Uruguay, whose official name is República Oriental del Uruguay, is a sovereign country in South America, located in the eastern part of the Southern Cone. Its capital and most populated city is Montevideo. It borders to the northeast with Brazil—state of Río Grande del Sur—, to the west and southwest with Argentina—provinces of Corrientes, Entre Ríos and Buenos Aires, and the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires (separated by the Río de la Plata)—and has coasts in the Atlantic Ocean to the south. It covers 176,215 km² and is the second smallest country in South America, after Suriname. According to data from the last INE census in 2011, the population of Uruguay is 3,286,314 inhabitants, placing it in tenth position among the twelve South American countries.

It is a presidential country subdivided into nineteen departments and 125 municipalities. The capital and most populated city of the country is Montevideo, with 1.3 million inhabitants, whose metropolitan area is around two million, which represents 56.3% of the national total. It is a founding member of the United Nations, ​ of Mercosur,​ of the OAS​ and of the G77, and is part of other international organizations.

The current Uruguayan territory was known during the colonial era as Banda Oriental, and included the territory of the so-called Eastern Missions, which were later taken over by the government of Brazil and became part of the current Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul. On August 27, 1828, the Preliminary Peace Convention was signed, which established the creation of an independent state, although without an official name. The name of the new state given in its first Constitution was "Estado Oriental del Uruguay", changing the same to the current one in the Constitutional Reform of 1918.

It has a temperate climate with an average temperature of 17.5 °C, with January being the warmest month, with an average of 22.6 °C, and July the coldest month, with an average of 10.6 °C. Rainfall is abundant and varies from almost 1000 mm per year in the south to 1500 mm in the north, on the border with Brazil. Precipitation also has seasonal variations, with the autumn and spring months being the ones with the most abundant rainfall. .​

The main economic resources are agriculture, forestry and livestock. Mineral and energy resources are scarce, and the main industries are paper, cardboard, cement and oil refining.

According to the United Nations, it is the country in Latin America with the highest level of literacy. According to the organization Transparency International, Uruguay occupies 21st place on the list of countries with the lowest Corruption Perception Index, being the second best placed in America. , behind Canada, which occupies 11th place. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) says that it is the third country in Latin America (after Chile and Argentina) with the highest Human Development Index (HDI) and 54th in the world. According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), it is one of the countries in the region with a more equitable income distribution, with a Gini Coefficient of 0.39. . It is also the fourth country in Latin America (after Cuba, Costa Rica and Chile) with the highest life expectancy. In 2018, it is the third country in Latin America (after Panama and Chile) with the highest GDP (PPP) per capita.

The Latinobarómetro Corporation, in a study carried out in 2008, places it as the most peaceful country in Latin America. In addition, according to the American magazine International Living, it is the best in Latin America to live in. This same publication claims that it is among the twenty safest countries in the world, while the British publication The Economist places it among the twenty most democratic, being the only South American country considered by said index as a "full democracy."




Colonia del Sacramento: city founded by the Portuguese in 1680, located on the Uruguay River facing Buenos Aires, which maintains much of its architecture and bucolic appearance unchanged.
Punta del Este: place where the international jet set meets every summer for more than 50 years. A privileged coast on the Atlantic Ocean and a lot of nature in its natural state, together with 5-star hotels.
Piriápolis: is a city and resort in the department of Maldonado, located one hour and forty minutes from Montevideo and twenty minutes from Punta del Este. It was the first spa in the country, founded by Francisco Piria.
Punta del Diablo: a fishing village near the border with Brazil, which welcomes tourism that seeks the most rugged coast and the roughest sea.
La Paloma: is one of the main spas on the Atlantic coast of Uruguay, located 240 km from Montevideo. Its beaches, with an extension of approximately 20 km, constitute one of the main tourist attractions in the country.
La Pedrera: 230 km from Montevideo. It has beautiful beaches and a spectacular panoramic view. It is characterized by preserving a rugged landscape and where its beaches are known for their beauty and the strength of the sea, typical of the Rochense coasts.
Barra de Valizas: a town that fills you with infinite stars, cold bonfire nights and exotic music from places of wonder. Amazement that does not stop appearing every day and of course every night. Sun, endless ocean. Limited Valizas for some since many of the houses do not have electricity.
Hot springs: natural hot springs in the north of the country offer an alternative for tourism and health throughout the year.
Almirón Hot Springs: in the department of Paysandú.
Termas del Arapey: in the department of Salto.
Termas del Daymán: in the department of Salto.
Guaviyú Hot Springs: in the department of Paysandú.
Salto Grande Hot Springs: in the department of Salto.
San Nicanor Hot Springs: in the department of Salto.

Estancias: cattle ranches where in addition to enjoying a "asado con cuero" you can see the descendants of the true "gauchos" doing farm chores.
Boca del Cufré: a small resort located in the department of San José (100 km from Montevideo). The beaches correspond to the Río de la Plata, and it is characterized as an ideal place to rest since the rugged and little-urbanized landscape makes it "Cufré" a heavenly place to make the most of your desire to rest.
The spa has a stream suitable for navigation and water sports, it also has camping and numerous farms for rent.
To get to Boca del Cufré, you have to go to kilometer 100 of route 1 (one) where the city of Ecilda Paullier is located, and from there turn 17 km along a road that leads through a picturesque landscape of pine trees. , eucalyptus trees and dunes directly on the banks of the river.
Atlántida: a seaside resort in the department of Canelones, located on the Atlantic coast, only 45 km from Montevideo, the country's capital.



In 2013, Montevideo was for the second time the Ibero-American Capital of Culture. Various cultural shows were held throughout the year.

the matte
Although the infusion known as "mate" is taken in different ways in Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay and southern Brazil, it is in Uruguay where its presence can be seen at all times and in all places. It is very common to see a Uruguayan family walking through the city with their mate, and it cannot be missing in any gathering of people of any age.

The "yerba mate", that is, the leaves with which the infusion is prepared, is considered a staple item. This yerba is placed in the mate (this is the name of the drink and the container where it is drunk). The gourd used to make the container is dried, deseeded, and cut appropriately. To sip the mate, a bombilla is used, a silver or other noble metal artifact, built as a straw or straw, with a filter of the same material in the part that remains submerged in the yerba. The last element is the thermos, a container where hot water is transported to serve the mate.

Unlike Argentina, where mate is usually drunk with milk or sugar, or Paraguay, where it is served cold as a refreshment, in Uruguay it is drunk bitter and very hot.


Getting in

Virtually all Europeans can enter without a visa for 90 days.

Electronic entry gates have also been available at more popular border crossings since 2019. You don't get a stamp in your passport there, but only at the counters that are also available.

By plane
The capital's airport in Montevideo has been expanded and has a state-of-the-art terminal. Direct flights from Europe are currently only available from Madrid or via Miami with a connecting flight. There are good connections to other South American cities and above all to Buenos Aires (partly departures every half hour).

A cheap alternative is to fly to Buenos Aires and from there by ship or overland to Uruguay.

By train
Unfortunately, it is not possible to travel to Uruguay by train, as there are only a few dilapidated inner-Uruguayan train connections that are mainly used to transport goods.

By bus
Buses serve Uruguay and especially the capital Montevideo and Punta del Este from Argentina and Brazil.

In the street
From Brazil there are numerous border crossings from the state of Río Grande do Sul to Uruguay. There are three bridges over the Río Uruguay from Argentina. Attention: Because of a diplomatic conflict between the two countries around a paper factory, the bridges are often blocked by demonstrators! Either arrive via Buenos Aires or Brazil or ask about the current situation in Argentina on site!

By boat
Montevideo and Colonia can be reached by ferry Buquebus from Buenos Aires. This is particularly advantageous if you have only booked a flight to Buenos Aires and want to continue to Uruguay. If you don't have a car with you, you can also take a passenger boat from the Argentinian city of Tigre to Carmelo, which is highly recommended because of the charming islands. The company Colonia Express offers combined tickets from Buenos Aires via Colonia (ship) to Montevideo. The journey takes a good five hours in total, and there is no time to take another look at Colonia. Faster (a good two hours), but also a bit more expensive, is the direct ferry connection from Buquebus.


Getting around

By taxi
In Montevideo you can find black and yellow taxis, as well as white and yellow models that were introduced in 2011 and will gradually replace the former. The price of the fare is approximately 1 dollar to start the trip, plus 3 cents for every 100 meters traveled.

By bus
Buses from neighboring countries arrive at the Tres Cruces terminal in Montevideo . A bus service from Colonia del Sacramento complements the ferry crossing the Río de La Plata from Buenos Aires.

By car
The road network has been modernizing for about 10 years, making land transport faster and safer.

By train
Since 1993, regular passenger trains have been running between Montevideo and 25 de Agosto (Florida department). In 2002 the services were increased by adding trains to Progreso (halfway between Montevideo and 25 de Agosto).

Since March 1, 2003 passenger trains depart and arrive from a new terminal station 500 meters north of Montevideo Central Station , which has been closed ever since. This meant a loss of more than 100,000 passengers for train services. For more information visit this website: Group of Passengers in defense of the Central Station .

In December 2005, passenger service to Empalme Olmos via Pando was restored.

In January 2007, a daily train was extended from 25 de Agosto to San José (two on Saturdays) and from January 2008 another train continues to Florida, 109 km from Montevideo.

The schedules can be consulted at http://www.afe.com.uy .

Passenger trains run on Sundays in summer, but not in winter except for special services.

The State Railroad Administration also runs special trains for certain events to or from San José, Florida, Durazno, Cerro Colorado, Minas and between Treinta y Tres and Rio Branco.

Between 1993 and 2000 a regular passenger service circulated between Tacuarembó and Rivera.



From the Beer Festival in the city of Paysandú, to the Rural Exhibition of El Prado, passing through the Carnival, where you can listen and dance to Candombe, a rhythm that was born in Uruguay with African roots.

On the other hand, there is the National Spring Festival that takes place on the second weekend of October in the city of Dolores, Department of Soriano, and that every year brings together a massive presence of visitors from different parts of the country and the region. .



Spanish (español) is the de facto official language and is spoken by all residents of Uruguay. Even in tourist centers it is advisable to have a basic vocabulary of Spanish words, as even English is not widely spoken.

Latin American Spanish sometimes differs significantly from Castilian Spanish and can take some getting used to if you are only familiar with European school Spanish. The Spanish variant of Uruguay shows many similarities with that of Argentina and, due to the history of settlement and immigration, has certain influences from Italian, Portuguese and Galician in terms of vocabulary, pronunciation and intonation. It sounds softer, gentler, and more melodic, which is also true of Latin American Spanish in general. Furthermore, not a few Uruguayans know Portuguese (estimates speak of up to around a quarter of the population, a good 800,000 people), especially in the north, be it simply because of the proximity to Brazil (tourist, cultural, economic relations between the two countries), because they have learned at school or are of Portuguese-Brazilian descent or even have it as their mother tongue. Furthermore, there are mixed variants of español and português, which are called portuñol, in northern Uruguay and southern Brazil, especially in the border area. Uruguayan Portuguese, on the other hand, is closer to Brazilian than to European.

However, anyone who speaks one of these two major Ibero-Romance languages will hardly have any major communication difficulties during their trip.



In November 2021, one euro was worth almost 50 pesos.

The best place to shop is in one of the five malls, such as B. Montevideo Shopping, Shopping Tres Cruzes or Shopping Punta Carretas, where it is also safe. The city center, on the other hand, is still a bit run down after the last crisis and many shops are empty.

Although marijuana has been legalized, it is not freely available. Locals have to be entered in a "pothead file" in order to be able to purchase their smoking substance in pharmacies.



The kitchen is very influenced by the agrarian structure. Beef in any form is very common. Vegetarians will sometimes have a hard time getting meatless diets. The preparation is often on the grill. Otherwise, the kitchen is characterized by Spanish and Italian influences.

A cutlery charge is often required, which is reflected in the bill as "cubiertos". That's why there are also some bars that write at the entrance ("No se cobran cubiertos!") to advertise themselves. It's best to just ask: "Se cobran cubiertos?".

Chivito is the national dish. Similar to a hamburger, a bun is topped with a slice of fried meat, mozzarella, sliced tomato, mayonnaise, olives, cooked ham, and hard-boiled eggs or a fried egg. It can also be served "al plato", without a bun, on a plate. French fries are eaten as a side dish.
Chajá is a typical dessert of Uruguayan gastronomy. It was invented on April 27, 1927 by Orlando Castellano, owner of the Las Familias pastry shop in the city of Paysandú. It owes its name to the chajá, a bird that lives in the central and southern areas of South America and that is found mainly in the department of Paysandú. The ingredients of the dessert are merengue (meringue), bizcochuelo (sponge cake), double cream and characteristic fruits such as peach and strawberry. There are also variants with dulce de leche (a cream made from milk, sugar and vanilla) or chocolate.



Going out is one of the favorite pastimes of young people at the weekend. The motto is: "See and be seen". A lot of value is placed on appearance and a certain machismo is widespread. As in southern Europe, nightlife starts relatively late. The nightlife takes place mainly in the old town, the "Ciudad vieja" and in the discotheques and bars distributed throughout the city. You don't need to show up in the dance halls before one o'clock in the morning, because that's when they're still closed, even during the week.



The Uruguayans are very fond of tents. Everywhere in the country you will find campsites with the associated infrastructure (showers, toilets...). Because of the hot summers, the pitches are planted with trees, so you can pitch your tent in the shade. You pay between four and ten euros per night and person, depending on how popular the place you are visiting is. Earplugs should be part of the basic equipment along with the tent, sleeping bag and sleeping mat, as there are cicadas that make noise like circular saws and can make it hard to fall asleep.

Wild camping is not allowed, but will not be prosecuted. If you are actually caught by the police, the officers will at most politely ask you to take down the tent. It is more problematic to find suitable places to camp on the way, as there are fences on both sides of practically all roads, behind which the cow pastures begin. But there are fearless people who set up their tent right next to the road (if only two or three cars pass by all night - no problem) or seek to be close to the cattle, which is usually not a problem. By the way: Bulls (meaning male cattle) are generally not dangerous in South America. The question "why not?" answer Latin Americans with the surprised question why they are in Europe.



There are two main universities in Uruguay: the Universidad de la Republica and the Universidad Catolica. Attending school and attending secondary schools and universities is free of charge in public institutions. However, there are a large number of private educational institutions that are subject to a fee. However, Uruguay's education system is good overall and means that only about four percent of the population is illiterate, i.e. less than in many industrialized countries.



The international dialing code for Uruguay is +598. Country internet domain .uy



Uruguay is generally considered a safe travel destination. Nevertheless, you should watch out for your belongings, especially in tourist areas and larger cities, where there are also some pickpockets. As a European, you should avoid some parts of Montevideo, as you can be mugged there even in daylight. Uruguayans are permitted to purchase firearms up to a certain caliber.

The districts with a large number of corrugated iron shacks, such as B. Cerro Norte, La Paloma or Casabo, one should, if at all, only be accompanied by locals. The center of the city and the old town are quite safe by South American standards. Handbags or valuables should not be left in the passenger seat.

Uruguayans always say there are no dangerous animals in the country. Then, when it comes to snakes, it's, "yes, there are some really poisonous snakes, but otherwise there aren't any other dangerous animals in the country." When it comes to spiders, it's, "yes, a there are a few really venomous snakes and spiders, but otherwise there are no other dangerous animals in the country.” And then, when it comes to the cougars and maned wolves… In fact, cars in Montevideo are far more dangerous than the wildlife. You simply shouldn't do gymnastics in sandals and shorts through high grass and bushes, then you won't be bitten.



There are no particular health risks in Uruguay. Medical care is good, especially in the cities.

The emergency numbers are 911 and 999.



In the past few decades, the first-name form has become commonplace - even with strangers.



In colonial times the territory was known as Banda Oriental. This name comes from its geographical location, being the easternmost domain of Spain on the American continent. During the first years of the independence struggle, it was called the Eastern Province, forming part of the Federal League and later of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata. During the Luso-Brazilian Invasion (1816-1828) it was officially called Cisplatina Province.

When the draft of the first Constitution was drafted in 1830, the name "State of Montevideo" was suggested for the new independent nation. During the discussion of the project, the names "Northern Argentine State" and "Eastern State of the Río de la Río" were also proposed. Plata" or "Eastern State of Uruguay", finally after a vote in the assembly the name of Eastern State of Uruguay was approved, in geographical reference to the Uruguay River. Finally, in the Constitutional Reform of 1918, the official name was modified by that of the Eastern Republic of Uruguay, a name that had already been used de facto for a few decades.

Currently the most common name is simply Uruguay, there are several theories about the meaning and origin of the word:
Uru Country River or Uru River. It is the version of the Spanish naturalist Félix de Azara. The "urú quail" or, simply urú, is a bird of the odontophorid family - or New World quail - that lives in the jungles of the upper basin of the Uruguay River, located in the northeast of Argentina and the south. of Brazil, in the region of the Jesuit Missions. In this way, the literal translation of Guaraní would be: urú; gua, "of"; and y, "water", water - river - of the urú. The Uruguayan poet, singer and composer Aníbal Sampayo ascribes.
River of snails. This interpretation arises from dividing the word in Uruguay, "caracol" or "sea snail", and y, "water or river", and has several sources. This idea was supported independently by the Jesuits Nicolás Durán Mastrilli and Antonio Ruiz de Montoya, who had a deep knowledge of the Guaraní language, and then, at the end of the 18th century, the engineer José María Cabrer, who accompanied Félix de Azara in some of his travels through the Río de la Plata region, the Misiones and Paraguay. Research from 2010, from the National Museum of Natural History, also supports this thesis. Irene Cocchi and Rosario Gutiérrez, authors of the book "In the country of snails, Uruguay", also subscribe to this theory. The indigenous people, original inhabitants of the region, would be referring to a species of mollusk that is abundant in the Uruguay River, the Asolene megastoma—a gastropod belonging to the ampularidae family. The indigenous people used these snails as food and also in some rituals. The large quantities found in indigenous burials would demonstrate the importance that snails had for the ancient inhabitants of this region.
River of birds. It is a very similar version to the first. The affix uru would designate “bird”—urubú, urutaú, jaburú—and guay “water or river.” The Pampean version with a guttural tone of "uhay" or "vahy" or even "hy" - Ayuhy, Iyuhy, Paraguay, Queguay, Iraí, Piraí, Ivahy - over time would have transformed the geographical designative.
River of painted birds. A poetic interpretation of Juan Zorrilla de San Martín.

Historically, the correct demonym to refer to the inhabitants of the republic is orientales, but it has gradually fallen into disuse, having been replaced in most uses by Uruguayans.



Prehispanic era

The first humans arrived in what is currently Uruguayan territory 14,000 years ago, based on archaeological discoveries in the department of Artigas that, due to their antiquity, led to reconsidering the date of the arrival of man to the American continent.

The oldest artificial constructions in the region are the more than 3,000 Indian hills that date back up to 5,000 years old distributed throughout the east of the country. Archaeological investigations have found evidence in the hills of pet dogs, as well as agriculture. of corn, beans and pumpkins, a practice that was previously considered unknown to the prehistoric inhabitants of Uruguay.

The inhabitants of Uruguay at the time of the Spanish conquest were mainly the Charrúas, among whom the Guenoas-Minuanes, the Bohanes and the Chaná are distinguished. There is controversy over the existence of another group known as the Arachanes due to the lack of historical records. . There was also the Yaros people who belonged to the Yés mixed or acculturated with the Charrúas. Contrary to what has been the dominant opinion during much of the 19th and 20th centuries, recent archaeological and ethnohistorical research has revealed that the settlement of Uruguayan territory by the Charrúas largely occurred after the European conquest. More precisely, it occurred between the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th century, and was due to their expulsion from the territories of the current Argentine provinces of Santa Fe and Entre Ríos where they had their main residence, as part of the great offensive against the peoples indigenous people unleashed by the Spanish colonizers after the Guaranític War. It is accepted, however, that some portion of Uruguayan territory, such as part of the current department of Colonia, had a Uruguayan presence before this migration. The Minuan ethnic group, on the other hand, would have been the most populous and widespread in Uruguayan territory, even after the displacement of the Charrúas.

Simultaneously, the Guaraní, originally from the territories of the Jesuit missions, both during their existence and even more so after their dissolution, fled to nearby regions, including Uruguayan territory. They brought with them their European knowledge transmitted through their contact with the Society of Jesus in the aforementioned Missions, giving rise to the main Amerindian cultural heritage in the Uruguayan interior, especially in what has to do with practices related to the breeding of animals, gastronomy, and other customs.


Colonial period

The first European settlement in the then called Banda Oriental was the Spanish San Lázaro, founded by Sebastián Gaboto on the eastern bank of the Río de la Plata at the beginning of 1527. A few weeks later, the Spanish under Gaboto founded a second fort in the mouth of the San Salvador River, which receives its European name from the name of the San Salvador Fort. Such establishments were short-lived.

In January 1680, the Portuguese occupied the southern part of the Banda Oriental—violating the Treaty of Tordesillas—founding the Colonia do Santíssimo Sacramento, in front of the city of Buenos Aires. On November 22, 1723, Field Master Manuel de Freytas Fonseca founded the Montevieu fort. On January 22, 1724, the Spanish from Buenos Aires displaced the Portuguese, who founded the city of Río Grande in 1737, Porto Alegre in 1742, and the Santa Teresa Fortress in 1762 in Rocha in the north of the Banda Oriental.

After evicting the Portuguese in 1723, Montevideo was officially founded on December 24, 1726 by the Spanish captain Bruno Mauricio de Zabala, called "Iron Arm", commissioned by the authorities established in Buenos Aires. The new foundation was initially named Fort San José, and then San Felipe and Santiago, although the place was known in ancient times by the Spanish as Montevideu. There are several theories about the origin of the nomenclature of Montevideo: one hypothesis states that it could derive from the term "monte vide eu" used by someone who first saw the hill existing on its coasts. Another widely accepted origin would be that of the territorial census in its origins; At the time, the position where Montevideo is located was called: “Monte VI de E a O”—Mount sixth from East to West. At that time Spain only had Montevideo, its surroundings and the departments of San José, Flores, Canelones and Maldonado. 90% of the Banda Oriental remained Portuguese since 1680. The Portuguese established relations with the Chaná nation and introduced Africans from Bantu nations—from the kingdoms of Benguela, Ngola and Kongo among others—to Colonia and later to Montevideo as slaves.

The Spanish settled in 1726, when the second founding of Montevideo took place, due to the advance of Portuguese troops into the current Uruguayan territory and the founding of cities by them. The city of Montevideo was founded with military and commercial objectives, being an important military plaza of the Spanish colonial dominions in the south during the 18th century and the main port of the Río de la Plata estuary. The importance of Montevideo as a port of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata earned it confrontations with Buenos Aires, capital of the viceroyalty, on several occasions.

On November 22, 1749, the king of Spain appointed José Joaquín de Viana as the first governor of Montevideo. He arrived at the Río de la Plata on the ship Nuestra Señora de la Concepción on February 3, 1751, landing in Buenos Aires, where he swore the position of first Governor before Captain General Andonaegui and took possession of it in a solemn session held by the Cabildo. Montevidean will celebrate on March 14. The Government of Montevideo included the territories that went from the mouth of the Cufré stream, in the west, to the Pan de Azúcar hill, in the east, arriving in the north from the sources of the San José and Santa Lucía rivers, following the line from Cuchilla Grande to Ojosmín hill, which is located in the current department of Flores. In terms of the national political subdivision of the present, it corresponds to the current departments of Montevideo, Canelones and part of those of San José, Flores, Florida, Lavalleja and Maldonado.

The first viceroy of the Río de la Plata, Pedro de Cevallos—or Zevallos—reconquered Montevideo and the Santa Teresa Fortress as well as the island of Santa Catarina. Finally, in 1777, Cevallos himself, named viceroy of the recently created Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, definitively conquered the Colony, a conquest that was endorsed by the treaty of San Ildefonso.

In 1763 the city of San Carlos in Maldonado was founded with Portuguese by Cevallos. In 1798 and between 1806 and 1807 the English Invasions occurred. Troops from Montevideo and Buenos Aires together repel the attacks of the English fleet—the first commanded by Commodore Home Riggs Popham and the second by Admiral Charles Stirling—coming to conquer the territories of Plata.



During the May Revolution of 1810—started in Buenos Aires—and the revolutionary uprising in the provinces of Plata, the city of Montevideo remained faithful to the Spanish authorities, although much of the rural interior and smaller cities did not. At the beginning of its formation, the leader José Gervasio Artigas stands out, whose intention was to create in the Eastern Province the nucleus of a confederation that would encompass the entire United Provinces of the Río de la Plata. Artigas titled himself protector of free peoples, bringing together under his military command the Banda Oriental—mostly present-day Uruguay—and the current Argentine provinces of Entre Ríos, Misiones, Corrientes, Santa Fe and, briefly, Córdoba. He also intended to integrate the Eastern Missions—which Artigas declared part of the Eastern Province—and the Republic of Paraguay. In 1815 Artigas called a meeting of a congress of those provinces—the Congress of the East—in Arroyo de la China, currently Concepción del Uruguay in Entre Ríos, to try to solve their problems with the government of Buenos Aires. During the Portuguese-Brazilian invasion Artigas focused his operations from the Purification Camp.

During his brief period as leader and ruler of the Banda Oriental, Artigas promoted the implementation of an advanced social development program that included a reform of agrarian structures, through the Provisional Regulation of 1815, which established a distribution of lands. with social sense under the slogan that "the unhappiest are the most privileged." Within this category, said regulation mentions black people, zambos and poor widows with children, among others. Other development projects include the founding of the first public library, the customs regulations to promote national production, and the first attempt to establish a public school. This process comes to an end with the invasion of the Portuguese through Brazil. In 1816 the Banda Oriental fell under the power of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarve. In 1821 the Cisplatin Congress decided to incorporate the territory into Portugal with the name of Cisplatin Province. In 1825 there was a revolution known as the emancipatory feat of the Thirty-Three Orientals, immediately followed by the Brazilian War, between the Empire and the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata. This concluded with the constitution of the Eastern State of Uruguay in 1828 after the Preliminary Peace Convention was signed.


Civil wars and the extermination of indigenous people

Since Independence, Uruguay attempted to join the Western world through the expulsion of one of the surviving indigenous peoples, known as the Charrúas, to keep their lands. On April 11, 1831, General Fructuoso Rivera was president and minister During the war of General Manuel Oribe, the Salsipuestas Massacre took place in which nearly thirty Charrúas died, the most important of a series of battles with the native peoples, which resulted in the emigration of many Charrúas to Brazil and Argentina. . This battle was the corollary of a war that preceded the arrival of the Spanish to the Río de la Plata, between the Charrúa and the Guaranític nations, the latter protected by General Rivera.

The first forty years of the new country witnessed great political instability. The continuous clashes between whites and reds gave rise to the so-called Great War and the long siege of Montevideo, with the country divided between two rival governments, and which witnessed serious interference in its internal affairs by Argentina and Brazil. That war was followed by a series of coups d'état and revolutions, which led Uruguay to participate in the long and costly War of the Triple Alliance against Paraguay. Only after the Revolution of the Lances, in 1872, did a stage of more peaceful resolution of political situations begin, although small civil wars continued to occur until 1904. In 1870 Spain recognized the independence of Uruguay when the Treaty of Recognition, Peace and Peace was signed. Friendship between the Eastern Republic of Uruguay and the Kingdom of Spain.


The Switzerland of America

At the end of the 19th century the country had completed its organization and during the Batllista era—led by the president at that time, José Batlle y Ordóñez—it consolidated its democracy and reached high levels of well-being, comparable to Europeans. Due to this, Uruguay began to be known internationally as "the Switzerland of America." Uruguay was one of the first countries to establish by law the right to divorce - 1907 - and one of the first countries in the world to establish the right of women's suffrage. In addition, it was the second nation in the world that, following the postulates of José Pedro Varela, established by law a free, compulsory and secular educational system -1877-.

There was an economic boom due to the consequences of the First World War, when the industrialization of the country began, where for years European manufactured products stopped being imported and they began to be manufactured in the national territory. This resulted in one of the lowest unemployment rates. Other achievements were added to all this; the tallest building in Latin America in 1928 —Palacio Salvo—, the excellent infrastructure, health and education with levels higher than those of European countries and many countries in developing Latin America, its public university, the largest stadium in the world —Estadio Centenario—, state public services—electricity, telephones, gas, trams, railways, running water, among others—, a Uruguayan peso that tended to appreciate against the dollar, new public institutions, the triumph in the soccer championships in the Games Olympics—Paris 1924 and Amsterdam 1928—and the World Cups of 1930—whose headquarters were the city of Montevideo—and 1950, in Brazil—called Maracanazo—, feats that contributed to perpetuating the myth of Uruguay's “golden age.”

During the period between 1940-1944, which was the year Uruguay entered World War II, the economy was excessively dependent on foreign capital. One of Uruguay's problems was that it depended 100% on energy that came from abroad and therefore most of the benefits obtained returned without giving any benefit to the country. For this reason, the growth and evolution of Uruguay were greatly diminished, since the outflow of capital did not help national investment.


The export era

At the end of the 19th century, the driving force behind Uruguay's growth, like that of many other Latin American countries, was exports. The fundamental difference between Uruguay and the others is that it did not depend excessively on a single destination country.

Around the turn of the century—1900—the main goods that Uruguay exported were wool with 42% of the total percentage and, secondly, frozen meat with 24%. With these two goods alone, Uruguay reached 66% of exports, giving special importance to the agricultural sector. These products were especially directed to three markets: Belgium, France and Argentina, although they did not represent 70% of total exports. With World War I, exports to these three countries decreased and the so-called other countries gained more weight. In 1912, exports to other countries were 30% and after 5 years they rose to 70%.

The fact that its export market was broader was an advantage for the Uruguayan economy since it did not strictly depend on a few countries that imported its products, and it was not vulnerable to changes in demand in these markets. The Uruguayan economy concentrated all its efforts and investments in the production of these two primary products, which were exported with some success since they were scarce in countries, especially European, that were dedicated to the production of manufactured products. Uruguayan livestock farming acquired a greater weight in the country's economy, due to the technological advances of the time. New methods were introduced that increased the productivity of livestock, such as the breeding method, since in terms of land area, this was smaller compared to neighboring Argentina, which was also one of the largest meat exporting countries. Although the star product of the Uruguayan economy was wool - 46% -, meat exports increased thanks to the use of refrigerators, which allowed meat to be better preserved, and to improvements in navigation and transportation techniques that helped travel long distance.

The new production characteristics led to a radical change in agricultural structures, giving way to capitalist farms oriented to the market, and not simple internal consumption, but the organization of the land did not produce lasting economic development in the country. The large ranchers were subject to the interests of foreign capitalists, English among many, who had strong control over production. In the particular case of Uruguay, there is talk of extensive growth, in which the use of land was increased and more labor was incorporated without looking for alternatives to the lack of natural resources, as a consequence of the exploitation of the land.


External problems and the ISI

After the era of exports, where Uruguay experienced a period of economic prosperity, international events arrived that shook not only Uruguay's economy, but also the global economy. These external impacts are: World War I and II and the US Great Depression of 1929; All of them are events external to Uruguay but that impacted its economy.

As already mentioned, the engine of Uruguay's economy was the export sector. With the war events of its trading partners, Uruguay lost part of its demand for products from abroad and this was reflected in a decline in its growth. During this period that would last until the early 1950s, Uruguay was at the expense of what was happening in the rest of the world and this is observed with the fluctuations of its GDP pc—up if there are no important events, and down if relevant events occur. Therefore, until the implementation of the ISI measures – Import Substitution Industrialization – towards the beginning of the 1950s, Uruguay was at the expense of the international situation.

In 1950, the ideas arrived in Latin America to stop being economies based on the primary sector and begin to produce themselves the manufactures that until then they had imported or ISI. In Uruguay, due to its limited geographical expansion and the restriction this represented in developing a powerful internal market, industrialization measures had less impact than in neighboring countries.

Some ISI measures did become real: the Central Government took sides and promoted numerous companies and an attempt was made to import more capital goods than other types to change the economic system. But, as has been mentioned, for Uruguay it is not at all clear that the ISI measures were important enough for a change in the production model to occur. On the other hand, the public deficit that would begin here would have consequences later.

The political and social unrest in Uruguay at this time also did not help its economy take off.


Economic decline

Around 1955, an economic crisis began that also affected political institutions. During the 1960s there was a continuous process of social and economic deterioration with a notable increase in agitation among left-wing union sectors. Simultaneously, the activity of about ten revolutionary groups was recorded, among which the "Tupamaros" stood out, who leaned towards urban guerrilla warfare. At the same time, during the 60s and 70s far-right organizations acted, such as the Juventud Uruguaya de Pie (JUP) and the Tupamaros Hunting Command (CCT), known as the Death Squadron. The Armed Forces used the deterioration that devastated the country to their advantage, gradually assuming prominence. These events led, ten years later, to a coup d'état that established a civil-military dictatorship.



On June 27, 1973, the then president, Juan María Bordaberry, dissolved parliament with the support of the Armed Forces and months later created a Council of State with legislative functions, administrative control and in charge of projecting a constitutional reform "that reaffirms the republican-democratic principles", restricts freedom of expression of thought and empowers the Armed Forces. and police to ensure the uninterrupted provision of public services.

The coup d'état of June 1973 and its resulting Council of State was immediately resisted by a large part of the citizens and by the workers grouped in the National Workers Convention (CNT), as well as by the Student Movement, mainly represented by the Federation of University Students (FEUU) of the University of the Republic, who carried out a 15-day general strike, the longest in history so far.

The Armed Forces detained left-wing leaders and other citizens without political position, accusing them of sedition during the entire time that the military dictatorship lasted, that is, until 1985, as well as (for brief periods) well-known leaders of traditional political parties such as Jorge Batlle Ibáñez and Luis Alberto Lacalle de Herrera, who would later become Presidents of the Republic with the return to democracy, among others.

The members of "left-wing" parties were held almost completely incommunicado and suffered physical and psychological torture (later verified by organizations such as the International Red Cross). Nearly a hundred political prisoners died in Uruguayan prisons and another 140 people remain missing.​

The media was censored or banned, the trade union movement destroyed and tons of books burned after the works of some writers were banned. People registered as opponents of the regime are excluded from public administration and education.

In 1976, at the end of his constitutional mandate, Bordaberry, convinced that the political chaos that the country had experienced was the responsibility of its political system, proposed to the Board of Commanders in Chief of the Armed Forces a reform of the country's institutional system. eliminating political parties and replacing them with "currents of opinion" in a corporatist system, an idea that is not shared by the military. The disagreements between Bordaberry and the military generated the political crisis of June 1976, which culminated in the dismissal of the president and the interim appointment of Alberto Demicheli to occupy the first magistracy.

Demicheli, who until then had served as president of the Council of State, assumes the presidency of the Republic on July 12. As the first measures of his government, he proceeded to sign Institutional Acts 1 and 2, by which he suspended "until further pronouncement" the call for general elections (scheduled for November of that same year) and the "Council of the Nation" was created. . Regarding economic policy, Demicheli ratified the National Development Plan created in 1972 during the Bordaberry government. The applied economic policy sought a radical reformulation of the bases of the country's economic functioning, a new alliance between the military and the technobureaucracy, aimed at the transformation of the productive structures of foreign trade, income distribution, demand and relative prices, in a framework of broad liberalization and opening of the economy. Finally, on September 1 of the same year, Demichelli delegates the presidency to Aparicio Méndez (former Minister of Public Health), who takes over for a period of five years.

The Minister of Economy and Finance, Alejandro Végh Villegas, seeks to promote the financial sector and foreign investment. Social spending is reduced and many state companies are privatized. However, the economy did not improve and deteriorated after 1980, GDP fell by 20% and unemployment rose to 17%. The State intervenes trying to rescue bankrupt companies and banks.​


Return to democracy

On November 30, 1980, citizens rejected the constitutional reform project proposed by the dictatorial regime, beginning a slow process of political opening. On September 1, 1981, General Gregorio Álvarez assumed the presidency, and in 1984 he called elections, although with citizens and political parties banned. After taking place that same year, the Colorado Party emerged triumphant. During the first days of 1985, Álvarez left command in the hands of the President of the Supreme Court of Justice in office, Rafael Addiego Bruno, and finally, on March 1, 1985, the government returned to civilians with the assumption of Julio María Sanguinetti as President.

In February and March 1985, the majority political parties agreed to vote on an amnesty law that extinguished political, common and military crimes related to them, committed after January 1, 1962. Authors and co-authors were exempt from the amnesty. of completed crimes of intentional homicide, in which regard only the review of the sentences by civil courts was ordered. Police and military officials who had committed crimes involving inhuman, cruel or degrading treatment or the detention of people who later disappeared, or who had covered up such conduct, were expressly excluded.

Law 15,848 on the Expiration of the Punitive Claims of the State (popularly known as the "law of impunity" or "law of expiration"), which covered all members of the Armed Forces accused of human rights violations between 1973 and 1985. , was approved by parliament in December 1986. In the following years, a campaign to collect signatures was carried out to promote a referendum to annul it. On April 16, 1989, after more than 25% of Uruguayan citizens authorized the referendum with their signature, it was carried out, with a triumph of the so-called "yellow vote" (for the color of the ballot). , which ratified the law, with a margin of 57% against 43% with respect to the "green vote", for its annulment. The victory of the "yellow vote" meant not annulling the expiration law, and maintaining the amnesty for crimes committed during the military government.

In the November 1989 elections, Luis Alberto Lacalle (of the National Party) was elected. In 1994 Sanguinetti was elected for the second time.

In 1996, a constitutional reform was put for citizens' consideration that established internal elections and runoff elections for the first time; This reform is approved by a narrow margin in the plebiscite. Thus, in 1999 Jorge Batlle (of the Colorado Party) triumphed, as a result of this new system.


Economic, political and social crisis of 2002

In July 2002, in one of the hottest moments of the banking crisis, the senator of the Frente Amplio, Alberto Couriel, was in charge of the interpellation of the then minister Alberto Bensión, in which all the members of the Frente Amplio and a few of the National Party formally asked him to resign from office. This did not happen, but Rodríguez Batlle was removed.

In mid-July, the rejection of the National Party, until then an ally of the Batlle government, towards the economic policy that was being carried out was made public. It was then that, together with the Frente Amplio, they again asked for Bensión's resignation and this time they had better luck. Bensión left office on August 20 and Alejandro Atchugarry took office, who was then serving as senator for the Colorado Party. Atchugarry, who had just suffered the loss of his wife after a long illness, was reluctant to take up the position. However, Batlle found in him what he was looking for, a minister who was more political than technical. Batlle put the senator in a compromising situation, and told him that if he did not take over as minister, he should resign from the presidency and Luis Hierro López would have to take the reins of the country. Finally, Atchugarry accepted the position, telling him "I would like you." I love and respect him like a father... Well, children do not say no to their parents." At the time of Atchugarry's inauguration, Rosario Medero, the white representative on the board of directors of the Central Bank, resigned at the request of his political sector.

On July 30, the bank holiday was declared. The Batlle government excused itself by saying that it was an express request from the IMF to proceed with the liquidation of the Peirano group banks. This decision aimed to stop the flight of deposits that the Uruguayan financial market had been suffering since 2001, since many Argentine savers turned to their savings in Uruguay when they found themselves unable to withdraw money in their country. The ATMs ran out of money, and the exchange houses sold the dollar for 38 pesos and bought it for 24. The bank holiday ended on Monday, August 5.

The night of July 31 resulted in the first looting of a supermarket near the Legislative Palace. On August 1, a wave of these phenomena occurred that shook the city of Montevideo. There were more than thirty, and this time they happened in marginal areas. Many merchants expressed their willingness not to reopen their shops the next day for fear of being looted. The Minister of the Interior, Guillermo Stirling, tried to reassure the population by announcing a reinforcement of police surveillance for future occasions. On August 2 there was no looting, however, a wave of rumors invaded the city. It was rumored that a horde of people was heading towards the center of Montevideo, looting everything in their path. Merchants closed their doors instantly and the city center was left desolate. A strong police operation was launched and the Air Force flew over the capital using helicopters in search of the horde of looters that never arrived and perhaps never existed.

While chaos reigned in the country, in the United States Isaac Alfie commanded the delegation that Batlle had sent to form a working group with delegates from the US government, since Horst Köhler, director of the IMF, had given the order not to lend him a dollar. more to Uruguay. Finally, the United States agreed with Uruguay on a bridge loan of $1.5 billion to capitalize state banks. That was the beginning of the end of the country's economic crisis.

In November, the National Party decided to remove ministers Antonio Mercader, Álvaro Alonso, Carlos Cat, Sergio Abreu and Jaime Trobo from their positions in Batlle's government, as they wanted to separate themselves from him.

The 2002 crisis left devastating figures for the country. Such is the case of the suicide rate, which increased by 12.6%, meaning that two Uruguayans committed suicide per day and many cases of self-elimination attempts were recorded.​

As a direct economic consequence of this crisis, the real salary had a sharp fall, reaching its floor between 2003 and 2004 with a loss of 22% compared to the year 2000. For its part, the unemployment rate rose to a maximum in 2002 it was 17%, rising 3 and a half percentage points compared to the time he took office.53 Towards the end of his government, unemployment rates reversed their trend, reaching figures lower than those at the time of his inauguration. On the contrary, the fall suffered by real wages could not be reversed, being in 2005 some 18.6 percentage points below the figures for 2000.


Government of the Broad Front

In the 2004 presidential elections, the socialist and oncologist Tabaré Vázquez, candidate for the leftist Encuentro Progresista-Frente Amplio-Nueva Mayoría coalition, was elected with 50.6% of the votes, achieving victory in the first round and achieving a parliament with absolute majorities. Tabaré Vázquez belonged to the Uruguayan Socialist Party for more than 25 years, he disaffiliated from it in December 2008 due to philosophical discrepancies in his position regarding the decriminalization of abortion, however, without ceasing to continue being a person of deep socialist ideals. In the 2005 municipal elections, the National Party won ten mayoralties, the EP-FA-NM won eight, and the Colorado Party won one.

In the legislative elections of October 2009, the Frente Amplio once again achieved the parliamentary majority with 48% of the total votes (counting blank and annulled votes), while the National Party came second with 29.4%. Third Colorado Party obtaining 17.5%. The Frente Amplio vote did not achieve an absolute majority of the total votes cast, including blank and annulled votes, so the presidential election was defined on November 29, 2009 through a runoff between the leftist José Mujica of the Frente Amplio and the rightist former president Luis Alberto Lacalle Herrera of the National Party. José “Pepe” Mujica was elected president of Uruguay and successor to Tabaré Vázquez. The Frente Amplio formula obtained 52.4% of the votes, while the other candidate, the former white president Luis Alberto Lacalle (1990-1995), achieved 43.5%, according to the results of the Electoral Court. Around 4% of the votes were blank or annulled. In the first round on October 25, Mujica, of the ruling left-wing Frente Amplio party, and Lacalle, of the National Party, had received the most votes (48% and 29.1% respectively), but neither achieved a majority. In his inauguration speech, held on March 1, 2010, Mujica reaffirmed the need for the country to have state policies. He also proposed the elimination of destitution and the reduction of poverty by 50% as a primary objective of his administration.
In the 2010 departmental elections, the National Party obtained twelve mayoralties (regained three, lost one), the Broad Front obtained five (lost four, conquered one) and the Colorado Party obtained two (gained one more). In the 2014 Uruguayan general elections, Tabaré Vázquez was again elected in the second round with 56.62% of the votes.


2019 elections

As a result of the victory of the conservative National Party in the second round of the 2019 presidential elections, in 2020, Tabaré Vázquez was succeeded by the center-right Luis Alberto Lacalle Pou, after 15 years of left-wing governments, as the 42nd President of Uruguay .




It has a total land area of 176,215 km², of which 175,015 km² is the total sum of the departments, 1,200 km² includes the sum of the artificial lakes of the Negro River, 105 km² of the islands of the Uruguay River and 16,799 km² of jurisdictional waters (Uruguay River, La Plata River and Merín Lagoon). Until August 2016, the territorial sea area was 125,057 km² (see Extreme points of Uruguay). On August 30, 2016, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea confirmed to Uruguay the new extension of the continental shelf, so the country grows 83,000 km² towards the sea and has more maritime territory than land. . From then on, the total area of Uruguayan territory covers 384,272 km².​

Answered limits
Uruguay maintains two border disputes with Brazil regarding the territories known as Isla Brasilera and Rincón de Artigas, in the department of Artigas, which occupy an area of 237 km².



The Uruguayan relief is characterized by its low altitude, divided into two large structural areas: the penallanuras and the plains. It represents a transition zone between the Pampas plain and the Brazilian shield.

Although the average height of 140 m s. n. m. can be considered low, the relief does not correspond to a typical plain, given the almost constant presence of blades and saws; This type of relief is called peneplain. The elevations are associated with two systems: the Haedo blade, north of the Negro River, and the Grande blade, south of it. From these two systems, blades of smaller size and elevation are released.​

From the Cuchilla de Haedo arise the Negra and Santa Ana blades that serve as the limit between Uruguay and Brazil, the Hospital blade a little further south and between the Negro and Tacuarembó rivers; To the west extend the Belén, Daymán and Queguay blades. Geologically, this system is mainly composed of basalts and sandstone. Its hills usually have a flattened shape.

The Cuchilla Grande system is made up of the Cuchilla Grande itself, which runs from north to south. As an extension of it to the north is the Dionisio blade, between the Olimar and Tacuarí rivers. The blade of Cerro Partido extends to the east between the Cebollatí River and the India Muerta stream. The Carapé mountain range forms the southern end of the system and has the three highest hills in the country: Cerro Catedral, Cerro de las Ánimas and Cerro Pan de Azúcar. As an extension of the Carapé mountain range, the Carbonera blade extends, parallel to the Atlantic coast. Towards the west, there is the Grande del Durazno blade, between the Negro and Yi rivers. In the same direction, further south, the Grande Inferior blade reaches the plains near the mouth of the Uruguay River, detaching from it the Santa Lucía blades, the Mahoma mountain ranges, the Bizcocho blade and the Colonia blade. .​ This system is mainly composed of granites and its hills usually have a rounded shape at their summit.

The highest point is the Cathedral, located in the Department of Maldonado, with 514 meters. Other notable elevations are the Cerro de las Ánimas and the Sugar Loaf in Maldonado, the Arequita in Lavalleja, the Montevideo hill with its historical fortress and from which the name of the city is supposedly derived, and the Batoví, near the Iporá spa, in Tacuarembó.​

The plains or plains generally have soil formed by sedimentation and very fertile. They are mainly found on the coast of the Uruguay River, the coast of the Río de la Plata and the Atlantic coast, the latter extending to the Merin lagoon and the basins of the Olimar and Cebollatí rivers.



The rivers and streams of Uruguay form an extensive and dense network that irrigates the entire territory. All river currents flow into the Atlantic Ocean. These currents tend to have a slight slope, which makes them slow and looped currents, which favors sediment deposits in their beds. Given the irregularity of rainfall in the region, floods often occur in times of excess rain, some of them serious.

Although most of the country's territory is occupied by grasslands, most of the indigenous forest is concentrated on the banks of the water channels. The importance of this forest is given that it stops the erosion of the riverside soil, prevents excessive evaporation and dams the riverbeds.​

There are also important underground water deposits, with the north of the country being part of the Guaraní aquifer; Other important aquifers are Raigón, in the south of the country, Mercedes, in the west, and Chuy, in the east of the territory.

Most of the territory is located within the Río de la Plata basin, while the rest of the territory is part of the Merin lagoon basin and a series of small water channels that flow directly into the Atlantic Ocean. For a better study of surface water resources, the Uruguayan State divides the territory into three hydrological regions: the Uruguay River, the Merin Lagoon and the Río de la Plata and the maritime front.

The hydrographic region of the Uruguay River is the part of the basin of said river that is within Uruguayan territory. It has an approximate area of 113,600 km² and represents 64% of the country's land area. Of that area, more than half, 68,200 km², corresponds to the Negro River basin.

The hydrographic region of the Río de la Plata and the maritime front is comprised of the basins of rivers and streams that flow into the aforementioned river, except for the Uruguay River and its tributaries, and into the Atlantic Ocean. It has an area of 34,899 km², representing 20% of the territorial area of Uruguay.

The hydrographic region of Laguna Merín is made up of the part of the basin of the same name that is within Uruguayan territory and extends over 27,892 km², which is equivalent to 16% of the territory.


Hydrographic region of the Uruguay River

The Uruguay River, in addition to being the longest in the country, serves as the border with the Argentine Republic and has great economic importance, given that the plains that surround it are highly fertile. It is home to the Salto Grande dam, upstream from the cities of Salto (Uruguay) and Concordia (Argentina), commissioned on June 21, 1979 and which provides most of the country's electrical energy. The dam's reservoir has generated an artificial lake of 783 km², with a length of 140 km, a width of 9 km and a volume of 5500 hm³. The river basin has a total area of approximately 339,000 km², of which 113,600 km² (just over 33%) are within Uruguayan territory. In this region, the main tributaries of the Uruguay River are the Cuareim, Arapey, Dayman, Queguay, Negro and San Salvador rivers. It is also important as a communication route, since it is navigable to the city of Concepción del Uruguay and by shallow draft ships to the cities of Concordia and Salto.


Black River Basin

The Negro River basin occupies more than half of the territory of the Uruguay River basin that belongs to this country, with an area of 68,214 km². The Negro River is the most important tributary of the Uruguay River, with a length of 850 km and an average flow of 520 m³/s. It serves as a boundary for several departments: Cerro Largo, Rivera, Tacuarembó, Río Negro, Flores and Soriano. Its main tributaries are the Tacuarembó River and the Yi River.

The Negro River has great economic importance, since in addition to being an important source of water for irrigation and human and animal consumption, it has three dams for the generation of electrical energy: Rincón del Bonete dam, with an installed power of 152 MW at a voltage of kV, the Rincón de Baygorria dam, with a power of 108 MW and a voltage of 150 kV and the Constitución or Palmar dam, with a power of 333 MW and a voltage of 500 kV. This represents just over a third of Uruguay's total hydroelectric energy.


Hydrographic region of the Río de la Plata and maritime front

It is made up of a series of rivers and streams of medium or short length, which flow directly into the Río de la Plata or the Atlantic Ocean. This region occupies 20% of the country's continental territory. Within this region, the Santa Lucía River appears with special importance, from which water is extracted for purification in Aguas Corrientes, a facility that supplies 1,700,000 people in Montevideo and several towns in the department of Canelones.​

Mainly towards the east of this region, the water courses usually flow into coastal lagoons, which have communication with the Río de la Plata or the ocean. The Cisne and Sauce lagoons are used for water purification. The Sauce lagoon supplies up to 300,000 people in the summer season, including the cities of Maldonado, Punta del Este, San Carlos, Piriápolis, Pan de Azúcar and several other smaller towns.


Hydrographic region of Laguna Merín

It is a basin that covers part of the Uruguayan territory and Brazil. In Uruguay it occupies 27,892 km², just over half of its total surface area. Its main tributary is the Cebollatí River. Many of the rivers and streams that make up this basin pass through the plain that surrounds the lagoon, forming estuaries and extensive marshes, which makes possible the cultivation of rice, which is widespread in the area. To prevent the seasonality of rainfall from affecting this crop, several dams have been built, among which the India Muerta dam stands out.​



The flora of Uruguay is defined as the around 2,500 plant species distributed in 150 families, whether native or foreign, that exist in that country. 75% of the territory is grassland, and the native forests, together with the palmares, cover 752,000 ha (4.3% of the country's surface).

The existence of differentiated zones of species throughout the territory is determined, mainly, by the existence or not of artificial irrigation, the lack of which causes natural grassland to predominate in most of the Uruguayan territory. On the other hand, large plant species can be found in ravines, mountains, river banks and areas surrounding them.

Uruguay has the largest group of ombúes in the world, located in Laguna de Castillos. Also noteworthy is the enormous palm grove of the Butiá capitata species that covers a large part of the department of Rocha, being the southernmost group of palm trees in the world, with hundreds of thousands of specimens distributed over tens of km².

Among the exotic species introduced into the territory, the eucalyptus (introduced in the 19th century), the pine, the araucaria, the oak, the holy cedar, the weeping willow, the birch, the carob, the rosemary, the hibiscus, the ficus, cactus, ivy, tacuara, fruit trees (citrus, guava, apple, fig, etc.), vines, palm trees, Platanus hispanica (for the ornamentation of cities), reeds, climbing plants, cane sugar, among others.



The native fauna of Uruguay is characterized by a large number of aquatic and terrestrial birds, as well as mammals and reptiles. However, human presence has endangered various animal species, partly due to the destruction of their natural habitat or due to poaching.



The birdlife of Uruguay consists of around four hundred and fifty species, twenty-four of which are globally threatened and five are introduced.

Within the group of plumage birds, the large hen and the chiricote or small crepe stand out, two of the best-known species in the country. Also common are the Pardirallus, or red and blue beaked hen, and the spotted one. The red-legged donkey and the green-legged donkey are also equally important, as are smaller species such as the yellow-breasted donkey, the spotted or blackish-winged donkey, and finally the painted donkey.

The Tero is spread throughout the territory and is characterized by its speed and its song, from which it receives the common name of "Teru-Teru". On the other hand, the rhea is in a stable proportion and in recent years its meat has been sold in foreign markets, so breeding of this species has been extended under special conditions.

The cardinal present throughout the American continent, and other species such as the Argentine parrot, the parrot, the furnarius rufus, the capercaillie, the black-necked swan, the duck, the heron, the gull, as well as the pelican, the benteveo , the gray crow, the crane, the mountain eagle, and the swallow that lives in the summer months, are birds present throughout the Uruguayan territory, as is the Chajá.



It is believed that there are more than 200 species of reptiles in the country, most of them harmless to humans; Venomous snakes are found in the north, in the departments of Artigas, Rivera, Salto and Tacuarembó, and in the mountain areas in the south.

Multiple reptiles stand out, including several species of lizards such as the overo lizard, turtles such as the morrocoyo, and snakes such as the cross viper or yarará. The alligator is distributed in the north of Uruguay, especially in the department of Artigas on the coast of the Cuareim River and its tributaries; Being in danger, there is captive breeding in the Cerro Pan de Azúcar reserve.



The batrachian fauna is rich, drawing attention to the great giant toad, the Creole frog, the escuerzo, and several small species, including some endemic ones.



The fauna of terrestrial mammals of Uruguay includes 77 species grouped into 7 orders and 24 families. Of them, approximately 40 live in the Eastern Wetlands in Rocha. On the other hand, there is certainty of the extinction of at least four species of this group in Uruguay. They are: the large anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), the jaguar (Felis onca), the collared peccary (Tayassu tajacu) and the swamp deer (Blastoceros dichotomus). The latter was seen for the last time in Rocha in 1957, precisely in the marshes that surround the Potrerillo de Santa Teresa.


Aquatic fauna

As for aquatic animals, Uruguay has considerable diversity due to its extensive ocean coast on the Atlantic, its mighty rivers, and a series of natural and artificial lakes. The sea lion lives on the beaches of Punta del Este, for example, which feeds on fish and represents a threat to fishermen in the area. During the southern winter, that is, from June to September, it is possible to find some whales, and even penguins, on the coast of Montevideo. Uruguay has the second largest colony of sea lions in the world. Most of them are found on the island of Lobos, near Punta del Este. There are mainly two species of sea lions, Arctophoca australis, commonly known as "two-haired sea lion" and Otaria flavescens, whose common name is "one-haired sea lion" or "South American sea lion." There are also whales and dolphins.

The fish of Uruguay can be divided into two large groups, both with a notable number of species, freshwater and saltwater fish.

Many species are exploited for sport from the coasts, while others support an industry linked to their sexual reproduction. Among the many species in this group, a good number of shark species particularly stand out.

Freshwater fish can be distinguished into several subgroups:
Fish from the Uruguay River. Possibly the best known are dorado and catfish.
Fish from the Río de la Plata. Of the species in this group, one of the most popular among sport fishermen is the silverside.
Fish from inland fresh waters. Uruguay is an international destination for sport fishermen who search, especially, for the gigantic tarariras, captured in lentic river environments of the eastern interior.

It is also known among aquarists around the world for its various ornamental species, many of them endemic, from the Cichlidae and Rivulidae families.



There are four species that are considered pests, for which hunting is authorized:

The wild boar, also called "boar pig"; It is not native to Uruguay and was introduced into the country by Aarón de Anchorena (Anchorena Park), during his stay. Since there was no control over its breeding, it spread throughout the territory, particularly in the mountain areas. It is persecuted, since during the sheep breeding season, it attacks them.
The hare, an introduced species, also causes damage to crops.
The sparrow, which is not native to Uruguay, was introduced by some Chinese immigrants to the territory. Since it did not have natural predators to control its reproduction, it multiplied and dispersed throughout the national territory. Hunting is allowed.
The parrot, with the introduction of the eucalyptus with very smooth bark, which some of its predators cannot climb, became a pest, wreaking havoc on crops.



Borders with Argentina
The border between Argentina and Uruguay is a line of 887 km, marked by the Uruguay and La Plata rivers (392 km).97​ It begins on a triple Uruguay-Argentina-Brazil border, at the mouth of the Cuareim River with the Uruguay River. . The river course of this continues, passing to the west of the Uruguayan departments of Artigas, Salto, Paysandú, Río Negro, Soriano and Colonia​ of the Argentine provinces of Corrientes, Entre Ríos and Buenos Aires, until it flows into the Río de la Plata .

Borders with Brazil
The border between the Eastern Republic of Uruguay and the Federative Republic of Brazil is a strip of land located south of the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, and extends for 1068 km, from the Brazil-Argentina-Uruguay triple border, to the north, to the mouth of the Chuy stream, the southernmost point of Brazil. In total, the border has 608.4 km of rivers and canals, 140.1 km of lagoons, 57.6 km of conventional lines and 262 km of watershed.



The climate in Uruguay is temperate and humid, with warm summers, cool winters, and more or less homogeneous rainfall throughout the year. Uruguay is the only country in South America that is located entirely in the temperate zone. The absence of important orographic systems contributes to the fact that spatial variations in temperature, precipitation and other parameters are not so high. The average annual temperature is approximately 17 °C.

In Uruguay, where both maritime and continental influences are noticeable, the rainfall distribution presents a double rainy season, and is distributed between spring-summer and autumn, with a maximum peak in autumn and a secondary maximum in spring.

Due to its latitude, between 30°S and 35°S, the four seasons are clearly differentiated by temperature. Although the climate of Uruguay tends to be standardized or averaged, there is a clear difference between the north and south of the territory. The area located in the extreme northwest of the country (Artigas, Salto, Rivera) is considerably warmer with an average of between 18-19 °C and an average rainfall of about 1400 mm per year (the area in the extreme north has a typical behavior "temperate subtropical"). The south and east (Montevideo, Maldonado, Rocha, Lavalleja) on the other hand are cooler with an average of around 16 °C and 1000 mm per year (these areas have characteristics more similar to the "maritime temperate").

Low landforms predominate in Uruguay (the average height of the territory is less than 150 meters), so the climate is determined by latitude and the influence of the sea currents of the Atlantic Ocean. The warm Brazil current increases the temperature of the Atlantic from late January to early May; The cold current of the Malvinas Islands cools its waters from June to September. The effect of both determines an average sea temperature at surface level (Punta del Este) between 8 °C and 23 °C depending on the time of year. From February to April, the ocean temperature is very pleasant and generally significantly different from that recorded from June to the end of December, although there is important interannual variation during the summer.

The cold is generally quite humid, very windy with cloudy days, the heat is not too dry, rather humid and heavy in the south and drier in the north.

Snow has been present in the southern and central areas of the country, however the most common are meteorological frosts, which mainly affect the central-southern and central-northern areas of the country. As an example of the climatic variability of Uruguay, in the 31 days of the month of July, 25 days of frost can be recorded, as in the city of Florida, 34.1° S 56.2° W, at 54 m above. n. m. (meters above sea level), just 90 km from Montevideo, (this happened in July 2007) or only 6 days (in July 2006), this shows a great variation between years in the cold season. Summer, unlike winter, is more uniform. The La Niña phenomenon (2007) causes a uniformly cold winter and prolonged droughts (Florida, recorded average for July 2007 6.8 °C), while the El Niño phenomenon causes rain and mild winters (Florida, recorded average July 2006 13.1 °C).

Uruguay's climate is conducive to livestock production from natural pastures. It generally has a marked seasonality, with a very important peak in spring, due to an optimal combination of humidity and temperature, and a very marked deficit in winter to cover nutritional needs, due to the impact on the quality and volume of the forage. due to meteorological frosts. The southern and eastern zone, with maritime characteristics, has a more favorable forage production cycle than the central and northern region.


Climate hazards

Strong seasonal winds (the pampero is a cold and occasionally violent wind that blows from the Argentine pampas), droughts, torrential rains; Due to the absence of mountains, which act as climate barriers, all locations are particularly vulnerable to rapid changes in the climate front. Winds of up to 200 km/h can be observed with a variable frequency of between 30 and 45 years, 120 km/h is a more frequent speed even every 2 or 5 years.


Climate change

Climate change in Uruguay refers to the effects of climate change in Uruguay. As a result of the increase in global temperatures, it is expected that in Uruguay there will be a temperature increase of 3 °C by 2100 and an increase in precipitation.​ The increase in precipitation in 2018 caused an economic cost between Uruguay and Argentina estimated at US$2.5 billion, according to the World Meteorological Organization.​

The largest amount of Uruguay's emissions come from food production and transportation. Globally, Uruguay contributes only 0.05% of greenhouse gas emissions. In 2017, Uruguay committed to implementing 106 measures against climate change. climate through the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).​ Some of these measures include reducing emissions in the food production and livestock production sector, increasing the area of native forest and reinforcing the role of peatlands and grasslands as carbon sinks.​ This CDN is in the review process in 2020, with the aim of presenting a more ambitious goal in 2022.

At the national level, on May 20, 2009, the National System for Response to Climate Change and Variability (SNRCC) was created by Decree 238/09.109. The SNRCC produces monitoring and verification reports on environmental policies, including the Determined Contribution to National level (CDN).​

In 2015, the law was passed that would lead to the creation in 2016 of the National Secretariat of Environment, Water and Climate Change. This Secretariat is in charge of coordinating public policies on water, environment and climate change. The Secretariat participates together with other actors in the National Environmental System (SNA). At the international level, Uruguay is part of the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Agreement and the Doha Amendment. The private sector in Uruguay has committed to at least 15 actions to mitigate the effects of climate change, according to the NAZCA portal. Uruguay is also a member of the International Renewable Energy Agency.


Maritime territory

Territorial sea. According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (ratified by Uruguay on December 10, 1992), every State has the right to establish the width of its territorial sea up to a limit that does not exceed 12 nautical miles, measured by from baselines determined in accordance with the same Convention.
Exclusive economic zone or area located beyond the territorial sea and adjacent to it, subject to the specific legal regime established in the Convention. Uruguay has claimed the 200 nautical miles counted from the baselines from which the width of the territorial sea is measured. The Uruguayan exclusive economic zone has an area of 132,286 km².​
Continental shelf, natural extension of the continent. According to the Convention, the continental shelf extends along the entire length of the natural extension of the territory to the outer edge of the continental margin, or up to a distance of 200 nautical miles counted from the baselines from which measures the width of the territorial sea. The fixed points that constitute the line of the outer limit of the continental shelf on the seabed must be located at a distance not exceeding 350 nautical miles counted from the baselines from which the width of the territorial sea is measured. or 100 nautical miles counted from the isobath of 2500 meters, which is a line that joins depths of 2500 meters. On August 25, 2009, Uruguay presented a request to a UN commission for recognition of the 350 nautical miles of continental shelf. The claim was based on depth and geophysical measurements carried out by the Uruguayan Navy to determine the extent of the Uruguayan continental shelf. In August 2011 the UN commission studying the claim requested more scientific information. On August 30, 2016, the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLPC), a technical body created by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), communicated its Recommendation on the establishment of the outer limit of the Uruguayan continental shelf. . This Recommendation implies a territorial extension for Uruguay of approximately 83,000 km², covering its entire continental margin and enabling the country's last border to be established at 350 nautical miles.


Presence in Antarctica

Uruguay is a signatory country of the Antarctic Treaty with consultative member status, which means that it has a voice and vote in the treaty's consultative meetings. In its accession document, Uruguay reserved the rights that correspond to it in Antarctica in accordance with International Law.

The country has two scientific bases on the Antarctic continent that are managed by the Uruguayan Antarctic Institute.

The Artigas Antarctic Scientific Base (BCAA), founded on December 22, 1984 on King George Island, is a permanent Antarctic base belonging to Uruguay. It has 13 buildings and a population of 60 people in summer and 9 in winter. Various scientific activities are carried out there.

The Ruperto Elichiribehety Antarctic Research Station (ECARE), established on December 22, 1997 by the Uruguayan Antarctic Institute on the Antarctic Peninsula, is a Uruguayan summer scientific station in Antarctica. It functions as a support base for various scientific activities. 



Patriotic symbols

By decree of February 18, 1952, the national symbols and their hierarchical gradation, precedence and respect were established:
National pavilion
State Coat of Arms
National anthem
Flag of Artigas
Flag of the Thirty-Three Orientals
National Cockade

Decree 435/007 established that the National Cockade is for free use, while the cockade identified with the Flag of Artigas is for the exclusive use of the Armed Forces and the one identified with the Flag of the Thirty-Three Orientales is for the exclusive use of the National Police.

The flag of Uruguay or National Flag is the most important national symbol. It was adopted by the laws of December 16, 1828 and July 12, 1830. Its colors are white and blue, with the sun, which occupies the canton, being gold. The arrangement of the nine horizontal stripes that are distributed over the field represent the first nine departments. The canton is occupied by the Sun of May, which represents the Inca god Inti, symbol of the May Revolution.

The National Shield of Uruguay is the one approved by the laws of March 19, 1829 and July 12, 1906 and the Decree of October 26, 1908. In accordance with this last decree, the official model of the National Shield was established, the one presented by Mr. Miguel Copetti.



Uruguay does not have any official language. The most spoken language in the country is Spanish; Furthermore, Portuguese and Portuñol Riverense, a dialect of Portuguese, are spoken as a minority in some border regions, neither of which is recognized in the constitution. Uruguayan Sign Language (USL) was also legally recognized as a language of deaf people in 2001 by Law No. 17378. Although there is no designation of a general official language in the Uruguayan Constitution, in the legal-procedural field Spanish is the official language for carrying out all procedural acts, and the assistance of an interpreter is necessary in the event that a party in the judicial process does not understand it.​

Spanish has variants and influences like all languages; emerging terms or expressions that identify Uruguayans from each part of the country. The Spanish spoken in Uruguay is a variant of River Plate Spanish, a dialect of Spanish spoken in the area of the Río de la Plata basin, in Argentina and Uruguay and other surrounding regions. Centered in the cities of Buenos Aires, Montevideo and Rosario, the three most important population centers in the region, it extends its cultural influence to geographically distant regions, especially through the media, in which it is the standard reading in both. countries.

In the past there used to be a good group of people who spoke Italian or French as their first language, but this has been lost over time and the cessation of European immigration to America in recent decades. There is also a considerable minority who speak Russian, Yiddish, Corsican, German, Guaraní, Lithuanian, Portuguese and Plautdietsch.

In the border region with Brazil in the department of Rocha and parts of the department of Maldonado, a variant of River Plate Spanish is spoken that dispenses with voseo in favor of tuteo, a particularity that is supposedly due to the Castilian origin of its original population, although the variety of Portuguese from southern Brazil, an archaic variety that uses the tuteo (and dispenses with the voseo which is the rule in modern Portuguese), the border influence can also be assumed.


Portuguese dialects

There exists in the northern region of Uruguay a set of variants of Portuguese that receive the scientific name of "Portuguese Dialects of Uruguay." Its best-known variant is called Portuñol Riverense (no relation to Portuñol, the simple mixture of Portuguese and Spanish). .​ It is spoken on the border between Uruguay and Brazil, and more specifically in the area of the sister cities of Rivera and Santana do Livramento, as well as between the cities of Artigas and Quarai, and in Chuy and Chuí. Only Uruguayan citizens use such language.​


Other languages

In addition to Spanish, English is taught in public education starting in the last school year (6th grade) in order to provide basic notions and a basis for English studies that continue during secondary education (although students with a good level of English they can take a test to exempt language studies).

Portuguese is also taught in some secondary education institutions.

French was taught from 1st to 3rd grade in high school; Italian was taught in the 5th and 6th grades of high school in the Humanistic and Law orientations respectively.




The River Plate music par excellence is the tango (whose greatest exponent is Carlos Gardel), and also the milonga. Uruguay also has music such as candombe and the Uruguayan murga, which have their peak in the carnival calls (in the case of candombe) and in the Carnival itself, in the case of the murga.

Among the prominent musicians and singers are Aníbal Sampayo, Alfredo Zitarrosa, Eduardo Mateo, Julio Sosa, José Carbajal, Daniel Viglietti, Amalia de la Vega, Osiris Rodríguez Castillos, Jaime Roos, Eduardo Darnauchans, Fernando Cabrera, the brothers Hugo Fattoruso and Osvaldo Fattoruso (former members of Los Shakers and Opa), the most important musician of his generation, Jorge Drexler, Rubén Rada, Pablo Estramín, Gastón Ciarlo "Dino", Jorge Lazaroff, Tabaré Arapí, Leo Maslíah, Mariana Ingold, Pablo Sciuto, Quintín Cabrera , Gustavo Pena, Riki Musso and groups such as Los Estómagos, El Kinto, Totem, La Chancha, Los Iracundos, Los Olimareños, Los que Iban Cantando La Triple Nelson, La Tabaré Riverock Banda, Traidores, Buitres After the Una, El Cuarteto de Nos, No Te Va Gustar, La Vela Puerca, Once Tiros, Trotsky Vengarán, La Trampa, ReyToro, Cursi, The Jetsons, Astroboy, Karibe con K, Sonora Borinquen, El Cubano de América, Márama, Rombai, etc. Also Uruguayan are the author of the most famous tango music in the world (La Cumparsita), Gerardo Matos Rodríguez, Eduardo Fabini, nationalist composer of the first half of the 20th century, Héctor Tosar, composer, theorist and musical pedagogue; the revolutionist of the cultured guitar playing technique, Abel Carlevaro, the great murga and tango singer Washington Canario Luna, among other great artists.

In Opera, the sopranos Rita Contino, María José Siri and Luz del Alba Rubio stand out with international careers. The mezzo sopranos: Raquel Pierotti and Graciela Lassner. The tenors: Carlos Ventre, Edgardo Rocha, Gastón Rivero and Juan Carlos Valls. The baritones: Erwin Schrott and Darío Solari. At the national level, the sopranos stand out: Sandra Silvera, Sandra Scorza, Marianne Cardoso. The mezzo sopranos: Rina Baffa and Mariella Nocetti. The tenors: Gerardo Marandino. The baritones: Federico Sanguinetti, Marcelo Otegui.

In contemporary art music, the activities of the Núcleo Música Nueva de Montevideo, founded in 1966, stand out.



Uruguayan theater is one of the most important in Latin America. And it is the greatest artistic expression in the country. Currently Uruguay has more than 70 theaters, more than 30 in Montevideo, where works by national authors are presented, as well as universal theater adaptations.



The Carnival of Uruguay as a typical expression of Uruguayan popular culture, is characterized by being one of the longest in the world, with stages in many areas of the country and even has its own museum, the Carnival Museum where it is collected, among other things, its history. Candombe represents one of the most representative styles of the country. It was introduced by African slaves in colonial times and since then it has become very common in all corners of society, both among blacks and whites or other ethnic groups. . The famous calls, organized by the Afro-descendant community in Uruguay, are a parade of groups that celebrate with colors and drums, close to the carnival festival, with the rhythm of candombe. The Montevideo carnival festivities are the most extensive in the world, lasting 40 days, covering the entire month of February and eventually part of January and March. In addition to the parades (the aforementioned one of the calls, linked to Afro-descendants), and at least a general one, the festivities are characterized by a kind of street theater, with stages set up especially for the occasion (tablados), although in recent decades, growing commercialization and professionalization has led to the stages being set up in closed premises. There are several types of groups, the most popular being the murga.



From the academic tradition of painting by Juan Manuel Blanes, considered the painter of the country, to the latest expressions of young art, Uruguay has numerous notable artists and movements. Contact with European avant-garde artists, as well as study scholarships abroad awarded by different institutions, constitute the base heritage of Uruguayan painting.

In which the constructivism of the teacher Joaquín Torres García and his disciples, José Gurvich, Gonzalo Fonseca, Julio U. Alpuy, Alceu Ribeiro and Edgardo Ribeiro, members of the Torres García Workshop, stand out.

Within modern art, the Madí movement with Carmelo Arden Quin, Rhod Rothfuss and Rodolfo Ian Uricchio. Geometric artists such as José Pedro Costigliolo and María Freire emerge from other aspects.

Other Uruguayan painters: Carlos Federico Sáez, Pedro Figari, Alfredo De Simone, José Cuneo Perinetti, Rafael Barradas, Guillermo Laborde, Petrona Viera, Carmelo de Arzadun, Ernesto Laroche, Felipe Seade, Nelson Ramos, Clever Lara, Jorge Páez Vilaró, among others .



The classical sculptures and monuments in squares and parks stand out, made by Juan Manuel Ferrari, José Belloni and José Luis Zorrilla de San Martín, among others. Of the contemporary sculptors, it is worth mentioning Germán Cabrera, Eduardo Yepes, Gonzalo Fonseca, Octavio Podesta, Águeda Dicancro, Mariví Ugolino and Ricardo Pascale, among others.



For decades, Uruguayan film production was characterized by its scarcity of resources and its intermittency. During its history it had moments when it was expected to take off, although it never fully consolidated. For long periods there was no feature-length feature film, such as between 1929 and 1936, 1959 and 1979, and 1983 and 1993. Starting in the mid-'90s, there was a steady evolution in quantity and quality in the production of feature films. feature films. Likewise, since 2003 a stage of success and professionalization begins. Universities created careers related to this industry, leading to the training of future directors, screenwriters, etc. In recent years the Uruguayan government has given incentives to filming and productions, exempting them from taxes. Due to this, a large number of production companies were created that, associated with foreign companies, produce films and advertising shorts for the international market. In general, it has been characterized by co-productions with other countries.

The birth of Uruguayan fiction cinema can be considered to occur in 1919 with Pervanche, directed by León Ibáñez, a film whose copies were destroyed. However, the first Uruguayan documentary is from 1898: Bicycle race at the Arroyo Seco velodrome by Félix Oliver.

In subsequent years, the feature films Almas de la costa (1923) by Juan Antonio Borges, The Little Hero of Arroyo del Oro (1929) by Carlos Alonso, Radio Candelario (1938) by Rafael Jorge Abellá, with the presence of Eduardo Depauli, stand out. Detective a contramano by Adolfo Fabregat, Un vintén p'al Judas (1959) by Ugo Ulive (strictly speaking, a medium-length film, currently lost), El Lugar del Humo (1979) by Eva Landeck, and Mataron a Venancio Flores (1982) by Juan Carlos Rodríguez Castro.

Starting in the '60s, a documentary film movement emerged, in which filmmakers Mario Handler, Mario Jacob and Ugo Ulive stand out.

The expansion stage that began in 1993 began with The Almost True Story of Pepita the Gunslinger by Beatriz Flores Silva. Among the main exponents of current Uruguayan cinema are Juan Pablo Rebella and Pablo Stoll, who in 2005 won the Goya Award for the best Spanish-speaking foreign film, and also the FIPRESCI award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004 with the film Whiskey . The Goya Award had already been obtained by a Uruguayan in 2003, with the film The Last Train. Other notable Uruguayan productions from this period are The Dirigible, 25 Watts, The Journey to the Sea, En la Puta Vida, The Vineyard, Otario, A Way of Dancing, The Pope's Bath, Acne, Giant, Bad Day for Fishing, among others. In these years, within the documentary genre, Apart from Mario Handler stands out above all. Other documentaries worth mentioning are Despite Treblinka by Gerardo Stawsky and Bad streak by Daniela Speranza.

It is also worth highlighting César Charlone as director of photography for the Brazilian film City of God, for which he was nominated for an Oscar; and the actor Daniel Hendler, winner of multiple awards such as the Silver Bear at the Berlin festival. We can also mention Israel Adrián Caetano, famous director of shorts and films, among which is Chronicle of a Fugue. Likewise, in February 2005, Jorge Drexler was the first Uruguayan to receive an Oscar for best song in a language other than English for the song Al Otro Lado del Río from the film The Motorcycle Diaries based on the life of Che Guevara. Rodrigo Plá won the Lion of the Future award at the 64th Venice Film Festival (2007) for his feature film La Zona. Gabriela Guillermo, with her medium-length film El Regalo, won an award for cinematographic quality in France. Esteban Schroeder directed the film Matar a todos, in which he revives the so-called Berríos case.

In 2011, 16 Uruguayan films were released and of the 2.5 million spectators who attended movie theaters, 142,461 saw national films, the most viewed being: Artigas - La Redota, Reus, Manyas, Tres Millones, and La casa silent. On February 3, 2012, Selkirk, The Real Robison Crusoe directed by Walter Tournier, was released. Also in 2012, 3, a film by Pablo Stoll, was released.



Uruguayan literature was born in the first decade of the 19th century with Bartolomé Hidalgo, author of famous cielitos and creator of a lyrical modality called "Gauchesca Poetry." This trend was later cultivated by urban and enlightened authors who used the "gaucho language" for their compositions, collecting scenes and idiosyncrasies from rural areas in their works. Romildo Risso, El "Viejo Pancho", Serafín J. García, Elías Regules, Antonio Lussich, Javier de Viana were great followers of this trend, some of whom were united in the group formed around the publication "El Fogón" founded by Orosmán Moratorio and Alcides de María.

Another of the fathers of national literature, but already with a neoclassical tendency, was Francisco Acuña de Figueroa.

The romantics are represented in the work of Adolfo Berro and Juan Zorrilla de San Martín. Three French poets were born in Uruguay: the Count de Lautréamont, Jules Laforgue, and Jules Supervielle.

In 1900, Julio Herrera y Reissig was the precursor of Spanish-American modernist poetry. An important reference point is also José Enrique Rodó. The poets Juana de Ibarbourou (also known as Juana de América), María Eugenia Vaz Ferreira and Delmira Agustini stand out during this time. Among the lyricists, Emilio Frugoni and Emilio Oribe stand out. In narrative, Horacio Quiroga stands out with his stories, especially his Tales of Love of Madness and Death, being considered by many as the South American Poe. In theater, the master of River Plate theater, Florencio Sánchez, stands out.

Among the intellectual values produced in the second half of the 20th century, Juan Carlos Onetti, Francisco Espínola, Felisberto Hernández, Juan José Morosoli, the poet Idea Vilariño, Eduardo Galeano and Mario Benedetti stand out. The writer and singer Osiris Rodríguez Castillos also stood out with particular light.

Among the newest, whose work began to be published at the end of the 20th century, stand out Mauricio Rosencof, Leo Maslíah, Tomás de Mattos, Rafael Courtoisie, Mario Delgado Aparaín, Roberto Echavarren, Fernando Butazzoni, Hugo Fontana, Marosa di Giorgio, Hugo Burel and Mario Levrero among others. In the theater, Jacobo Langsner has stood out since the mid-1960s and Antonio Larreta since the eighties.



Philosophical activity in Uruguay began in 1838 with disputes between non-Uruguayan residents in the press: the Argentine Juan Bautista Alberdi and the director of the Colegio Oriental, at that time a Spaniard. Its development will advance slowly, mixed between political or intellectual discussions in general. Within the 19th century, among others, the controversy between Mariano Soler, a Catholic, and Alfredo Vázquez Acevedo, a positivist, stands out.

In the 20th century, the two main names of Uruguayan philosophy appear, Carlos Vaz Ferreira and Arturo Ardao.

Vaz Ferreira was born in Montevideo on October 15, 1872. He was the brother of the poet María Eugenia Vaz Ferreira. In 1897 he published "Expository Course on Elementary Psychology" and in 1898 another book on Formal Logic. His main work is "Living Logic" (1910), in which he determined the errors that were committed in discussions and in everyday life (fallacies, paralogisms). Since 1897 he has also been a professor of Philosophy in Secondary Education, which then depended on the University of the Republic. He would later found the Faculty of Humanities and Sciences. He was Dean of this institution and Rector of the University of the Republic.

Ardao studied at this same university, receiving a Doctorate in Law and Social Sciences. He continued linked to that house of studies, dedicating himself to Philosophy and opening a new field in the study of the History of Ideas. He was a member of the Central Board of Directors of the University. He was Director of the Institute of Philosophy, and later Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Sciences. His main philosophical works (in addition to those in the field of 'history of ideas') are "Philosophy of the Spanish Language" and "Space and Intelligence".

Other significant thinkers in the 20th century were Emilio Oribe, Mario Sambarino and José Luis Rebellato.



Highlights include Juan Pivel Devoto, Alfredo Traversoni, Eduardo Acevedo, Francisco Bauzá, Isidoro de María, Alberto Zum Felde, María Schurmann, José Pedro Barrán, Washington Reyes Abadie, Mena Segarra, Lincoln Maiztegui Casas, Benjamín Nahum, Alfredo Castellanos, Setembrino Pereda, Lucía Room, among others.


Amerindian heritage

The territory that currently includes Uruguay was populated, in the past, by indigenous tribes who, after the arrival of European settlers, were strongly threatened. The best-known ethnic groups are the Charrúas - from whom the name has been inherited by those born in the country -, the Guaraníes, the Chanás, the Guenoas, the Minuanes, the Bohanes and the Yaros.

In the case of the Charrúa Indians, due to the total and indiscriminate slaughter of this tribe, during the first presidency of the Republic, of Fructuoso Rivera, it is not possible to establish exactly to what extent current society and the Charrúa have something in common. . With the exception of small utensils and human remains that are preserved in museums in Montevideo, nothing remains of this human group.

The Guaraní, on the other hand, who today live in almost all of Paraguay and areas of northern Argentina and southern Bolivia, left many evidence of their presence. To begin with, the name of Uruguay (river of the "uru", a small bird that inhabited the area, or "Urugua", river of snails), as well as the names of Paraguay or Taragüí (in the Argentine province of Corrientes), are of Guarani origin. Numerous place names in Uruguay, such as Tacuarembó, Iporá, Batoví, particularly concentrated in the north of the country, are also of Guaraní origin. Some names, such as the male given name, Tabaré, which is quite common in the country (like the name of President Tabaré Vázquez), are also of Guarani origin.

The chanás and the tapestry were reduced by the Franciscan Order and converted to Catholicism. They are perhaps the only two native ethnic groups with descendants in rural areas of the interior of Uruguay, today. However, it is important to make it clear that because many of them mixed with European settlers, their descent is Creole and mestizo, as are their customs.

Through contact with neighboring countries, that is, Argentina and Brazil, an important cultural heritage was introduced. It is possible that between the tribes there was a kind of contact and even organization and exchange of money or raw materials.

When the Spanish and Portuguese settlers arrived in this region of America, they found that the environment was hostile, the humidity very high and the cold very strong. Faced with such inclemencies and the hard task of hunting and construction carried out by the nomadic and sedentary indigenous people, the Spanish had to find out what the secret of so much resistance on the part of the natives was. There they discovered a species of tree, which was grown in southern Brazil and eastern Paraguay, and decided to carry out extensive plantations of this plant, to which time and history have given a privileged place in the region.

The stimulating and healing effects of yerba mate (very similar to those of traditional tea) meant that its use spread rapidly until reaching Uruguay and Argentina. The Quechua Indians then adapted yerba mate and called it "mañana" (glass or container) to the type of elongated gourd where the grass and hot water are placed to drink what has been Spanishized as "mate."

In Uruguay, unlike other countries in the region, the characteristic mate is the cimarrón. It is served in a container shaped like an emptied zucchini, which can be made from a fruit that is used for such purposes, or made of wood. "Mate" is originally the name of a type of pumpkin. The infusion takes its name from this hard, hollowed out, dried and cut gourd that is the traditional container for the yerba (ground yerba mate) with which the drink is prepared and consumed hot. The yerba mate is placed inside the container, after "curing" it (that is, having ensured that it has been moistened and achieved a color and state conducive to its good use). The infusion is produced by adding hot water with a thermos or kettle. It is sucked through a rod with a small grate at the bottom, known locally as a tumba (a traditionally metallic straw, usually made of silver, although there are also reed bulbs). The act of serving mate is known as cebar.

The mate can also have variations according to the consumer's taste. It is generally bitter, but it can also be sweet (if sugar is added), cooked (boiled and served as tea), with milk, fruit juice, with orange or lemon peel, etc. The mate that is most consumed in the interior of Uruguay is the one served in a narrow container, in the shape of a cookie, and hence its name: mate biscuit, in Spanish.

The habit of drinking mate is a Uruguayan custom and tradition, although it is not exclusive, as it also occurs in Argentina, southern Brazil, Paraguay and small parts of Chile and Bolivia. What is characteristic of the Uruguayan custom is its intensity and extension among the population. By way of comparison, it is as important as tea to the English or coffee to the Colombians. It is the national drink par excellence and, although it is grown in Brazil and Paraguay, it is the product most consumed by the population.


European heritage

European heritage took place in the 20th century. Its influence was reflected in the construction, construction methods, habits and, above all, in gastronomy. The country was a welcoming setting for the investments of wealthy German and French businessmen and for the residence and work of many Spaniards and Italians who were fleeing the poverty that devastated their countries. After the Second World War, Uruguay was favored by the number of immigrants who entered the country with the intention of working and living. With them, came their customs.

The Italians opened pizzerias, ice cream parlors and pasta factories. The Spanish scallop, in Uruguay, is called "Milanesa", because it was introduced by the Italians. The Spanish, and especially the Galicians and Asturians, opened bakeries and butcher shops or modest stores or bars. Galician confectionery doughs and pastries, empanadas and pans, seafood and fresh fish were introduced. The Spanish omelette gained some popularity, while the Andalusian pot, Catalan spices, rice pudding and jams spread on a large scale.

The English introduced the country's first footwear brand, Champion. The French dedicated themselves to high business and baking and refining, while the Germans opened beverage and food processing factories.

Other typical products are dulce de leche and alfajor. Characteristic of the Río de la Plata, they are part of the region's gastronomic heritage, along with fried cakes.



The gastronomy of Uruguay is characterized by having certain parallels with the gastronomy of Argentina and Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil), differing, therefore, from much of Latin American cuisine. This factor is due to a greater extent to the contribution that the early arrival of immigrants of Spanish and Italian origin has made to the country.

The production of beef and the extensive exploitation of the dairy sector make Uruguayan gastronomy a meat monopoly, predominating foods derived from livestock, among which are rump meat, roast, ribs, achuras, chinchulines, the udder, the tongue and the gizzard. Additionally, foods from pigs and sheep stand out, as well as those obtained from other parts of the cow (see black pudding). In this line, chorizos, sausages and different varieties of ham (cooked, raw or smoked), shoulder, loin, bacon and bacon stand out.

The production of the dairy industry is also representative, from which many of the most basic ingredients of the national cuisine are obtained: lard (or butter), double cream, chantilly cream (whipped milk or cream in Spain). , dulce de leche, different types of cheese - cologne, semi-hard, lean, mozzarella, sandwich, roquefort, ricotta, spreadable, etc. -, yogurt, pasteurized whole or skim milk and powdered milk.

Bakery and confectionery products are also extremely varied. Some of the varieties of bread produced in the country are known by the following names: flute, baguette, cannon, Catalan bread, Marseillaise, Porteño, turtle, Vienna bread, American bread, last or sandwich bread, biscuit (navy/ malted/field/fat), mignon, grissini, croissants, doughs or doughs, cookies (salty/sweet/filled/wafers), etc. Of note are the alfajores, very varied, and the sponge cakes, a typical product in Uruguayan culture, consumed especially at breakfast or snack time and at gatherings with family or friends.



Grappamiel is an alcoholic drink originally from Uruguay and consists of mixing grappa and honey. It is obtained from the distillate of pomace and lees from the fermentation of grapes and then mixed with pure natural honey from bees. Grapa with honey generally contains around 25% alcohol.

Another drink, non-alcoholic and very similar to tea, is mate. Although it is rare, it is possible to find "cocido mate" (the one prepared following the tea process), mate with milk, or mate with a pinch of honey and rum.

Currently there is a large Uruguayan wine production. In the last 20 years, the country has aimed at quality production given the impossibility of competing with wine produced in large quantities in neighboring regions (such as Mendoza in Argentina). A particularity of Uruguayan wine production, especially that marketed internationally, is the use of the Tannat grape variety. Although there are other countries where this variety is produced, including France where it originates, most of the production comes from Uruguay.



The Uruguayan State is secular, with absolute freedom of religion. The separation between the Uruguayan State and the Catholic Church was established in the 1919 Constitution, under the influence of the radical Colorado reformer José Batlle y Ordóñez (1903-1911), as a process of secularization that had begun in 1861 with the secularization of cemeteries and continued in 1877 with the approval of the Common Education Decree Law drafted by José Pedro Varela that established the non-compulsory nature of religious education in schools. The Constitution and the law prohibit discrimination on religious grounds.

A survey conducted in 2008 by the National Institute of Statistics of Uruguay presented Catholicism as the main religion, with 45.7% of the population and 9.0% being non-Catholic Christians (Protestants, Pentecostals, Evangelicals, Adventists, Baptists, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses), 0.6% are animists or umbandists (an Afro-Brazilian religion), and 0.4% are Jews. 30.1% declared they believed in a god, but without belonging to any religion, while 14% were atheists or agnostics.262 Among the Armenian community, considerable in Montevideo, the predominant religion is Christianity, specifically the Armenian Apostolic. ​

A study carried out in 2014 by the Latinobarómetro Corporation highlights Uruguay as the most secular country in Latin America, with 38% of atheists, agnostics or irreligious, compared to 41% of Catholics, 8% of evangelicals and 13% of other beliefs. metaphysics.​

In accordance with the aforementioned studies, various political observers consider Uruguay the most secular country in the Americas. The secularization of Uruguay began with the relatively minor role of the church in the colonial era, compared to other parts of the Spanish Empire. The small number of indigenous people in Uruguay and their fierce resistance to proselytism reduced the influence of the ecclesiastical authorities. There exists in society a broad climate of tolerance towards different cults.



Uruguay has tourist destinations among which Punta del Este, Montevideo, Colonia del Sacramento, Salto, Lavalleja and Rocha among others stand out. Punta del Este is the most visited compared to the other resorts, although tourists also look for other coastal destinations such as Atlántida or Piriapolis, among others. The Uruguayan government, in order to encourage tourism in Uruguay, implemented the so-called "VAT Refund Program for Non-Resident Tourists" that has been operating since 2009. This benefit will be made in the purchase of national leather, knitwear, food products. , drinks or crafts of national origin and that the tourist takes with him abroad, refunding 85% of the VAT. The farms also stand out as tourist centers. At the same time, the Uruguayan carnival is imposed to attract visitors in the summer season, especially in Montevideo.

During the 2009-2010 season, 179 cruise ships arrived, accounting for 292,048 people disembarking, with a per capita expenditure of USD 61.05, for a total of USD 17,830,909. During the 2010-2011 season, 171 cruises followed, accounting for 278,627 people disembarked.​ In the 2011-2012 season, 225 cruise ships arrived in the country, an increase of 31.6% compared to the previous year, 353,727 visitors disembarked, leaving USD 20,884,091 in foreign currency.


Government and politics

The Eastern Republic of Uruguay is a democratic and decentralized unitary State of presidential character.

According to a report published by the British magazine The Economist, Uruguay is considered the most fully democratic country in South America, ranked 15th out of a total of 167 nations, being the most democratic in Latin America.​ And, furthermore, It is second in America - behind Canada - in the table of countries with the lowest corruption perception index (prepared by the Transparency International organization).


Political structure

Its government is divided into three independent branches: Executive Branch, Legislative Branch and Judicial Branch. In addition, there are three autonomous public control bodies: the Electoral Court, the Administrative Litigation Court and the Court of Accounts of the Republic.


Executive power

Executive power is exercised by the President of the Republic, acting in agreement with the respective minister or ministers, or with the Council of Ministers. The president is simultaneously head of State and Government, and is elected together with the Vice President by popular election. direct. The President has a mandate of 5 years without immediate re-election until after the same period from the cessation of his office. They are elected in the same candidacy presented by the respective party. In the event that no candidate obtains an absolute majority of the votes, a second round is held between the first two majorities. In said vote, the candidate that obtains the simple majority of the votes wins.

The President of the Republic appoints the heads of the Ministries and may dismiss them. Likewise, the General Assembly can dismiss Ministers by an absolute majority of votes.


Legislative power

Legislative power resides in the General Assembly, which consists of a Senate of thirty-one members (counting the president of the chamber, who is the vice president of the Republic) and a House of Representatives of 99 members. Elections for parliament are held on closed lists simultaneously with the presidential election (the vote is not applied for each candidate for deputy or senator but for a list presented by each political party). Deputies are elected by department, while senators are elected at the national level, both for five-year terms. Each of Uruguay's 19 departments is headed by a popularly elected mayor. The councilors of the Departmental Board act as legislative power at the departmental level.


Power of attorney

The judicial branch is headed by the Supreme Court of Justice, whose members are appointed by the General Assembly by a two-thirds majority and whose terms last ten years or until they reach 70 years of age. The Supreme Court of Justice is the last instance of appeal and is also in charge of judging the constitutionality of laws. The judicial branch is also made up of Courts of Appeal, Legal Courts and Peace Courts.


Territorial organization

Departmental governments

The governments of each of the 19 departments are organized like the central government, with two fundamental bodies: the Municipal Mayor (Executive), and the Departmental Board (Legislative). They take care of the domestic tasks of the department, transportation, care of the cities, waste, public lighting, among other functions. They have their own resources, in particular taxes levied on vehicles registered in the department ("vehicle license") and the properties located there ("real estate tax", lighting tax, sanitation tax, etc.).

The Mayor is elected directly by the citizens registered in the civic registry of that department, in elections that are held in 19 constituencies (one for each department) on a date different from the national election (the second Sunday of the following May).
The Departmental Boards are unicameral organizations made up of 31 councilors. The political party that obtains the simple majority of votes obtains 16 of the seats and the rest is divided among the other parties in proportion to the votes obtained.
The constitutional reform of 1997 institutionalized the National Congress of Mayors, in order to coordinate the policies of the Departmental Governments to allow them to agree among themselves, with the Executive Branch or with other State bodies.



By Law No. 18567 of September 13, 2009, local entities called municipalities were created, with bodies of five members. Its president is called "mayor" and the other members are called "councillors." The members are elected by direct vote of the citizens at the same time that the Mayors and Departmental Boards are elected. By Law No. 18,653 of March 15, 2010, 89 municipalities were defined, whose territory does not cover the entire country.

The powers of these local bodies are very limited and are fundamentally based on the delegation of functions they receive from the respective departmental governments. The municipalities do not have their own budget or officials, and their resources are those assigned to them by the central government and the departments.


Armed forces

The Armed Forces of Uruguay are constitutionally subordinate to the president through the Minister of Defense. In 2003, Uruguay had more than 2,500 soldiers in 12 peaceful missions of the United Nations. The largest troops are in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Haiti. There are 57 members of the armed forces in the Sinai Peninsula. The armed forces of Uruguay are made up of the National Army, the National Navy and the Uruguayan Air Force.

Peaceful missions are a major source of extra money for soldiers' families, and many soldiers go from mission to mission and don't spend much time with family.

Peace Missions are not effective in achieving a peace agreement and since the Korean War, until today, there is no news of any war resolved by the military intervention of the United Nations peace corps.



The army is made up of about 18,000 troops organized into four divisions. Its armored force consists of 15 Ti-67 Tiran, (T-55 battle tanks captured by Israel in 1967 during the Six-Day War and modernized), 17 M24 Chaffee and 22 M41A1 Walker Bulldogs. In addition, 15 BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles, 100 OT - 64 armored personnel carriers, 55 Thyssen Henschel - Cóndor, 24 M113A2, 15 EE-9 Cascavel, 18 EE-3 Jararaca reconnaissance vehicles, 48 Vodniks 4x4 armored vehicles from from Russia, and 147 Mowag Piranha.​

The current assault rifle used by the army is the FN FAL. An Iranian company (Moldex) put out a tender to replace the FN FAL, but there is a UN embargo on arms imports from Iran. Finally, the tender gave the winner to the Austrian Steyr AUG 5.56 mm rifle of excellent quality, of which 3,500 units will be initially acquired (in 2009), and then reach 20,000, equipping the entire force.​



The National Navy is made up of about 5,000 troops and is structured into four commands, the Fleet Command, the National Naval Prefecture, the Directorate of Naval Material and the Directorate of Naval Personnel.

The Navy includes the Naval Rifle Corps which consists of four brigades and represents the marine infantry corps of Uruguay.

It has a Naval Aviation, whose base is located in the department of Maldonado, on the shores of the Sauce lagoon, and its name is Aeronaval Base No. 2 "Corvette Captain Carlos A. Curbelo", which gives it its name. to the airport, which belongs to the National Navy, and is currently concessioned by decision of the government in the 1990s, also known as Laguna del Sauce International Airport, where the aerial means for the task of Control of Jurisdictional Waters are located ( CAJ) and search and rescue at sea (SAR).

The Naval Academy is located in Carrasco, a neighborhood in the city of Montevideo. The training consists of 4 years of study, embarking at the end of the last year on board the training ship ROU 20 Captain Miranda for a period of approximately one year. This trip serves as a practical experience for future sailors who visit various ports around the world, while promoting Uruguay as a tourist destination.


Air Force

Uruguay has traditionally had strong political and cultural ties with its nearby countries and Europe. The British diplomat Alfred Mitchell-Innes was Minister of Uruguay in all the crucial years of The Great War (1913-1919).

With globalization and regional economic problems, its ties with the United States have strengthened. Uruguay is a firm defender of constitutional democracy, political pluralism and individual freedoms. Historically, international relations have been guided by the principles of non-intervention, multilateralism, respect for national sovereignty and trust in the law to resolve disputes. Uruguay also reflects the international relations of its campaign to seek export markets and foreign investment. It is a founding member of MERCOSUR. In June 1991, MERCOSUR and the United States signed the Rose Garden Agreement (also known as the "Four Plus One" Agreement). The agreement was not operational until June 2001 when MERCOSUR invited the US to examine the feasibility of market access negotiations. The first US-MERCOSUR meeting was held on September 24, 2001, and resulted in the creation of four working groups on industrial trade, electronic commerce, agriculture, and investment.

Uruguay has an FTA with Mexico and is a member of the Latin American Reserve Fund although it does not belong to the Andean Integration System.

After ambivalent positions by the Tabaré Vázquez government regarding the US offer to sign an FTA, given the lack of complete support in the Frente Amplio, the negotiations culminated with the signing of a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with the US.

Uruguay is a member of the Rio Group, an association of Latin American states that deals with multilateral security issues. Likewise, it is a member State of the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance. Uruguay's location between Argentina and Brazil leads to close relations with these two largest neighbors. One of the first proponents of the Initiative for the Americas, Uruguay has actively participated in the process of periodic follow-up to the Summits of the Americas, especially the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

Often considered a neutral country, having a professional diplomatic corps, Uruguay is frequently called upon to preside over international organizations. More recently, Uruguay was selected to chair the FTAA and WTO agricultural committees and a Uruguayan chairs the WTO General Assembly. Uruguay is also a member of the Latin American Integration Association (ALADI), a trade association based in Montevideo that includes 10 South American countries plus Mexico and Cuba.



Uruguay along with Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay is a state party and founder of Mercosur, Chile as the first associate member; and Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, as recently associated states. Mercosur began to function with its own legal personality on December 15, 1994, the date of entry into force of the Ouro Preto Protocol, with Uruguay being part of the initial group of countries that They made up this block.

Mercosur has legislative powers, through the issuance of Decisions, Resolutions and Directives that are of mandatory application for the Member States (articles 9, 15 and 20 of the Ouro Preto Protocol).

In Uruguay there are different attitudes regarding Mercosur from the different political parties. From right-wing ranks, former president Luis Alberto Lacalle affirmed that Mercosur should be limited to commercial relations. Antagonistically, the former leftist president of Uruguay, José Mujica, stated on the day of his inauguration as president that Mercosur must continue even more deeply, in his own words, "until death do us part."

Mercosur has also been harshly criticized since its inception. There are those who affirm that, given the comparative size of Uruguay with respect to the other Mercosur partners and considering the constant obstacles that products from this country suffer when exporting to neighboring countries, that the current configuration of Mercosur is not convenient for Uruguay. On more than one occasion, the relationship between Uruguay and Mercosur was at risk of breaking down; like when, for example, there was the possibility of signing a Free Trade Agreement between Uruguay and the United States.



Uruguay's economy is dominated by the export-oriented agricultural sector, and by a developed industrial sector. After having grown by 5% per year during the period of 1996-1998, the economy was strongly affected by the economic recessions of Brazil and Argentina, and the currency was devalued at the same time as the Argentine currency. Uruguay is a member of Mercosur, and Montevideo is the headquarters. After the crisis of 2002, the country began a prolonged phase of economic growth at high rates, based mainly on exports of goods at high prices.

Uruguay is an agro-exporting country, so agriculture: rice, wheat, corn, sunflower, sorghum, barley, soy, sugar cane (Bella Unión) and livestock (cattle, sheep) are the fundamental resources of the economy. The main industries are refrigerators, dairy and derivatives, textiles, paper and cardboard, fertilizers, alcohols, cement and hydrocarbon refining.

Although mineral and energy resources are scarce, there are large deposits of agates and amethysts in the north of the country (department of Artigas), deposits of granite and marble, and gold extraction in the locality of Minas de Corrales. The search for diamonds and other minerals is also being studied.

It also highlights the services sector (financial, logistics, transport, communications) as well as the booming information technology industry, in particular the development of software and related services. Uruguay is also the largest exporter of software in Latin America per capita and the fourth in absolute terms, second only to Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. In recent years, the forestry of Eucalyptus grandis and Eucalyptus globulus has grown in importance, with a view to the production of sawn wood and wood for the production of cellulose pulp. Also, a plant belonging to Montes del Plata is under construction, the result of the union of the companies Stora Enso and Arauco, as well as there are others in the state of project. A cellulose pulp mill belonging to the Finnish company UPM-Kymmene (formerly Bothnia) is in operation, located on the Uruguay River, in the department of Río Negro, near the capital of the same, Fray Bentos.

Another of the main economic revenues to the country is tourism: the nation has a coastline on the Río de la Plata and the Atlantic Ocean dotted with spas, among which stand out Punta del Este and Piriápolis, of international fame. Agricultural, historical and thermal tourism is important.

The number of union members has quadrupled since 2003, from 110,000 to more than 400,000 in 2015 for a workforce of 1.5 million workers. According to the International Trade Union Confederation, Uruguay has become the most advanced country in the Americas in terms of respect for "fundamental labor rights, in particular freedom of association, the right to collective bargaining and the right to strike." One of the effects of this high level of unionization was the reduction of socio-economic inequalities.​


Macroeconomic indicators

After years of growth, in the period 1999-2002 the economy suffered a significant recession, which derived mainly from the indirect effects of the economic problems of its large neighbors, such as Argentina and Brazil. The banking crisis was caused by the massive withdrawal of Argentine citizens' assets from Uruguayan banks. Then with the intervention of the IMF, Uruguay was able to face its problems, including debt restructuring. The average growth in the five-year period 2004-2008 was 8% annually. The external debt as of December 31, 2014, according to data from the CIA The World Factbook, reached 24.19 billion dollars.​

According to IMF estimates, in 2009 after the international financial crisis, the economy grew at 0.6%. According to the Central Bank, with the data processed in 2010, the economy grew in 2009 by 2.9% and in 2010 by 8.5%. Since 2013, there has been stagnation in economic activity, with annual growth in decline: 5.1% (2013), 3.5% (2014) and 1.5% in 2015.

The nominal GDP reached 53,790 million dollars in 2015, while the (nominal) GDP per capita, corrected by purchasing power parity, reached 21,500 dollars in 2015, becoming the fourth economy in Latin America. after Argentina, Chile and Mexico. In fact, if GDP per capita is considered at current prices, Uruguay would lead in the region with 16,350 dollars per inhabitant, followed by Chile and Argentina. Inflation or CPI was 8.7% in 2015.

GDP - Gross Domestic Product (2022): 71.8 billion US$.​
GDP - Per capita (2022): US$20,795.​
GDP - Growth rate (2022): 4.9%.​
Inflation (2023): 4.1%.​
External debt approx. (2023): 57,239 million US$.​
Imports (2022): US$10,941 million. (without oil and derivatives)
Exports (2022): US$13,356 million.


Cattle raising

Since its beginnings as a country, livestock farming was very important for Uruguay. The production of meat and wool always remained among the country's main areas of activity and export. There are multiple breeding establishments for both cattle (Hereford, Aberdeen Angus, and other breeds) and sheep (Corriedale, Australian Merino). The old salting plants gave way in the 20th century to cold storage rooms, from where Uruguayan beef goes to many different destinations around the world.

Livestock farming is also important in terms of dairy cattle. The sector has gone from supplying only local consumption from traditional dairy farms to the situation in the 21st century in which industrialized dairy products are an important export item. Uruguay currently sells dairy products to European countries.​

Sheep production is concentrated in the north of the country, in the departments of Artigas and Salto, although it is distributed to a lesser extent in the rest of the country, while cattle are found throughout the territory, with more predominance in the south. from the country.



Mineral production is not one of the country's outstanding sectors, however you can find: agates and amethysts in the department of Artigas, gold mines in Rivera, Treinta y Tres and Lavalleja, beryl in Colonia, lead, zinc, barite and dolomites. in Lavalleja, (these last two can also be found in Maldonado), iron in Rivera, Durazno, Florida and Treinta y Tres, manganese in San José and Rivera, quartz and feldspars in Florida (the latter is also found in Canelones), montmorillonite in Cerro Largo, kaolin in Durazno, talc in Colonia and Lavalleja, ilmenite and peat in Rocha, silt in Montevideo, San José and Maldonado, limestone in Lavalleja, Paysandú and Treinta y Tres, clay in Montevideo, Durazno, Maldonado, San José and Cannelloni and gypsum clay in Río Negro. Likewise, in different parts of the country, granite, black granite, sand, gypsum, boulders, marl, pyrite, ballast, crushed and raw flagstone, diorite and granodiorite are extracted.

There was an exploitation project, the first large open pit mining project in the country, called the Aratirí project, for the extraction of iron in the Cuchilla Grande area, in the departments of Treinta y Tres, Durazno and Florida, near the town of Valentines.​



Agriculture still contributes approximately 10% to the country's GDP and is the main source of foreign currency, putting Uruguay in line with other agricultural exporters such as Brazil, Canada and New Zealand. Uruguay is a member of the Cairns Group of agricultural product exporters.

In Uruguay, rainfed agriculture has relatively low inputs of labor, technology and capital compared to its irrigated agriculture (rice) and other countries, which results in comparatively lower yields per hectare, except for rice. but it also opens the door for Uruguay to market its products as "natural" or "ecological." Campaigns such as "Natural Grass-Fed Uruguayan Meat" and "Natural Uruguay" aim to establish Uruguay as a brand in the meat, wine and other food products sector.

Some agricultural export crops in Uruguay are wheat, barley, oats, soybeans, rice, corn, sorghum, sunflowers and blueberries.

One of the traditional crops in this country is the vine. This crop was introduced by Spanish colonizers in the mid-17th century. Although traditionally there were vineyards planted throughout the national territory, currently there are some areas of concentration of vineyards and wineries such as the metropolitan area of Montevideo, the surroundings of the city of Colonia and the city of Bella Unión.

Recently, an industry has emerged around tourism ranches that capitalizes on the traditions or folklore associated with gaucho culture and the remaining resources of the historic ranches from Uruguay's golden era. One of the examples of this industry is tourism related to the world of wine and restaurants. Given the historical importance of this crop and the country's associational spirit, some wineries have formed the Los Caminos del vino association, whose objective is to promote wine tourism.




Uruguay does not have its own fossil fuel resources for energy generation. The hydropower potential is relatively small. For this reason, 60% of energy needs are imported. Especially this causes dependence on oil imports. The government encourages the use of natural gas, which is imported from Argentina.

Uruguay has three hydroelectric dams on the Río Negro: Rincón del Bonete (1945), Baygorria (1960) and Palmar (1982); and one in the Uruguay River, Salto Grande (1979), the latter shared with Argentina. There are a variety of gas and fuel oil plants, which are used as backup in the event of a lack of water.

Electrical energy consumption in 1999 decreased, mainly due to the recession. However, a further increase in consumption is expected in the coming decades. It depends mainly on hydroelectric plants. Further expansion of electricity production power from hydroelectric plants is highly unlikely, as most rivers that can be significantly dammed are already dammed. Added to this is the problem of the frequent droughts that affect them.

In 2000, the first experimental wind turbine was installed in the Sierra de los Caracoles, and in 2007 the first commercial wind turbine was installed in Maldonado. In 2016, 1000 MW of installed power was reached.

In addition, new capacities are projected for the generation of energy with natural gas, biomass, etc. In some of these aspects there are already advances or pilot plans. Furthermore, the possibility of opting for generation from an atomic reactor is under discussion.

Uruguay's current network is integrated with that of Argentina to the west, participating in the exports and imports of electrical energy. The interconnection project with Brazil to the east is currently being implemented, thus achieving diversification of energy supplies.

On the other hand, in recent years, hydrocarbon exploration campaigns have been carried out both on land (onshore) and on the maritime continental shelf (offshore), achieving important advances in knowledge in this area.​



Regarding freight transportation, it is done by trucks and railways. Regarding passengers, there are short-distance (less than 50 km) and long-distance (more than 50 km) bus lines which cover the main routes, concentrating on the most important cities. The passenger train lines that are concentrated in the capital were the only operational services until 2019, since then they have been suspended due to the reconstruction of the main line.



In 2020, Uruguay's road network had 67,781 km of roads, of which 7,977 km were paved. There are only duplicate roads that start from Montevideo, towards Maldonado (125 km on Route 10), Colonia del Sacramento (150 km on Route 1) and Rivera (a few km on Route 5), according to the Ministry of Transportation and Public Works. They are distributed over 176,215 km² of territory, which means one of the highest rates of access to different parts of a region in Latin America. The main characteristic is that most of the roads converge in the capital, Montevideo. Currently, the construction project of a perimeter ring (Route 102) that avoids crossing the city, linking the western routes with the eastern ones, has been completed. In addition, there are several important routes that run through the country, thus facilitating transit between the interior departments without passing through the capital, for example route 26 that connects Melo with Paysandú via Tacuarembó.

Types of pavement on roads:​
303 km of concrete
3164 km of asphalt layer
4220 km of bituminous treatment
1009 km of tosca

The main roads, routes and highways of Uruguay are: Route 1, Route 3, Route 5, Route 8, Route 9, Route 26, Route 101, Ruta Interbalnearia, Avenida Italia and Avenida Giannattasio, they have good maintenance and signage although there are sections in poor condition. The secondary routes have variable condition, from very good to poor quality.



The Uruguayan railway network has, in 2020, approximately 3073 km of track, with a 100% homogeneous gauge of 1435 mm, and only 11 km of double track and is one of the densest in the region (0.016 km/km² ). As of 2020, only about 1,673 km of track are operational almost exclusively for cargo transportation, and within these, only 118 km (as of 2019) for passenger services. The rest of the branch is closed.​

The current state of both the railway network and the tractor fleet has been, since the 1950s, in decline and in a rather precarious state. The vast majority of the network is not only closed, but in some cases no maintenance or reconstruction has been carried out for decades. As for the fleet, all the material is imported and about 95% of the material is second-hand that is in service, repaired, in poor condition or scrapped. The Uruguayan railway system is not electrified. However, in recent years the repair and reconstruction of some branches for cargo transportation has been carried out. A 2015 project aims to reconstruct a 273 km section of the 563 km of the Montevideo-Rivera trunk line that is currently being executed for the transport of cellulose pulp from the Finnish forestry company UPM-Kymmene, which includes the extension of the track current double (11 km) to 26 km and the use of monoblock type concrete sleepers and rails welded with cast steel, something that has never happened before in the country. In 2020, the existing fleet at that time was repaired and new material was purchased.

Since March 1, 2003, passenger trains depart and arrive from a new, small terminal station located 500 meters north of Montevideo Central Station, which has remained closed since then. This meant a loss of more than 100,000 passengers for train services.​

The AFE has been, since 1952, the current state administrator of the network and, since 2020, it has been in charge of infrastructure maintenance. The circulation of material from other companies and institutions is allowed and several have their own wagons and locomotives (ANCAP, AUAR, CEFU, CUCP).



In Uruguay there are 242 airports or secondary aerodromes, of which twelve have paved landing strips, the others being secondary aerodromes or emergency runways with unpaved runways with light pavement. The two most important are the Carrasco International Airport, located in the Department of Canelones, within the metropolitan area of Montevideo, and the Punta del Este International Airport, in the Department of Maldonado.

The Carrasco International Airport was initially inaugurated in 1947 and in 2009, Puerta del Sur, the owner and operator of the airport, with an investment of $165 million, commissioned Rafael Viñoly Architects to expand and modernize the existing facilities with a new and spacious terminal. of passengers to increase capacity and stimulate commercial growth and tourism in the region. In 2009, work on the new terminal was completed. It was inaugurated on November 15, 2009 and began operations on December 29, 2009. The airport can handle up to 4.5 million users per year. London-based Frontier magazine named it one of the top four airports in the world in its 27th edition. The old facilities were left for air cargo service. The transformation of this terminal into a southern South American connection center for cargo is planned.

The Punta del Este International Airport, also known as Laguna del Sauce Airport, is located 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) from the city of Punta del Este, in the department of Maldonado, it is the second busiest air terminal. of passengers in the country. The work of Uruguayan architect Carlos Ott, the terminal was inaugurated in 1997 and the runways were renovated through a private investment concession.



The main ports of Uruguay are located on the coasts of the Río de la Plata and the Uruguay River. The main cargo ports are Montevideo (11 kilotons and 888,000 TEU moved in 2016), Nueva Palmira (7.3 kilotons moved in 2016) and Fray Bentos (2.1 kilotons moved in 2016).​ As for marinas, Colonia del Sacramento, La Paloma, Piriápolis and Punta del Este stand out.



In Uruguay, freedom of the press is protected by the Constitution. According to a study carried out by Reporters Without Borders in 2009, the country occupies the 29th position in the world press freedom index and first place among Latin American countries.​

For every thousand inhabitants, 293 newspapers circulate, there are 603 radio receivers, 530 televisions and 278 telephone lines. Taking into account a middle class family of 4 people, everyone would enjoy these goods.

According to 2005 estimates, there are 93 AM radio stations, 191 FM stations, 7 shortwave stations and 62 television stations.

An acceptance agreement was signed (2007) to adopt the European digital television standard, unlike Brazil, which adopted the Japanese standard. In December 2010, the Japanese-Brazilian standard was established as final due to a geopolitical decision, framed in the interest of deepening relations with the countries in the region that opted for this standard.

In the metropolitan area of Montevideo there are 7 important over-the-air channels:
Channel 4 (since 1961) (private)
Channel 5 (since 1963) (public)
Channel 10 (since 1956) (private)
Teledoce (since 1962) (private)
TV Ciudad (air channel since 2015, only on digital terrestrial television) (public)

Added to these are the channels from the interior of the country and their repeaters, as well as cable, satellite and IPTV television: DirecTV, Flow SAT, TDH (it is an exclusive service of TCC, Channel 10 and the Equital network) and Antel TV.



The Uruguayan telephone system has been 100% digital since 1997, thanks to the improvement efforts of the state-owned monopoly telecommunications company Antel. Uruguay was the first country in all of America to have this status.​

In Uruguay there are more than one million landlines, 31.7 landlines per 100 inhabitants, which constitutes the second highest density landline network in Latin America after Costa Rica. This situation is mainly explained due to the greater use of ADSL in Uruguayan homes. Half of the telephone system is located in Montevideo. In 2007, the extra cost for calls between two locations was eliminated, so a national long-distance call began to cost the same as an urban one. The calculation value depends only on the time and day of the call.

In June 2014, the number of cell phones reached 5,358,325 units (more than one device per inhabitant), or 159.2 mobile services per 100 inhabitants, ranking 2nd in Latin America after Panama. There are three companies that provide the service, one of them is public ANTEL, formerly called Ancel, with 2,674,061 cell phones, and the rest are the private Movistar with 1,854,385, and Claro with 829,879 cell phones.

Uruguay is the first country in Latin America with a commercial operation in LTE technology, 4G Long Term Evolution mobile telephony, fourth generation technology, which allows high capacity for wireless broadband transmission. The service began to be provided in the first half of December 2011, initially in Punta del Este and Maldonado, and later extended to areas of Montevideo.



69.5% of Internet connections are mobile and 30.5% are fixed, adding a total of 2,609,842 services as of June 2014. ​On that date, Uruguay had 795,804 fixed broadband services, and 1,814,038 mobile broadband services. ANTEL is the provider of 98% of fixed broadband services.

With a rate of 47.7 Internet users per 100 inhabitants, Uruguay leads Latin America in being the country with the highest proportion of Internet users. In an evaluation of 21 Latin American countries, Uruguay has the highest combined penetration of fixed, mobile, and broadband telephony, with an ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) adoption rate of 5.42.

According to the Global Information Technology Report 2012-2013, which also covers information and communication technologies, Uruguay is third in Latin America in ICT, with Chile ranking 34th worldwide, Panama ranking 46th and Uruguay ranking 52nd.

In 2007 the country reached one million Internet users.​



Uruguay is an important exporter of software, and ranks first in income from software and computer services per capita in Latin America. In 2007 it exported 188 million dollars (0.58% of the 2008 GDP), in which In 2011, Uruguay exported software for 250 million dollars.​

According to the World Innovation Index, carried out by the World Intellectual Property Organization, in 2022, Uruguay was ranked 64th in innovation among 132 countries in the world; ​while in 2023 it ranked 63rd.



Investment in research has not been a characteristic of Uruguay; Most of them are isolated efforts or those of a center such as the Clemente Estable Biological Research Institute (IIBCE) and the University of the Republic. The main research is in the area of medicine and mathematics.

Despite the above, in 1986 the Basic Sciences Development Program - PEDECIBA - was created, the result of an agreement between the University of the Republic, the Ministry of Education and Culture and the United Nations Development Program - UNDP. — with the objective of the repatriation of scientists and the beginning of master's degrees and doctorates in basic sciences — which at that time included Biology, Computer Science, Physics, Mathematics and Chemistry. The first director of PEDECIBA was Dr. Roberto Caldeyro Barcia. Another recent milestone in Uruguayan science is the installation of the Pasteur Institute of Montevideo dependent on the Pasteur Institute of France. The director of this institute is Dr. Guillermo Dighiero.

Several Uruguayan scientists have stood out in the exercise of their profession, such as the engineers Eladio Dieste – recognized worldwide for his use of what he called reinforced ceramics – or the mathematician and engineer José Luis Massera, recognized for the motto that bears his name. Another prominent scientist is Clemente Estable, teacher and researcher in biology and neurobiology. The Institute of Biological Research was named in his honor.




88% of the Uruguayan population is of European ancestry, mainly Spanish and Italian (more than half of the population has at least one ancestor of Italian origin). Of them, 55,220 have Italian nationality or are citizens born in Italy. In third place are the descendants of French and Armenians. Mestizos represent 8% of the population and the population of African descent 4%. Uruguay has a high level of literacy, one of the highest in Latin America. The population growth rate is one of the lowest in America and life expectancy is one of the highest. It is estimated that there is an illiteracy rate of 1.6%, and that life expectancy is around 77 years.

According to the results of the 2011 census, the population of Uruguay amounted to 3,286,314 inhabitants, with an average annual intercensal growth rate of 1.9‰ compared to the 2004 census. The low intercensal growth rate observed in the period 1996- 2004 (3.2‰) is still lower than that recorded between the 1985-1996 censuses of 6.4‰. This decrease corresponds to a progressive decrease in the birth rate and in migratory changes.​

The makeup and structure of the Uruguayan population distinguishes it from the rest of Latin America. Uruguay was at least 30 years ahead of the rest of the Latin American countries in the demographic transition, the vast majority of which began this process in the 1950s and 1960s. It has been estimated that in 1900, Uruguayan women They had an average of 6 children, in 1950 this dropped to 3 and, in 2013, to 1.86 (according to the INE), already below the generational replacement limit. At the same time, it stands out for being the country with the largest long-lived population in Latin America, where the group aged 60 or over amounted to 17.7% in 2008. The changes in the birth rate are also due to the large increase in life expectancy, which amounts to 76.91 years (73.24 for men, 80.20 for women). The degree of urbanization is very high and reaches 96.1% of the population.


Emigration and immigration

Since its independence in 1830, Uruguay has been a country of emigrants, and it was also a receiving nation of immigrants, and continues to be, although to a lesser extent than before, especially Argentine, Brazilian, Peruvian, Venezuelan and Cuban citizens.

The main groups of immigrants who arrived at the port of Montevideo, between 1850 and 1940, came mainly from Spain, especially from Galicia, the Canary Islands, Andalusia, Asturias, the Basque Country and Aragon (see Spanish immigration in Uruguay), and also in large numbers from Italy, where they initially emigrated from Genoa, Liguria, and from Piedmont, to later become generalized and receive immigrants from all parts of Italy (see Italian immigration in Uruguay). Immigration contributions from France were also important, especially from French Basques, from Germany, and from Jews escaping the war - among them many from Poland - Asian countries and Eastern Europe. The period during which the country received the most foreigners was that of Franco's regime, in Spain, and that of the wars in Europe. In 2001 there were 52,353 Spaniards residing in Uruguay, a figure that dropped to 40,720 in 2007, making the country the tenth in the world with the largest Spanish population.

European immigration settled in Uruguay from the end of the 19th century to the mid-1960s. From the perspective of international migration, in the second half of the 20th century, Uruguay began to consolidate itself as a country of emigration, either by political or economic reasons, a phenomenon that has significantly influenced population growth in recent decades. Emigration is mainly to Europe, Argentina and the United States. Spain is the main destination for Uruguayans within Europe, but they also emigrate to Italy, France and Germany. During the 1970s there was also a significant migratory flow to Australia.

According to CIA publications (The World Factbook), the Uruguayan population is fundamentally of European origin, making up 88% of the total, followed by mestizos (8%), and the Afro-Uruguayan population (4%). Furthermore, this source maintains that the indigenous population is practically non-existent. The successive waves of migration that the country experienced have shaped the current population, composed mainly of descendants of Spaniards, closely followed by Italians and with a significant number of French, Germans, Portuguese, British, Swiss, Russian, Polish, among others. The population of Asian origin is very small.

However, recent research affirms that 10% of the total population would have some ancestor of Amerindian origin, mainly Charrúa or Guaraní.​

Regarding emigration, many Spaniards who lived in Uruguay have returned to their country of origin for various reasons, including the crisis that affected the economy in 2002 and 2004.

Argentina, with 116,592 registered in 2010, is the country with the highest percentage of Uruguayan residents abroad, representing 0.3% of the total population (see Uruguayan immigration in Argentina). Other countries widely chosen by Uruguayans to live and work are Spain, Italy, the United States, Brazil, Canada, and those in Western Europe.

According to data from the INE, 55,480 Uruguayans currently reside in Spain: 28,304 men and 27,176 women, of which 24,363 have Spanish nationality. The autonomous communities with the largest number of citizens of Uruguay are Galicia, the Canary Islands, Catalonia, and the Basque Country. , Valencian Community, Madrid and Andalusia.

There are 17,954 Uruguayans residing in Catalonia, of which 6,000 have Spanish nationality. In the Valencian Community there are 9,246, in the Balearic Islands, 5,217, and in Andorra 250.


Influence of European immigrants in Uruguay

Uruguay had a white population of 87.7% in 2011, the Amerindian population is considered non-existent. At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, waves of immigration from Europe appeared, especially by Spaniards, Italians and French. In 1870 Colonia Valdense was consolidated, which had already seen its birth in the late 50s and early 60s by Swiss immigrants.

Many Europeans, especially from Spain and Germany, sought refuge in Uruguay after the military victory of fascism in the Spanish Civil War, the subsequent military dictatorship, and the rise of Nazi Germany. Among them, the Catalans Margarita Xirgu, actress, and the architect Antoni Bonet i Castellana; Enriqueta Compte y Riqué, Barcelona teacher; and illustrious families from Catalonia, the Canary Islands, and Galicia, who made important contributions to the economic, political and social development of the country. The Batlle family, originally from Sitges, would produce four presidents in Uruguay in three centuries. José Batlle y Ordóñez, son of Lorenzo Batlle y Grau, separated the church from the State, modernized the country and led it to a period of financial prosperity that earned it the name of the "Switzerland of America."

The Pereira-Rossell couple founded the public hospital that today bears their name, in Montevideo. Emilio Reus, a Madrid businessman, invested a lot of capital in the construction of new homes for commerce and residence. The painter Joaquín Torres García, son of a Catalan father, was one of the most important artistic icons of Uruguay—and Catalonia—throughout the 20th century. There is also a Catalan House in Montevideo, where the Congress of Catalans of the Republics of La Plata was held in 1936.

The construction of an Italian hospital called Hospital Italiano Umberto I, at the beginning of the last century, reveals the influence of the Italian community in Montevideo. In the same way, the Galicians, considered the largest group of immigrants, with 36,000 people, along with the Asturians (there are currently 3,000 in Uruguay), founded the "Casa de Galicia", with a medical and hospital service that cares for patients. which, for the most part, are of that origin.

On the other hand, the implementation of the Italian language as a mandatory subject in the humanities baccalaureate educational plans, operational since the 1940s, shows the influence that immigrants from this country exerted on local culture and in other areas such as gastronomy. Also in the gastronomic field, the influence of other cultures on the local one stands out, such is the case of Catalan breads and spices, Galician confectionery, or the use in confectionery of the French word chantilly, to refer to cream.

Three great French writers of the 19th and 20th centuries were born in Uruguay: the Count of Lautréamont, Jules Laforgue, and Jules Supervielle.

Finally, and in terms of toponymy, many towns in the interior of Uruguay refer to the place of origin of their founders. Examples of this are: New Berlin, Cardona, Colonia Valdense, Nueva Helvecia (Swiss Colony), Toledo, among others.



Uruguay has a mixed health system (public and private). The Ministry of Public Health (M.S.P.) is responsible for standardizing, evaluating and supervising health care throughout the country, both for public and private assistance. According to data from the Medical Union of Uruguay, there were around 14,726 doctors active as of June 30, 2010, with a high average density rate (4.46 doctors per thousand inhabitants).

According to the National Institute of Statistics of Uruguay, in 2006, 97.2% of the population residing in towns with 5,000 or more inhabitants had some type of medical care, while 2.8% had a total absence of rights. for your health care. This same study revealed that practically 46% of the population is affiliated with a private medical care institution, while 42% receives their health care through the Ministry of Public Health or the Hospital de Clínicas (dependent on the University of the Republic). Among the former, more than half (24.4%) also have a mobile emergency service, while only 4.8% of public health users have this service.

Human resources constitute one of the main favorable points in health in Uruguay, since according to a report carried out in 2006 by the World Health Organization, the country is the second in Latin America with the most doctors per inhabitant (3.65 per inhabitant). per thousand inhabitants) after Cuba (5.91).​

The Ministry of Labor and Social Security, the Social Security Bank, the Bank Retirement and Pension Fund are full members and participants of the Inter-American Conference on Social Security (CISS).



Life expectancy at birth (est. 2019):​
Total population: 77.91 years
Men: 74.12 years
Women: 81.84
Maternal mortality: 17 every 100,000 births (2019)​
Infant mortality: 6.8 per 1000 (2019)​
Mortality under 5 years of age: 2.3 per 1000 (2019)
Literacy: 98.7% (2018)​
Daily calorie consumption: 2862 per capita
Drinking water:​ 98%


Drinking water and sanitation

Uruguay is the only country in Latin America that has achieved almost universal coverage of access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation, with high levels of quality of services. Drinking water is within reach of 99% of the population throughout the country. Currently, sanitation covers the majority of the population of Montevideo and is expanding to the metropolitan area. It is in charge of O.S.E. except in the department of Montevideo, where it is the responsibility of the departmental administration.

In 2004, a constitutional appeal against the privatization of running water services was approved. The government's priority is to improve the efficiency of services and expand access to sewage service (where applicable) in areas where on-site sanitation is used.



Abortion has been discussed in the legislative chambers about ten times since the return to democracy. In 2002 the vote was frustrated in the Senate, in the previous discussions it never managed to get out of the parliamentary committees, in 2008 it was approved but the presidential veto stopped it because the special majority required to override the veto was not achieved. Various surveys show a large majority of Uruguayans (around 60%) in favor of the decriminalization of abortion. During 2012, a new Bill was presented, called the "Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy Law", which was approved by both Chambers in October of the same year. The Executive Branch promulgated the law on October 22 and issued a regulatory decree in the month of November. The Pregnancy Termination Law establishes that women have the right to terminate their pregnancy before twelve weeks of gestation, for which they must appear before a multidisciplinary Clinical Committee; After being informed of her rights and the consequences of her decision, the woman will have a period of five days to reflect. After this period, the pregnancy will be terminated by the medical organization that provides coverage. Uruguay is the first country in South America to decriminalize abortion and the second in Latin America (after Cuba).



During the first government of Tabaré Vázquez, Uruguay became one of the first countries to establish the law that prohibits smoking in the closed spaces of private establishments, and in all public administration offices. The World Health Organization places the country in fifth place in the world among countries that fight against smoking and lung cancer.

Since the 1970s, cannabis use has not been punished. In the government period that began in 2010, initiatives arose from different political parties to achieve the decriminalization of the cultivation of marijuana for self-consumption. On December 10, 2013, a law regulating the cannabis market was approved. Production (which will be controlled by the State), marketing, possession and recreational and medicinal uses of marijuana, as well as uses for industrial purposes, thus becoming the first country in the world to legalize the sale and cultivation of marijuana fully.



Secularism, free and obligatory education are fundamental principles of Uruguayan public education, as proclaimed by José Pedro Varela. The population has access to free education from the first level of kindergarten (Initial Education) to graduation from university. Public education from the initial, primary, secondary and teacher training levels is in charge of the National Public Education Administration (ANEP). It is governed by the Central Board of Directors (CODICEN). The panorama of Uruguayan educational services is completed with private education institutions that range from preschool to university education.

One of the most important educational achievements in the country is the high literacy rate, which reached 97.7% in 2006 according to the I.N.E., with Uruguay standing out as one of the countries with the highest literacy rate in Latin America.

In Uruguay there are public (financed by the State) and private schools and institutes. The first kindergarten in the country - and in South America - was founded in 1892 by the Uruguayan-Catalan teacher Enriqueta Compte y Riqué. On the other hand, primary education goes from 6 to 11 years old and is mandatory. Public school students must wear a uniform that represents the colors of the national flag: a white tunic and a blue ribbon tied around the neck. However, in private schools the distinctive uniform of each institution is used.

Secondary education students, from 12 to 14 years old, and high school students (from 15 to 17 years old) who study in public institutes, in general, do not have to wear a uniform, although a certain formality is required, while in the Private companies do require a uniform. Finally, the high school in Uruguay lasts three years: a common first year and two years where the student takes orientations to their liking, that is, humanities, sciences, biology or arts. The last year of high school, in turn, is divided into options within the orientation chosen the previous year: law, economics, engineering, architecture, medicine and agronomy.

In 2008 the government established the program "In the country of Varela I can" whose objective was to educate adults to read and write, achieving 8,000 graduates in just one year.

In 2007 the Uruguayan government launched Plan Ceibal, an initiative taken from the OLPC project. This plan allows each teacher and each student in public schools to have a laptop with an Internet connection, completely free of charge. In 2009, 366,000 computers had been delivered (to 350,000 children and 16,000 teachers). In August 2010, a new stage began, with the beginning of the distribution of laptop computers, with more and better features, to public secondary school students. By December 2011, 454,000 laptops had been delivered, approximately 320,000 to primary school children, 120,000 to high school teenagers, and the rest to teachers and professors.


Human rights during the dictatorship

In Uruguay, issues related to forced disappearances that occurred during the military dictatorship have been increasingly discussed. Although there are obstacles to carrying out trials, such as the Law of the Expiration of the Punitive Claim of the State (Law of Expiration) and even the lack of information due to the systematic concealment of information during this regime, much progress has been made in recent years. due to the different application of article 4 of the Expiry Law. (This article enables the Executive Branch to decide in each case whether or not it is covered by the Law, and accordingly the Justice must act or archive the matter. During four periods of government, until 2005, it was systematically resolved that the matters be archived. , a policy that was reversed since the government of President Tabaré Vázquez.) In this way, trials were carried out in which the most notorious authors of crimes committed during the military dictatorship were convicted. In October 2009, days before the plebiscite for the annulment of the law, in which 48% of the citizens voted to annul it (the rest of the population did not vote since a negative vote was not foreseen), there was a statement by the Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ), which declared the Expiry Law unconstitutional.

A prison that functioned and was a reference of the Dictatorship was the Military Detention Center Number 1, popularly known as Libertad Penitentiary, because it was near the city of Libertad in the Department of San José in Uruguay.

The Executive Branch has led the search for missing persons and victims of the military dictatorship of the 1970s. In August 2000, the Commission for Peace was created, and in April 2003 the current Secretariat of Human Rights for the Recent Past, which began finally many long-postponed investigations and managed to find missing persons. The tasks of said secretariat were to receive, analyze, classify and compile information on the disappearances, with the joint work of forensic specialists and anthropologists. Nowadays, with the creation of the Group of Labor for Truth and Justice in 2015, these tasks passed to this autonomous and independent body. In December 2006, June 19 of each year was declared as a “commemorative date that these episodes should never again occur among Uruguayans.”


Legislation on crimes under international law

It was also legislated starting in 2005 to cover the omission (noted in reports of the Human Rights Committee) to specifically criminalize torture and other illicit acts established by international law. Law No. 18,026, of November 2006, modified the Penal Code to create the category of "crimes", which it declared imprescriptible, and which defined as "the crimes within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court in accordance with the provisions in article 5 of the Rome Statute and also all those that, due to their extreme gravity, are governed by special laws, by this Code and the norms of international law insofar as they are applicable." The art. 22 criminalized the crime of torture.


LGBTQ rights

In 2004, the first law against discrimination was approved and in 2007 the Concubinary Union was approved, which would come into force on January 10, 2008, and which grants spouses with more than 5 years of cohabitation most of the rights. of marriage. In 2009, Uruguay became the first country in Latin America to legalize homoparental adoption. The same year, the right to change identity in documentation for transgender people over 18 years of age was recognized.

In 2008, Uruguay signed a United Nations declaration calling for the global decriminalization of homosexuality. In 2009, President Tabaré Vázquez, opposed by military circles and part of the opposition, signed a decree enabling the entry of homosexuals into the army.

In April 2013, the equal marriage law, which allows marriage between people of the same sex, was approved by a large majority in the House of Representatives. Uruguay thus became the 12th country in the world to legislate same-sex marriage, and the 2nd in Latin America, after Argentina did so in 2010.


Rights of Afro-descendants

According to the book "Afro-descendant Population and Ethnic-Racial Inequalities in Uruguay"​ this group represents 10.2% of the Uruguayan population. Between 1996 and 1997 the poverty gap between the Afro-white population was 20.6% and in 2007 it was 28.2%. 50% of Afro-Uruguayan children are in the most disadvantaged sector of society and only 3.2% are in the most advantaged. In the case of health coverage for children and adolescents, the research indicates that "racial inequalities are not recorded." Black children are more likely to spend at least part of their childhood in a single-parent home. In the 2009 presidential elections, several Afro-descendants ran for legislative positions but none of them were elected. Edgardo Ortuño, the first black deputy in Uruguayan history, was not reelected.


Domestic violence

Domestic violence was converted into a criminal offense in 1995 and in 2002 a specific law against domestic violence was approved; the Domestic Violence Eradication Law. According to the "women in black" collective, every 9 days a woman or girl is murdered by her spouse or a family member.


Social security and labor rights

Uruguay was a pioneer in this matter. The eight-hour law dates back to 1915, and in its article 1 it establishes: «The effective work of workers in factories, workshops, shipyards, quarries, earth construction companies or in ports, [...] will not last more than eight hours." The law also established that 48 hours of work should not be exceeded for every six days of work. Also at the beginning of the 20th century, the prohibition of work for minors under 13 years of age, the right to strike, the protection of unions and protection of the unemployed. For its part, domestic service in Uruguay is regulated and equated with all other work activities. Retirees and pensioners have achieved several rights through plebiscites, legal appeals and tax reforms promoted by parliament.

The wage councils operated from 1985 to 1992, and were reinstated in 2005. The national minimum wage as of January 2018 is 13,430 Uruguayan pesos, equivalent to about USD 470.




The sport with the most followers in Uruguay is soccer. Historically, soccer has been a fundamental element in terms of the consolidation of Uruguayan "nationality" and the international projection of the image of Uruguay as a country, at the beginning of the 20th century. . "La celeste" (historical nickname of the Uruguayan team, which comes from the color of its shirt) dazzled Europe with its Olympic presentations and earned the admiration and respect of the sporting universe, placing South American football at the highest level of consideration. at a time when said continent was still ignored on the international soccer map (Uruguay in particular unknown on all maps, not just soccer maps). Uruguay won two consecutive Gold medals in the Olympic Games (Paris 1924 and Amsterdam 1928), being for 80 years the only South American country to occupy the top Olympic spot, an honor now shared with Argentina since Beijing 2008 and Brazil since Rio de Janeiro 2016.

Between July 13 and 30, 1930, the first world soccer championship organized by FIFA was held in Uruguay. In the final of the same Uruguay beat Argentina 4-2, winning their first world title.

Uruguay has, together with Argentina, the first place in the number of America Cups, with 15, followed by Brazil, with 9. In terms of world titles, it won the Soccer World Cup on two occasions (in 1930 and 1950, The latter being a historic sporting achievement and one of the most dramatic and unforgettable moments in the history of football, the final of which has since been known by the nickname "Maracanazo"). At the club level, Nacional and Peñarol, the two main Uruguayan teams, have represented Uruguay magnificently, obtaining between them eight Copa Libertadores and six Intercontinental Cups, in addition to an outstanding list (in quantity and quality) of international titles that have earned them They allow them to occupy, until November 2006, the first and third positions in the Conmebol Club Ranking (Peñarol 1094 pts., Boca Juniors 1023 pts., Nacional 960 pts.).​

There are many Uruguayan players who are part of Spanish, Italian, and other European and Asian leagues. Among the most notable are Luis Suárez (historical scorer for the Uruguayan team), Edison Cavani and Diego Forlán.

In 2011, the Uruguayan team became champion of America for the fifteenth time (record), winning the 2011 Copa América Argentina, winning the final against Paraguay 3-0 at the Monumental Stadium in Núñez.



Basketball is the second most popular sport in Uruguay, being very popular especially in Montevideo, where in many neighborhoods of the city there is at least one Club. The governing body of this sport in Uruguay is the Uruguayan Basketball Federation, created in 1915 and a member of FIBA since 1936. Among the most important achievements of the Uruguayan basketball team are the obtaining of bronze medals in the Olympic Games of 1952 and 1956, in Helsinki and Melbourne respectively, as well as several South American championships and participation in Pan American and world tournaments.

At the club level, the Uruguayan Basketball League is the most important tournament of this sport in the country, where the best teams compete for the title of Champion. Since its creation, in 2003 as a replacement for the Federal Tournament, the popularity of the sport at the national level has been steadily increasing. Defensor Sporting is the dean of Uruguayan Basketball and the most successful team, with 20 National Championships won (more than double that of the second, Welcome with 9) and 2 South American Championships. For its part, within the Uruguayan Basketball League, Malvín is the most successful, with three conquests.


Another sports

The 4 Group N Rally world championships stand out, achieved by the Minuano Gustavo Trelles, in addition to the triumphs achieved by the late Gonzalo Rodríguez in the categories prior to Formula 1.

Other sports that are very popular are tennis, rugby, handball and rowing, which have recently gained more followers, as well as hockey, and cycling, a discipline in which, at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, Milton Wynants won a silver medal, putting Uruguay back on the medal table after 36 years.

Uruguay has also had an outstanding participation in Basque Pelota, placing itself in fifth place in the historical medal table of the Basque Pelota World Championship with 4 gold medals, 29 silver and 14 bronze. It organized the world championships in 1955, 1966 and 1974, being the only country in South America to host said tournament. Montevideo and Mexico are the only cities in which the world championship was held three times.

The Uruguayan delegation in the Olympic Games has won two gold medals in soccer in 1924 and 1928. It has also won two silver and six bronze medals in the disciplines of basketball, boxing, cycling and rowing.



As a result of the secular nature of the Uruguayan state, Christian holidays (Holy Week and Christmas) officially receive other names (Tourism Week and Family Day). However, except for Holy Week, they are popularly known by their Christian name. The latter is variously called Santa, Tourism, Criolla, or the Vuelta Ciclista.

In 1933, during the dictatorship of Gabriel Terra, a dozen holidays were eliminated to reverse the situation of the 1929 crisis. Among them, America's Day, which commemorated the May Revolution every May 25 since 1834, was eliminated.

January 1 New Year New Year Non-working day.
January 6 Epiphany Children's Day Unchangeable workday.
Moving date Carnival Carnival Weekday. Monday and Tuesday of the seventh week before Easter Sunday.
Mobile date Holy Week Workable Tourism Week. See Calculation of the Easter date
April 19 Landing of the Thirty-Three Easterners Landing of the Thirty-Three Easterners Removable workable.
May 1 International Workers' Day Workers' Day Non-working day.
May 18 Battle of Las Piedras Battle of Las Piedras Removable workable.
June 19 Birth of José Artigas Birth of José Artigas Workable immovable.
July 18 Swearing in of the Constitution Swearing in of the Constitution Non-working day.
August 25 Declaration of Independence Declaration of Independence Non-working day.
October 12 Columbus Day Removable Workable Columbus Day.
November 2 All Souls' Day All Souls' Day Unchangeable business day.
December 25 Christmas Family Day Non-working day.

All non-working holidays are immutable.
In years in which there is a change of presidential command (those ending in 0 or 5), March 1 is a non-working holiday.
The day of carrying out a national population and housing census, set by the Executive Branch, will be a non-working holiday with double remuneration if worked.

Holiday shift:
Starting in 1997, by Law No. 16,805, working holidays become removable. If they coincide on Saturday, Sunday or Monday, they will be observed on those days. If they occur on Tuesday or Wednesday, they will be observed on the immediately preceding Monday. If they occur on a Thursday or Friday, they will be observed on the immediately following Monday. The Three Kings, Carnival and Tourism Week holidays are excluded from the shift, which will continue to be observed on the day of the week on which they occur, whatever it may be.
Starting in 2002, by Law No. 17,414, June 19 and November 2 are also excluded from the movement.
Only in 2011, and to commemorate 200 years of the Battle of the Stones, by Law No. 18,748, May 18 was not run.