Locating Oriental Republic URUGUAY

Uruguay (official full name in Spanish: República Oriental del Uruguay, Eastern Republic of Uruguay) is a country located in the southeastern part of South America. It is home to 3.46 million people, of whom 1.7 million live in the capital Montevideo and its metropolitan area.


Uruguay's only terrestrial border is with Brazil to the north. To the west lies the Uruguay River, to the southwest lies the estuary of Río de la Plata, with Argentina only a short commute across the banks of either of these bodies of water, while to the south-east lies the South Atlantic Ocean. Uruguay's surface is 176.214 km² being by its territorial extension the second smallest country in South America, larger only than Suriname and the French overseas department of French Guiana.

Montevideo was founded by the Spanish in the early 18th century as a military stronghold. Uruguay won its independence in 1825-1828 following a three-way struggle between Spain, Argentina and Brazil. It is a constitutional democracy, where the president fulfills the roles of both head of state and head of government.

The economy is largely based on agriculture (making up 10% of GDP and the most substantial export) and the state sector. Uruguay's economy is on the whole more stable than in its surrounding states, and it maintains a solid reputation with investors.

According to Transparency International, Uruguay is the least corrupt country in Latin America (along with Chile), with its political and labor conditions being among the freest on the continent.

In November 2007 it became the first Latin American country and the second in all of the Americas (after Canada) to recognize same-sex civil unions at the national level.

An estimated 94.6% of the population are of mostly European descent. 47.1% of Uruguayans are declared Roman Catholics, 23.2% "believe in a god without a specific religion", 17.2% Atheist/Agnostic, 11.1% Protestant, 0.6% Umbanda/Afro-Latin American religions and 0.3% Jewish. Uruguay is the Americas' most secular country, where there is no official religion, and in which church and state are separate.


The Oriental Republic of Uruguay is named after its geographic location to the east of the Uruguay River. This geographical reason as well as historical reasons caused the Uruguayans to be called "Orientals", even if, obviously, Uruguay is situated in the Western Hemisphere. As for the word Uruguay, it comes from the Guarani language, meaning "river where the birds live".


The inhabitants of Uruguay before European colonization of the area were various tribes of hunter gatherer native Americans, the best known being the Charrúa Indians, a small tribe driven south by the Guaraní of Paraguay. The population is estimated at no more than 5,000 to 10,000.

Europeans arrived in the territory of present-day Uruguay in the year 1536, but the absence of gold and silver limited settlement in the region during the 16th and 17th centuries. Uruguay became a zone of contention between the Spanish and the Portuguese empires. In 1603, the Spanish began to introduce cattle, which became a source of wealth in the region. The first permanent settlement on the territory of present-day Uruguay was founded by the Spanish in 1624 at Villa Soriano on the southwestern coast of the Río Negro. In 1680 the Portuguese built a fort at Colonia del Sacramento. Spanish colonization increased as Spain sought to limit Portugal's expansion of Brazil's frontiers.

Another segment of colonial Uruguay's population consisted of people of African descent. Colonial Uruguay's African community grew in number as its members escaped harsh treatment in Buenos Aires. Many relocated to Montevideo, which had a larger black community, seemed less hostile politically than Buenos Aires, and had a more favorable climate with lower humidity.

As a province of the Viceroyalty of La Plata, colonial Uruguay was known as the Banda Oriental, or "Eastern Strip", referring to its location east of the Rio Uruguay. The inhabitants called themselves Orientales ("Easterners"), a term they still commonly use to refer to themselves.

Uruguay's capital, Montevideo, was founded by the Spanish in the early 18th century as a military stronghold; its natural harbor soon developed into a commercial center competing with Argentina's capital, Buenos Aires. Uruguay's early 19th century history was shaped by ongoing conflicts between the British, Spanish, Portuguese, and colonial forces for dominance in the Argentina-Brazil-Uruguay region. In 1806 and 1807, the British army attempted to seize Buenos Aires as part of their War with Spain. As a result, at the beginning of 1807, Montevideo was occupied by a 10,000-strong British force who held it until the middle of the year when they left to attack Buenos Aires.

The Uruguayans' road to independence was much longer than those of other countries in the Americas. Early efforts at attaining independence focused on the overthrow of Spanish rule, a process begun by Jose Gervasio Artigas in 1811 when he led his forces to victory against the Spanish in the battle of Las Piedras on May 18, 1811. In 1816, Portuguese troops invaded present-day Uruguay, which led to its eventual annexation by Brazil in 1821 under the provincial name, Provincia Cisplatina. On April 19, 1825, thirty-three Uruguayan exiles led by Juan Antonio Lavalleja returned from Buenos Aires to lead an insurrection in Uruguay. They were known as the Treinta y Tres Orientales. Their actions inspired representatives from Uruguay to meet in Florida, a town in the recently liberated area, where they declared independence from Brazil on August 25, 1825. Uruguayan independence was not recognized by its neighbors until 1828, after the Argentina-Brazil War, when Britain, in search of new commercial markets, brokered peace between Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. On August 27, 1828, Uruguay was formally proclaimed independent at the preliminary peace talks between Brazil and Argentina.


Uruguay's politics take place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Uruguay is both head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive branch is exercised by the government. Legislative branch is vested in both the government and the two chambers of the General Assembly of Uruguay. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

For most of Uruguay's history, the Partido Colorado has been the government. The other "traditional" party of Uruguay, Partido Blanco, having ruled only twice. The Partido Blanco has its roots in the countryside and the original settlers of Spanish origin and the cattle ranchers. The Partido Colorado has its roots in the port city of Montevideo, the new immigrants of Italian origin and the backing of foreign interests. The Partido Colorado built a welfare state financed by taxing the cattle revenue and giving state pickles and free services to the new urban immigrants which became dependent on the state. The elections of 2004, however, brought the Frente Amplio, a coalition of socialists, communists, former Tupamaros, former communists and social democrats among others to govern with majorities in both houses of parliament and the election of President Tabaré Vázquez by an absolute majority.

The Reporters Without Borders worldwide press freedom index has ranked Uruguay as 57th of 168 reported countries in 2006.

According to Freedom House, an American organization that tracks global trends in political freedom, Uruguay ranked twenty-seventh in its "Freedom in the World" index. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Uruguay scores a 8.08 on the Democracy Index, located in the 23th position among the 30 countries considered to be Full Democracies in the world. The report looks at 60 indicators across five categories: Free elections, civil liberties, functioning government, political participation and political culture.

Uruguay ranks 28th in the World CPI (Corruption Perception Index) composed by Transparency International.

The Uruguayan Constitution allows citizens to repeal laws or to change the constitution, by referendum. During the last 15 years the method has been used several times; to confirm a law renouncing prosecution of members of the military who violated human rights during the military regime (1973-1985), to stop privatization of public utilities companies (See Economy: Public Sector), to defend pensioners' incomes, and to protect water resources.


Uruguay has an impressive legacy of artistic and literary traditions, especially for its small size. The contribution of its alternating conquerors and diverse immigrants has resulted in native traditions that integrate this diversity. Uruguay has centuries old remains, fortresses of the colonial era. Its cities have a rich architectural heritage and an impressive number of writers, artists, and musicians. Uruguayan tango is the form of dance that originated in the neighborhoods of Montevideo, Uruguay towards the end of the 1800s. Tango, candombe, and murga are the three main styles of music in this city.


Uruguay consists of nineteen departments (departamentos, singular "departamento"). The first departments were formed in 1816 and the newest, Flores, dates from 1885. The departments are governed by an intendente municipal who is elected for five years. The members of the Departmental Assembly (Junta Departamental) form the legislative level of the department.


At 176,214 square kilometres (68,036 square miles) of continental land and 142,199 square kilometres (54,903 sq mi) of jurisdictional waters and small river islands, Uruguay is the second smallest sovereign nation in South America (after Suriname) and the third smallest territory (French Guiana is the smallest). The landscape features mostly rolling plains and low hill ranges (cuchillas) with a fertile coastal lowland. A dense fluvial network covers the country, consisting of four river basins or deltas; the Río de la Plata, the Uruguay River, the Laguna Merín and the Río Negro. The major internal river is the Río Negro ('black river'). Several lagoons are found along the Atlantic coast.

The highest point in the country is the Cerro Catedral at 513.66 meters (1,685 ft 3 in) in the Sierra Carapé hill range. To the southwest is the Río de la Plata, the estuary of the Uruguay River, which forms the western border, and the Paraná River, that does not run through Uruguay itself.


Uruguay shares borders with Argentina and Brazil.
With Argentina:
       Uruguay River to the west and Río de la Plata in the south.

With Brazil:
      Chuy Stream 13 kilometres (8.1 mi), straight line (Chuy) 8.7 kilometres (5.4 mi), San Miguel Stream 13 km (8.1 mi), Merín Lagoon, 280.1 km (174 mi) Yaguarón River, 142.4 km (88.5 mi), Yaguarón 'Chico' River 18.5 km (11.5 mi), 'Arrollo de la Mina' Stream 20.4 km (12.7 mi), Aceguá straight line 37.2 km (23.1 mi), San Luis Stream 31.3 km (19.4 mi), North Branch of the San Luis Stream 3.6 km (2.2 mi), Straight line 8 km (5 mi), 'Cañada del Cementerio' 4 km (2.5 mi), Straight lines 0.6 km (0.4 mi), 'Cuchilla de Santa Ana' SE 168.5 km (104.7 mi), Rivera-Livramento 4.8 km (3 mi), 'Cuchilla de Santa Ana' 20.8 km (12.9 mi), 'Cuchilla Negra' 4189.3 km (2603.1 mi), 'Arrollo de la Invernada' Stream 37.8 km (23.5 mi), Cuareim River 313.4 km (194.7 mi)

A longstanding border dispute with Brazil, involving territory in the north of Uruguay has not harmed close diplomatic relations with Brazil in recent years.


The climate in Uruguay is temperate: it has warm summers and cold winters. The predominantly gently undulating landscape is also somewhat vulnerable to rapid changes from weather fronts. It receives the periodic influence of the polar air in winter, and tropical air from Brazil in summer. Without mountains in zone that act as a barrier, the air masses freely move by the territory, causing abrupt weather changes.

The coolest month is June, while the warmest is January. The rainfall is equally distributed throughout the year, but tends to be a bit more frequent in the autumn months. There can be frequent thunderstorms in the summer. Although snow is not very common, it snowed in 1913, 1918, 1930, 1962, 1963, 1975, 1980, 1989, 1991, 1992, and 2007. One of the coldest winters (from 1951) was 2007: Tºjuly average 7,6°C Montevideo-Carrasco airport , Tºjuly average 6,8°C Florida city.

National extreme temperatures sea level are, Paysandú city 44.0°C (01-20-1943) and Melo city -11.0°C (06-14-1967).

Enclaves and exclaves

Since 1984, Uruguay has also an Antarctic base "General Artigas" on King George Island in Antarctica, which is part of the South Shetland Islands archipelago, at 62°11′04″S 58°54′09″W / -62.18444, -58.9025 (General Artigas base), some 100 km (62 mi) from the Antarctic peninsula itself; however, this base can not be considered an official exclave.


Uruguay has a middle-income economy, mainly dominated by the State services sector, an export-oriented agricultural sector and an industrial sector. Uruguay relies heavily on trade, particularly in agricultural exports, leaving the country particularly vulnerable to slumps in commodity prices and global economic slowdowns. After averaging growth of 5% annually in 1996-1998, in 1999-2001 the economy suffered from lower demand in Argentina and Brazil, which together account for nearly half of Uruguay's exports. Despite the severity of the trade shocks, Uruguay's financial indicators remained stabler than those of its neighbours, a reflection of its solid reputation among investors and its investment-grade sovereign bond rating — one of only two in South America. In recent years Uruguay has shifted some of its energy into developing the commercial use of technologies and has become the first exporter of software in Latin America.

While some parts of the economy appeared to be resilient, the downturn had severe impact on the local population. Unemployment levels rose to more than 20%, real wages fell, the peso devalued. These worsening economic conditions played a part in turning public opinion against the mildly free market economic policies adopted by the previous administrations in the 1990s, leading to the popular rejection of proposals for privatization of the state petroleum company in 2003 and of the state water company in 2004. The newly elected Frente Amplio government, while pledging to continue payments on Uruguay's external debt, has also promised to undertake a Emergency Plan to attack the widespread problems of poverty and unemployment. In May 2008, the unemployment rate was below 7.2 % .


Agriculture played such an important part in Uruguayan history and national identity until the middle of the twentieth century that the entire country was then sometimes likened to a single huge estancia (agricultural estate) centered around Montevideo, where the wealth generated in the hinterland was spent, at its casco or administrative head.

Today, agriculture contributes roughly 11% to the country’s GDP and is still the main foreign exchange earner, putting Uruguay in line with other agricultural exporters like Brazil, Canada, and New Zealand. Uruguay is a member of the Cairns Group of exporters of agricultural products. Uruguay’s agriculture has relatively low inputs of labor, technology, and capital compared to other such countries, which results in comparatively lower yields per hectare but also opens the door for Uruguay to market its products as "natural" or "ecological."

Industry has developed recently around estancia tourism which capitalizes on the traditional or folkloric connotations associated with gaucho culture and the remaining resources of Uruguay's historic estancias.


The overwhelming majority of Uruguay's population is of predominantly European descent. People of Spanish and Italian ancestry are the most numerous, followed by those of French, German, Portuguese, British, Swiss, Russian, Polish, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Estonian, Dutch, Belgian, Croatian, Austrian, Serbian, Greek, Scandinavian, Irish, Romanian, Lebanese and Armenian origin. According to the 2006 National Survey of Homes by the Uruguayan National Institute of Statistics: 94.5% chose European ancestry, 9.1% chose Black/Afro-Uruguayan, 4.5% chose Native American, and 0.5% chose Asian ancestry (May not equal 100 because people were allowed to choose more than one background).

Many of the European immigrants arrived in Uruguay in the late 1800s and have heavily influenced the architecture and culture of Montevideo and other major cities. For this reason, Montevideo and life within the city are reminiscent of parts of Europe.

Some colonies such as Colonia Valdense (a Waldensian colony), Colonia Suiza (also named Nueva Helvecia, a mainly Swiss colony with some German and Austrian settlers), were founded in the department of Colonia. There are also towns founded by early British settlers such as Conchillas and Barker. A Russian colony called San Javier was founded in the department of Río Negro. Mennonite colonies can also be found in the department of Río Negro and in the department of Canelones. One of them, called El Ombú, is located near the city of Young.There are also some German colonies like Nuevo Berlin.

Uruguay has a large urban middle class and a literacy rate of 96.8% (1996 est). During the 1970s and 1980s, an estimated 600,000 Uruguayans emigrated, mainly to Spain, Italy, Argentina and Brazil. Other Uruguayans have settled in various countries in Europe, as well as in the United States, Canada, and Australia.


Church and state are officially separated since 1919. According to the 2006 National Survey of Homes by the Uruguayan National Institute of Statistics: 47.1% of Uruguayans define themselves as Roman Catholic, 23.2% as "believing in God but without religion", 17.2% as Atheist or Agnostic, 11.1% "Non-Catholic Christian" (Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran), 0.6% as followers of Umbanda or other "afro" religions, 0.3% as Jewish, and 0.4% chose "Other".


The main sport in Uruguay is football (soccer). The Uruguay national football team is one of only five nations to win the FIFA World Cup on two or more occasions. In 1930, Uruguay hosted the first ever World Cup and went on to win the competition, defeating Argentina 4-2 in the final. Uruguay won the 1950 FIFA World Cup as well, famously defeating the favored hosts, Brazil, 2-1 in the last game of the final series . Uruguay is by far the smallest country, population wise, to win a World Cup. Out of the World Cup winners, the nation with the second smallest population is Argentina (winners of the 1978 and 1986 editions) who currently have just over 40,000,000 people according to the latest estimate; the 2002 census has Uruguay's current population slightly under 3,400,000. The Uruguay national team has also won the Copa América 14 different times, a record it shares with Argentina.

The most popular football teams in Uruguay are Club Nacional de Football (Three times World champions, three times Copa Libertadores de América champions, two times Copa Interamericana champions, one time Recopa Sudamericana champions) and Club Atlético Peñarol (Three times World champions, five times Copa Libertadores de América champions), followed by Defensor Sporting Club (last Uruguayan champion), Danubio. Uruguay has had many great known players such as Enzo Francescoli, Alvaro Recoba and Diego Forlan (2005 European Golden Shoe winner).

Basketball, Rugby, and Tennis are other popular sports in Uruguay.

International rankings

<dl><dt>Political and economic rankings </dt></dl> <dl>
<dt>GDP per capita - 60th highest, at I$11,969
Human Development Index - 46th high, at 0.852
Income Equality - , at 0.449 (Gini Index)
Literacy Rate - 51st, at 97.7%
Unemployment rate - 112th, at 8.70% </dt>
<dt> </dt><dt>Health rankings
</dt><dd>Fertility rate- 139th most fertile, at 1.85 per woman
Birth rate - 157th most births, at 13.91 per 1000 people
Infant mortality - 128th most deaths, at 1 per 1000 live births
Death rate - 84th highest death rate, at 9.16 per 1000 people
Life Expectancy - 47th highest, at 76.4 years
Suicide Rate - 24th highest suicide rate, at 15.1 for males and 6.4 for females per 100,000 people
HIV/AIDS rate - 108th most cases, at 0.30% </dd></dl> <dl><dt>Other rankings </dt></dl>

CO2 emissions - 125th highest emissions, at 1.65 tonnes per capita
Electricity Consumption - 88th highest consumption of electricity, at 7,762,000,000 kWh
Broadband Internet access - no data
Global Peace Index - 21th highest peace rate in 2008

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Honorary consul

of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay in Bucharest
15 Apr. 1992 - 12 Feb. 2009

Octavian Andronic