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Editors: Timothy L. Gall , Susan Bevan Gall , and Derek M. Gleason
Date: 2012
Publisher: Gale, a Cengage Company
Document Type: Country overview
Length: 4,550 words
Content Level: (Level 3)
Lexile Measure: 1080L

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Capital: Montevideo
Flag: The flag, approved in 1830, has four azure blue horizontal stripes on a white background; on a white canton is a golden sun, alternately straight and wavy. This "Sun of May" symbolizes Uruguay's independence.
Anthem: Himno Nacional (National Anthem of Uruguay).
Monetary Unit: The Uruguayan peso (UYU), of 100 centésimos replaced the new peso in 1993 at the rate of UYU1 = 1,000 new pesos. There are coins of 10, 20, and 50 centésimos and 1, 2, 5, and 10 new pesos, and notes of 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50 Uruguayan pesos. UYU1 = US$0.04023 (US$1 = uYU24.86) as of 2011.
Weights and Measures: The metric system is the legal standard, but some traditional measures also are used.
Holidays: New Year's Day, 1 January; Epiphany, 6 January; Landing of the 33, 19 April; Labor Day, 1 May; Battle of Las Piedras, 18 May; Birthday of Artigas, 19 June; Constitution Day, 18 July; Independence Day, 25 August; Columbus Day, 12 October; All Souls' Day, 2 November; Blessing of the Waters, 8 December; Christmas Day, 25 December.
Time: 9 a.m. = noon GMT.

Location and Size

The second-smallest South American country, Uruguay is located in the southeastern part of the continent. It has an area of 176,215 square kilometers (68,037 square miles), slightly smaller than the state of Washington. The country shares borders with Brazil and Argentina, with a total land boundary length of 1,564 kilometers (972 miles) and a coastline (Atlantic Ocean) of 660 kilometers (410 miles). Uruguay's capital city, Montevideo, is located in the southern part of the country on the Atlantic coast.


Southern Uruguay consists mostly of rolling plains and is an eastward extension of the Argentine pampas. The Atlantic coastline is fringed with tidal lakes and sand dunes. Low, unbroken stretches of level land line the banks of the two border rivers, the Uruguay and the Plata. The Uruguay is the nation's longest river, with a total length of 1,610 kilometers (1,000 miles).

The northern section is broken by occasional ridges and low ranges (cuchillas), alternating with broad valleys, and is a southern extension of Brazil. The highest point in the country, Catedral, is 514 meters (1,686 feet) above sea level. The lowest point is at sea level (Atlantic Ocean).

The most noteworthy feature of the northwest landscape are the Haedo Hills. The Grande Range runs northeastward from the southern region to the Brazilian border. The Negro River, which rises in Brazil, crosses Uruguayan territory and flows into the Uruguay River, which separates Uruguay from Argentina. The largest lake in the country is the manmade Embalse del Río Negro, created by a dam on the Negro River. With a total area of about 10,360 square kilometers (4,000 square miles), it is the largest artificial lake in South America.


The climate is temperate; the average temperatures are 15°C (59°F) in July and 25°C (77°F) in January. Rainfall is evenly distributed throughout the year; it averages about 109 centimeters (43 inches), varying from 97 centimeters (38 inches) in Montevideo to nearly 127 centimeters (50 inches) farther north. There are between 120 and 180 sunny days a year. Frost is virtually unknown.

Plants and Animals

Uruguay is primarily a grass-growing land, and the vegetation is essentially a continuation of the Argentine pampas (grass-covered plain). Forest areas are relatively small. The most useful hardwoods are algarobo, guayabo, quebracho, and urunday; other hardwoods include arazá, coronilla, espinillo, lapacho, lignum vitae, and nandubay. The acacia, alder, aloe, eucalyptus (imported from Australia), ombú, poplar, and willow are common softwoods. Palms are native to the valleys. Rosemary, myrtle, scarlet-flowered ceibo, and mimosa are common. Most of the valleys are covered with aromatic shrubs, and the rolling hills are blanketed with white and scarlet verbena. In total, there are 2,278 plant species.

Large animals have practically disappeared from the eastern regions. The carpincho (water hog), fox, deer, nutria, otter, and small armadillo roam the northern foothills. On the pampas are the hornero (ovenbird), quail, partridge, and crow. The avestruz (a small ostrich similar to the Argentine rhea), swan, and royal duck are found at lagoons. Fish include pompano, salmon, and corvina. The principal reptiles are cross vipers and tortoises. Seals are found on Lobos Island, near Maldonado. Animal species total 118 mammals, 414 birds, 79 reptiles, and 48 amphibians.


Air and water pollution are environmental concerns in Uruguay. Air pollution, which is worse in the larger population centers, is caused primarily by Uruguay's own industries and by an energy plant in neighboring Brazil. Carbon dioxide emissions totaled 6,214 kilotons in 2008. Water pollution from mining and industrial sources threatens the nation's water supply, especially pollution from the meat packing and tannery industry. In 2010 Uruguay reached an agreement with Argentina to monitor the effects of a pulp mill built by Uruguay on the Uruguay River. Argentina was concerned about pollution of the river, which flows along the border between the two countries.

Natural hazards to the environment include drought, flooding, and fires. Erosion of the soil affects the nation's agricultural productivity. By 2006 the government had protected 61,000 hectares (150,734 acres) of land.

According to a 2011 report, endangered species included 11 mammals, 24 birds, 4 reptiles, 5 amphibians, 36 fish, 1 invertebrate and 1 plant. Endangered species included the tundra peregrine falcon, two species of turtle (green sea and leatherback), and two species of crocodile (spectacled caiman and broad-nosed caiman). The glaucous macaw has become extinct.


In the 16th century, the native Charrúa Indians drove off the few Spanish expeditions that landed on the east bank of the Uruguay River. By 1680, when Portuguese settlers from Brazil founded Colonia do Sacramento as a rival to Buenos Aires, Uruguay became a focal point for Spanish-Portuguese rivalry.

Montevideo was founded in 1726, and Uruguay became part of the viceroyalty of La Plata, which the Spaniards established in Buenos Aires in 1776. During the Napoleonic Wars (1803-15), the British invaded the region of La Plata and captured Buenos Aires and Montevideo (1806-07), but they were forced out in 1807. After Buenos Aires refused to give Uruguay autonomy, the Uruguayan national hero, José Gervasio Artigas, declared Uruguay independent in 1815. A year later, Brazilians attacked Montevideo from the north, and, after four years of fighting, Uruguay was annexed to Brazil in 1821.

On 25 August 1825, Juan Antonio Lavalleja issued a declaration of independence. After a three-year fight, a peace treaty was signed on 28 August 1828 that guaranteed Uruguay's independence. During the following period of political turmoil and civil war, the two political parties around which Uruguayan history has traditionally revolved, the Colorados (reds) and the Blancos (whites), were founded.

The 19th century was largely a struggle between the two factions. Some measure of national unity was achieved in the 1860s. In 1865 Uruguay formed an alliance with Brazil and Argentina to defeat Paraguay in the Paraguayan War (1865-70), also known as the War of the Triple Alliance. The administrations of José Batlle y Ordóñez (1903-07, 1911-15) marked the nation's period of greatest progress. Batlle initiated Uruguay's famed social welfare system, funded primarily using the export earnings of beef and wool.

After World War II (1939-45), the Colorados ruled, except for an eight-year period from 1958 to 1966. During the administration of President Jorge Pacheco Areco (1967-72), Uruguay entered a period of crisis. Economic and political instability stemming from the decline of wool revenues resulted in the emergence of Uruguay's National Liberation Movement, popularly known as the Tupamaros. A well-organized Marxist (communist) guerrilla movement, the Tupamaros mounted a campaign of kidnapping, assassination, and bank robbery.

Their activities, coupled with the worsening economic situation, aggravated Uruguay's political uncertainty. Gradually, the military assumed a greater role in government, and by 1973 it had assumed control of the system, crushing the Tupamaros by the end of that year. The military retained control of the country until 1981, suspending the constitution. In 1976 it named a new president, Aparicio Méndez Manfredini. In 1979 Amnesty International estimated the number of political prisoners at 6,000.

In September 1981, a "transitional" president, Georgio Álvarez Armellino, was installed, and the moderate government of Colorado candidate Julio María Sanguinetti Cairolo took office in March 1985.

The new government released all political prisoners, declared amnesty for former military and police leaders, and initiated talks between employers and union leaders to reduce social tension. Despite these efforts, slow progress on the economic front led to the 1989 election of the Blanco candidate, Luis Alberto Lacalle. Lacalle emphasized deficit reduction; reforms in education, labor, and the civil service; and the return of state enterprises to private ownership. His plans were dealt a serious blow in a 1993 election, however, when the public failed to ratify a set of proposals for liberalization. In 1994, Sanguinetti was returned to office in the closest election in Uruguay's history. His administration began a program of economic reforms, including a long-range plan for cutting back on the government's generous social security payments.

The economy suffered a recession in 2001 and grew only slightly in 2002. Although unemployment had remained high, less than 10 percent of the population lived in poverty. In the 2004 election, the leftist former mayor of Montevideo and Broad Front candidate, Tabare Vazquez Rosas, was elected to the presidency. The election marked the first time in Uruguay's history that a political party other than the Colorado or the Blanco ruled the country. Also, the Broad Front's majorities in both houses of the legislature allowed for needed reforms to be implemented.

Politically, Uruguay remains one of the most stable democracies in the region. Its relatively low level of economic inequality and highly educated workforce supports economic growth and reform. Former guerrilla fighter Jose Mujica was elected president in 2009. He continued the economic policies of Vazquez.


The basic source countries of immigration to Uruguay are Spain and Italy. English, French, German, Slavic, and Swiss immigrants have also settled in the various departments (provinces). In the 1930s, restrictions were placed on immigration, and the importation of seasonal farm workers was stopped. The estimated net migration rate was -1.6 migrants per 1,000 citizens. There were 353,400 Uruguayans living abroad, and 79,900 immigrants living in Uruguay.

Armed Forces

The armed forces of Uruguay numbered 24,621 active personnel in 2011. The army numbered 16,234 personnel, while the navy had 5,403 active members, including a naval air arm and a naval infantry force. The air force had 2,984 personnel. Defense spending totaled $771 million.

According to the constitutional revision of 1966, the Congress (or General Assembly) consisted of the 30-member Senate and the 99-member Chamber of Deputies. From June 1973 until March 1985, Uruguay was ruled by executive decree, subject to veto by the military, with legislative functions carried out by the 25-member Council of State, appointed by the executive.

In March 1985, democracy was restored under President Sanguinetti. In July of that year, the government set up a National Constituent Assembly to devise constitutional reforms that would be submitted to the electorate for ratification. However, in the elections of November 1994, the proposed reform of 14 articles of the constitution was rejected by 63 percent of the voters.

Direct democracy provisions, in the form of referendums and legislative proposals initiated by citizens, are widely practiced in Uruguay.

Uruguay is divided into 19 departments (provinces).

Judicial System

Subordinate to the Supreme Court are appeals courts and lower civil and criminal courts, justices of the peace, electoral and administrative courts, and an accounts court. A parallel military court system operates under its own judicial procedure. When the Supreme Court hears cases involving the military, two military justices join the court. Civilians are tried in the military court only in time of war or insurrection.

Political Parties

For most of its history, Uruguay had a two-party system. The Colorados (reds) and Blancos (whites), formed during the conflicts of the 1830s and 1840s, persisted into the 2000s. The Colorados are traditional Latin American liberals, representing urban business interests and favoring limitation on the power of the Catholic Church. The Blancos (officially called the National Party) are conservatives, defenders of large landowners and the Church. However, in the early 1970s, a leftist third party, known as the Broad Front (Frente Amplio) challenged the Colorado and Blanco parties. It won its first political victories in the 2000s.

In the presidential election of 2009, Broad Front candidate Mujica won the presidency. His party also won a majority in the legislature for the second straight election, with 50 deputies and 16 senators.

Tourism and Recreation

Tourism, one of Uruguay's major enterprises, enjoys government support. The state owns many hotels along the coast, including some of the more sophisticated resorts in South America. Montevideo has been promoted as the "city of roses" because of its many parks and gardens.

In 2009 a total of 2.1 million tourists visited Uruguay. Tourism receipts that same year totaled $1.4 billion. The most popular sport in Uruguay is soccer; there is an intense rivalry between supporters of the two major teams, the Peñarol and the Nacional.

Other popular sports include basketball, cycling, tennis, pelota (handball), golf, and water sports.

Social Development

Uruguay has frequently been called South America's first welfare state. The social reform movement began under the leadership of José Batlle y Ordóñez in the early 1900s.

Social legislation now provides for a day of rest in every week (plus Saturday afternoon), holidays with pay, minimum wages, annual cash and vacation bonuses, family allowances, compensation for unemployment or dismissal, workers' accident compensation, retirement pensions for rural and domestic workers, old-age and disability pensions, and special consideration for working women and minors.

The state also provides care for children and mothers, as well as for the blind, deaf, and mute. Free medical attention is available to the poor, as are low-cost living quarters for workers.

Women make up about one-half of the work force, but they tend to be concentrated in lower-paying jobs. Nevertheless, many women attend the national university and pursue professional careers.

The Uruguayan legislature approved several laws during the late 2000s to improve the lives of gay, lesbian, and transsexual residents. Same-sex civil unions were legalized in 2008. In 2009 Uruguay became the first Latin American country to allow same-sex couples to adopt children.

Ethnic Groups

The inhabitants of Uruguay are primarily (about 88 percent) of European origin, mostly Spanish and Italian. A small percentage are descended from Portuguese, English, and other Europeans. Mestizos (mixed European and indigenous lineage) represent 8 percent of the population, and blacks and mulattoes (mixed African and European lineage) about 4 percent.


Spanish is the official language. Uruguayan Spanish, like Argentine Spanish, has been somewhat modified by the Italians who migrated in large numbers to both countries. In general, the language of Uruguay is softer than that of Castile and some words are different from those commonly used in Spain. The gauchos have influenced the language, particularly in words dealing with their way of life. Brazilero, a Portuguese-Spanish mix, is spoken on the Brazilian frontier.


Uruguay is the only Latin American nation with significant religious pluralism. About 47 percent of Uruguayans identify themselves as Roman Catholic. Approximately 11 percent of the population are Protestants or members of other Christian denominations. Primary Protestant denominations include Anglicans, Methodists, Lutherans, and Baptists. Others include Pentecostals, Mennonites, Eastern Orthodox, Mormons, and Jehovah's Witnesses. Some 17 percent of Uruguayans identify as atheist or agnostic. Three percent of the population are Afro-Umbandistas, a religion that combines Catholic and traditional beliefs. About 0.3 percent of people are Jewish. There are small communities of Muslims and Baha'is.


Highways have surpassed railroads as the principal means of transport for passengers and freight. There are 77,732 kilometers (5,446 miles) of roads. Only 7,743 kilometers (4,811 miles) are paved. Railways extend for 1,641 kilometers (1,020 miles).

Montevideo is the major Uruguayan port. There are some 1,600 kilometers (994 miles) of inland waterways, of which the most important are the Río de la Plata and the Uruguay. In 2008 Uruguay's merchant marine consisted of 17 vessels of 1,000 gross registered tons or more.

There are 58 airports. Nine have paved runways. Carrasco, an airport outside Montevideo, is used by most international carriers. In 2009 airline flights carried 563,632 passengers.

Famous Uruguayans

The national hero of Uruguay is José Gervasio Artigas (1764-1850), who led the fight for independence against Brazil and Portugal. Juan Antonio Lavalleja (1786?-1853) directed the uprising that established Uruguay's independence in 1828.

One of Uruguay's greatest citizens was José Batlle y Ordóñez (1856-1929), who served twice as president of the country, and was great-uncle to Jose Mujica, who was elected president in 2009. Eduardo Acevedo Díaz (1851-1924) won fame as the writer of a gaucho (South American cowboy) novel, Soledad (1894).

Horacio Quiroga (1878-1937) is regarded as one of Latin America's foremost short-story writers. The poets Julio Herrera y Reissig (1875-1910) and Juana de Ibarbourou (1895-1979) have attained a devoted audience beyond the borders of Uruguay.

The painter Juan Manuel Blanes (1830-1901) is best known for his Episode of the Yellow Fever. Joaquín Torres García (1874-1949) founded his painting style on the principles of universalism and constructivism.

Eduardo Fabini (1883-1951) is Uruguay's best-known composer. Francisco Curt Lange (b. Germany, 1903-1997), Latin America's foremost musicologist, founded various inter-American institutions and publications for the promotion of music of the Americas.


Education in elementary, secondary, and technical schools and at the University of the Republic in Montevideo is free. Elementary education, which lasts six years, is compulsory. Secondary education is in two stages of three years each.

Approximately 99 percent of primary-school-aged children were enrolled in school in 2008, while 70 percent of those eligible attended secondary school. Between 2007 and 2010, the government partnered with a U.S. organization to provide over 400,000 laptops to primary-school students. The government spent 11.6 percent of GDP on education.

There are five major universities, the University of the Republic (state-run), the Catholic University (private), the University of ORT Uruguay, Universidad de la Empresa, and the University of Montevideo.

As of 2011 the adult literacy rate was 98 percent.


For the region, life expectancy is high at an estimated 76 years in 2011. Infant mortality is low at 11 per 1,000 live births. There were an estimated 37 physicians, 56 nurses, and 29 hospital beds per 10,000 inhabitants. The country spent 7.8 percent of GDP on healthcare.

The major causes of death are heart diseases, cancer, and digestive disorders. In 2009 an estimated 0.5 percent of adults were living with HIV/AIDS.


The housing situation is more favorable in Uruguay than in most Latin American countries. The National Institute of Low-Cost Housing builds affordable dwellings for low-income workers and pensioners.

Nearly all dwellings (98 percent) are built using durable materials, including stone, wood, zinc, or concrete. Some 55 percent of dwellings are owner occupied, and 25 percent are rented.


According to 2011 estimates, the population of Uruguay was 3,308,535, and the projected population for the year 2025 was 3.5 million. The population was growing at an annual rate of 0.23 percent. In 2011 an estimated 92 percent of the population lived in urban areas. The population of the capital city Montevideo was 1.6 million. The estimated population density was 19 persons per square kilometer (49 per square mile).


The state owns the telegraph and telephone services. As of 2009 there were some 953,400 main phone lines. There were 3.8 million mobile cellular phones in use.

As of 2009 Uruguay had 93 AM and 191 FM radio stations, and 7 shortwave radio stations. Color television broadcasting was introduced in 1981. By 2009, 91 percent of households had a television set. In 2010 Uruguay had 765,525 Internet hosts. Internet users numbered 56 per 100 citizens.

Major newspapers in 2010 were El Pais (circulation 110,000), El Diario Español (20,000), and Ultimas Noticias (19,500). There are eight other major newspapers.

The first newspaper in the Banda Oriental was the Southern Star, published by the British in 1807 during their brief occupation of Montevideo. Freedom of the press has been in effect since 1985.


Most crops are grown on small farms of fewer than 100 hectares (250 acres). About 8 percent of the land is arable. Major crops include soybeans, cellulose, rice, and wheat. In 2009 cereal production amounted to 4.2 million tons, fruit production 457,070 tons, and vegetable production 164,364 tons.

Domesticated Animals

Livestock raising is a pillar of the economy. The production costs of stock raising are low, and the quality of the product is generally high. Hereford, Shorthorn, and Aberdeen Angus breeds account for 90 percent of all beef cattle, with Hereford the most numerous. Uruguay is especially suited to the raising of cattle and sheep. Two-thirds of all pastureland is held by farms of more than 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres).

In 2009 Uruguay had about 8.7 million sheep, second in South America after Brazil. There were also 12.5 million head of cattle, 200,000 pigs, and 16 million chickens.

Production totaled 50,786 tons of beef and veal, 31,134 tons of pork, 46,991 tons of poultry, 38,014 tons of eggs, and 545,119 tons of milk. Uruguay also produced 64,881 tons of cattle hide and 41,057 tons of raw wool.

Energy and Power

Uruguay's power is provided by hydroelectric and diesel-generating plants. Uruguay's total electrical power output was 8.8 billion kilowatt hours in 2008. It consumed 8 billion kilowatt hours. Uruguay has one of Latin America's highest rates of electrification (99 percent as of 2008).

Uruguay's demand for oil averaged 52,000 barrels per day. Although Uruguay imported all of its petroleum, it had a refining capacity of 50,000 barrels per day. Natural gas imports totaled 77 million cubic meters per day in 2010.


In 2009 the total catch was 110,691 tons. Fish exports amounted to $140 million. There are three fishing zones on the southern coast: the low zone, from Colonia to Piriápolis; the middle zone, from Piriápolis to Punta del Este, which is considered one of the finest fishing areas in the world; and the high zone, from Punta del Este to the Brazilian border. Principal commercial species include Argentine hake, whitemouth croaker, and striped weakfish.

Other important sea fish are corvina negra (a kind of bass), mullet, sole, anchovy, mackerel, whiting, and shark. The finest freshwater fish is the dorado, a type of salmon.


Uruguay has about 1.29 million hectares (3.19 million acres) of forestland. The principal species cultivated are eucalyptus and pine. Domestic woods are used primarily for windbreaks, fence posts, and firewood. Lumber suitable for building and construction is imported.

Roundwood production totaled 6.19 million cubic meters (218.6 million cubic feet) in 2009. The value of all forest products totaled $823 million.


The mining sector traditionally has been based on the use of nonmetallic minerals for the construction, glass, and ceramics industries.

Production in 2009 included 2 million tons of common sand, 1.2 million tons of limestone, 82,200 metric tons of clays, 1.15 million tons of gypsum, 18,440 metric tons of agate, and 500 metric tons of amethyst.

Also produced in 2009 were barite, bentonite, hydraulic cement, dolomite, feldspar, flagstone, gold, granite, gravel, iron ore, lime, marble, marl, onyx, quartz, stone, sulfur, pryophyllite soapstone talc, traventine, and tufa tuff.


Historically, Uruguay's economy has been based on the production and processing of agricultural commodities. However, the service sector was the largest contributor to gross domestic product (GDP) by the mid-2000s. Agriculture, especially livestock, is still important in making products for export as well as providing raw material for other sectors of the economy.

Since 1990, the government has emphasized a free-market economy. The government lowered tariffs, reduced deficit spending, controlled inflation, reduced the size of government, and entered into the Mercosur free-trade zone with some other South American nations. However, the nation's economy remains a mixture of private- and government-owned enterprises.

From 1999 to 2003, the GDP declined due to economic problems in Brazil and Argentina. In 2001 a local outbreak of hoof-and-mouth disease damaged meat exports. In 2002 the GDP declined by 10.8 percent. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the U.S. government made loans to the Uruguayan government. In 2007 Uruguay repaid a $1.1 billion loan from the IMF.

The construction of a pulp mill in Fray Bentos in November 2007 helped the economy but also created controversy with Argentina, which was concerned about pollution of the Uruguay River. A 2010 ruling by the International Court of Justice allowed the pulp mill to stay in operation.

High inflation—9.2 percent in 2008—was an ongoing problem for the government. The government's target inflation rate was between 3 and 7 percent.


In 2010 Uruguay's GDP was estimated at $48 billion, or about $13,700 per person. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 8.5 percent. The average inflation rate was 8.5 percent. In 2009 it was estimated that approximately 21 percent of the population had incomes below the poverty line. Agriculture accounted for 9 percent of GDP, industry 23 percent, and services 68 percent.


Although foreign trade depends mainly on agricultural production, the production of industrial goods for domestic consumption is increasing, primarily in textiles, tires, shoes, leather apparel, petroleum refining, cement, and wine. World War II (1939-45) spurred the industrial growth of Uruguay, and now local manufacturers supply most of the consumer products used. Most industry is concentrated in and around Montevideo.

Growth in the late 1990s was led by oil refining, car production, and food production. A recession that began in 1999 and continued into 2003 hindered industrial growth. Sectors showing production decreases included textiles, vehicles, machinery, chemicals, paper, processed meat, and sugar.

Uruguay's industrial development has been limited due to occasional energy crises. Uruguay must import all of its petroleum, making it vulnerable to rising oil prices. It also depends on hydroelectric dams for electricity. A drought during the mid-2000s caused energy shortages.


The labor force was estimated at 1.64 million in 2010. Some 13 percent were employed in agriculture, 14 percent in industry, and 73 percent in the service sector. Unemployment was estimated at 6.8 percent. In 2010 more than 42 percent of the public sector workforce was unionized, with the number of union members in private industry at around 10 percent.

The 8-hour day and 48-hour workweek were instituted in 1915. Legislation passed in 2008 protected rural workers from longer workdays. Unemployment and dismissal compensation, old-age and liability pensions, workers' accident compensation, and family allowances are provided by law.

The minimum wage was $240 per month in 2010, but most workers earn more than this minimum. The minimum working age is 15 years, and it is generally enforced.

Foreign Trade

Uruguay traditionally relies on foreign sales of wool, hides, meat, and meat products for its export revenues. Reforms favoring a free-market economy have stimulated growth in exports and imports.

In 2011 Uruguay's exports totaled $8 billion, and were chiefly meat, wool and wool products, hides, leather, fish, rice, and furs. Its top export markets in 2009 were Brazil, the Nueva Palmira Free Zone, Chile, and Russia.

Uruguay's imports were mainly machinery, transportation equipment, fuels, and chemicals. Major import partners were Brazil, Argentina, China, Venezuela, and the United States. Imports in 2011 totaled $10.7 billion.

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|EJ2171900005