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Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay. Autor Leandro Palacios. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike
Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay. Autor Leandro Palacios

Uruguay: Gauchos, seaside resorts and beaches

Uruguay (República Oriental del Uruguay/Eastern Republic of Uruguay) is a presidential republic located in the central southern part of South America, bordered to the north and north-east by Brazil, to the west by Argentina and faces to the south the Río de la Plata and to the east the Atlantic.

Montevideo, the capital, located on the Río de la Plata, is the main economic, administrative and cultural centre of the country and one of the biggest and most important ports of South America. The Uruguayan territory is largely flat and in the south is a wavy plain alternating with marshy areas and internal lagoons along the coast, including along the border with Brazil the vast Laguna Merin (Lagoa Mirim in Portuguese).

Uruguay Map

Uruguay Map

The rest of the territory is made up of a flatland alternating with hills (cuchillas). The highest point of the country is the Cerro Catedral with 514 metres in the Sierra de Carapé in the southern part of the country. The main river of the country is the Uruguay river, which marks the border with Argentina. The Rio Negro, a tributary of the Uruguay river, separates the south of the country from the north.

The main resource of the country is the breeding of livestock, especially sheep and cattle, but also pigs, goats and horses. Agriculture produces grains like wheat, rice, corn, barley and sorghum and also beet sugar, cane sugar, potatoes, tobacco, sweet potatoes, grapes, flax, sunflower oil, peanuts, soybeans, citrus fruits like oranges and lemons and other fruits. Fishing is slowly gaining some importance, while the country has a total lack of raw materials.

A major investment was made in the hydroelectric power sector with the construction of the big dam of Salto Grande (Represa Salto Grande), jointly owned by Uruguay and Argentina. A modest importance can be attributed to the industrial sector, mainly linked to the processing of agricultural products like sugar, tobacco and beer and of animal origin like wool and meat preservation. Thanks to the beaches of Punta del Este and Piriápolis and the historic colonial center of Colonia del Sacramento tourism is fairly developed.

English text correction by Dietrich Köster. 

  • Area: 176,215 sq km: arable land 7,3%, pastures 76,2%, forests and bushland 5,2%, uncultivated and unproductive land 11,3%
  • Population: 3,400,000 (as of 2006): Europeans 86%, Mestizos (descendants of Amerindians and Europeans) 8%, Mulatos (descendants of Africans and Europeans) 6%).
  • State Capital: Montevideo.
  • Official Language: The official language is Spanish.
  • Religion: Christians 68%: Catholics 62% and Protestants 4%; furthermore Jews 3%.
  • Currency: Uruguayan Peso (UYU).
  • Time Zone: UTC-3 hours, DST UTC-2 hours

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