|General background: A violent Marxist urban
guerrilla movement, the Tupamaros, launched in the late
1960s, led Uruguay's president to agree to military
control of his administration in 1973. By the end of
the year the rebels had been crushed, but the military
continued to expand its hold throughout the government.
Civilian rule was not restored until 1985. Uruguay's
political and labor conditions are among the freest
on the continent.
Slightly smaller than the state of Washington.
Climate: Warm temperate; freezing temperatures
Terrain: Mostly rolling
plains and low hills; fertile coastal lowland.
Population: 3,386,575 (July 2002 est.)
Ethnic groups: White 88%, Mestizo 8%, Black
Religions: Roman Catholic 66% (less than half
of the adult population attends church regularly),
Protestant 2%, Jewish 1%, nonprofessing or other 31%
Language: Spanish, Portunol, or Brazilero
(Portuguese-Spanish mix on the Brazilian frontier)
Government type: Constitutional republic
Legal system: Based on Spanish civil law system;
accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction.
Economic overview: Uruguay's 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 in 1996-98, 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
more stable than those of its neighbors, a reflection
of its solid reputation among investors and its investment-grade
sovereign bond rating - one of only two in South America.
Challenges for the government of President Jorge BATLLE
include reducing the budget deficit, expanding Uruguay's
trade ties beyond its Mercosur trade partners, and
reducing the costs of public services. GDP fell by
1.3% in 2000 and by 1.5% in 2001.
Communication/Telephone system: Fully digitalized
Places of interest: It contains one of South
America's most interesting capitals, Montevideo, charming
colonial towns and a cluster of internationally renowned