Situated in south-eastern South America, Uruguay returned to civilian government in 1985, after 12 years of military rule. Most land is used for farming: Uruguay is a major wool exporter.
Geography: Low, rolling grasslands cover 80% of the country. Narrow coastal plain. Alluvial floodplain in southwest. Five rivers flow westward and drain into the Uruguay River.
Climate: Temperate throughout the country. Warm summers, mild winters, and moderate rainfall.
People and Society: Uruguayans are largely second-or third-generation Italians or Spaniards. Wealth derived from cattle ranching enabled the country to establish the first welfare state in South America. Despite economic decline since the 1950s, a large, if less prosperous, middle class remains. Though a Roman Catholic country, Uruguay is liberal in its attitude to religion and all forms are tolerated.
The Economy; Exports wool, meat, hides, rice, wood, soy. Rebounded from 1999–2002 economic crisis. Mineral potential.
Insight: Uruguay’s rich pastures are ideal for raising livestock; animal products bring in over 40% of export earnings
Official Name: Eastern Republic of Uruguay
Date of Formation: 1828
Population: 3.36 million
Total Area: 68,039 sq. miles (176,220 sq. km)
Density: 50 people per sq. mile
Religions: Roman Catholic 66%, other 30%, Jewish 2%, Protestant 2%
Ethnic Mix: White 90%, Mestizo 6%, Black 4%
Government: Presidential system
Currency: Urug. peso = 100 centésimos