South America, Uruguay

Uruguay, officially the Eastern Republic of Uruguay, is located in the southeast of South America.

Uruguay gained its independence between 1811 and 1828 after a four-way struggle between Portugal and Spain, and later Argentina and Brazil.

The country, which is bordered by Argentina to the west and south-west, and Brazil to the north and northeast, has an area of approximately 176,000 square kilometers. Geographically, it is the smallest country in South America after Suriname. With a population of 3.51 million in Uruguay, the capital city Montevideo is home to about 1.8 million people.

Uruguay is now the third best country on the continent in terms of HDI, GDP growth, innovation and infrastructure, after Argentina and Chile. It is considered one of the most socially progressive countries in the world to adopt a policy of legalizing abortion, same-sex marriage, marijuana production, sale and consumption.


Uruguay was discovered in 1516 by the Spanish Juan Diaz de Solis. The people of the country were made up of the natives of Charrua at that time. From 1624, the Spaniards began to settle in the country. In the eighteenth century, Uruguay was subordinated to Spain’s viceroy of Río de la Plata. In 1811, independence movements began under the leadership of Josè Gervasio Artigos.

On August 25, 1928, Uruguay gained its independence. After that, political strife began in the country between liberals known as Colorados (the color red in Spanish) and conservatives known as Blancos (white in Spanish). The Colorado-Blanco conflict plunged the country into civil war between 1839 and 1851. In 1852, the Colorados seized power. Uruguay entered a bloody war in 1865-1870, allied with Brazil and Argentina against Paraguay. With the defeat of Paraguay, control of Uruguay fell to the Colorados. In the last part of the nineteenth century, mostly…

Although Uruguay has long had a Communist Party, it began to steer the workers’ movements between 1960 and 1970. Recession, inflation, floods, and the drought of 1967 and the general strike of 1968 forced the government to devalue, control prices and wages. The Tuparmaros (left-wing guerrillas) increased their terror movements in the 1970s. As the violence continued, President Juan Maria Bordaberry accepted military rule on February 20, 1973. He dissolved Congress in July and replaced it with the State Council. In 1974, the soldiers completely suppressed the Tupamaros using strict repression. In 1976, President Bordaberry was impeached by the military. In 1980, the military regime prepared a new constitution to return to normalcy. When this constitution was put to a popular vote in November 1980, it was not adopted. In 1981, General Gregorio Alvarez took power as president. After 1981, preparations for the transition to a multi-party parliamentary system began, and in the 1984 elections. Julio Maria Sanqulmetti was elected president. High external debts prevented the economy from getting back on track.


Except for the highlands in the north, the land of Uruguay is covered with undulating, green plains and low hills. The north is mountainous, but the country’s highest point, Cerro Mirador (540 m), is in the south.

Uruguay is rich in rivers. Most, however, are short and of no great transportation importance, except for the Negro and Uruguay rivers. To the east, Lake Mirim separates the country from the southern coastal tip of Brazil.

About three-quarters of Uruguay is covered by grassland and only 3% is forested. Forests contain trees such as palm, oak, cedar, magnolia, willow and whitewash. The American ostrich, deer, fox, otter and seal are the main wild animals of the country. Major underground riches are marble and granite.


Uruguay has a temperate climate. The average temperature is 22 °C in January and February, and 10 °C in July. It rains the most in April and May. Annual precipitation is around 890 mm. There are frequent storms in the summer. Fog is common from May to October. But it rarely lasts all day.


Since most of the country’s land is covered with grasslands, animal husbandry has developed. Most of the cattle and sheep are raised. The main plants grown on the territory of the country; corn, wheat, citrus fruits, rice, oats and flaxseed.

Regarding agriculture, there are meat packing, wool, industry, sugar industry and flour factories in the country. There are small-scale engineering and electrical equipment companies and chemical plants. There are also small rolling mills for steel and aluminum. There are no known oil or coal deposits in Uruguay. Therefore, heat-operated plants and motor vehicles are completely dependent on fuel imports.

The length of the highways is 52.000 km, 11,960 km of which is asphalt. The railway network is about 3000 km. Montevideo has a large international airport.

The main export goods are meat and meat products, wool and textile products. Raw materials and machinery are the main goods imported for the manufacturing industry. Despite increasing hydroelectric wealth, the country remains dependent on oil imports. The main trading countries are Brazil, USA, Argentina, Iraq and United Germany.


In Uruguay, with a population of 3,017,000, the majority of the population (83%) live in cities. Nearly half of the population (1,260,000) is in the capital, Montevideo. Except for Salto and Montevideo, there are no cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants. Other important settlements are Paysandu, Mercedes and Fray Bentos. All of these cities were built on the banks of the Uruguay River.

Most Uruguayans are descendants of those who immigrated from Europe in the last century. Most of them are of Spanish and Italian descent. There is also some German, Eastern European and English descent. Europeans make up 89% of the population. 9% of the remaining population is of mixed descent and 2% of African descent. Spanish, the official language of the country, is spoken by everyone.

Primary education is compulsory and 94% of the population can read and write. There are two universities in the country. Unlike most Latin American countries, Uruguay has a very low population growth.