13.3191 (2001), 12.0996 (2000), 11.3393 (1999), 10.4719 (1998), 9.4418 (1997)
Fiscal year: calendar year Communications Uruguay Telephones - main lines in use: 929,141 (2001) Telephones - mobile cellular: 350,000 (2001)
Telephone system: general assessment: fully digitalized domestic: most modern facilities concentrated in Montevideo; new nationwide microwave radio relay network international: satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2002) Radio broadcast stations: AM 91, FM 149, shortwave 7 (2001)
Radios: 1.97 million (1997) Television broadcast stations: 20 (2001)
Televisions: 782,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .uy Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 14 (2001)
Internet users: 370,000 (2001) Transportation Uruguay
Railways: total: 2,993 km standard gauge: 2,993 km 1.435- m gauge note: of the total route length, 461 km have been taken out of service and 460 km are in only partial use; moreover, not all lines offer passenger service (2001)
Highways: total: 8,764 km paved: 7,800 km unpaved: 964 km (2001)
Waterways: 1,600 km (used by coastal and shallow-draft river craft)
Ports and harbors: Colonia, Fray Bentos, Juan La Caze, La Paloma, Montevideo, Nueva Palmira, Paysandu, Punta del Este, Piriapolis
Merchant marine: total: 2 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 7,752 GRT/5,228 DWT note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Argentina 4, Greece 1 (2002 est.) ships by type: petroleum tanker 1, roll on/roll off 1
Airports: 64 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 15 2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 1,524 to 2,437 m: 5 914 to 1,523 m: 7 under 914 m: 2 (2001) Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 49 1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 914 to 1,523 m: 16 under 914 m: 31 (2001) Military Uruguay
Military branches: Army, Navy (including Naval Air Arm, Coast Guard, Marines), Air Force, Police (Coracero Guard, Grenadier Guard) Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 824,395 (2002 est.) Military manpower - fit for military males age 15-49: 666,880 (2002 est.)
service: Military expenditures - dollar $250 million (1999)
figure: Military expenditures - percent of 1.1% (2000)
GDP: Transnational Issues Uruguay Disputes - international: uncontested dispute with Brazil over islands in the Rio Quarai (Rio Cuareim) and the Arroio Invernada (Arroyo de la Invernada)

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officially Oriental Republic of Uruguay

Country, southeastern South America.

Area: 68,037 sq mi (176,215 sq km). Population (2002 est.): 3,382,000. Capital: Montevideo. Groups of European ancestry (mostly Spanish and Italian) form nearly nine-tenths of the population; the remainder are mestizos (European and Indian ancestry), mulattos (European and black), and blacks. Few Indians remain. Language: Spanish (official). Religions: Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism. Currency: Uruguayan peso. Uruguay is the only South American country lying entirely outside the tropics. Its topography consists mainly of low plateaus and low hilly regions. The principal waterway is the Negro River; the Uruguay River forms the country's entire western border with Argentina. Mineral and energy resources are limited. Pastures, covering almost four-fifths of the land area, support large herds of livestock raised for meat, leather goods, and wool. Chief crops include wheat, corn (maize), oats, and barley. Other important economic activities are tourism, fishing, and the manufacture of textiles, chemicals, and transportation equipment. Uruguay is a republic with two legislative houses; its head of state and government is the president. Prior to European settlement, Uruguay was inhabited mainly by the Charrúa Indians. The Spanish navigator Juan Díaz de Solís sailed into the Río de la Plata estuary in 1516. The Portuguese established Colonia in 1680. Subsequently, the Spanish established Montevideo in 1726, driving the Portuguese from their settlement; 50 years later Uruguay became part of the Viceroyalty of Río de la Plata. It gained independence from Spain in 1811. The Portuguese regained it in 1821, incorporating it into Brazil as a province. A revolt against Brazil in 1825 led to its being recognized as an independent country in 1828. It sided with Brazil and Argentina against Paraguay in the War of the Triple Alliance (1864, 1865–70). The economy benefited from a demand for raw material during World War II (1938–45) and the Korean War (1950–53). The office of the president was abolished in 1951 and replaced with a nine-member council. The country adopted a new constitution and restored the presidential system in 1966. A military coup occurred in 1973, but the country returned to civilian rule in 1985. The 1990s brought a general upturn in the economy.
(as used in expressions)
estancia Argentina and Uruguay
Oriental Republic of Uruguay

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▪ 2009

177,879 sq km (68,679 sq mi)
(2008 est.): 3,350,000
Head of state and government:
President Tabaré Ramón Vázquez Rosas

      As Uruguayan Pres. Tabaré Vázquez completed his penultimate year in office in 2008, he enjoyed an approval rating well above 50%. Vázquez, leader of the leftist coalition the Progressive Encounter–Broad Front (EP-FA), could not succeed himself without a constitutional amendment, however, and he repeatedly and unequivocally indicated that he did not intend to seek reelection. This left Danilo Astori, Vázquez's former finance minister, and José Mujica, chairman of the Senate and a former Tupamaro guerrilla leader, as the two front-runners for the coalition's presidential nomination. Among the opposition, the Colorado Party barely reached double digits in the polls. The Blanco Party (PN), polling above 30%, perhaps had the best chance to unseat the EP-FA—especially if, as many expected, former president Luis Lacalle obtained PN's nomination.

      Uruguay experienced another year of positive economic results. The economy grew at about 10%. Inflation remained under double digits, running at an expected 7.5%; real salaries were up by more than 12%; and unemployment dropped to 7.6%. In the last half of the year, however, the global economic crisis began to affect the country, with the Uruguayan peso falling from 19 to 24 against the U.S. dollar and significant layoffs occurring in the meatpacking and textile industries. Nevertheless, in December President Vazquez vowed to bring down the retailer inflation rate to the promised 3–7% threshold (the figure had risen to 8.1% in the first 11 months of the year) and to guard against food price speculation or monopolization of food.

       Crime and personal security remained important issues. The country's minister of the interior, Daisy Tourné, came under severe criticism because of Uruguay's sharply rising crime rate. Strikes and labour unrest increased during the year as labour unions pressured the leftist government for better wages. In November the Uruguayan parliament passed the country's first legislation permitting abortion, but Vázquez vetoed this measure a few days later.

Martin Weinstein

▪ 2008

177,879 sq km (68,679 sq mi)
(2007 est.): 3,340,000
Head of state and government:
President Tabaré Ramón Vázquez Rosas

      The year 2007 was another one of steady economic growth for Uruguay, but the political climate heated up for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the decision by Pres. Tabaré Vázquez not to seek reelection. GDP grew a very solid 5.6%; unemployment hovered around 9.5%; but inflation, which was running at 8.5%, was considerably above the central bank target range of 4.5–6.5%. The tax-reform program that was passed in January to help alleviate poverty and address inequality created an income tax that affected many professional and business people. The program was implemented on July 1 amid much grumbling, even among government supporters.

      Public displeasure resulted in a more accommodating stance on public spending by Minister of Finance Danilo Astori. Nevertheless, the government faced increased pressure from public-sector unions demanding higher wages and from students and teachers opposed to the government's educational-reform project. All this was encouraging to the two traditional parties, the Blancos and the Colorados, but the leadership vacuum in these parties remained apparent, as did the lack of a clear successor to Vázquez for the governing coalition.

      The bitter conflict with Argentina over the pulp paper plant constructed by the Finnish company Botnia on the Uruguayan side of the Rio Uruguay did not end, even as the plant was given permission by the Uruguayan government to begin production in November. The Uruguayans were hopeful that Argentina's recently inaugurated president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (Fernandez de Kirchner, Cristina ), would finally put the issue to rest. The year ended with hints that President Vázquez might reconsider his decision not to seek immediate reelection.

Martin Weinstein

▪ 2007

177,879 sq km (68,679 sq mi)
(2006 est.): 3,256,000
Head of state and government:
President Tabaré Ramón Vázquez Rosas

      The year 2006 was an eventful but stable year for Uruguay. The economy grew at a better-than-5% pace, marking the third straight year of significant expansion. Inflation came in under 7%, but unemployment was still running over 10%. The leftist government of Pres. Tabaré Vázquez continued to conduct a fiscally responsible economic program. There were two hot-button issues: the pursuit of a free-trade agreement (FTA) with the United States and the increasingly bitter conflict with Argentina over the building of two large paper-pulp plants on the Uruguayan side of the Río Uruguay near Fray Bentos.

      President Vázquez and his minister of economics, Danilo Astori, made it clear early in 2006 that an FTA with the United States was of the highest priority. The more radical sectors of the Frente Amplio government coalition became increasingly upset with this possibility, however, mostly for ideological reasons. As the internal debate heated up, Vázquez stood his ground initially, but then he abruptly announced that Uruguay would not pursue such an agreement at this time.

      In the conflict with Argentina over paper-pulp plants, Argentine environmental groups centred in the city of Gualeguaychú cut the highway routes between the two countries, and Argentine Pres. Néstor Kirchner supported their action. The resulting trade and tourism loss to Uruguay was estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Argentina took Uruguay to the World Court in its effort to stop the construction of the plants and lost resoundingly. The conflict between the two countries was beginning to strain relations within Mercosur, the South American common market that included Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, and Paraguay. At the Ibero-American Summit held in Uruguay in early November, however, President Kirchner's request to have King Juan Carlos of Spain serve as a facilitator of talks between the parties was well received by the Uruguayans.

Martin Weinstein

▪ 2006

176,215 sq km (68,037 sq mi)
(2005 est.): 3,256,000
Head of state and government:
Presidents Jorge Batlle Ibáñez and, from March 1, Tabaré Ramón Vázquez Rosas

 On March 1, 2005, Uruguay experienced the inauguration of its first leftist president, Tabaré Vázquez (Vazquez Rosas, Tabare Ramon ) (see Biographies) of the Broad Front–Progressive Encounter coalition. The event marked the culmination of a long struggle by the left to achieve national political power. The success of the leftists in the previous October's election also gave them a majority in both houses of the parliament. Their momentum continued in the municipal elections held in May, when Broad Front–Progressive Encounter won 8 of the 19 departments. In the past the coalition had won only in the department of Montevideo. This victory gave the left control of departments representing some 80% of the country's GDP. (See Special Report (A Leftist Surge in Latin America ), below.)

      The new government quickly moved on two fronts: the economy and human rights. A National Emergency Plan was approved to deal with the 20% of Uruguayans who found themselves in abject poverty. The plan, with a projected $200 million budget, offered a combination of cash stipends, health care, educational access, and job training to the target population. The government hoped to showcase this effort as a demonstration of the left's ability to deliver social and economic justice. Fortunately, the economy continued its recovery in 2005, growing at a rate of 6%. Inflation remained contained at around 4%, but the cost of energy was putting upward pressure on prices.

      On the human rights front, the government sought to deal with the legacy of disappearances that had taken place during Uruguay's 1973–85 military dictatorship. Pressured by the government, the military submitted two reports that indicated where some victims were buried. Months of forensic digging at an army installation turned up nothing until early December, when remains were found on one army installation and near the city of Pando. Nevertheless, a frustrated Vázquez administration proposed legislation that would permit the courts to reopen some of the investigations that were closed by an amnesty law passed in 1986.

Martin Weinstein

▪ 2005

176,215 sq km (68,037 sq mi)
(2004 est.): 3,399,000
Head of state and government:
President Jorge Batlle Ibáñez

      The year 2004 was an exciting one in Uruguay. After four years of sharply negative growth, the economy—aided by recovery in Argentina, strong growth in Brazil, and excellent commodity prices—grew by a robust 13.6% in the first half of the year. Unfortunately for the ruling Colorado Party (CP), little of this positive macroeconomic performance filtered down to Uruguay's poor or to the middle class. Unemployment remained above 13%, and more than one-third of Uruguayans lived in poverty.

      In this context the presidential and congressional elections that took place on October 31 marked a sea change in Uruguayan politics. Throughout the year the polls showed that the leftist coalition known as the Broad Front–Progressive Encounter was the largest party in the country. The question that remained was whether it would secure the 50% + 1 vote it needed in order to avoid a runoff with one of the traditional parties, the Blanco Party (PN) or the CP. In the last two weeks before the election, all of Uruguay's polls agreed that the socialists had reached the magical number needed to avoid a second round and that Tabaré Ramón Vázquez Rosas would be president. In the election, the left received just over 50% of the vote, followed by the PN (34%) and the CP (10%). Vázquez was to assume office on March 1, 2005.

      The historic victory by Vázquez and the left was seen by many to further strengthen the hand of Brazilian Pres. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva as he sought to turn Mercosur (the Southern Cone Common Market, consisting of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay) into the major voice for Latin American economic integration and the chief interlocutor with both the European Union and the United States in trade negotiations. Vázquez's victory was the latest example in South America of the move to the centre-left since the start of the new millennium.

Martin Weinstein

▪ 2004

176,215 sq km (68,037 sq mi)
(2003 est.): 3,380,000
Head of state and government:
President Jorge Batlle Ibáñez

      The year 2003 was another difficult one for the Uruguayan economy, but it was not as disastrous as the previous year. After a fall in GDP of more than 10% in 2002 and an additional decline of 6% in the first half of 2003, data for the second half showed that there was enough economic strengthening for Uruguay to record no growth or a modest decline for 2003. In May, Uruguay successfully renegotiated its private debt with an innovative bond exchange that stretched out the repayment schedule and thereby gave some breathing room for the last two years of the administration of Pres. Jorge Batlle Ibáñez and the first year of the next government. The banking system remained deeply depressed; 25% of loans at private banks were nonperforming, and such key public institutions as the Banco de la República and the Mortgage Bank (Banco Hipotecario) saw a staggering nonperforming-loan rate of 50%. The latter institution lost $1.1 billion in 2002. The sudden resignation of Finance Minister Alejandro Atchugarry did not inspire confidence, although his replacement, Isaac Alfie, was generally well received by key financial, diplomatic, and political players. A major strike in the hospital and health care system ended only after strenuous negotiations and concessions from the government.

      Politically, the presidential candidates began positioning for the October 2004 elections. Former presidents—Julio María Sanguinetti of the ruling Colorado Party and Luis Alberto Lacalle of the Blanco Party—expressed interest in running, but both faced a daunting task in light of polls that showed the leftist Broad Front–Progressive Encounter coalition obtaining a majority or near majority behind its leader, Tabaré Vázquez. The December 7 national referendum on whether to break up the state-owned oil refinery monopoly or allow it to take on private partners was seen as a test of political strength prior to the upcoming elections.

Martin Weinstein

▪ 2003

176,215 sq km (68,037 sq mi)
(2002 est.): 3,383,000
Head of state and government:
President Jorge Batlle Ibáñez

      Unfortunately, 2002 was a year of worsening economic crisis for Uruguay. The most negative effect on the economy was produced by a freeze on deposits in Argentina following the collapse of the Argentine peso when that government abandoned its convertibility plan, which pegged its currency one-to-one with the U.S. dollar. This forced many Argentines to withdraw dollars from their bank accounts in the traditionally safe haven of Montevideo. The subsequent collapse of two banks in Uruguay had many Uruguayans fearing for the safety of their banking system. The result was that in the first seven months of the year, Uruguay lost about 80% of its foreign reserves. The country's sovereign debt had abruptly declined from investment grade to junk status by the beginning of May. Gross domestic product fell 7.8% in the first half of the year and was expected to contract 11% for the year as a whole. Uruguay's GDP had declined some 20% since 1999. Unemployment climbed to a record 19%. Inflation, which had been a mere 3.59% in 2001, hit 24% by September and was expected to increase to about 40% by the end of the year.

      Pres. Jorge Batlle Ibáñez tried to contain the damage but was obliged to accept the resignation of his minister of the economy, Alberto Bensión, and replace him with the more highly respected Alejandro Atchugarry. The goodwill Batlle enjoyed in Washington helped him obtain a $1.5 billion bridge loan from the U.S. to keep the banking system solvent until more than $3 billion in funds could arrive from the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank.

      Politically, the left appeared to be gaining strength as a result of the economic crisis. By October, Tabaré Vázquez Rosas, leader of the leftist Broad Front coalition, had seen his approval rating in public opinion polls increase to 50%, though the next presidential election was not scheduled until 2004.

Martin Weinstein

▪ 2002

176,215 sq km (68,037 sq mi)
(2001 est.): 3,303,000
Head of state and government:
President Jorge Batlle Ibáñez

      The year 2001 was a difficult one for Uruguay. Pres. Jorge Batlle Ibáñez's first full calendar year in office confronted him with a worsening of Uruguay's economic situation exacerbated by an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease that seriously disrupted Uruguay's meat exports. The government had hoped that 2001 would bring modest economic growth after two years of recession. Unfortunately, the continued devaluation of the Brazilian currency—the real—and the deepening economic and political crisis in Argentina had adverse effects on both Uruguayan exports and tourism. With these internal and external conditions, unemployment skyrocketed to some 16%, and the gross domestic product rate was −1.1% for the first half of the year. The only good news on the economic front was the continued low inflation rate of 4–5%.

      Batlle's approval rating remained relatively high by Uruguayan standards, owing in part to his continued support of a commission he established in 2000 to investigate the disappearance of some 180 Uruguayans during the period of military dictatorship from 1973 to 1985. The ruling Colorado Party's coalition with the Blanco Party remained intact despite strains produced by the stagnant economy. The leftist Broad Front coalition began to voice greater criticism of the administration's economic program and supported increased work stoppages by the labour unions. Nevertheless, Broad Front leader Tabaré Vázquez Rosas adopted a moderate tone on most issues in a clear effort to build on the coalition's more than 40% approval rating in the polls. He clearly had his eye on the next presidential election, which, however, would not take place until October 2004.

      Uruguay qualified for the association football (soccer) World Cup finals to be held in 2002 in South Korea and Japan.

Martin Weinstein

▪ 2001

176,215 sq km (68,037 sq mi)
(2000 est.): 3,278,000
Head of state and government:
Presidents Julio María Sanguinetti and, from March 1, Jorge Batlle Ibáñez

      In 2000 Uruguay was preoccupied with economic development and social issues, including human rights. On March 1 Jorge Batlle Ibáñez of the moderate Colorado Party, the winner of Uruguay's fourth democratic presidential election since the end of military rule in 1985, took office. He succeeded Julio María Sanguinetti, also of the Colorado Party. Batlle, a champion of neoliberal economics, called for barrier-free trade and reforms that would bring greater transparency and efficiency to the government. He retained four incumbent ministers in his 13-member cabinet—including the ministers of foreign affairs and the interior—and gave five cabinet posts to members of the Colorado's coalition partner, the Blanco Party.

      On May 14 Uruguay broke with tradition by holding departmental elections separately from the presidential and legislative elections. A coalition that included the moderate Progressive Encounter and the leftist Broad Front retained power in Montevideo—the nation's capital and dominant urban centre—but 18 other more rural departments remained under the control of the Colorado and Blanco parties.

      At the urging of human rights groups, a presidentially appointed commission began to investigate the fates of some 150–180 Uruguayans who had disappeared during the period 1973–85, when Uruguay's armed forces was participating in the shadowy antiterrorist campaign known as Operation Condor. In April Batlle confirmed that the missing granddaughter of renowned Argentine poet Juan Gelman was living in Uruguay and had been one of the numerous infants taken from mothers detained by Uruguayan authorities during Operation Condor; many of the infants were raised by the families of soldiers or policemen. Gelman's daughter-in-law was kidnapped in Argentina in 1976 and secretly transported to Uruguay, where she allegedly gave birth. Batlle's revelation, made only after Gelman had created a months-long storm of publicity, was the first official recognition in Uruguay of that covert policy.

Stephen P. Davis

▪ 2000

176,215 sq km (68,037 sq mi)
(1999 est.): 3,247,000
Head of state and government:
President Julio María Sanguinetti

      The Mercosur trading pact had made Uruguayan trade largely dependent on Brazil, but the pitfalls of this dependency became clear in January 1999 when Brazil's currency was devalued by more than 40%. Uruguay's important tourism sector was strained as many Brazilian tourists canceled reservations. Exports also suffered, with farmers and manufacturers pressured by the cheaper prices of Brazilian goods. In February the government cut export tariffs for such products as fertilizers, milk, cheese, and honey. Although unemployment already claimed one-tenth of Uruguayan workers, further layoffs were possible; the recession, however, kept inflation in check, between 3% and 4%. In addition, truckers paralyzed the nation with a three-day strike in July.

      With this backdrop, many Uruguayans looked for alternatives to the Blanco and Colorado political parties and turned to the charismatic presidential candidate Tabaré Vázquez. The former Montevideo mayor, who had bid unsuccessfully for the presidency in 1994, once again led the leftist Broad Front (FA) alliance. In the first round of balloting (October 31), Vázquez and the FA won about 39% of the votes, followed by Jorge Batlle and the Colorados (about 32%) and former president Luis Lacalle and the Blancos (about 21.5%). The leftists thus gained an unprecedented share of seats in the bicameral legislature. In the second round (November 28), the Colorados and Blancos allied, and Batlle won nearly 52% of the votes over Vázquez's 44%. Batlle, a believer in neoliberal economics, had claimed that Vázquez's calls for a “cautious revolution” were a prelude to radical economic instability. It was septuagenarian Batlle's fifth attempt at the presidential office, which he was scheduled to assume in March 2000.

Stephen P. Davis

▪ 1999

      Area: 176,215 sq km (68,037 sq mi)

      Population (1998 est.): 3,216,000

      Capital: Montevideo

      Head of state and government: President Julio María Sanguinetti

      The location of the secretariat of the Southern Cone Common Market (Mercosur)—the customs union of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay—in Montevideo helped Uruguay in 1998 to consolidate its position within the group. Physical links were strengthened with the signing of the contract to construct an estimated $120 million gas pipeline from Buenos Aires, Arg., to Montevideo. There was concern, however, that the negative effects of the world financial crisis on Brazil and Argentina would limit economic development. The Colorado/Blanco coalition government predicted gross domestic product growth of 3-4% in 1998, compared with around 6% in 1997. Manufacturing performed strongly in late 1997, and a good 1997-98 tourist season boosted the hotel and restaurant sector. This was accompanied by vigorous domestic consumption. Inflation, which fell to about 15% in 1997, continued its downward trend, registering 9.9% in the 12 months prior to October 1998.

      The government continued to reduce the state's role in selected areas of the economy. A plebiscite in June on private participation in power generation approved the ending of the state monopoly. This was a blow to the left-wing Broad Front coalition, especially to its leader, Tabaré Vásquez, who was firmly opposed to this liberalization.

      With party primaries due in April 1999, prior to general elections in October, a dispute emerged within the Broad Front as to whether the coalition should field a candidate for president agreed upon by all the member parties. Meanwhile, leaders of the National (Blanco) Party feared that internal divisions would ruin its chance for an outright victory in 1999. The Colorado Party by the end of 1998 had not chosen its candidate.


▪ 1998

      Area: 176,215 sq km (68,037 sq mi)

      Population (1997 est.): 3,185,000

      Capital: Montevideo

      Head of state and government: President Julio María Sanguinetti

      The Broad Front (FA) alliance, in opposition to the coalition of the Blanco and Colorado parties, lost its second leader within 12 months in 1997 when Tabaré Vázquez, elected leader in December 1996, resigned in September. He had been expected to be the FA's presidential candidate in the 1999 elections. In subsequent elections for the FA leadership, the alliance experimented with a free vote for all the electorate, plus those aged between 14 and 18 (voting age is officially 18), but few people turned out, and a large proportion of their votes had to be scrutinized for fraud. Radicals within the FA objected to the broad scope of the election, claiming that it would marginalize the left.

      The internal disputes within the FA were forecast to assist the ruling coalition in the months before the elections. Similarly beneficial were the continued improvements in many productive and service sectors, which led to growth in gross domestic product close to 1996's 4.9%. Inflation for 1997 was forecast to be between 15% and 20%, maintaining a downward trend. Unemployment, at about 11%, was also falling, although trade unions argued that in parts of the country there remained pockets of unacceptably high joblessness.

      The tourist sector started the year well, with arrivals in January-March up by 17% from January-March 1996 and earnings, at $423.6 million, up 25.5%. A major oil spill from a Panamanian tanker in February at Punta del Este and a rise in violent crime in Montevideo threatened to reduce the year's overall figures, however. Both travel and real-estate agents were concerned that Uruguay's heavily armed bandit gangs would undermine the country's safe image.


▪ 1997

      A republic of eastern South America, Uruguay lies on the Atlantic Ocean. Area: 176,215 sq km (68,037 sq mi). Pop. (1996 est.): 3,140,000. Cap.: Montevideo. Monetary unit: peso uruguayo, with (Oct. 11, 1996) a free rate of 8.34 pesos uruguayos to U.S. $1 (13.13 pesos uruguayos = £1 sterling). President in 1996, Julio María Sanguinetti.

      The Uruguayan legislature in October 1996 approved electoral reform abolishing the ley de lemas, which allowed political parties to combine the votes given to several candidates for the presidency and the legislature. Among new measures, each party had to select a single presidential candidate, and, if the winner did not gain a clear lead, there would have to be a runoff election. The National (Blanco) and Colorado parties supported the reform, but most of the Broad Front Party was opposed to a second election. Socialist, communist, and National Liberation Movement members of the Front maintained that as the third largest party, they could never field a candidate who could beat a Blanco/Colorado alignment in a runoff. The Front's leader, retired general Líber Seregni, had supported the full reform, however, and surprised his party by resigning over the issue at the party's 25th anniversary congress in February.

      Admissions of human rights abuses during military rule in the 1970s revived demands for a full investigation. The armed forces responded in October by justifying its actions, refusing to admit guilt on the grounds that the matter had been closed by legislative amnesty and a referendum in the 1980s. (BEN BOX)

▪ 1996

      A republic of eastern South America, Uruguay lies on the Atlantic Ocean. Area: 176,215 sq km (68,037 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 3,186,000. Cap.: Montevideo. Monetary unit: peso uruguayo, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a free rate of 6.60 pesos uruguayos to U.S. $1 (10.43 pesos uruguayos = £1 sterling). Presidents in 1995, Luis Alberto Lacalle and, from March 1, Julio María Sanguinetti.

      Having won the November 1994 elections with a majority of less than 1%, Julio María Sanguinetti of the centre-right Colorado Party took office as president of Uruguay on March 1, 1995. In one of his first acts as president, Sanguinetti proposed sweeping constitutional and economic reforms. The ley de lemas, a long-established electoral system that allows any number of candidates to run for president, was to be replaced by a party-based system of primary and national elections. Sanguinetti, along with the left-wing Broad Front and the Social Democratic New Space parties, believed that the change would reduce the legislative factionalism that had thwarted previous moves to tackle the country's trade gap and its social security burden.

      In June the minister of economy and finance, Luis Mosca, announced a five-year austerity budget aimed at reducing inflation, which was 45% in 1994, and cutting government spending from 35% of gross domestic product (GDP) to 30%. His policies, many of which had been unsuccessfully attempted by the outgoing National (Blanco) Party government, centred on tax increases and pension reforms since the cost of pensions had risen from 10% of GDP in 1990 to an estimated 15% in 1995. The general workers confederation staged a 24-hour strike protesting a bill that would postpone the retirement age and introduce a pension system based on personal savings. Further cuts included a reduction in public-sector employment and a privatization program.

      Mosca hoped to reduce Uruguay's trade deficit of $600 million by means of exports to Argentina and Brazil. Despite Uruguay's objections, the Southern Cone Common Market (Mercosur), consisting of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, became operational on Jan. 1, 1995.


▪ 1995

      A republic of eastern South America, Uruguay lies on the Atlantic Ocean. Area: 176,215 sq km (68,037 sq mi). Pop. (1994 est.): 3,168,000. Cap.: Montevideo. Monetary unit: peso uruguayo, with (Oct. 7, 1994) a free rate of Ur$5.61 to U.S. $1 (Ur$8.92 = £1 sterling). President in 1994, Luis Alberto Lacalle.

      The lack of a stable alliance with other parties continued to plague the outgoing administration of Pres. Luis Alberto Lacalle and his National (Blanco) Party in 1994, and little progress was made with economic reforms. In February the government faced a motion of censure against its industrial policies from opposition members in the Senate. The practice of delaying currency devaluation behind the rise in the rate of inflation was particularly criticized; it was deemed responsible for a doubling of the trade deficit to $590 million in 1993 and for a nearly 9% decline in manufacturing output. Manufacturing activity continued to decline in 1994, and by November unemployment reached 9.9%, compared with a level of 7.4% in 1993.

      Fears that the impending implementation of Mercosur (the Southern Cone Common Market) would have a negative impact on Uruguay's economy prompted the national Chamber of Commerce and opposition parties to call for a pause in the implementation process in order to allow Uruguay a further five-year adjustment period. Their pleas were unsuccessful, but Uruguayan negotiators did manage to secure some minor concessions from Argentina and Brazil on bilateral trade agreements.

      On August 28 the government called for, and lost, a national referendum on constitutional reform. A key proposal would have allowed voters to choose a multiparty slate when electing the president and congressional, municipal, and local legislators.

      The opposition centre-right Colorado Party and its leading candidate, Julio María Sanguinetti Cairolo, won congressional and presidential elections held on November 27 by an exceptionally narrow margin. The Colorados gained 32.2% of the vote, compared with 31.4% for the Blancos and 30.8% for the left-wing Progressive Encounter (EP). Uruguay's three-way political split was emphasized by the fact that the EP's presidential candidate, Tabaré Vázquez of the leftist Broad Front, retained the key position of mayor of Montevideo for a second consecutive term. Sanguinetti, who had been president in 1985-90, was due to take office in March 1995. (JANET KRENGEL)

▪ 1994

      A republic of eastern South America, Uruguay lies on the Atlantic Ocean. Area: 176,215 sq km (68,037 sq mi). Pop. (1993 est.): 3,149,000. Cap.: Montevideo. Monetary unit: peso uruguayo (introduced March 1, eventually to replace the Uruguayan new peso at the rate of peso uruguayo = 1,000 new pesos), with (Oct. 4, 1993) a free rate of 4.17 pesos uruguayos to U.S. $1 (6.32 pesos uruguayos = £1 sterling). President in 1993, Luis Alberto Lacalle.

      Attempts by Pres. Luis Alberto Lacalle to reform the Uruguayan economy in 1993 continued to be resisted by political opponents as well as by various interest groups. Labour unions called a number of strikes during the year, and pensioners were active in opposing reform of the troubled state pension system. Efforts to reform civil service failed, as did Lacalle's plan to privatize state companies, a policy that had been soundly rejected by the electorate in a December 1992 referendum. The president's difficulties were partly attributed to the fact that his National (Blanco) Party lacked a majority in Congress, but his problems were compounded by dissension among the Blancos as well as among the opposition parties. Further, polls showed that only one-fifth or so of the people gave the president positive ratings.

      The case of a secret agent made news in 1993. Eugenio Berrios Sagredo, a former agent of Chile's secret police, had been connected to the murders of two Chileans in Washington, D.C., in 1976. He disappeared in 1991, thought to have been kidnapped by a Chilean, Argentine, and Uruguayan military operation and held in Atlántida, a resort town in Uruguay. Berrios escaped in late 1992 and reported his situation to the local police, who returned him to the military. When news of the events was leaked to members of Congress, the police official responsible was dismissed, over the objections of the military. President Lacalle was forced to cut short an official trip to Europe and return home to deal with the resulting government crisis on June 11. As part of the resolution, it was agreed that any member of the military charged in the affair would be tried by court-martial, rather than in the civil courts. Berrios, after having been thought dead, later appeared at the Uruguayan consulate in Milan. (MICHAEL WOOLLER)

* * *

Uruguay, flag of   country located on the southeastern coast of South America. The second smallest nation on the continent, Uruguay has long been overshadowed politically and economically by the adjacent republics of Brazil and Argentina, with both of which it shares many cultural and historical similarities. “On the map, surrounded by its large neighbors, Uruguay seems tiny,” writes contemporary Uruguayan historian and novelist Eduardo Galeano. “But not really. We have five times more land than Holland and five times fewer inhabitants. We have more cultivable land than Japan, and a population forty times smaller.”

      This combination of open space and low population density has afforded Uruguay many opportunities for economic development. An independent country since 1828, with strong ties to the United Kingdom, France, and Italy, Uruguay developed throughout much of the 20th century as one of Latin America's more progressive societies, notable for its political stability, advanced social legislation, and a relatively large middle class. A period of repressive military rule (1973–85) has cast a long shadow over national life, and, like other countries in the region, Uruguay has been troubled by economic decline and factional struggles in the decades since civilian democratic rule was restored. Such adversities have caused many Uruguayans to emigrate to Europe and North America; as Galeano has remarked, “We export our young.”

      Almost half the people are concentrated in the metropolitan area of Montevideo, the capital; the second and third largest cities, Salto and Paysandú, are small by comparison. Facing a deep bay at the mouth of the Río de la Plata, Montevideo blends historic areas with tall office towers and well-appointed shopping centres. The old city, with its many museums, open-air markets, and restaurants, remains the heart of Montevideo and sees thousands of international visitors each year. Popular as tourist destinations, too, are beach resorts such as Piriápolis and Punta del Este, as well as the colonial masterpiece Colonia del Sacramento.

 The wedge-shaped country is bounded by Brazil to the north and east, by the Atlantic Ocean to the southeast, and by the Río de la Plata (Plata, Río de la) to the south, while the Uruguay River serves as its western boundary with Argentina.

Relief and soils
      The Uruguayan landscape (Uruguay) is largely characterized by gently rolling land, with an average elevation of about 383 feet (117 metres). Tidal lakes and sand dunes fringe the coastline. Elsewhere there are broad valleys, plains (pampas), low plateaus and hills, and ridges—notably Haedo Ridge (Cuchilla de Haedo) in the north and Grande Ridge (Cuchilla Grande) in the southeast—that are a southward extension of the Brazilian Highlands. Mount Catedral, which rises to 1,685 feet (514 metres) near the southeastern coast, is the highest point in the country. The valleys and coastal plains are covered with deposits of sand, clay, and fertile alluvium.

      Although it is a well-watered land, no large rivers flow entirely within Uruguay. The Uruguay River and the estuary of the Río de la Plata, along the western border of the nation, are navigable for oceangoing ships until Paysandú and for smaller vessels above that point to the falls at Salto. The smaller Negro River, which traverses the country from northeast to southwest, is navigable only in its lower part, below Rincón del Bonete Lake (the Río Negro Reservoir). Among other small rivers are the Santa Lucía, Cebollatí, and Queguay Grande. Merín (Mirim) Lagoon, which lies mainly within Brazil, is the largest natural lake.

      Uruguay has a generally pleasant, temperate climate. The average temperature for the midwinter month of July varies from 54 °F (12 °C) at Salto in the northern interior to 50 °F (10 °C) at Montevideo in the south. The midsummer month of January varies from a warm average of 79 °F (26 °C) at Salto to 72 °F (22 °C) at Montevideo. Frost is almost unknown along the coast. Both summer and winter weather may vary from day to day with the passing of storm fronts; a hot northerly wind may occasionally be followed by a cold wind (pampero) from the Argentine Pampas.

      Uruguay has neither a decidedly dry nor a rainy season. The heaviest precipitation occurs during the autumn months (March and April), although more frequent rains occur in winter. The mean annual precipitation is generally greater than 40 inches (1,000 mm), decreasing with distance from the seacoast, and is relatively evenly distributed throughout the year. Thunderstorms occur frequently during the summer.

Plant and animal life
      Tall-grass prairies once covered most of Uruguay's land surface but now compete with enclosed, planted pastures. Only a small percentage of the land is forested, most of the trees growing in narrow stretches along watercourses. The principal species are ombu—a scrubby, treelike plant—and alder. Others include willow, eucalyptus, pine, poplar, acacia, and aloe. The algaroba (carob tree) and quebracho (whose wood and bark are utilized in tanning and dyeing) are prevalent, and indigenous palms grow in the valleys and along the southeastern coast. Common smaller plants include mimosa, myrtle, rosemary, and scarlet-flowered ceibo.

      Animals native to Uruguay have largely disappeared, although pumas and jaguars are still occasionally found in remote areas. Other native mammals include foxes, deer, wildcats, armadillos (armadillo) (mulitas), and several types of rodents, including huge capybaras (capybara). Scorpions are rare, but venomous spiders are common. Birdlife includes tiny burrowing owls, crows, lapwings, partridges, quails, hummingbirds, and cardinals. Parakeets are plentiful in the hills, and the lagoons swarm with waterfowl, including white herons, cranes, and flamingos. Rheas are now mainly limited to semidomesticated settings. Lizards, tortoises, and venomous snakes are found in many areas. Caimans inhabit the upper waters of the Uruguay River, and seals are found on small islands off the southeastern coast, particularly on Lobos Island. A network of national parks and a wildlife reserve are dedicated to the preservation of animal and bird populations.

Preston E. James Marvin H. Alisky Martin Weinstein


Ethnic groups and languages
      Uruguayans (Uruguay) are of predominantly European origin, mostly descendants of 19th- and 20th-century immigrants from Spain and Italy and, to a much lesser degree, from France and Britain (England). Earlier settlers had migrated from Argentina and Paraguay. Few direct descendants of Uruguay's indigenous peoples remain, and mestizos (of mixed European and Indian ancestry) account for less than one-tenth of the population. Blacks and mulattos make up an even smaller proportion of the total.

      Spanish is spoken throughout Uruguay, although in Rivera and other borderland towns close to Brazil an admixture of Portuguese and Spanish can be heard, often in a slang called portuñol, from the words português and español.

 More than three-fourths of the people are at least nominally Roman Catholic, but as many as two-fifths of Catholics are estimated to be nonreligious. Less than one-tenth of the population adheres to Mormon and other Protestant churches. Jews, mostly in Montevideo, make up a small minority, which is nevertheless one of the larger Jewish communities in South America.

Settlement patterns
      When Uruguay became independent in 1828, its national territory was used almost exclusively for grazing herds of cattle on unfenced ranges; there were few permanent settlements outside of Montevideo, Colonia del Sacramento, and villages along the Uruguay River. The grazing lands along the eastern shore of the river constituted a kind of no-man's-land between the Portuguese Brazilians and the Spanish Argentines.

      After independence, Uruguay received a small influx of immigrants, chiefly from Italy and Spain. They entered through Montevideo and settled southern Uruguay in a zone along the Río de la Plata and Uruguay River. But from the early 1850s the European immigrants to the Plata region went largely to Argentina, and agriculture in Uruguay remained static. Livestock grazing thrived in the sparsely populated north, but crop farming was mostly limited to the south. By the early 20th century, rail lines and roads had extended throughout much of the country, and the area devoted to farming had grown markedly, notably with the introduction of sheep herds and pastures enclosed with barbed wire. Sheep far outnumber cattle in the northwest, but cattle are of major importance south of the Negro River. Ranches (estancias), some larger than 25,000 acres (10,000 hectares), are still common in the pastoral region.

 Almost nine-tenths of Uruguayans now live in urban areas. Montevideo, the country's dominant urban centre, has a virtual monopoly on commerce, manufacturing, and government services. Other, much smaller cities include Salto and Paysandú, both on the Uruguay River, Artigas and Rivera in the north, Melo in the east, and the southern cities of Maldonado, Minas, and Las Piedras.

Demographic trends
      Uruguay is less densely populated than Argentina and Brazil; however, the neighbouring regions of southern Brazil and northeastern Argentina have roughly comparable population densities. The rates of birth and population growth in Uruguay are much lower than in other Latin American countries. About one-fourth of the population is less than 15 years old, and about one-sixth is age 60 and older.

      Uruguay's gross national product (GNP) per capita is among the highest in Latin America, and the nation has a large urban middle class. Its relatively high standard of living has historically been based on earnings from agricultural exports, notably wool and beef, which have nevertheless been subject to fluctuations in the world market. To reduce the nation's dependence on external trade, successive governments have encouraged domestic manufacturing and services, which have become dynamic sectors of the economy. The government operates a large number of corporations that produce electricity, refine imported petroleum, manufacture alcohol and cement, and process meat and fish; the government also controls the railways and the nation's largest telephone company. However, there have been attempts to privatize state-owned companies since the 1990s.

Agriculture, fishing, and forestry
      Sheep and cattle raising are two of Uruguay's most important economic activities. Wool and beef, as well as livestock, livestock products, and skins and hides, account for about two-fifths of Uruguay's export income, although agriculture makes up less than one-tenth of the gross domestic product (GDP). In 2001 an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease seriously damaged the livestock industry and caused repercussions throughout the Uruguayan economy.

      With the major emphasis on livestock, little arable land has been available for cultivation. Major crops include rice, wheat, corn (maize), oranges, sugarcane, and sunflower seeds. The grape harvest sustains a modest wine industry.

      Uruguay's commercial fishing expanded significantly in the 1970s and '80s, although the fleet remains small by international standards. About half of the catch is exported. Major fishing ports include Montevideo, Piriápolis, Punta del Este, and La Paloma. Forestry in Uruguay is limited but provides for most local needs; pine and eucalyptus are the main types of trees harvested.

Resources and power
      Uruguay imports most of its fuel, industrial raw materials, vehicles, and industrial machinery, because it has no domestic commercial sources of petroleum, natural gas, coal, or iron. The low, rolling countryside is not generally suited to hydroelectric development; however, hydroelectric plants on the Negro and Uruguay rivers, in production at full power by the early 1980s, now provide about one-seventh of the country's electric power. The remainder is generated from gas- and oil-fueled thermal power plants.

      Since the 1980s, manufacturing has declined somewhat in importance, and it now accounts for about one-sixth of the GDP. Major manufactures include processed foods, beverages, chemical products, textiles, and tobacco products. Most factories are concentrated in and around Montevideo.

      Banking and financial services account for about one-fourth of the GDP but employ a small part of the workforce. Uruguay's banking laws shield investors from most forms of taxation, and the country has become known as an offshore financial centre. Partly because of the large volume of international banking, the vast majority of Uruguayan bank deposits are in U.S. dollars and other foreign currencies. The Central Bank of Uruguay (1967) issues currency (the Uruguayan peso), regulates foreign exchange, and oversees the country's private banks. Other state banks include the Bank of the Eastern Republic of Uruguay, which is the country's largest commercial bank, and the Mortgage Bank of Uruguay.

      Uruguay's balance of payments has been generally negative (producing a trade deficit) since the mid 20th century. The government has lifted many restrictions on imports since the 1980s. The main exports are animal products (notably frozen beef) and live animals, food products, wool and other textiles, and hides. The chief imports include machinery, appliances, chemical products, transport equipment, and processed foods. Brazil has long been Uruguay's main trading partner; Argentina and the United States are also major partners.

 Services such as public administration, education, computer programming, and tourism account for about one-fourth of the GDP. Tourism is a growing source of foreign exchange. Resort areas, particularly on the coast, attract visitors throughout most of the year. Among these is Punta del Este, renowned as a meeting place for high-level international conferences. Uruguay's computer software industry has become increasingly important to the economy.

Labour and taxation
      Services and trade employ more than half of the Uruguayan workforce, whereas about one-fifth of workers are engaged in manufacturing. Relatively few are employed in financial institutions and agricultural enterprises. The standard workweek is 44–48 hours. Workers are legally entitled to 20 paid vacation days following one year of employment. Women comprise about half of the workforce, but most of them hold low-wage jobs, and there are few women in the upper echelons of Uruguayan corporations. Approximately one-eighth of Uruguayan workers are union members; most are members of a labour confederation called the Inter-Union Workers Assembly–National Federation of Workers.

      Uruguay has not had inheritance or personal income taxes since 1974. The government's main sources of revenue are value-added taxes and export taxes. Real estate taxes and corporate taxes are also levied.

Transportation and telecommunications
      Paved roads connect Montevideo to other urban centres in the country, the main highways leading to the border and neighbouring cities. Numerous unpaved roads connect farms and small towns. Overland trade has increased markedly since the Mercosur (Southern Common Market) pact was formed in the 1990s. Most of the country's domestic freight and passenger service is by road rather than rail. The basic railroad network, purchased from the British after World War II, also radiates from Montevideo and connects with the Argentine and Brazilian systems.

      Oceangoing ships call mainly at Montevideo. Vessels of various sizes navigate the inland waters, and a hydrofoil service connects Buenos Aires and Montevideo across the Río de la Plata. An international airport lies near the Carrasco beach resort some 13 miles (21 km) from downtown Montevideo. The government-owned airline, Primeras Líneas Uruguayas de Navegación Aérea (PLUNA), links Montevideo with the provincial capitals and international destinations.

      Telecommunications in Uruguay are more developed than in most other Latin American countries. The telephone system is totally digitized and concentrated in and around Montevideo. The system is government-owned, and since the 1990s there have been controversial proposals to privatize it, or at least to sell some of its shares.

Government and society

Constitutional framework
      The government operates under the 1966 constitution, as amended following the period of military rule (1973–85). Amendments in 1996 separated municipal and national elections and changed the balloting system for the presidential election.

      A president and a Council of Ministers hold executive power, and a vice president serves as president of the bicameral legislature. The president and vice president are elected to five-year terms and may not seek immediate reelection. If no candidate receives a majority vote in a presidential election, a runoff election (ballotage) is held to decide between the two leading candidates. The General Assembly consists of the 31-member Senate and the 99-member Chamber of Representatives, whose members are elected to five-year terms by direct popular vote.

Local government
      Local administration is provided by the country's 19 departamentos, each of which has a departmental board (legislature) and an intendente municipal, a chief executive who acts as a combined departmental governor and mayor for the departmental capital.

      At the head of the judiciary is the Supreme Court, composed of five justices who are elected by the General Assembly to 10-year terms and are eligible for reelection five years after their previous term ends. The Appellate Tribunals, each composed of three judges, form the next-highest judicial level, followed by the Courts of Record. The Supreme Court justices select Appellate Tribunal judges for confirmation by the Senate. Prison conditions are poor yet better than those in many other Latin American countries. Some trials last for years because of delays in the justice system.

Political process
      National officials in Uruguay are elected every five years. All Uruguayans 18 years of age and older are required to vote. Elections have been secret and obligatory since 1918, and a 1932 law granted women the right to vote. A nine-member Electoral Court monitors local and national elections. Elections in Uruguay are generally considered to be fair. The country has a highly regarded system for tallying ballots.

      The two principal traditional political parties are the Colorado (“Red”) Party (which has had a liberal urban base) and the Blanco (“White”), or National, Party (supported by the more conservative landowners). A third party, the leftist Broad Front (Frente Amplio), also called Progressive Encounter (Encuentro Progresista), is a coalition of Christian democrats, socialists, communists, and dissident members of the two other parties.

      Police in Uruguay are poorly paid, and many have been accused of improper conduct. The country has no secret police. Uruguay's small army, navy, and air force are made up of volunteers, most of whom enlist for one or two years of service. Uruguayan soldiers have participated in numerous United Nations peacekeeping missions.

Health and welfare
      Since elaborate social legislation was enacted in 1912 and 1929, Uruguay has been recognized for its advanced welfare programs, offering extensive subsidized health care and numerous benefits to the unemployed, low-wage workers, and the aged. Uruguayan employees with low annual incomes may receive maternity benefits, and mothers who earn low wages can receive child-care benefits. The large Hospital de Clínicas in Montevideo has long been a low-cost medical service centre for the needy as well as a research centre. Life expectancy is relatively high, with averages of 73 years for males and 79 years for females.

      Uruguay has a high literacy rate, comparable to those of most developed nations. Education is compulsory for students aged 6–11 and free at all levels—primary, secondary, technical school, and university. Montevideo is the national centre for higher education. The University of the Republic (1849) has numerous faculties, including a distinguished medical school that draws students from throughout the region. The Catholic University of Uruguay (1985) is a prominent private institution. The privately supported Institute of Higher Studies (1931) is devoted to scientific research, and vocational training is given by the Labour University of Uruguay (1878).

Cultural life
      Uruguayan culture reflects some of the same characteristics found in neighbouring Argentina. Both countries are strongly European (notably Spanish and Italian) in their orientation, and, unlike many Latin American countries, Uruguay is minimally influenced by indigenous culture. The tradition of the gaucho (cowboy, usually a mestizo) has been an important element in the art and folklore of both countries. Uruguay's theatre and music are broadly based in terms of support and participation.

Daily life and social customs
      Beef is fundamental to Uruguayan cuisine, and the country is one of the world's top consumers of red meat per capita. Barbecues (parrilladas) are ubiquitous. Popular foods include beef platters, steak sandwiches (chivitos), barbecued kidneys and sausages, and pastas. Locally produced soft drinks, beer, and wine are commonly served, as is clericó, a mixture of fruit juice and wine. Uruguay and Argentina share a national drink: maté (yerba mate), a tea that is usually sipped from a gourd using a metal straw. Although some Uruguayan gauchos still dress in traditional trousers, ponchos, and wide-brimmed hats, most Uruguayans wear clothing styles that are also common to Europe and North America.

      Uruguay's main holidays are New Year's Day (January 1), Epiphany (January 6), Labour Day (May 1), and Christmas (December 25). Among the major patriotic holidays are Constitution Day (July 18), Independence Day (August 25), and the commemoration (April 19) of the arrival in 1825 of anticolonial leader Juan Antonio Lavalleja and his band of 33 fighters.

The arts
 José Enrique Rodó (Rodó, José Enrique), a modernist, is considered Uruguay's most significant literary figure. His book Ariel (1900), which stresses the importance of upholding spiritual over materialistic values, as well as resisting cultural dominance by Europe and the United States, continues to influence young writers. Outstanding among Latin American playwrights is Florencio Sánchez; his plays, written around the beginning of the 20th century and dealing with contemporary social problems, are still performed. From about the same period and somewhat later came the romantic poetry of Juan Zorrilla de San Martín, Juana de Ibarbourou, and Delmira Agustini and the short stories of Horacio Quiroga. The psychological stories of Juan Carlos Onetti have earned widespread critical praise, as have the writings of Mario Benedetti. Uruguay's best-known contemporary writer is Eduardo H. Galeano, author of Las venas abiertas de América Latina (1971; The Open Veins of Latin America) and the trilogy Memoria del fuego (1982–87; Memory of Fire). Uruguayans of many classes and backgrounds enjoy reading historietas, comic books that often blend hunour and fantasy with thinly veiled social criticism.

      The folk and popular music of Uruguay shares with Argentina not only its gaucho roots but also the tango, a musical and dance style that originated in Argentina. One of the most famous tangos, "La cumparsita" (1917), was written by the Uruguayan composer Gerardo Matos Rodríguez. The candombe is a folk dance performed at Carnival mainly by Uruguayans of African ancestry. The guitar is the preferred musical instrument; and, in a popular contest called the payada, two singers, each with a guitar, take turns improvising verses to the same tune. Numerous radio stations and musical events reflect the popularity of rock music (mainly imported from the United States and Europe, though some Uruguayan bands enjoy wide followings) and Caribbean genres known as música tropical (“tropical music”). Early classical music in Uruguay showed heavy Spanish and Italian influence, but since the 20th century a number of composers of classical music, including Eduardo Fabini, Vicente Ascone, and Héctor Tosar, have made use of Latin American musical idioms.

      The 19th-century painter Juan Manuel Blanes, whose works depict historical events, was the first Uruguayan artist to gain widespread recognition. The Post-Impressionist painter Pedro Figari achieved international renown for his pastel studies of subjects in Montevideo and the countryside. Blending elements of art and nature, the work of the landscape architect Leandro Silva Delgado has also earned international prominence.

      Uruguay has a small but growing film industry, and movies such as Marcelo Bertalmío's Los días con Ana (2000: “Days with Ana”) have earned international honours. New work is highlighted at the annual International Film Festival of Uruguay, held in Montevideo.

Cultural institutions
      Montevideo, the cultural heart of the country, is home to Uruguay's principal cultural institutions, including the National Library and the national museums of history, anthropology, natural history, and art. Several regional museums, such as the Museum of the Indian and Gaucho in Tacuarembó, have well-maintained historical collections. The government supports two symphony orchestras, the National Theatre, and schools of dramatic arts, fine arts, and ballet. Private dramatic and musical groups also perform in Montevideo and other cities.

Sports and recreation
      Football (soccer) is a national obsession in Uruguay, and the country holds one of the most storied histories in the game. Uruguay first competed at the Olympic Games in 1924 in Paris, where it won the gold medal in football. In 1930 Montevideo's Centenario stadium hosted the inaugural World Cup, which was won by Uruguay. In 1950 the country defeated Brazil in Rio de Janeiro to become one of the few teams to win more than one Cup. Uruguay has captured more world titles than any other nation, and its players are recruited around the world. Other popular spectator sports include basketball, rugby football, boxing, and horse racing, the latter notably at Las Piedras. Tennis, bicycling, and fishing are also widely enjoyed. carnival, the most important festival, is held during the week preceding Lent.

Media and publishing
      Most Uruguayan daily newspapers are published in Montevideo, and several have national circulations. Many of the major dailies are owned by or affiliated with the principal political parties. El Día was the nation's most prestigious paper until its demise in the early 1990s; it was founded in 1886 by the Colorado leader and (later) president José Batlle y Ordóñez. El País, the paper of the rival Blanco Party, has the largest circulation. El Observador Económico is a respected independent daily, and many consider the weekly newspaper Búsqueda to be the best newspaper in the country. Two glossy magazines, Tres and Posdata, have raised the print media's level of sophistication.

      Both government and private radio and television stations operate in Uruguay. Radio broadcasting began as a daily service in 1922, and the first television station started broadcasting in 1956. Use of the Internet has grown rapidly since the mid 1990s.

Marvin H. Alisky Martin Weinstein

      The following discussion focuses on Uruguayan history from the time of European settlement. For treatment of the nation in its regional context, see Latin America, history of.

Early period
      Before the arrival of Europeans, the territory that is now Uruguay supported a small population estimated at no more than 5,000 to 10,000. The principal groups were the seminomadic Charrúa, Chaná (Chanáes), and Guaraní Indians. The Guaraní, who were concentrated in the subtropical forests of eastern Paraguay, established some settlements in northern Uruguay. The Charrúa moved to the shore in summer to fish and gather clams, fruits, and roots and moved inland in winter to hunt deer, rheas, and smaller game with bolas (stones connected by short ropes that are thrown to ensnare prey) and bows and arrows. Bands of eight to 12 families under a chief lived in villages of five to six houses made of matted windscreens. The Charrúa were known for their ferocity in battle, which they exploited to expand hunting grounds and capture women and children from other villages.

      The first European to explore Uruguay was the Spanish navigator Juan Díaz de Solís (Díaz de Solís, Juan) in 1516, who, along with several of his men, was killed and eaten by Charrúa or Guaraní warriors. Ferdinand Magellan anchored at the future site of Montevideo in 1520, and Sebastian Cabot led a Spanish expedition up the Río de la Plata in 1526, but they found the Banda Oriental del Río Uruguay (“East Bank of the Uruguay River”) unattractive for settlement because of a lack of mineral wealth and the absence of Indians who could be readily enslaved or compelled to serve European interests. Jesuit and Franciscan missions were not established in Uruguay until the 1620s. By that time, however, the indigenous population had begun to collapse, as European diseases killed thousands.

      Cattle from neighbouring regions, allowed to roam freely in Uruguayan territory, multiplied over the years until their numbers reached the millions. This process is said to have originated in 1603, when a governor of Paraguay, Hernando Arias de Saavedra, shipped a number of cattle and horses downstream from Asunción and the animals were landed on the Uruguayan riverbank. They were subsequently hunted for their hides by transient gauchos of mestizo ancestry. Groups of bandeirantes (bandeira) (explorers and slave hunters) from Portuguese Brazil also made incursions into the region and occasionally attacked the missions there. In 1680 the Portuguese established Colônia do Sacramento (Spanish: Colonia del Sacramento) on the Río de la Plata opposite Buenos Aires. There they carried on a contraband trade with Spanish settlers, who were collecting great quantities of silver from the mines of Upper Peru (now Bolivia). Spanish authorities countered this move by founding San Felipe de Montevideo (Montevideo) as a fortified city in 1726 and attacking Colonia, which subsequently changed hands several times before being ceded to Spain in 1777. Montevideo became the major Spanish port of the South Atlantic, and the process of dividing the Banda Oriental into huge unfenced ranches began. In 1776 the Banda Oriental became part of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata (Río de la Plata, Viceroyalty of the), the capital of which was Buenos Aires; however, Montevideo was still allowed to send shipments directly to Spain rather than clearing them first at Buenos Aires.

      By 1800 there were approximately 10,000 people in Montevideo and another 20,000 elsewhere in Uruguay. About one-third of the total were African slaves, most of whom worked on estancias (estancia) (ranches), in saladeros (meat-salting operations), and in households. Uruguay's small but growing middle class included petty merchants, artisans, and military officers of mestizo and European ancestry. At the apex of society were wealthy traders, bankers, estancieros (ranch owners), and high-ranking government officials. Most of the elite originated from—or principally resided in—Catalonia, the Basque Country, the Canary Islands, and other Spanish European lands. Few Indian groups survived into the 19th century; the last large-scale massacre of Indian peoples occurred at Salsipuedes in 1831, and by mid century scant vestiges of indigenous culture remained.

The struggle for national identity
 Montevideo, with its Spanish military and naval contingents, was a royalist stronghold when a movement for independence broke out in Buenos Aires in 1810. In the interior of the Banda Oriental, the fight against Spain was led from 1811 by José Gervasio Artigas (Artigas, José Gervasio), commander of the Blandengues, a mounted corps that the Spaniards had originally created to police the region. Artigas's small army, which soon included a battalion of freed African slaves, was supported by rural inhabitants, antiroyalist Montevideo leaders, and an army from Buenos Aires. Following victories in the interior and in Montevideo, Artigas promoted a loose confederation of provinces of la Plata, but he also considered forming a rival confederation centring on Montevideo. These plans, coupled with Artigas's growing power and egalitarian policies (including redistributing estanciero land to freed slaves and other poor Uruguayans), made him a threat to elites in Uruguay and centralists in Buenos Aires, who acquiesced when Portuguese Brazilian forces took over the Banda Oriental in 1820, and Artigas was driven into exile.

      “Brazilianization” was resisted within the Banda Oriental and by Uruguayan exiles as well. Argentines felt increasingly threatened by the Brazilian presence, and their government was compelled to support Juan Antonio Lavalleja, one of Artigas's exiled officers, and his “33 orientales” when they crossed the river to free their homeland in 1825. The ensuing war was a stalemate, but British diplomats mediated a settlement in 1827, and in 1828 a treaty was ratified creating Uruguay as a separate state and a buffer between Brazil and Argentina; the nation's strategic location also served British interests by guaranteeing that the Río de la Plata would remain an international waterway. On July 18, 1830, when the constitution for the Oriental State of Uruguay was approved, the country had scarcely 74,000 inhabitants.

      Uruguay's first years of independence were disastrous. Twenty years of war and depredation had greatly reduced cattle numbers, and the lands and fortunes of many colonial families had been destroyed. Both Argentina and Brazil still coveted Uruguay. The factions of the first and second presidents, José Fructuoso Rivera and Manuel Oribe (Oribe, Manuel Ceferino), battled each other in what became known as the Guerra Grande (“Great War”). Oribe's adherents, who displayed white colours, became the Blanco (“White”) Party and controlled the interior. Rivera and his followers used red colours and became the Colorado (“Red”) Party, based in Montevideo. The Blancos, supported by armies of the Argentine dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas (Rosas, Juan Manuel de), besieged Montevideo during the period 1843–51. The Colorados were aided first by France and England, then by Brazil. When in 1851 the Guerra Grande ended without a clear victory for either side, the Uruguayan interior was devastated, the government was bankrupt, and the disappearance of an independent Uruguay had become a real possibility. Intellectuals wanted to abolish the political parties that had brought the country to such a low point, but the war had made too deep an impact on ordinary Uruguayans, who had become polarized into Colorados or Blancos. In 1865 the Colorados, aided by a Brazilian army, ousted the Blancos from power; however, the Paraguayan dictator, seeing that action as a threat to the regional balance of power, sparked the War of the Triple Alliance (Triple Alliance, War of the) (1864/65–70), in which Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina combined to defeat Paraguay. Uruguayan commerce was disrupted by the war, as well as by persistent political disputes, a civil war known as the Revolution of the Lances (1868–72), and Brazilian and Argentine involvement in Uruguayan affairs.

Modernization and reform
      Development accelerated during the latter part of the 19th century as increasing numbers of immigrants established businesses and bought land. Partly through their efforts, sheep were introduced to graze together with cattle, ranches were fenced, and pedigreed bulls and rams were imported to improve livestock. Earnings from wool (which became the leading export in 1884), hides, and dried beef encouraged the British to invest in railroad building and also helped to modernize Montevideo—notably in its public utilities and transportation system—which thereby encouraged additional immigration. In 1876 the Uruguayan armed forces took over the government and, aided by improved communications, began to establish firmer control over the interior. However, public support for the regime eventually waned because of the brutality and corruption of some of its leaders, and a civilian Colorado government returned to power in 1890.

      Blanco demands for a larger role in government escalated into the Revolution of 1897, led by Aparicio Saravia, which ended when the Colorado president, Juan Idiarte Borda, was killed by an assassin not associated with the Blancos. Although conflicts between Colorados and Blancos continued to impede economic development, by 1900 Uruguay's population grew to one million—a 13-fold increase over the level of 1830. The Colorado leader José Batlle y Ordóñez (Batlle y Ordóñez, José) was elected president in 1903. The following year the Blancos led a rural revolt, and eight bloody months of fighting ensued before Saravia was killed in battle and government forces emerged victorious. In 1905 the Colorados won the first largely transparent legislative election in 30 years, and domestic stability was finally attained.

      Batlle, who had become a Colorado hero, took advantage of the nation's stability and growing economic prosperity to institute major reforms, including increasing state intervention in economic matters. His administration helped expand cattle ranching, reduce the nation's dependence on imports and foreign capital, improve workers' conditions through far-reaching social reforms, and expand education. In addition Batlle abolished the death penalty, allowed women to initiate divorce proceedings, augmented the rights of children born out of wedlock, and reduced the political influence of the Roman Catholic church—reflecting growing trends toward social liberalization and secularization in Uruguay.

      Batlle had two terms (1903–07 and 1911–15) in which to initiate his policies, but, realizing that his program might be reversed by a future president or dictator, he promoted a constitutional reform to end the presidency and replace it with a plural executive, the colegiado. Batlle's audacious plan split the Colorados and reinvigorated the Blanco opposition, and in 1916 the colegiado was defeated in the country's first election by secret ballot. Batlle retained a significant amount of prestige and support, however, which allowed him to strike a compromise that partly rescued the colegiado; thus, in a constitution promulgated in 1918, executive responsibility was split between the president and a National Council of Administration.

      A consensus government emerged with policies that were more cautious than innovative, except in social legislation. Higher living standards were supported by a ranching economy that had stopped growing, a dilemma hidden by the high export prices of the late 1920s.

Economic and political uncertainties
      In 1930 the Colorado presidential candidate, Gabriel Terra, successfully maneuvered through the political vacuum created by the death in 1929 of Batlle, who had held an increasingly complex political and governmental structure together. When the effects of the Great Depression hit Uruguay, President Terra first blamed the plural executive's economic policies and then, supported by Blanco leader Luis Alberto de Herrera, carried out a coup in March 1933 that abolished the National Council and concentrated power in the hands of the president. Terra's dictatorship, followed by the presidency of his brother-in-law General Alfredo Baldomir during the period 1938–42, formulated a conservative response to the Great Depression. The state interfered with labour unions, postponed social legislation, preserved as much as it could of the British market for Uruguayan meat, and halted government attempts to nationalize foreign, mainly British, enterprises in Uruguay. The government advocated free-market principles but was compelled to play a more direct role in the economy. It apportioned scarce foreign exchange, built a hydroelectric dam, and tried to ease unemployment and maintain political support by hiring public employees under a system of political quotas. Hard times also sped migration from the interior to Montevideo, where industrial development was encouraged. As a result of these factors, Uruguay emerged from the 1930s with a more urban population and a larger government bureaucracy.

      At the onset of World War II, European nations began eagerly to buy Uruguay's meat, wool, and hides, bringing a period of genuine prosperity. A new constitution in 1942 allowed all political parties to operate freely. The war also strengthened Uruguay's manufacturing sector, which employed nearly 100,000 people by 1945. Increasing numbers of urban workers joined labour unions, and corporatist “salary councils” arranged for higher wages. The presidential election of 1946 was won by Tomás Berreta, a Batllista (member of the Colorado Batllista Party, founded by Batlle in 1919). After his sudden death, Vice President Luis Batlle Berres (Batlle Berres, Luis), Batlle's nephew, became president.

      During the early 1950s the Korean War stimulated high wool prices on the U.S. market, creating another economic boom for Uruguay. The resulting prosperity enabled the government of Batlle Berres to purchase the British-owned railroads and public utilities, inaugurate new state enterprises, encourage industrialization, subsidize agriculture, and reduce food prices. Unemployment virtually disappeared. A constitutional reform in 1951 replaced the presidency with a nine-member plural executive, the traditional cornerstone of the Batllista program. During this period Uruguay combined a strong democracy with the highest income per capita in Latin America. However, in the mid 1950s, when the end of the Korean War lowered wool prices, Uruguay's ranching economy declined, as did the standard of living. Politicians, responding to voters' demands, tried to keep consumption up, first by spending Uruguay's foreign exchange, then by taking out foreign loans and devaluing the peso. Economic conditions deteriorated: annual inflation rates rose above 60 percent, public services broke down, industries closed, and large numbers of labourers and professionals emigrated.

      Voter dissatisfaction brought the Blancos to power in 1958 for the first time since 1865. Although reelected for a second term, the Blanco administration failed to improve conditions, and in 1966 a new constitution was ratified, returning the country to the presidential system. Elections in that year brought new leadership under Colorado conservatives, but inflation and a production slump continued to grip the country, precipitating increasingly stronger protests followed by a government crackdown on students and unions. During this period guerrilla attacks were initiated in Montevideo by the Tupamaros (Tupamaro), a leftist group named for Tupac Amaru II, an 18th-century Inca who had rebelled against Spanish rule. When the police could not stop the Tupamaros, the government unleashed the military, which defeated them in a systematic and brutal counterinsurgency campaign. Economic problems persisted, however, and in 1973 the military wrested control of the government from the nation's discredited politicians.

The military regime
      The military acted with a ferocity and thoroughness previously unknown to Uruguay. Thousands of people were arrested—reputedly giving the nation the highest ratio of political prisoners to population in the world—and numerous human rights abuses were perpetrated, including torture, killings, and disappearances. The junta also outlawed political parties, dissolved unions, and heavily censored the media in order to strengthen its hold on power and force a new economic outlook on the citizenry. The regime held wages down, forbade strikes, attracted capital from foreign banks and lenders by setting high interest rates, and encouraged industrialists and ranchers to borrow and modernize. Though real wages fell and many businesses failed because they could not compete with cheap imports, the policy had some successes, including an increase in manufactured exports, a building boom, and Montevideo's reemergence as a banking and financial centre; in addition the government built roads and other public works. In 1980 voters rejected the military's proposed new constitution in a plebiscite—much to the military leaders' surprise, because they controlled the media and severely restricted the political opposition. The plebiscite greatly damaged the regime's legitimacy.

      Economic conditions also deteriorated. In the 1980s foreign loans became more difficult to acquire, and Uruguayan trade was limited when Argentina's economy suffered a downturn, caused partly by the Falkland Islands War (1982). The military government, despite previous assurances, was compelled to let the exchange rate of the Uruguayan peso fall. Businesses, ranchers, and the government saw their debts dramatically increase. With Uruguay's economic crisis worsening, the military reluctantly negotiated a return to democratic rule.

Civilian government
      Julio María Sanguinetti, a Colorado Batllista, was elected president in November 1984 and inaugurated the following March. Sanguinetti attempted to appease the military—and to safeguard against a coup—by sponsoring a general amnesty (1986), despite calls for criminal trials. Uruguay's enormous foreign debt inhibited economic recovery, but Sanguinetti refused to embark on dramatic economic programs that would have entailed high risks. A referendum in April 1989 upheld the amnesty law, but the Colorado Party lost the subsequent presidential election to the Blanco candidate, Luis Alberto Lacalle.

      The Lacalle administration (1990–95) carried out economic reforms and made Uruguay a member of the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) in 1991. Although economic growth accelerated under Lacalle, his policies were seen as a threat to Uruguay's long-standing welfare system, and voters in a referendum rejected his plan to privatize the state-owned telephone company. This defeat, coupled with charges of government corruption, brought about a roughly three-way split in the 1994 elections between the Colorados, the leftist coalition Broad Front (Frente Amplio), and the Blancos. Sanguinetti was elected to a second nonconsecutive term (1995–2000), and a constitutional amendment in 1996 simplified the method for electing the president (the old “double simultaneous voting” system, which had effectively combined primaries and final elections, had unfairly favoured the traditional parties). The Colorados retained the presidency in 2000 following the election of Jorge Batlle Ibáñez, son of Batlle Berres and great nephew of José Batlle y Ordóñez. Meanwhile the Broad Front held onto the mayoralty of Montevideo, which it had controlled for a decade.

      Uruguay's economy grew markedly during the mid 1990s, largely because of trade with its Mercosur partners; however, the nation became even more vulnerable to economic shifts in Brazil and Argentina. In the early 21st century there was growing pressure to investigate disappearances, murders, and other crimes committed under military rule.

Milton I. Vanger Martin Weinstein

Additional Reading

General introductions to the geography, economy, culture, and history of Uruguay include George Pendle, Uruguay, 3rd ed. (1963, reprinted with corrections, 1985); Jorge Chebataroff, Geografía de la República Oriental del Uruguay (1979, reissued 1984); Preston E. James, C.W. Minkel, and Eileen W. James, “Uruguay,” in Latin America, 5th ed. (1986), pp. 450–462; and Rex A. Hudson and Sandra W. Meditz (eds.), Uruguay: A Country Study (1992).Studies of the people include César A. Aguiar, Uruguay: país de emigración (1982). Uruguayan arts are surveyed in Claudio Sanguinetti Gambaro, “Uruguay,” vol. 6 in Selma Jeanne Cohen (ed.), International Encyclopedia of Dance (1998), pages 301–303; “Uruguay,” vol. 31 in Jane Turner (ed.), The Dictionary of Art (1996), pp. 751–759; and A. Haber, “Uruguay,” in Edward J. Sullivan (ed.), Latin American Art in the Twentieth Century (1996, reissued 2000), pp. 261–281. Musical styles, instruments, and cultural traditions are introduced in Ercilia Moreno Chá, “Uruguay,” in Dale A. Olsen and Daniel E. Sheehy (eds.), The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, vol. 2 (1998), pp. 510–522.Works concerning the economy and the government include Jorge Notaro, La política económica en el Uruguay, 1968–1984 (1984); Martin Weinstein, Uruguay: Democracy at the Crossroads (1988); Alejandro Rovira, Subversion, Terrorism, Revolutionary War: The Uruguayan Experience (1981; originally published in Spanish, 1981); and Luis E. González, Political Structures and Democracy in Uruguay (1991). Also useful is United States Dept. of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (annual).

General overviews of Uruguayan history include Gerardo Caetano and José Pedro Rilla, História contemporánea del Uruguay (1994); Carlos Real de Azúa and Gerardo Caetano, História y política en el Uruguay (1997); and Historia uruguaya (1974– ), a comprehensive, multivolume work covering Uruguayan history from European discovery to 1958, published by Ediciones de la Banda Oriental.The politics, economy, and social system during the period 1830–1930 are described in detail in Eduardo Acevedo, Anales históricos del Uruguay, 6 vol. (1933–36); Juan A. Oddone, “The Formation of Modern Uruguay, c. 1870–1930,” chapter 13 in Leslie Bethell (ed.), The Cambridge History of Latin America, vol. 5 (1986), pp. 453–474; and Alberto Zum Felde, Proceso histórico del Uruguay, 10th ed. (1987).Peter Winn, “British Informal Empire in Uruguay in the Nineteenth Century,” in Past & Present, no. 73, pp. 100–126 (November 1976), explains how free trade with Uruguay supported British political and economic imperialism. Benjamín Nahum and José Pedro Barrán, Historia rural del Uruguay moderno, 7 vol. in 8 (1967–78), is the major interpretive history of rural Uruguay. John Street, Artigas and the Emancipation of Uruguay (1959), is a concise, documented study.José P. Barrán and Benjamín Nahum, Batlle, los estancieros y el Imperio Británico, 8 vol. (1979–87), analyzes the sources and resistance to Batlle y Ordóñez's reforms to 1916; the first volume is also a pathbreaking history of late 19th- and early 20th-century Uruguay. M.H.J. Finch, A Political Economy of Uruguay since 1870 (1981), presents the best historical explanation of Uruguay's economic stagnation.The country's decline into dictatorship is analyzed in Edy Kaufman, Uruguay in Transition: From Civilian to Military Rule (1979); Martin Weinstein, Uruguay: The Politics of Failure (1975); and Charles G. Gillespie, “Uruguay's Transition from Collegial Military-Technocratic Rule,” in Guillermo O'Donnell, Philippe C. Schmitter, and Laurence Whitehead (eds.), Transitions from Authoritarian Rule: Latin America (1986), pp. 173–195. A brief survey of political and economic events is Henry Finch, “Uruguay: The Twentieth Century,” in Barbara A. Tenenbaum (ed.), Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Civilization, vol. 5 (1996), pp. 324–331.Martin Weinstein

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  • Uruguay [1] — Uruguay (spr. uru gwáj), großer Fluß in Südamerika, entsteht im brasil. Staate Santa Catharina aus der Vereinigung des Pelotas, Marombas und Canoas, die auf der Serra Geral entspringen, trennt, westwärts fließend, Santa Catharina und Rio Grande… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Uruguay — Uruguāy, einer der zwei Stammflüsse des La Plata, entsteht an der Serra Geral im brasil. Staate Santa Catharina, Grenzfluß zwischen Brasilien und Argentinien, dann zwischen Argentinien und Uruguay, mündet nach 1600 km nördl. von Buenos Aires in… …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Uruguay — Uruguay, Missionen am U., Missionen, zu beiden Seiten des U. liegend, wurden von den Jesuiten, welche in Paraguay einen Staat gegründet hatten, angelegt; sie wurden mit den Eingebornen des Landes aus verschiedenen Indianerstämmen bevölkert,… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

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