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Uruguay Facts


Full country name: República Oriental del Uruguay

Area: 176,220 sq km (109,500 sq. mi)

Coastline: 660 km (410 mi)

Location: Southern South America, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean between Argentina and Brazil

Population: 3,415,920 (July 2005 est.)

Nationality: Uruguayan

Currency: Uruguayan Peso (UYU)

Exchange Rate: Uruguayan pesos per U.S. dollar - 28.704 (2004), 28.209 (2003), 21.257 (2002), 13.319 (2001), 12.1 (2000)

Ethnic Groups: White 88%, mestizo 8%, black 4%, Amerindian (practically nonexistent)

Religions: Roman Catholic 66% (less than half of the adult population attends church regularly), Protestant 2%, Jewish 1%, nonprofessing orother 31%

Languages: Spanish, Portunol or Brazilero (Portuguese-Spanish mix on the Brazilian frontier)

Literacy (age 15 and over can read and write): 98%

Geography Fact: Second-smallest South American country (after Suriname); most of the low-lying landscape (three-quarters of the country) is grassland, ideal for cattle and sheep raising

Government: constitutional republic

Capital: Montevideo

Independence: August 25, 1825, from Brazil

Executive Branch: chief of state: President Tabare VAZQUEZ (since 1 March 2005) and Vice President Rodolfo NIN NOVA (since 1 March 2005);GDP Per Capita: $14,500 (2004 est.)

Population Below Poverty Line: 21% of households (2003)

Unemployment Rate: 13% (2004 est.)

Interesting Fact: Uruguay’s political and labor conditions are among the freest in South America

Climate: Warm temperate; Winter from November-March; Summer from April-October

Terrain: Mostly rolling plains and low hills, ideal for cattle raising and herding; fertile coastal lowland

Elevation Extremes: Atlantic Ocean 0 m; highest point: Cerro Catedral 514 m (1,686 ft)

Natural Hazards: Seasonally high winds from the Argentine pampas; drought; floods; lack of mountains makes land particularly susceptible to rapid weather changes

Environmental Concerns: Water pollution from meat packaging/tannery industries; inadequate solid/hazardous waste disposal

Airports: 64 (14 with paved runways and 50 without)

Highways: 8983 km (5,582 mi) – 90% of which are paved

Economy Overview from CIA World Facts: Uruguay's well-to-do economy is characterized by an export-oriented agricultural sector, a well-educated workforce and high levels of social spending. After averaging growth of 5% annually during 1996-1998, in 1999-2002 the economy suffered a major downturn, stemming largely from the spillover effects of the economic problems of its large neighbors, Argentina and Brazil. For instance, in 2001-2002, massive withdrawals by Argentina of dollars deposited in Uruguayan banks led to a plunge in the Uruguyan peso and a massive rise in unemployment. Total GDP in these four years dropped by nearly 20%, with 2002 the worst year due to the serious banking crisis. Unemployment rose to nearly 20% in 2002, inflation surged, and the burden of external debt doubled. Cooperation with the IMF limited the damage. The debt swap with private creditors carried out in 2003, which extended the maturity dates on nearly half of Uruguay's $11.3 billion in public debt, substantially alleviated the country's amortization burden in the coming years and restored public confidence. The economy grew about 10% in 2004, as a result of high commodity prices for Uruguayan exports, the weakness ofthe dollar against the euro, growth in the region, low international interest rates and greater export competitiveness.

30 Jun 2010

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